Long Yin: As far as dim sum offerings go, Long Yin just might serve up the most authentic batch of the bunch. Even more exciting, its Friday dim sum menu is reasonably priced, with many offerings clocking in at just Dhs10. There are more than 20 varieties of dumplings, wontons, buns and cakes being dished out on Fridays, several of which contain pork. Those who like get a bit more adventurous with their yum cha offerings can order a cuttlefish curry alongside the more classic prawn dumplings. The onion pancake is one of our favourites.
Le Méridien, Garhoud (04 702 2325). Yum cha served Friday 12.30pm-4pm. Dishes range from Dhs10-50.
The China Club: Though yum cha is served every day, on Fridays the vibe at this Chinese bastion is more convivial. There is a set menu offering up all the dim sum classics: crystal shrimp dumplings, corn soup, vegetable dumplings. Nothing really startles at this venue, but it does satisfy, and the price is reassuringly reasonable: Dhs95 for several courses including dessert. While the selection is lacking somewhat (a hungry group of three could easily demolish the whole menu), what is served up is done well. Spring rolls are light, dumplings tender and well-seasoned and as a whole The China Club succeeds in establishing a cheery, dim sum-style environment.
Radisson Blu, Deira (04 205 7333). Dim sum served 12 noon-4pm daily. Dhs95 for a set menu.
Ding Xiu Xang: Though it only opened a month ago, this Deira restaurant has already become a favourite with Chinese expats, meaning we expected to gorge on the most authentic dim sum in town. To our surprise, the menu is limited to a simple page and, though the place is licensed, no item contains pork. When we asked why, we were told it was a result of swine flu, and that it would be served again at some point in the distant future. Regardless, what is available is delicious and inspiringly fresh. Fried shrimp rolls were delightfully crisp and oozed enough garlic to kill a vampiric fleet. A turnip cake with dried shrimp and duck gave off a scintillating heat. All in all, recommended.
Al Khaleej Palace, Deira (04 223 1000). Dim sum served 12.30pm-3pm, 6.30pm-11.30pm daily. Dishes from Dhs15-34.
The Duck King: It may not be licensed, but the Duck King makes up for it with the breadth of its dim sum menu (six pages and counting). Die-hards may find its bright, airy space not in keeping with the traditional ruckus of dim sum chambers, but we’re so enamoured with the offerings that it makes no difference to us. Crisp, light potato pastries stuffed with fresh veg demonstrate the creativity of some of the Duck King’s offerings. Jade tofu – a combination of soy and spinach – is a surprising success (this tofu is anything but dull, rather it’s vibrant and fresh). As the name suggests, the place specialises in duck, and it would almost be a crime not to order the crispy duck buns. Sesame balls make a nice finish.
Jumeirah Beach Park Plaza (04 342 8041). Dim sum served Sun-Wed 9am-12 midnight, Thu-Fri 9am-2am. Dishes from Dhs18-52. Unlicensed.
Hukama: Instead of the traditional brunch, Hukama, The Address’s swanky Chinese restaurant, serves up an upscale yum cha. The à la carte menu means diners can have a surprisingly light meal. Crispy and chilli-kissed fried prawns are a definite must here. Other items tend to be a bit hit-or-miss, with a seafood spring roll donning a crust so hard it resembles heavy armour. Crystal dumplings are light and satisfying, however. Desserts are a definite highlight, though they’re definitely not for the staunch traditionalist. Red been pancakes are better described as an ethereally light and decadently buttery red bean pastry, served with red bean ice cream. Not a bad alternative to Friday brunch, but some dim sum aficionados might be affronted by the restaurant’s creativity.
The Address (04 436 8888). Dim sum served Friday 12 noon-3pm. Dishes from Dhs18-75.
Steam Sum Dim Sum: As the name of this hard-to-find Festival City restaurant suggests, this place has a reasonable range of dim sum. There are about 20-odd items to choose from. Sadly, as the restaurant isn’t licensed, none of the offerings have pork, which does alter the dim sum experience slightly. They make up for this with some unique flavour combinations (duck, and a combo of chicken, wasabi and mushroom stand out). However, as quality goes, the dumplings here leave something to be wanted. The selection on offer tends to be rather heavy, and the dumpling textures often too glutinous, the interiors too wet, and none of it offering quite enough flavour to make up for it.
Festival Centre, Festival City (800 78326). Dim sum served 12 noon-11.30pm daily. Dishes from Dhs23-40.