Last Saturday, I met up with both Mr Noodles and Gourmet Chick at Dragon Palace in Earls Court; Mr Noodles had organised for us to meet over an excellent dim sum lunch. When he suggested it originally, the name of the restaurant seemed strangely familiar to me and it soon transpired why – I used to live near Earl’s Court and the restaurant has been sitting there in front of the tube station for years. I even ate there one a very long time ago and I remembered that it wasn’t very good; we used to frequent another local Chinese restaurant instead but since then, that place has become an estate agent. Dragon Palace’s current website says that the management has changed since then and the menu definitely looked different and actually quite inviting. While I was looking forward to the lunch, I couldn’t help but be a little bit wary still; luckily, my fears all came to nothing.
It was a chilly day when we lunched and the warm and cosy restaurant was packed; Mr Noodles had made a reservation beforehand and I would recommend it to anyone heading there for dim sum. The dim sum menu wasn’t very long but it was illustrated which definitely helped in the selection of dishes; don’t you hate it when a lot of the dishes are given different English names at different restaurants? It helps to see what you’re ordering! Our selections were all ticked off on the order form and we sat back and waited for our lunch to appear.
First to arrive was this trio of steamed dumplings: Prawn Dumplings (aka Har Gow, £2.50), Scallop and Prawn Dumplings (£2.60), and Village Dumplings (£2.50). These all gave a good first impression to the restaurant; both the prawn dumplings and scallop and prawn dumplings were generously filled with big flavourful prawns. The village dumpling (with the chive tie) was delicious with its sticky and chewy wrapping and thick, saucy fish filling.
The Turnip Paste w/Wind-Dried Meat (£2.20) were well made with lots of shredded daikon radish.
The Honey Roast Pork Buns (char siu baos, £2.20) were also very good.
A more unusual offering was the Steamed Squid and Garlic (£2.20). The squid itself wasn’t bad (though I still prefer the more usual deep fried squid) but the garlic sauce smothering the tentacles was wonderful and full of well…. garlic.
Pan-fried Dried Shrimp Cheung Fun (£2.20) made for a bit of a change from the usual steamed cheung fun. They were smaller, tightly rolled up sheets of rice noodle pan fried, which forms a bit of a crust on the outside that’s both ever so slightly chewy and good.
The fried Squid Cakes (£2.30) were unidentifiable at first due to their wrapping of bean curd skin which had become very crispy after frying. The squid cake inside was a good tender/bouncy texture.
After the large portions of everything that came before, the Yam Croquettes (£2.40) came out looking positively minute. Luckily, they were excellent with a tasty meaty filling and not too thick yam coating; they were even freshly fried!
Apart from the dim sum, there was the main reason we were here – silver needle noodles – a noodle that none of us had encountered anywhere else in London but that Mr Noodles discovered this restaurant served. They aren’t literally silver, of course, but a translucent, short, tapered-ended noodle made of rice flour that also known as rat’s tail noodles. Rather impressively, they make them in-house (which I think all the dim sum is too). We ordered them Singapore style, so stir fried with plenty of curry powder, bean sprouts, eggs, onions, peppers and shrimps (£5.80). The noodles were lovely – all soft and quite pleasingly shaped like earthworms.
But we weren’t finished with the dim sum! Every weekend, the restaurant offers two special dim sum dishes. Due to a bit of a mixup, we received the sweet Special B – Pan fried pancake with red bean paste (£3.20) instead of the savoury one. I opted to keep it as it had been a while since I had this treat. While not the best rendition I’ve ever had, this pancake was still very good, with a very generous filling of red bean paste.
The savoury Special A – Steamed Pork Belly & Taro Bun (£3.20) did make our way to the table after this. A thick slice of pork belly and a much thinner one of taro were nestled within the bun, making for quite luscious eating. Maybe too luscious – I wish my bit of pork belly had a bit more meat and bit less fat and that the taro slice was thicker to balance against the flavour and texture of the pork belly. Still, not bad for a weekend special dim sum dish; it looks like both specials change each weekend.
With tea and service, the bill worked out to only £14 a head – a real bargain for dim sum as we were so so full after the meal. The dim sum here is all excellent and while not as refined as some of the fancier places in London, the flavour certainly doesn’t suffer. What a wonderful place; I can certainly see myself visiting again. Thank you again, Mr Noodles (and his post on the meal, with the Chinese names of the dim sum dishes!, is here), for organising this lovely lunch!
207 Earls Court Road
London SW5 9AN