Chuk Yuen Seafood: Best value-for-money dim sum in Hong Kong

Chuk Yuen Seafood Restaurant

G/F Yardley Commercial Building, 3 Connaught Road West
Sheung Wan, Hong Kong
Tel: +852 2668 9638
See www.chukyuen.com.hk for their two other outlets in Tsim Sha Tsui and Happy Valley

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So the hubs has an ex-colleague, Mr Sandwich (long story – tell you another day), who has a middle-aged local landlady who goes by the nickname Mama Choy. I haven’t actually met Mama Choy before, but Mr Sandwich has told us so many stories about her that she’s pretty legendary by now. Usually they’re about how she nags him not to spend money unnecessarily – which is ironic given that 1) she owns a number of properties around Central Hong Kong, so she’s likely not too hard up herself, and 2) she’s probably making a good sum off of Mr Sandwich’s rent.

Anyhow, she brought Mr Sandwich to Chuk Yuen Seafood for dim sum one Sunday, and he in turn brought us there a subsequent Sunday. And it turned out to be the best value dim sum I’ve had since moving to Hong Kong. (Moral of the story: always trust a rich but bargain-savvy auntie.)

Now I’m going to make enemies here, but I actually haven’t found very good mid-priced dim sum in Hong Kong. (Prove me wrong, please). Sure, you could check into multi-Michelin-starred T’ang Court or Lung King Heen for a treat, but for a regular casual weekend nibble with friends that won’t break the bank, I haven’t been impressed with many options. Lin Heung Tea House is fun for the fight-for-your-own-food experience, but the food was a let-down, and I loved the feeling of time coming to a standstill at Luk Yu Tea House, but I couldn’t say the same about its food.

Anyway back to to Chuk Yuen Seafood, a Chinese restaurant in Sheung Wan. It doesn’t look like much: first, there’s a messy array of styrofoam boxes and tanks with live seafood and garish signboards touting discounted set menus by the entrance. It gets equally tacky in the basement dining room, though the space does stretch out far deeper than you would expect and it’s air-conditioned, clean, and the tables are widely spaced apart for Hong Kong standards.

But these don’t matter because the food is what you’re really here for. The har gow and steamed dumplings were clear winners of the day. The latter come in myriad combinations of prawn and assorted seasonal vegetables, and every variant we ordered was stuffed full of plump prawn chunks (none of those wimpy, cheaty pastes) and steamed vegetables that still retained a lovely crunch. Their starched skins also have a perfect texture that don’t rupture or stick to your chopsticks when you pick them up.

I also really liked the cheung fun, which were flawlessly smooth but I would have preferred them to be just a bit thinner. The dough on the cha siu bao was sweet and fluffy, and the crispy beancurd rolls were crisp and not too oily. We also ordered half a duck, and the meat was sufficiently tender, though I didn’t find its flavour particularly outstanding; and a serve of roast pigeon, which I usually avoid because I find them either too gamey or too tough to chew, but I found neither of that at Chuk Yuen.

Another lesson learnt: when it comes to ordering dim sum, don’t do the polite/politically correct thing of passing the menu around for each diner to tick their favourites, you’ll very, very definitely end up with too much food. We were just four but ended up with enough food to comfortably feed a party of eight. We didn’t regret it though, because the bill turned out to be just HKD660 (SGD115) for all that food, and we had enough leftovers to doggy-bag for dinner, breakfast and lunch for the next few days. A real steal in this pricey town!

Yays:

  1. Generously filled dumplings with perfectly steamed skins.
  2. Very, very pocket-friendly prices for good quality dim sum.
  3. They’re open till midnight if you ever feel like a late bite.
  4. There are clear bilingual dim sum menus, though a limited handful of house specials are only listed on a separate menu in Chinese.

Nays:

  1. There’s not so much of an ambience, and the staff don’t particular care to create any (they started rolling up tables and partition doors even while we were still eating). The dining room is sprawling and looks like one of your typical 1980s Chinese restaurants where your parents might have held their wedding banquet. But on the bright side, you’ll be so taken by the food you probably won’t notice it.

Will I return?

Yes, regularly, for dim sum. And also to try their seafood dishes, which I expect to be even better since it is their specialty after all.

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