Jenkins and I were doing some grocery shopping in Chinatown one day when we decided to stick around for some lunch as well. We wandered past Kam Wai Dim Sum on Pender Street when I remembered Sherman doing a review about it fairly recently. I’m always game for dim sum and Jenkins did not need a lot of convincing that day so we stepped inside. It was about 1PM and the place was bustling but luckily for us, we only had to wait about 5 minutes before a table cleared for us. The place was pretty bare bones with plastic table clothes that were stripped off after each seating only to reveal yet another plastic table cloth. But we didn’t mind as long as the food was good.
First up was some spicy beef tripe in Szechuan sauce. Jenkins isn’t a big fan of beef tripe so I was left to polish this off myself. Although the sauce was not spicy or even Szechuan style at all, it was still quite tasty. The tripe was very tender and soaked up all the delicious sauce.
Next came the sui mai pork dumplings. Similar to the beef tripe, this was also prepared quite nicely without being over-steamed. There was a good balance of pork and shrimp and it had a nice bouncy texture to it.
The stuffed bean curd wraps with preserved veggies was also steamed quite well. My one complaint about this dish is that it often gets over-steamed and the bean curd comes out all limp and unappetizing. However, the bean curd in this case remained in tact and the savoury veggies and meat inside were nicely seasoned. The dish was also not as oily as usual and did not exhibit a pool of oily sauce on the bottom, which I appreciated.
Jenkins wanted to give the pan-fried pork potstickers a try and although these turned out to be nicely pan fried on the bottom and not oily at all, I found the skin too thick for my liking.
The wonton in spicy chili sauce is another one of my favourite dim sum standbys. There were a lot of won tons but I found the spicy sauce more vinegar-y than spicy so this version was not my favourite. I should also note that these wontons are of the pork variety but that seems to be the case most of the time for this particular dish.
The har gow shrimp dumplings were one of the last items to arrive. I was quite looking forward to this but although the shrimp filling was tasty and had a slight crunch from the bamboo shoots, I found the skin on this a bit thick as well and it was slightly oversteamed.
I have to say that 4 egg tarts for 2 people is a bit excessive but I love egg tarts when they’re made well and I’m a bit embarrassed to say that I ate 3 of them. The puff pastry crust was flaky and buttery and the sweet egg custard filling hit the spot.
The challenge with dim sum for 2 people is that you always end up paying more than you would per person when compared to going in a larger group. That being said, the prices at Kam Wai are more than reasonable, with the dishes ranging between $2.75-$4.50. Between Jenkins and I, we ate about $20 before tax, which wasn’t too bad. It’s a pretty utilitarian place so prepared to eat and leave…mingling will have to be saved for some other location.
249 East Pender Street, Vancouver