The other day I overheard my colleagues AM, JN and JL talking about their lunch at Dim Sum Express. Because they had wanted to go back, it piqued my interest and I thought I would join them on their adventure.
Dim Sum Express is one of the first food trucks appearing on the streets of Vancouver. It’s currently located near the Canada Place, outside of the new Miku Restaurant. Definitely a good spot for the summer with lots of foot traffic from the cruise ships.
With four of us, we decided to order an assortment of dim sum a la carte style, and share among ourselves. A la carte items range from $3.50 to $4.50, and depending on the item, you may find two to five pieces per order. That’s great for sharing dishes like we did.
So here’s what we ordered. We ordered multiples of everything so there’s enough food to share:
- Pork Dumplings (Siu Mai)
- Shrimp Dumplings (Har Gow)
- Juicy Dumplings (Xiao Long Bao)
- BBQ Pork Buns
- Pan-Fried Dumplings
Verdict? Not for Chinese people, especially people like me who grew up in Hong Kong having dim sum every weekend, who after moving to Canada, go to restaurants such as Kirin, Empire Seafood Restaurant and Fisherman’s Terrace a lot for dim sum. In other words, not for someone who’s familiar with dim sum, knowing how to differentiate the so-so from the great.
The taste was OK, but not great. While the juicy dumplings and pork dumplings were not bad, the shrimp dumplings were just underwhelming. The wrapping of the shrimp dumplings was quite thick, and the filling was sub-par. The BBQ pork buns were big but I would’ve preferred more BBQ pork filling.
The problem is that these are not fresh dim sum. I suspect they buy these (frozen?) through wholesale, and they just reheat them. So, the quality suffers and will never be the same as fresh dim sum made to order at a Chinese restaurant. Having said that, if you order one of their combos ($7.50 each), which includes gai lan and/or chow mein, then those are prepared fresh. I was watching them do the stirfry to refill. Those may taste better.
Because they are constantly refilling the food (and dim sum are just sitting in bamboo baskets over a steamer to keep warm), I was surprised by how long we waited in line. There may be around 7 people in front of us, but with two people taking orders and filling boxes, it shouldn’t have taken 25 minutes for us to get our food. Not very convenient for those of us who only have a small window of time for lunch.
Frankly the food quality was just average and the service was relatively slow. It’s not a bad option for those who don’t know much about dim sum or if you have a sudden dim sum craving. But for those of us who are spoiled with lots of dim sum experience at fancy Chinese restaurants, this is probably not for you.
Dim Sum Express
200 Howe Street, Vancouver