Royal China has always been famous for its traditional dim sum, even from its humble beginning in 1996. These handmade little parcels of tasty delights originated from Canton in China. It is now recognized worldwide as a major Chinese cuisine. Royal China’s dim sum is prepared on a daily basis by a team of dedicated dim sum chefs using always the best available ingredients on offer.
HF&B: What skills are involved in making dim sum?
IH: The skills are all in the hands. Dim sum is completely handmade and you need a lot of experience to master it. I started my training at Royal China Queensway when it opened over 20 years ago and I have worked my way up to head dim sum chef.
When learning to make dim sum for the first time, it can take hours to create the perfect portion, but now after a lot of experience it takes about two minutes. It is a non-stop learning process and I am constantly evolving my techniques to create more interesting dim sum.
As a dim sum chef, you need to know how to make the pastry and fold the dumplings and pastry puffs. You need to be very delicate and precise when making dim sum, however you need to be quick too – it takes a lot of practice and skill. We start our training in the restaurant as young trainees by learning the basics, and perfect our technique as we go along.
Dim sum was once only eaten by the Emperor, therefore it had to be very delicately and precise. Today we still carry on the same tradition, which was developed hundreds of years ago.
HF&B: What characteristics does the perfect dim sum have?
IH: We only use our hands to make dim sum and the skills we use are very intricate. We roll out the pastry and make it very thin, however it cannot be too thin as the dim sum dumplings will then break when picked up with the chopsticks. The dumplings and pastry puffs are made from wheat flour and potato starch and a dim sum chef needs to understand how to use these ingredients correctly and how to roll out the pastry gently.
We look through the eyes of the guest when developing new dim sum and create what we believe they would like to see and taste. We think of what we would like to eat if we were sitting in their position.
HF&B: How long does it take to be a really skilled specialist dim sum chef?
IH: It can take up to 15 years to master making dim sum and around five years to learn all of the different stages. We learn in stages, for example stage one encompasses learning about the ingredients, and we work our way up from there. It takes a lot of practice and to become a true professional everyone has to start at the bottom, you cannot start at the top straight away.