Friday, July 6, 2012

Hong Kong: kein Land mit leckeren Essen

Technically speaking, Hong Kong isn't a country, but rather a Special Administrative Region belonging to China, but it is on and it is famous for dim sum, which is most always a delicious good time ... and therefore, country or not, not to be skipped. Once you start to poke around, you'll realize there is more regional Chinese food in Berlin than you might think (especially if you never venture west of Mitte). Aroma specializes in Cantonese food and according to my Hong Kong sources, it's the only place in Berlin with a Hong Kong-trained dim sum chef. Apparently the other restaurants offering dim sum are reheating frozen dumplings and the like. Unfortunately, even when the food at Aroma is good, some of the dim sum experience is still missing for me. Instead wheeling the food around on carts and marking off your order on a slip of paper, as per dim sum tradition, Aroma has a regular old menu. It doesn't change the quality of the food, but somehow it's a bit less of an experience for me. Like tapas bars outside of Spain. Where are the toothpicks?! Still, food is most important and the food at Aroma can be really good. But, according to my Hong Kong sources, the chef sometimes goes on vacation and when he's not there the restaurant uses the same frozen dumplings, etc. that all the other places use. I am certainly in favor of chefs being allowed to take a vacation and I'm sure the number of chefs in Berlin trained in the art of dim sum is rather small, but ... there's got to be a better solution than this - especially when there's no way to tell when he's there and when he's not until the food shows up at your table. Aroma has a fairly small dim sum selection (as well as many non-dim sun options that I've heard are sub par), but it does feature all the classics. There are several types of dumplings, sticky rice, char siu bao (steamed buns filled with Chinese barbecued pork), chicken feet, and a few other items. It's certainly a wide enough selection to keep a big group happy, but maybe not quite enough variety to entice me to go really often. Most of what we ordered was very good. The only real dark spot was the pork dumplings - the meat had the texture of a hotdog and no real flavor to speak of. If they were handmade, they were nothing to be proud of. On the other hand, our bao were revolutionary. Possibly the best I've ever had. Chinese broccoli is an essential part of dim sum for me because it cuts the sweet starchiness of the other dishes. The chinese broccoli at Aroma, while very, very simple was perfection. Steamed and dressed with just a hint of oyster sauce, I could have had an order of that and called it a day. Well, I probably would have needed a pork bun, too. Aroma (not to be confused with the very good Italian Aroma on Hochkirchstrasse) Kantstrasse 35

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