Filed under: DFW Restaurant Reviews
Dim sum, Chinese tea brunch, is a popular weekend festivity among the Asian community in Dallas. Sit down with unlimited refills of hot tea (I prefer jasmine) and order small dishes from steaming carts that hustle and bustle down the aisles of neatly lined tables. Arrive early (before 11:30 am) or be prepared for a long wait. I’ve eaten at the three major dim sum restaurants (Arc En Ciel, Kirin Court, Maxim’s) on the Dallas side of the DFW area multiple times (there are a couple more in Arlington that I haven’t ventured to). My favorite among the three is Kirin Court, which provides the best combination of food quality and atmosphere.
Kirin Court is located near the Chinatown area in Richardson. The parking is somewhat limited on weekends when dim sum brings a large crowd, but there is additional parking available in a grass field across Sherman Street.
Onto the food! On this particular visit, we tried quite a few dishes. I tried to photograph all of them, but still managed to miss a few. First up was the fried stuffed tofu skin. Crispy tofu skin encases crunchy bamboo shoots and tender mushrooms, they were a warm delight.
Second were two dim sum staples, har gao and pork siu mai. Har gao are tiny shrimp dumplings with a thin, translucent rice wrapper. Kirin Court’s version was delightful with lightly seasoned shrimp filling and a delicate wrapper that held up to some minor chopstick abuse.
Pork siu mai isn’t one of my favorite dim sum dishes as I prefer larger siu mai with sticky rice and ground pork (not widely available in restaurants in the US). However, for pork siu mai, Kirin’s version wasn’t half bad.
Rice porridge, a common Chinese breakfast item, was up next. Kirin’s version had tiny bits of thousand year egg and pork, topped with green onion and yu tiao, a deep fried stick of dough with a texture lighter than funnel cake (recipe). For my parents, this was comfort food.
One of the surprisingly good dishes of the day was Kirin’s version of fried soft tofu with a semi-sweet sauce. The tofu was chewy on the outside but silky on the inside, an interesting contrast in textures.
Next up was gai lan (Chinese broccoli) with oyster sauce and Chinese sweet rice. The gai lan was a bit tougher and more bitter than usual, probably a product of the decreased availability of the vegetable with the season. The Chinese sweet rice, with sweet sausage, was one of the best dishes of the day.
Then it was time for my favorite dim sum dish, fried stuffed taro root. The taro exterior is fried to an extremely fluffy state, almost to the point of instantly melting on your tongue upon contact. The inside is stuffed with ground pork and mushroom. Maxim’s actually serves the best version of this in town, but Kirin Court’s rendition was also excellent.
We were full, but couldn’t resist the temptation of the carts as they rolled by. So next we tried the sesame balls, eggplant stuffed with shrimp, and baked buns stuffed with chicken and straw mushrooms. Sesame balls are another popular dim sum item in the US, they’re crunchy on the outside, sticky soft in the middle layer, and the innermost layer is moist, soft, sweet red bean paste. The eggplant stuffed with shrimp was served with a fantastic garlic black bean dipping sauce (not pictured). The baked buns were an interesting story. We were expecting them to be stuffed with Chinese BBQ pork, as they often are at dim sum restaurants and remain a perennial favorite among my group. But today, Kirin put an interesting spin by stuffing them with a green-onion flavored filling of chicken and straw mushrooms. Though they were not what we were expecting, even the biggest BBQ pork fan in our group fell in love with these chicken and mushroom buns.
We were stuffed beyond full for the second time this weekend (being Thanksgiving weekend), but then a cart with tiny pastry triangles stuffed with BBQ pork rolled by. Naturally we had to order them. Flaky, buttery pastry, filled with cha siu pork and sprinkled with sesame seeds, made a very appropriate and satisfying ending to our meal.
We also had small shrimp wontons in soup and a few other dishes that I cannot recall which I forgot to photograph.
The total bill for the four of us was $55 plus tip, not a bad deal for having stuffed our faces in delicacies. I often have complaints at dim sum restaurants for lack of service (and lack of attention as sometimes the carts never make it in your direction when the restaurant is super busy). Service on this visit to Kirin Court was especially good for a dim sum place. Our tea pot was always refilled on time and there was no trouble locating our waitress for soy sauce refill or extra napkins. The carts kept coming at us to the point where we had to stack up the dishes and steamers on our table just to fit all the food. I’ve had experience with bad service at Kirin Court before. I’m not sure if the better service on this visit was a result of Kirin Court making some changes or a result of us sitting at a table at the junction of two cart “paths”.
The food quality on this visit was good as it always is at Kirin Court, and the creative items (chicken and straw mushroom buns and the garlic black bean sauce with the eggplant) inspires me to come back to see what else Kirin Court has up its sleeve.
Rating: 4 / 5
221 W. Polk St
Richardson, TX 75081
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