Dim sum (also called yum cha)–small plates of steamed dumplings meant to be served with tea–are all the rage in Phnom Penh, with new eateries popping up regularly. The best in town is usually agreed to be Emperors of China, who’ve brought over a chef from Hong Kong to make their tasty dumplings.
Now Emperors of China have opened a new branch, Dim Sum Emperors, which brings all of the dumplings you loved from the original establishment, but serve them with a variety of inexpensive rice and noodle bowls in a more relaxed and casual setting.
There are 19 types of steamed dumplings, multiple buns, cakes and rice rolls, crisp fried cakes and desserts (just try to say no to a baked egg custard or a sweet sesame ball). The dumplings are all, in my experience really tasty. I love their ha gao, steamed shrimp dumplings and the crab meat and coriander dumplings. The steamed pork ribs with black bean sauce is another favorite.
My only complaint is that in the new venue, they are steaming the xiao long bao (often called soup dumplings because of their thin, delicate skin that holds a mouthful of broth inside the dumpling) in small metal cups. This makes them much easier to eat, but gives them a thicker skin and thus eliminates some of the pleasure of surgically removing them with chopsticks from the basket and getting them into one’s mouth without breaking them.
All dumplings are priced at $2.20 for 3 or 4 dumplings. Rice rolls and desserts are $2.50.
Located on Street 130 next to Central Market, Dim Sum Emperors has the feel of the dim sum/yum cha places I knew back in Oakland’s Chinatown. Spare, fast-paced restaurants packed with families eating chicken feet on Sunday mornings. Their parent restaurant Emperors of China is more well-appointed and feels much more like fine dining–all of the waitresses are model-beautiful but the service is always jaw-droppingly bad. Not so at Dim Sum Emperors. To carry the kind of volume they are already seeing, they need fast, capable servers and they’ve found some.
In addition to dim sum, the menu features Cantonese-style rice bowls, noodle soups and noodle plates (get your fill of BBQ pork and duck). They also have a menu of home-style Cantonese favorites including chicken feet in abalone sauce, pig trotters in oyster sauce and soft shell crab with wine garlic. Each dish is priced at $3.80.
Overall, if I’m craving dim sum during the day, Dim Sum Emperors is my new go-to spot. (More on where to get dim sum at night coming soon.)
Dim Sum Emperors
Corner of Street 130 and Street 53, next to Central Market
T: 023 650 7452