Sunday for brunch saw my Mother-in-Law, my wife and myself head over to Ottawa's Chinatown for some Dim sum. My wife had been wanting to go for a while, but I do not usually care for some of the dishes. But with my wife's mother in town, we were good to go!
My wife had scoped out a few places and decided on Hung Sum Restaurant (870 Somerset Street West, Ottawa).
We arrived at 10:45 to find the 25 seat place full with more people out front. Quite the popular little family owned establishment. The food had to be good as I peered through the front window of the converted Victorian era home from the front porch at the very plain insides that could use a decorator's touch. The place was quite spartan with plain paint inside and basic tables with table cloths and chairs. It was a functional set up and not meant to be impressive by any means.
My Mother-in-Law went into investigate the wait time and what menu options were available. She returned with a thirty minute wait time and a single double sided printed piece of paper. Normally a thirty minute wait would have me looking for other dining options. Surely on a Sunday morning in Chinatown filled with restaurants there had to be a place ready for us with a ten minute or less wait. But since my wife had wanted Dim sum and chosen this place based on the Ottawa Citizen's Food Critic Peter Hum's recommendation, I was willing to give a little lee way.
Five minutes before the thirty minute mark, we were escorted to our seats by one of the two servers. I always enjoy when a restaurant is good at guessing how long the wait will be for those stuck in the front entrance purgatory of wanting to eat but not having a table ready yet. This guess was pretty well right on.
While waiting for a table to open up, my Mother-in-Law had made some choices. So we politely waved down the server that sat us with our order.
The Order: Steamed Beef ball, BBQ Pork Bun, Sesame Ball, Spring roll, Rice Noodle Roll with Crispy Donut and the Rice Noodle with Beef.
First came out the complimentary tea which was pretty good as far as Asian tea restaurants went. Our table went through at least three tea pots of tea during our meal.
Second came the turnip cake. Turnip cake? Yes, a slip up, we had not ordered this dish. We indicated this to the waitress who quickly whisked it away.
Next came an avalanche of food as a bunch of dishes hit the table.
The Steamed Beef Ball was interesting as a large beef ball, larger than spaghetti meat ball, was selected. It tasted like a regular meat ball but had a garnish with it. Pretty good for this white guy's first dishes at Dim sum in Ottawa.
BBQ Pork Bun was one of my favourites. The BBQ pork was surrounded by a delectable dough. Watch out though, the pork insides are hot if prepared correctly like they were at Hung Sum.
The Sesame Balls were also interesting. Hung Sung's Sesame Balls have a red lotus paste on the inside. Again, the insides are hot and, this time, gooey good. After the first couple of bites I thought perhaps I might try making these and figure out a way to put chocolate in them.
Spring rolls were average. It is hard to make exciting spring rolls these days though as they are a pretty common at any reputable and non-reputable Chinese establishments. But Hung Sung's do not disappoint.
An interest dish was the rice noodle roll donut. The best way to describe it is a donut bread wrapped with a Chinese rice noodle outside. A confused tongue ensues as it tries to make sense if it is eating a main course dish or dessert.
The Rice Noodle with Beef, my wife tells me, was bland tasting and overcooked. The noodles were pasty. The beef though I thought was fine.
The service was pretty good with two servers bringing dishes in and out of the kitchen and tea pots being refilled in a timely manner.
Overall, Hung Sum provides some of the best Dim sum in Ottawa. I enjoyed my meal here and my Chinese wife and Mother-in-Law said it was a pretty good Dim sum experience in a town that doesn't have much in high quality competitive Chinese cuisine like Vancouver or even Toronto. I may return in the future but at a later time to hopefully avoid the thirty minute wait.
A snapshot of Yonge and Bloor in the 1960s
1 hour ago