It is always a great thing when family comes and visits, and what is even more great is to go together and share a meal at a place you’ve never tried.
As I mentioned previously, I love dim sum – I grew up on the cuisine and always try to seek out some good dim sum whenever I can. So when we planned to head down to Somerset again to show my parents around Chinatown, we were on the hunt for dim sum. The reviews online for Oriental Chu Shing Restaurant in Ottawa’s Chinatown is quite fair and so as we parked our car on a rainy Friday lunch, we made a quick decision between Yangtze on one side of Somerset and Chu Shing on the other.
A friend had mentioned to us when we first visited Ottawa months ago that these two restaurants were “the best” in the area and were often in competition with one another.
We could’ve been persuaded to try the other restaurant, but we opted to try out Chu Shing this time around.
The last outing my family had in Chinatown was Hung Sum and as you may have recalled, we had difficulties with trying to bring our stroller in. Oriental Chu Shing has an elevator and is quite stroller-friendly, as is the restaurant in general.
We came slightly before the lunchtime rush at 11am, and so we were given the option of first ordering a few items as it would be another 10-15 minutes before the dim sum carts would start making their rounds. (Great service!)
Oriental Chu Shing has a limited dim sum menu consisting of about 30-40 items, and that can be both a good thing or a bad thing. For a restaurant that can mean the commitment to doing a few things well or it can also mean having a chef that has a very limited repertoire.
Coming from Calgary, it can be quite pretentious to expect that every restaurant in Ottawa would carry the same assortment of dim sum – a foodie must always approach each restaurant, each food cart, each kitchen with a humble heart, and an empty stomach. It is this receptive humility that separates the foodie from the food critic.
We ordered the typical items: har gow (shrimp dumpling), shrimp shu mai (another type of dumpling), fung jao (chicken feet in black bean sauce), sticky rice, rice crepe wraps, and bean curd wraps as well as cha siu bao (bbq pork bun) and an assortment of beef tripe, beef tendons, and beef lung.
I thought the food was very good, it was definitely fresh, the shrimp was plump, juicy, and delightful. I quite enjoyed the bean curd wrap, it wasn’t overcooked and had a good sauce with it. The fung jao was just right, not fall-off-the-bone but neither was it tough and it was flavourful. My mom had some reservations about the beef tripe and said that it wasn’t cleaned thoroughly, again, like I said elsewhere, sometimes it’s okay to clean the offal just enough to remind the eater what they are eating. =)
Overall it was a good experience and I would eat at Oriental Chu Shing again.
The service was quite interesting at the restaurant as I have been to some Chinese restaurants where the waiters and waitresses are required to sell everything on their carts or lose out on potential bonuses for the day, but at Chu Shing, the waiters and waitresses switch carts and dim sum trays with one another to change things up as it is not always the same person hocking the same items. This is actually refreshing and forces you to pay attention to what is being offered every round.
If you’re ever looking for a more streamlined dim sum experience, give Oriental Chu Shing a try.