Thursday, November 3, 2016

Wu Chow Dim Sum

Wu Chow austin restaurant

I finally made it to Wu Chow for dim sum! The downtown Chinese restaurant, from the Swift's Attic team, opened earlier this year on West 5th Street, six blocks west of Congress Avenue. While they are neighbors to the federal courthouse, there are touches of whimsy throughout that I appreciate. From the smiling dumpling faces on the sign board, to the goldfish bowl with a huge gold chain *bling* around it, to the chopstick wrappers, little touches to make you smile.
Wu Chow sign board
Wu Chow chopsticks
But more importantly, they take their dim sum very seriously, and they only serve it on Sunday mornings. They don't have the fun little carts with stacks of bamboo steamer baskets being pushed around the room, but rather an actual menu and wait staff service. Our team of four ordered a bunch of plates to share, and the overall verdict was eight thumbs up! The highlights are below.

The gai lan broccoli with oyster sauce was steamed perfectly; not overcooked and not bitter. The sauce had a touch of sweetness to it, and the crispy shallots were a good textural contrast.
Wu Chow gai lan broccoli
The green onion or scallion pancake was much thicker and doughier than what any of us had seen before. It wasn't bad, just different, though I think I prefer the thinner, crispier, flakier versions better.
Wu Chow scallion pancake
Char siu bao, or steamed pork buns with crispy chicken eggrolls with a gingery sauce. The bao were a perfect size and one of my favorites, and the eggrolls a nice switch up from the Americanized standard.
Wu Chow char siu bao and eggrolls
Shrimp fritters, which were nicely fried and not greasy.
Wu Chow shrimp fritter
The soup dumplings, which had a nice lighter dough and a very succulent broth that tasted like it has been simmered for hours. My close up picture where you really could see all the pleats didn't come out as well as I had hoped, so you'll have to make due here. Get the soup dumplings! $10, but worth it.
Wu Chow soup dumpling
Turnip cakes with sausage; sometimes when you get these at other places they have a sheen of oil on them, but these did not.
Wu Chow turnip cake
One of the better sesame balls (or fritters) that I have had anywhere. Nice amount of red bean paste inside, but not TOO much, and like other items we had, devoid of grease. In the background are the egg custard tarts.
Wu Chow sesame ball and egg custard tart
The dumplings had a nice sear to them.
Wu Chow dumplings
Overall, I found the various sauces and broths to be full of flavor and not too salty, and fried items were not greasy. To me, these are the factors that help make each dish shine overall. The one disappointment was they were out of the Niman Ranch beef and chive turnover by around noon when we decided to add a few things to our order (and we got there at 11 am when they opened). After tax and tip, we each paid about $21, not that much more than you'd pay at a traditional dim sum spot. Plan ahead though, and make a reservation.

Finally, a great dim sum place in Austin that I don't have to go all the way up north for! What's the Chinese word for *hallelujah*?!