I’m not sure if it’s the best dim sum in England but it’s bloody good.
Dim sum is one of our favourite lunchtime options and we’re always on the lookout out for good recommendations in our quest to find the best in town.
A little while ago, I saw that Giles Coren had said that Jun Ming Xuan serves the best dim sum in England. Quite some praise for a little neighbourhood restaurant, tucked away in Colindale at the end of the northern line.
The restaurant is only a ten minute walk from the station and at first glance, its location doesn’t seem particularly promising. It’s on the ground floor of a block of new-build flats, the like of which seem to be taking over Colindale. The dining room told a whole different story though and was almost full when we arrived. As it turned out, we were lucky to get in and just managed to bag the last table without a reservation.
True to form, we tried quite a few dishes so here’s what we thought.
Savoury meat croquettes
These were crisp on the outside and not at all greasy. The casing was slightly sweet and nicely chewy, in contrast to the savoury mince filling. I’d definitely order them again.
Seafood and mango rolls
This is a dish rarely seen on dim sum menus and I suppose we ordered it in an attempt to try something different. The rolls had a good crispy coating and a rather surprising filling – prawn and mango in a cream sauce. It was an interesting combination but there are many better fried dishes on the menu.
Lean pork and century egg congee
The idea of eating Century egg probably fills a lot of people with dread. It’s preserved in saline solution for a few months, which causes the yolks to turn creamy, while the whites go almost jelly-like. The challenging part is the fact that it turns dark green and develops a flavour similar to mature cheese. Trust me though, it’s nothing to be afraid of. It’s also a classic addition to congee.
As is often the case, we felt the dish needed a little more seasoning but it was great with an added splash of soy. This is classic Cantonese comfort food.
Prawn & beancurd cheung fun
This is a pretty unusual dish but the addition of fried beancurd is a smart idea. It adds good texture but all in all it was a little too oily compared to more traditional types of cheung fun.
Xiao long bao
The xiao long bao (also known as Shanghai dumplings) were very good. The skin held well, without leaking the broth and they were packed with flavour.
Prawn and chive dumplings
Prawn and chive dumplings usually come in threes so we were pleased to see the extra one (no need to split the last one). These were amongst the best we’ve tried.
Pan fried turnip cake
There was plenty of mooli (Chinese turnip), Chinese sausage and dried shrimp in the mix. It’s probably the first time I’ve been able to detect pieces of actual meat in this dish. That says a lot for the quality of the dim sum here.
Egg custard buns
The manager was certainly the friendliest person we’ve encountered in a Chinese restaurant. He took time to speak to most of the customers as he made his way around the tables. He even gave us some egg custard buns on the house, to show us how good they are (no – he didn’t know about the blog). The filling was runny custard, instead of the solid paste that you’ll find in most other dim sum establishments – this is down to the cooking technique. Impressive and delicious.
Unlike many of the overpriced Chinese restaurants in central London, there’s no pretentious fuss here. Yun Ming Xuan is a great restaurant in terms of quality, atmosphere, service and pricing. It’s definitely somewhere we would return to, if only it was not so far away.
I’m not sure if it’s the best dim sum in England but it’s bloody good. If you live locally or just fancy a change of scenery, it’s well worth a visit. Remember to book ahead.
Dim sum for two with tea and service: £25Visit Site
Address: 28 Heritage Ave, Beauford Park, Off Aerodrome Rd
London, NW9 5GE
Tel: 020 8205 6987
If you’re not sure about any of these dishes, see our beginners guide to dim sum:Piggy’s Guide to dim sum