The chang fun, a wide, flat steamed noodle filled with char siew (roast pork)
I love a good Sunday dim sum. Just knowing that there are plans for Chinese teatime and the snacks accompanying it are enough to make me all jittery with excitement, and so when one of our friends suggested that we all go this past weekend, I jumped at the chance to check out a new venue. Although dim sum isn’t an indigenous Malaysian specialty (it’s more Cantonese), there are enough Chinese people living in Kuala Lumpur to demand that a decent dim sum exist somewhere in this town.
We’d heard good things about Imbi Palace, a Chinese restaurant located just around the corner from my favorite market. The neighborhood around the market is full of upscale restaurants catering to the well-heeled Chinese community in the city (or so I’m guessing). Plus, Imbi Palace represents a food cross-section in KL that I think the hubby and I tend to overlook sometimes. Over the last couple of months, we’ve come to the realization that best part about Kuala Lumpur isn’t just in the street food. Rather, it seems to us that Malaysian culture is so centered around food that there are delicious eats everywhere, whether hawker-style, haute, or anything in between.
As it turns out, Imbi Palace is one of those marvelous restaurants that’s perched comfortably in the in-between. The restaurant is cavernous, with more than fifty tables crammed inside. In the front were decorative remnants from a wedding banquet the night before. The place was packed, and there seemed to be a system to how to procure dim sum which was wholly unfamiliar to us.
After an initial orientation period involving a question-and-answer period with our waitstaff, we finally figured out that this wasn’t your traditional pushcart dim sum. Traditionally, small plates are wheeled around on pushcarts for patrons to point and choose their teatime snacks, but Imbi Palace relies on a placemat-sized checklist with all of its available dishes printed in Chinese on one side and English on the other. I only know the names of most dishes by their Mandarin Chinese names, but I can’t actually read the language. Therefore, translations such as “Hong Kong Style Steamed Rice Cake” required some head-scratching to figure out that it was chang fun, a wide, flat steamed noodle wrapped around your meat filling of choice (in our case, it was char siew pork, a sweet roasted pork that I would gladly fight a war over).
One of the standouts for me was the chang fun, which were delicately steamed and tasted like a proper noodle; it had some al dente texture and wasn’t sticky, which happens frequently. The other was the char siew bao, a steamed bun filled with sweet roast pork. The bun wasn’t soggy, and the bread was perfectly fluffy, which is hard to accomplish when serving a crowd of almost 500 people. And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention finishing our meal with dan ta, or egg custard tarts. When dan ta are properly made, like they were at Imbi Palace, the tart is a winning combination of delicately sweet egg custard and flaky, butter pastry.
After three rounds of ordering around 20 different dishes, our bill came to less than RM 30 (around US $8.50) each. Service was a little crusty, but it won’t be enough to keep me away from those chang fun.
Imbi Palace | 8 Jalan Barat near the Bukit Bintang Market | 03-2145-8322 | Reservations for dim sum (weekends only) highly recommended