DO you mind if I order the steamed manifold?” I ask my wife innocently, reading from the dim sum section of the menu at the Dim Sum Chinese restaurant on Sheffield’s London Road.
“What is it?” she says, possibly thinking of something vaguely mechanical or that valley in the Peak District.
“Abomasum, or to put another way, black tripe,” I reply (for I have already looked it up). “It’s part of a cow’s stomach. Although it apparently goes by the name of slut in Ashton under Lyne “(Google is a wonderful tool).
“You can order it but I won’t eat it.” And I do and she doesn’t.
Reader, you can’t imagine what I will go through to pen a quirky paragraph or two. When it comes the tripe (£3.70) is beige, not black, and sliced through it resembles those blades you see in a jet turbine.
There’s not a lot of taste, although the ginger and spring onion flavouring does its best. It’s chewy. But as I have so often said before, texture is more important in Oriental than occidental cuisines.
And if it’s texture you want, you should try the whelks (£4) in a curryish satay sauce. If you don’t like whelks you won’t like these. If you haven’t had whelks, think snails.
In fact, if they have escargot on the menu at the Delhi Belly curry house in Burgundy they’d probably be very much like these. Loved ’em.
You’ve been with us at Dim Sum a couple of times since it first opened in 2003 and we’re back to celebrate its 10th anniversary and it’s the Chinese New Year.
Dim Sum is run by Wan Sang and his sister Tina Yau who have built up a good reputation for food, in particular dim sum, those little tapas-like dishes. Now Sunday is traditionally dim sum day but unlike other restaurants you can have them here any time.
“They don’t because the bills for dim sum can be less expensive,” says Wang Sang.
Dim sum Sundays (Dim Sumday?) are traditionally a family meal and the restaurant has a good mix of Chinese and Western families as well as a sprinkling of other nationalities.
I love dim sum because it’s a tasty treat, a chance to enjoy something new and if you don’t, it’s only a few quid down the Swanee. And it’s great fun.
The dim sum menu seems to have grown since our last visit because as well as the regular slate of old favourites there is a list of chef’s recommendations.
And on the wall are a couple of dishes of the day, so we waste no time in ordering the king scallops with vermicelli (£3.50). We’re a bit naughty, we have one each.
The scallops, firm and juicy, are still attached to the shell and are fragrant with coriander while the little tangle of vermicelli adds contrasting texture. Difficult to eat with chopsticks, though, and the juices dribble down my shirt-front.
Other people’s cuisines do contain, for us, novelty items. We pad gently round the steamed chicken’s feet (done two ways) and opt for the cuttlefish cakes (£4.20). “I always think of budgies with this,” says my wife.
Cuttlefish has a firm, dense flesh and the cakes are coated in breadcrumbs, fried and served with salad cream! They are one of life’s little delights.
Like tapas, you can order in tranches so your table isn’t littered with dishes all going cold at the same time.
It also means you can pace yourselves better – people eat far too quickly these days – and you can better judge how much your tummy can take.
Lo-mei-gai (£3.60) is glutinous rice steamed in a package of lotus leaves, which impart a certain flavour. There’s even more; inside the rice you discover a little nest of finely-chopped pork. You can’t eat the leaves: I tried.
My wife was keen to try one of the chef’s specials so ordered mini sam po (£3.90) which are aubergines, pepper and shiitake mushrooms stuffed with prawn. And she was pleased to have picked the grilled shredded duck roll (£3.60), a bit like a spring roll only the wrapping is a thin omelette.
It was quite surprising how full both of us soon felt: the missus steered well clear of the tripe and only nibbled on a whelk. We washed it down with constantly replenished pots of green tea (£2.20).
But not too full for puds or, rather, some lovely tarts (£1.05 each): a delicate Portuguese-influenced milk and cream with a crisp pastry, which the Chinese noticed being baked in the former enclave of Macau, and a Hong Kong version of our baked egg custard.
Dim Sum has a loyal clientele and even some of those wealthy Chinese students who are not too lazy to make it across town (there’s no direct route) from West Street. But Wan Sang is horrified by how much food they waste!
Sunday lunch doesn’t always have to be roast beef and Yorkie pud and this was a delight. The bill was £37.90.
The Dawes Verdict
201 London Road, Sheffield S2 4LJ
Tel: 0114 255 0467.
Open all week noon-11pm.
Fully licensed. Credit cards. Disabled access and toilets. Street parking.