Even in a small city like Zhongshan (small by Chinese standards, anyway), there is a huge variety of dim sum restaurants, ranging from tiny mom-and-pop's to large elegant banquet halls. Prince Restaurant, a 10-minute walk from my parent's home, fits the latter description. We forgoed our usual bakery breakfast for dim sum with my parents and a big group of their childhood friends.
Hargao, shaomai,* spring rolls, oh my. Plates and baskets streamed steadily to our table: crispy squid, pork buns, fried dough, lotus leaf rice, coconut pudding. Along with the standard Cantonese dim sum I've had countless times, there was something new, a flaky delicate fan-shaped pastry. The filling? Oysters.
Oysters that are served at dim sum are usually stir-fried or fried, hardly ever in the form of a pastry. The layers here reminded me of phyllo or mille-feuille, though the technique is different. To make this pastry the baker or pastry chef first divides the dough in half, kneeds one part with water, the other part with oil. With the filling in the middle, he then folds the two parts into each other multiple times, then turns the dough inside out before baking so the tiny folds are visible.
Oysters for breakfast may not kickstart another appetite, contrary to legend. But the taste of the flaky shell melting with the oysters further confirmed my opinion that savory pastries can be eaten at any time of the day.
*Shrimp dumplings in translucent wrappers, pork and crab dumplings.
Prince Restaurant 王子饭店
5th floor, Daxin Xinduhui Building, No. 2
South of Daxin Road, Shiqi District, Zhongshan