Chinese Cricket Club lies in the heart of Central London at the deluxe Crowne Plaza Hotel, named after the original Chinese National Cricket Team. The restaurant is holding dim sum masterclasses for fans of the dish and where better to learn than at this first class venue, holder of an AA Rosette. While executive head chef Ken Wang describes and explains the method behind the traditional Chinese dish, with 20 years of experience under his belt, the Hakkasan-trained chef Mai Lin illustrates the delicate technique, showing that dim sum is a truly artistic affair. Better yet, one whereby we get to taste the masterpiece at the end.
As we made our way to Blackfriars, we pondered on the origins of the word dim sum, later learning that it translates as ‘touch the heart’ because of the small yet satisfying portions. The staff welcomed us with a glass of Prosecco with lychee, a pleasant twist on the classic bubbles, before we sat down to an evening of fun-filled training and magnificent food for the reasonable price of £35 per person. Once we were kitted out in a chef hat and apron, we made our way to the demonstration table where all the fillings are already prepared for you.
The masterclass is well-organised, with the lessons becoming more challenging along the way. We began the class with the simplest but all-time favourite spring roll, encased in a crispy deep-fried cylindrical pastry and bursting with flavour. Mai Lin showed us the ropes, illustrating the technique of rolling the pastry and using a drop of water to mould it into place. Each time we created a new dim sum, our previous one would be sent to the kitchen, ready for us to enjoy after each lesson. Rather than a feast at the end of the class, the masterclass enabled the dim sum to do their job and truly touch the heart at each interval. It helps that they are paired with warming jasmine tea, poured into ornate tea-cups throughout the evening.
Our favourite dim sum was the scallop and prawn sui mai, an open-wrapped steamed dumpling which dates back to the Song Dynasty. Folding these dumplings into the right basket shape was a real test but with the help of Mai Lin and Ken Wang, and many laughs along the way, we got there in the end. The chefs at Chinese Cricket Club make it look easy, handcrafting 800 dim sum a day with unbelievable speed and skill. A bit of competitive spirit could also be felt around the table, as we waited to see whose sui mai stayed standing after being steamed to perfection.
With a departure gift comprising of chopsticks, the recipe booklet, a flowering tea and a dinner voucher, your brand-new skills can be put to practise at home. Dining in the city, with flavours that tickle the taste buds, has never been so entertaining.