If you love dim sum and have been around Jacksonville for more than five minutes, you are fully aware of the scant availability of dim sum in our city. Harrumph. This is a source of madness for many local foodies, including us at Jax Restaurant Reviews. For those who are not following the dim sum dilemma, please answer the following questions: Do you like spring rolls? What about crab rangoons? Congratulations, you like dim sum and now you are sad there isn’t more available.
Dim Sum is a type of Chinese food that one friend referred to as “Chinese Thanksgiving”, minus the historically inaccurate feelgood story and the smallpox. If you ask us it’s the ultimate foodie meal, where the dishes are small, tapas style if you will, and you keep ordering until you’re full. Typically dim sum is steamed buns, dumplings, and the like. But it also includes small plates of various side dishes. If you haven’t tried dim sum yet, get out your calendar and make a date.
The best dim sum in Jax is only available twelve times a year at Blue Bamboo’s Dim Sum Sunday. Once a month, Chef Dennis Chan and his team roll up their sleeves and make from scratch dim sum that you won’t soon forget. Dim sum is extremely labor intensive. It says something that Chef Dennis, who doesn’t know how to turn down a challenge, limits his dim sum service to once a month. From the kitchen side it is an intense, all hands on deck day, which we appreciate from the bottom of our hearts.
The Dim Sum Sunday dates Blue Bamboo has scheduled are:
March 5, 2017
April 9, 2017
May 7, 2017
June 4, 2017
July 23, 2017
August 27, 2017
*You will need to make a reservation.*
On the most recent Dim Sum Sunday we ate the following:
-Wok Tossed Bok Choy Greens: Truly we ordered the bok choy greens because we knew the carnage that was about to go down and felt as though a green vegetable was necessary. The Wok Tossed Bok Choy Greens are an excellent choice whether you want a healthy option or not. They are prepared perfectly, soft but not soggy, with a nice sesame flavor from the oil used to saute them.
-Sesame Balls: These sesame balls put all the sesame balls on every Asian buffet to shame. Chef Dennis’ sesame balls are fully developed with texture and depth. The outside has just a touch of crispiness, and the inside has just a touch of sweetness. You will be ruined for all other sesame balls and you will dream about these.
-Vegetable Spring Rolls: While spring rolls are a fairly broadly eaten Asian food, you can expect the spring rolls at Blue Bamboo to be a step above what you are accustomed to. They are also in mini form for Dim Sum Sunday so you don’t have to commit to an entire spring roll. These spring rolls are an excellent choice for first timers to round out the meal.
-Shrimp Har Gow Dumplings: These are steamed dumplings with cooked shrimp inside. They come in a steamer basket. Shrimp Har Gow Dumplings have an understated taste, but pair nicely with a quick dip in some soy if you must have a sauce.
-Shrimp and Chive Buns: Eating the Shrimp and Chive Buns, they came across more like dumplings than buns. They are beautifully pleated and sealed buns filled with shrimp and chive. They have plenty of flavor and need no sauce.
-Roast Pork Puffs: This is a flaky dough filled with savory roast pork. It is simultaneously light and decadent, thanks to the pastry dough. These are a must try, but they tend to go fast.
-Crab Rangoon: Another familiar dim sum selection, Chef Dennis’ crab rangoons are not like their heavy chinese delivery version cousins. They are freshly made and as an added bonus they contain actual crab. These are a safe bet for first time dim sum eaters, but also deliciously enjoyable for veterans as well. If there are 4 or more people in your party just go ahead and order 2 orders of crab rangoons.
-Lotus Leaf Sticky Rice with Chicken: Please try these. Lotus Leaf Sticky Rice with Chicken can look intimidating when your server delivers a steamer dish with three parcels wrapped in a plant. I consider this a delicacy. Just place one of the leaf-wrapped pillows on your plate, carefully unwrap it (it will be hot from being steamed), roll up the lotus leaf and place it back in the steamer dish, and dig in to the sticky rice. There is a treat of moist, flavorful chicken inside. Enjoy!
-Egg Custard Tarts: Egg Custard Tarts are another tried and true dim sum selection. Look at it as a mini pie with a custard filling. As good as the custard is, the showstopper on this dish is the crust. It has the consistency and sweetness of a shortbread cookie. Chef Dennis’ Egg Custard Tarts are a don’t miss delight.
-Pineapple Buns: These buns rotate to various flavors every month. We have tried these as both pumpkin buns and pineapple buns. Pumpkin are my personal favorite because they make me think of pumpkin pasties from Harry Potter. Because I was wishing the pineapple buns were actually pumpkin, I was hesitant to try them. But I was pleasantly surprised that they had the same sweet, crunchy top and soft center. The flavor was right on point and the texture was supple. These sweet buns are the last bun listed on the menu under the baked options. No matter the flavor, give them a try.
With so few dim sum options in Jax it would be easy for Chef Dennis to put out some very average dishes and call it a day. But this is not his way. He sets the bar for dim sum, and we wait expectantly to partake in the fruits of his team’s labor every month. Blue Bamboo’s monthly Dim Sum Sundays prove once and for all that absence truly does make the heart grow fonder.