“Lock up your dim sons, we’re going for dim sum.”
In our lunch hour, a couple of my work friends, Mercy and Alice, and I decided to visit new restaurant Stack Dim Sum.
The aforementioned battle cry was a bit ironic really, as there was no sniff of dim sons to be had when we arrived at Stack. Or clever ones, for that matter.
In fact, there were only three other diners on a Wednesday lunchtime, one of whom kept popping out for a fag, allowing a blast of cold and smoky air into the slightly dog-eared space. Think brown walls and a soya milk vending machine churning away on the counter.
However, when it comes to dim sum, us chickadees found the ultimate harem – an entire menu devoted to dumplings, wonton, buns and cheung fun. For those who want to spy before they buy, we were handed a fingerprint-covered iPad that featured photographs of all the dishes.
Its glossy portrait prompted us to order the classic Cantonese-style pot sticker dumplings (£3.50).
Good call, as we were presented with four fat and sticky, laundry-hot, crimped-edged parcels, which were packed with sticky pork, with a gingery soy sauce on the side.
Great value too, as each of these billowy dollops worked out at 87.5p, and a portion would easily feed a skinny malinky for lunch.
They also went down very well with my dining partners. I usually take photographs of what I eat during reviews, as a visual memory aid to insure against senior moments. However, two of these dumplings are just a ghostly blur, since they were snatched off their plate with chopsticks before I could gear up my camera phone.
Next up: wafer crispy king prawn soya skin rolls (£3.50), consisting of six gilded, crisp and flaky Jiffy bags, each stuffed with nibs of prawn, crabstick and spring onion. Fab.
We also loved the classic char siu buns (£3.20). Inside three floury, sweet-dough clouds, as fluffy as Blofeld’s cat, were cores of sticky pork in a chestnut-coloured, caramelised sauce.
As we’re easily persuaded to supersize, we hadn’t been able to resist ordering what was listed on the menu as The Big Big Bun (£3.20).
Bit of a mistake. Though its doughy outer was perfect, the pick‘n’mix bag-style contents of this bun were slightly off-putting, with a wrinkled quail’s egg (which Mercy valiantly popped into her gob), some unidentifiable pale meat, a sausage stump and other miscellaneous meaty bits. Leftover cuisine, I think, but I didn’t fancy it much.
“It’s a bit like a snowball with a stone in it,” said Mercy.
We did, however, take a shine to the trio of rugby ball-shaped stuffed crispy ovals (£3.20). These had a sweet and aerated deep-fried rice-dough outer, with the texture of a Wotsit, and a minced heart of piggy and shrimp.
I was not so sure, however, about our set of four Canton siu mai (£3.20), with the usual pupil-like orange dot of tobiko on the top. I found these dense prawn and pork balls a little too dessicated and rubbery.
Also, the cured meat and glutinous rice in lotus leaf (£4.80), which was strewn with shards of lop cheong, had a rather dried-out texture.
Mercy quite liked this option’s chewiness, but I couldn’t be persuaded.
Last up were the cheung fun (£3.20), with pork wrapped in four semi-transparent, slippery and jellified rice-noodle sheets, which looked like squid bodies (though, cheung translates as intestines, as that’s what they most resemble). These were silky – best eaten fast, when still steaming hot.
The vegetarian options are negligible – just one dish – Stack layered egg sponge (£3.20), which also doubles as the only pudding.
But while there might not be a fancy paint job, this place is bargain central.
We completely overordered, and still spent under a tenner each.
Tell your friends, colleagues and dim sons.
Stack Dim Sum; 42 Dalmeny Street, Edinburgh (0131-553 7330)
How much? Lunch for three, excluding drinks, £27.80