Tried and Tested: Long Teng

During the long, hot Dubai summers, I often joke that the temperatures get so high outside that I turn into a "human dim sum" - steamed from the inside out. So it's somewhat ironic, then, that it's during the human dim sum time of year that I was lucky enough to discover - with thanks to my friend Kirsteen (the co-founder of Get Fit Chick, Kirsteen is a fellow HAPA who hails from Hong Kong so she knows her dim sum, and like me, lives in the area, which is how she stumbled across it during it's brand-new soft opening phase) what might be one of my favourite new dim sum destinations in Dubai: Long Teng Seafood. Located in Business Bay (in the Ubora Towers, just around the corner from the Zoom), the name is slightly misleading - yes, seafood does seem to be a forte of theirs (they even have the tanks commonly found in many seafood restaurants in East Asia facing the elevators when you come out of the elevators on their first floor level), but to me, their strong suit here is the dim sum.

It can be hard finding good dim sum when you're outside of East Asia. Yes, finding it is fairly easy in most big cities, but the key here is good dim sum: The authentic stuff that's light, not greasy, and served to properly in little bamboo containers stacked up high to keep them warm, with staff who understand what you're talking about whether you say the name of the dish in Cantonese (like Kirsteen did) or Mandarin (like I did), because we aren't ever really sure what the English descriptions mean in regards to the names we know for the dishes we grew up with. Unfortunately since this restaurant doesn't seem to serve pork or alcohol (makes sense if you're familiar with these restrictions in Dubai, given that it's not in a hotel property and is more of an independent location in Business Bay), the Xiao Long Bao here is made with chicken - but fortunately that doesn't make it any less tasty since they do a bang-up job. Whether it's fried or steamed, the dim sum here was light, fresh and delicate, and while the selection wasn't as large as I could have hoped, they do have all of the classics, from the aforementioned Xiao Long Bao (one of my favourites!) to vegetable dumplings, Siu Mai, turnip cakes, Xia Jiao (aka Har Gau), spring rolls, Char Siu Bao, turnip puffs, glutinous rice dumplings, a variety of Cheong Fun (rice noodle rolls), and more, alongside an a la carte menu serving up everything from noodles to spicy stir-fried beef, chicken with cashew nuts, and plenty more, as well as a good selection of seafood of course, from stir-fried prawns to crispy squid and steamed whole fish. One thing missing, for me, was the Sticky Rice in Lotus Leaf (Lo Mai Gai) but thankfully I can still get that at one of my other go-to dim sum spots, Taipei Dao, which just happens to be down the road.

While good food is the first port of call when it comes to finding a great dim sum spot, the atmosphere is another part of it - it can be hard finding somewhere that's a little more upscale, and while this is listed as a casual dining restaurant (they didn't mind me coming in wearing leggings and flip-flops either, albeit very presentable and non-sweaty ones!), it is a little nicer and more refined and decorated than I've found most other good dim sum restaurants in the region to be. The restaurant is surprisingly large - they've got a surprisingly grandiose entrance area that opens onto a quiet ground floor dining area, lifts that lead up to the main seating area upstairs, and a beautiful balcony with a pretty decent view. White linens, glossy ebony chairs with satin finishes and classic round Chinese-style dining tables complete the look, and while the place was quite silent when we were there, it wasn't uncomfortably quiet and I'd rather they had that than bad tunes instead. The staff were friendly and efficient - they seemed to speak more Mandarin than Cantonese - and my friends and I were all impressed by the fact that not once did our teacups ever empty without them refilling them so smoothly that we hardly even noticed them doing so (yes, they serve bottomless tea here, as it should be done during "yum cha"!).

One of the best surprises here was in the presentation of the fried sticky rice dumplings, fried turnip pastries, and the sweet egg tarts - it was beautiful, served in the shape of delicate swans, cute chicks, or comic chicken faces. I'm not sure why they seem to have an overwhelming bird theme going on, and the idea of this epic creativity in dim sum presentation was heavily reminiscent of the artful work they do with the dim sum at Hakkasan, but if it is imitation, they do it well and I'm certainly not complaining. Upon finishing your meal, in keeping with another classic feature of this type of Asian restaurant, they'll serve you a complimentary fruit platter as part of the experience, whether you choose to have dessert or not. And this isn't a measly fruit platter either - it's enormous, beautifully presented with carved swirls of melon rind topping a wide selection that boasted some of the freshest and tastiest watermelon I'd had in ages. They don't charge an arm and a leg for the high quality that they're serving either - we were three extremely hungry half-Asian girls who knew our dim sum and wanted a lot of it, ordering seconds (and fighting the urge for thirds), yet our total bill only came down to about AED120 per person, split three ways. As for its authenticity, let me put it this way - it's good enough that I'd actually not be afraid to take my mum here, which is a true litmus test for any decent East Asian or dim sum restaurant, in my world anyway. We've already planned our next (million) trips back.

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