This is an immensely popular Hong Kong-style restaurant chain. A vast menu features all manner of good eats from down south, like dim sum, casserole dishes and fresh seafood. Loonfung House fills up almost nightly. Advance reservations are essential.
This place was usually jam-packed but I woke up early just to avoid the queue. Dim sum goes hand in hand with hot tea. Never have I ever had dim sum without tea in my life. Much to my surprise, one pot of tea here was RMB 80 and it tasted just like another pot of tea. I think it is the business model of the restaurant to sell really expensive tea in order to create a sense of classiness. A pot of tea here was more expensive than a lot of top notch dim sum restaurants in Hong Kong, including TianYi, Western Villa and Summer Palace. I do not mind paying for quality tea, such as when the tea is hand-picked and roasted in small batches in a family run local farm, but the price of the tea here is a bit too far from reality. Also, the selection of dim sum was the narrowest that I have seen, they only included the very premium and photogenic items.
The char siu (barbequed pork) was hard, fat and sticky at the same time. I told the waitress I wanted my char siu not too skinny, not too fat, preferably a bit of both. Half of my char siu turned out to be really fat, and the other half really skinny. Besides, I did not know how the sauce was stickier and thicker than manuka honey. I literally needed to wash the sauce off my front teeth with hot tea.
The hargao (shrimp dumplings) and siumai (shrimp and pork dumplings) were very overpriced and over steamed. The skin of the dim sum was too soft that the entire thing just fell apart the moment I tried to lift it up with chopsticks. One reason for this was the size. One hargao here was two hargao-s elsewhere, it was almost as big as my tempo. Logically, the steaming time had to be longer than usual but the skin was not any thicker or dryer to withstand the steam. Although a customer would find it satisfying to see such a big hargao and the sheer amount of shrimps, people tend to forget the meaning and core values of dim sum. Dim sum is meant to be delicate. We are looking for delicacy and quality, instead of size and quantity.
The cheung fun (steamed rice rolls) were very photo-genic because it was rare to be able to see the fillings through the rice sheets but it did not take me long to understand why. Usually, the filling is rolled into the cheung fun at the very beginning so the filling ends up in the middle of the cheung fun to provide a balanced texture. None of the sides should be too thick and the filling will not fall out easily during handling because it is wrapped by 2-3 rounds of rice sheet. However, this restaurant put the filling into the cheung fun at the end of the rolling process. Therefore, there was only one layer of rice sheet barely covering the filling and there were 5-6 layers of rice sheet below the filling. It tasted just fine but it was very annoying that the filling kept falling out.
The best dish was actually off the dim sum menu. It was steamed razor clams with rice noodles and garlic. It was well cooked and fresh but, again, extremely overpriced. The tofu skin rolls were the most horrendous of all because I could only see and taste a thick layer of fry batter but not the tofu skin. It was so oily that I could not even finish one piece.
In short, it was not a very satisfying experience. At this price level, there are a lot better options in Shanghai.
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