When I was younger, my mum used to take our family out for Dim Sum brunch on Sundays, where we’d accumulate mountains of bamboo steamers and excess calories. My recent trip home leaving me somewhat nostalgic, I’d been on the hunt for somewhere in Jakarta that could recreate my childhood memories, this weekend settling for Xin Hwa restaurant at the Mandarin Oriental.
Having visited Mo Bar in our earlier days in Jakarta, Andrew and I already knew that the Mandarin Hotel is a classy establishment. It houses several bars and restaurants to choose from, including Xin Hwa, which features a cantonese-style menu and an all you can eat Dim Sum brunch on Saturdays and Sundays. Considering the ambience of exclusivity the Mandarin Oriental clearly tries to emulate (and fairly successfully, I might add) I was pleasantly surprised to be quoted RP198,000 per head when making my booking.
We arrived at 12:00pm and were promptly seated at a large booth much more suited to a booking of six. The restaurant is clearly designed to cater for families and large parties, with an abundance of round tables and private seating areas set in a formal yet relaxed manner. Rather than the traditional trolley-style Dim Sum, Xin Hwa offers an extensive menu of steamed and fried delicacies, which you order ahead, as frequently as you like.
Given the reasonable pricing, the most impressive element of Xin Hwa’s Dim Sum brunch was the sheer quality of the food. Delicately prepared with extremely fresh ingredients, we gorged on dish after dish of delights including Peking duck rolls, deep-fried shrimp with wasabi aioli, tea-steamed fish and crispy-skinned chicken with sweet chilli dipping sauce. The mango pudding and home-made ice cream were also packed with fresh ingredients and flavour, unlike most of my experiences with Dim Sum desserts to date.
Contrary to some reports I’d read online, the food was served quickly and in abundance, and we were rarely for want of a dish over the course of the hour. Better yet, the staff were attentive, polite and engaging, making several suggestions for house specialties and regularly checking whether we wanted to order more food. They kept our cups steaming with Jasmine tea (although not inclusive in the all you can eat price) and clearly had no qualms about how much we ordered, which was lucky, because we ate quite a lot. Walking home after lunch to burn off the calories, Andrew and I both agreed it was one of our most delicious Dim Sum experiences yet – fine dining without the price-tag to match.