There were so many meals to squeeze into four days in Hong Kong that we only managed dim sum once. I chose West Villa based on strange criteria: the presence of something called “Mexico buns.” A custard-topped pork bun that I can only guess got its name from its vague resemblance to a concha. Really obscure, though, because pan dulce, not to mention Mexicans, are nonexistent in China.
What I hadn’t really considered is that Mexico bun is the English interpretation of cha xiu ma xi co bao, which wouldn’t be spelled phonetically but in Chinese characters, duh. The staff didn’t speak English. Luckily, they did have bilingual check off cards, though nothing called Mexico bun appeared. Um, and I messed things up. I originally put a 1 next to five items, then thought that looked weird so tried changing to an X, but stopped after two—pork buns and shrimp asparagus dumplings–because the squiggles resembled nonsensical asterisks. And guess which two dishes never arrived at our table?
I was under the impression that West Villa was known for their char siu and anything containing the roast pork. Here it is in its pure sweet, fatty lacquered form, nothing like the tough, dried out version found so often in the states.
Rice rolls with super plump shrimp.
Fried boneless chicken wings stuffed with minced pork and mushrooms, I think. The preserved vegetables were a nice touch.
Still no shrimp dumplings or pork buns, though. After nearly half and hour we asked one of the waitresses for an order of pork buns, thinking they must have forgot. Every other table had them so we knew they were must-haves. It seemed like she understood us but 15 minutes later it was clear we still weren’t getting them. We flagged her down again and this time she brought over the English-speaking manager. We once again asked for an order of pork buns, politely, I might add, which seriously pissed her off and she started violently cleaning up our table and banged around the plates extra loud to prove some sort of point that was completely lost on us. Seriously? So much trauma over stupid pork buns. We weren’t about to leave without them after waiting so long.
I don’t want to say these were worth the wait because no one should have to spend 45 minutes anticipating a single dim sum order. But they were pretty amazing, no question. The first I noticed was that they were warm, straight from the oven, something you never get with cart dim sum (which seems to be the preference of New Yorkers but not so much with Hong Kongers). Secondly, these weren’t regular pork buns, tan and bready with a shiny top. The finish was pale, dull and crunchy, created by a light sugar coating barely perceptible to the eye. I should’ve shown a cross-section of the insides but I was too busy eating to stop for a photo.
West Villa * Lee Gardens Two, 28 Yun Ping Rd. 2/F, Hong Kong