Dim Sum at the Imperial Mae Ping

The Imperial Mae Ping has been one of the landmarks of Chiang Mai for some time, but the Dining Out Team had never been to their Gold Leaf restaurant to sample their Chinese cuisine. Consequently, we responded to GM Nick Bauer’s invitation to come and try their daily Dim Sum lunch in the affirmative.
The Gold Leaf is on the second floor, but apart from the obligatory red Chinese lanterns there was not much to indicate the nature of this outlet, until you walked to the door to be met by a lovely young lady in a black figure hugging cheong-sam. Other than the Vietnamese ‘ao dai’ there is probably no more delightful national dress than the cheong-sam.

The venue is certainly up-market. The tables are covered in starched linen cloths and the napkins are white and heavily starched. You can look out over the Imperial Mae Ping’s indulgent spa pool area, as you prepare to indulge yourself with the Dim Sum food. By the way, Chinese green tea or chrysanthemum tea is served with the Dim Sum in the all-inclusive B. 250++ price.
We had just settled into our rather comfortable chairs when the first of the Dim Sum items began arriving, with some of the deep-fried platters and accompanying sauces being placed on the carousel in front of us. I started slowly and unadventurously with a deep-fried spring roll, with just a dash of the dark soy sauce, and then went on to try an absolutely wonderful deep-fried taro inside a filigree of pastry. Take these with the light colored plum sauce. The sweetness of the sauce bringing out the slightly sweet natural flavour of the taro.
But by now, steaming hot dishes were appearing on the carousel including a stuffed shitake mushroom with minced prawn in a salted bean sauce, which tastes as good as it reads. By this stage there was an almost bewildering array of choices, all saying “pick me!” I tried the noodle rolls with crabstick next, which came with its own sauce, and again this was yet another different flavour experience. Returning to the deep-fried plate it was time to try a deep-fried sticky rice flour with pork, dry shrimps and turnip. This was a fairly ‘heavy’ item, but with the dark soy it was another taste and texture delight.
By the time we had finished (or rather sampled) one of everything, we sat back satiated, to be then told by our delightful hostess Khun Worawan, to leave some room for the further courses that were coming. Aghast, we tried to say that we were indeed “im lao” but to no avail. Our service lady putting a bowl of Schezuan soup down in front of us. I have to admit I do like this style of Chinese soup. Served hot with just a hint of a ‘bite’ in the back of the throat, this was an excellent example, however I was starting to flag as the pork noodle dish arrived, and was totally unable to justice to the dessert!
It had been an enormous struggle to get through to those final courses of soup, pork and noodles and bean curd and fruit dessert – but in the true spirit of investigative journalism, the Team managed it! You really do need a good appetite to get through the Imperial Mae Ping’s Dim Sum lunches. The food is so delicately cooked, and full of flavour, that it is hard (well nigh impossible) not to make a pig of yourself. So many delightful choices - there was not one dissenting voice in our four person team. It represents very good value at the all-inclusive price of B. 250 ++ (B. 359++ on Sundays including shark fin soup and Peking Duck), especially when you look at the surroundings, service and the food itself. This is one to write in your diaries for next time you want to entertain. With four private rooms for up to 10 people it is difficult to top this venue. Highly recommended.
Imperial Mae Ping, Gold Leaf Chinese restaurant, 153 Sridonchai Road, Chiang Mai, telephone 053 283 900, fax 053276 580, www.imperial maeping.com. Lunch 11.30 a.m. until 2 p.m. Open seven days with secure parking within the hotel car parks.