We’ve walked into this Chinese restaurant a thousand times. In fact, you’ve done the same. What we mean is that Ton Kiang has that classic design and decoration that seems to be the norm in the majority of Chinese restaurants. Plain walls with little color, booths and tables with glass tops, plants and ornate decorations on the walls and counters. The staff bustles around with trays of dim sum, shouting out dish names like an auctioneer. The waiters were nice, though curt and businesslike. When it comes to different ethnic foods we like to see how many people of that culture eat at that establishment as a litmus test for quality and Ton Kiang passes that test. The restaurant is located in the Outer Richmond area which has a large Chinese population and on a Saturday at lunch, the place was doing a good amount of business.
Ton Kiang specializes in dim sum, which if you’re not familiar with it, it is a style of serving small dishes, many of which are steamed (dumplings, buns, etc). We will say that neither of us have a ton of experience with dim sum, so our frame of reference is a bit small. The process of dim sum is a bit different. Servers are constantly moving around with large trays of hot food shouting out descriptions of its contents. If it sounds good to you, it’s yours, usually with it’s own unique dipping sauce on the side. We’ve always liked this style of serving, having experienced it a few times before. We got 6 or 7 dishes but we’ll just focus on a few favorites. The ones we enjoyed the most were the steamed pork buns (cha siu bao), shrimp stuffed crab claws (hai kim), pork dumplings (siu mai) and sautéed pea tips (no fancy name). The pork buns are very soft and doughy, though manage to avoid being gummy (a common problem). They’re stuffed with pork, veggies and a sweet and spicy Chinese bbq sauce. Anytime you put meat inside of bread, you’re going to come down on our good side, so this dish was great. The stuffed crab claws come out as a lightly fried ball of shrimp with a crab claw sticking out the middle; a weird appearance, but with great flavor. It’s not over-fried so the shrimp and crab have that great meaty consistency that crustaceans are known for. The pork dumplings are lightly spiced, very tender and have that nice bit of juice that gets trapped in the wrapper that bursts in your mouth when you bite into it. The pea tips actually surprised us with how good they were. We were expecting a basic veggie dish, but they were cooked perfectly and had the right amount of sauce (soy and something else) with some roasted garlic to give it a kick. Oh yum.
Though we may be dim sum neophytes we feel like we know good food when we see it (with our tongues more than our eyes). Ton Kiang was just that; good food. It didn’t blow our socks off, but it was enjoyable and it tasted good. Dim sum is a fun experience on it’s own and one we recommend everyone try. This isn’t a spot to plan your day around but if you’re in the area you should give it a whirl.
A & KPin It