Eggs, bacon, and toast? Pshhh, everyone knows that the best kind of brunch is dim sum.
For me, dim sum is family time. And for the majority of our lazy Sunday outings, we find ourselves at Wok N Roll since it's convenient and relatively close by. Wok N Roll, besides winning the restaurant pun game, is more like your typical neighbourhood Chinese joint than a destination restaurant à la Urban China or Emperor's Palace.
It's not fancy by any means, but that's the way I prefer it. Waitstaff who remember you, tasty food that comes out hot, and almost a peaceful atmosphere when compared to the hustle and bustle of other dim sum restaurants. Although, let's be real, peaceful is a subjective term in the Chinese language (you should meet my family and you'll know what I mean).
At Wok N Roll, dim sum is ordered by ticking off a laminated menu with a dry-erase pen. It's kind of ingenious (and a bit more environmentally friendly). Like I've mentioned before, I prefer ordering dim sum on a check sheet rather than the traditional push-cart method. This ensures that the food arrives to you fresh and hot, and that you actually get what you want to eat without having to stalk or stare down the push cart ladies. Even worse is when you're not in prime table real estate, and you get left forgotten with only the leftover stuff that no else cared to grab along the way.
Onto the food! (You might want to grab a snack, it's a long post.)
Crystal prawn dumplings or har gow ($4.50) is a staple item and a must-order at any dim sum restaurant. Although it's a simple dish in concept, it's a tricky one to execute. The dumpling skin must be thin and translucent, yet sturdy enough to pick up without breaking. The filling is typically a mixture of whole shrimp pieces mixed with shrimp mousse to form a ball. It's a good one here in my books.
Another popular item is steamed pork dumplings with fish roe or sui mai ($4.50). A mixture of pork, mushrooms, and shrimp pieces, you can see for yourself that they're large and quite meaty. Good stuff.
Steamed chicken feet in chef specialty sauce ($3.95) is another quintessential dim sum item. I consider myself a pretty adventurous eater (for the most part), but chicken feet is where I draw the line. You see, I'm not a weirdo with a foot fetish... and I'm also not a fan of gelatinous textures or tiny little bones (which these guys have). But if you're really interested and into this sort of thing, my family will gobble these right up so I assume it's well prepared.
Wok N Roll has a couple of different savoury buns, and these mushroom and chicken buns ($3.95) are one of them. My mom usually orders these to bring home so that my dad has part of his lunch for the day after. So I didn't try these, sorry.
The steamed rice roll with prawn and chives ($4.50) is listed as such on the menu, but fair warning, there aren't any chives. Just small shrimp pieces within a silky rice noodle roll and then drizzled with soy sauce. This is my sister's favourite dish here.
On the right is another example of an item getting lost in translation, deep fried lobster dumplings ($4.50). The word lobster comes translated from the Cantonese name, but you'll only find pieces of shrimp mixed with shrimp mousse inside. So, I'm sorry if you were getting excited for lobster, but at I least I warned you! The wrapper is thick and crunchy, while the inside is steaming hot. My favourite part of the dish is definitely the sweet mayo dip that comes on the side. It definitely deserves breaking the "no double dipping" etiquette rule.
Another one of my favourite dim sum dishes is the steamed rice roll with preserved dried meat (pork floss basically) and chinese donut ($4.50). In the words of Martin Yan, this dish is a perfect example of "texture contrast." Brownie points if you watched Food Network and understand my reference. Boo if you don't.
A more unique dish to Wok N Roll is their stir fried radish cake ($6.50). It's a more pricier item, but the plate is huge and worth getting. Tender, bite-sized pieces of radish cake is wok-fried with x.o. sauce, bean sprouts, and red pepper flakes. The result is both spicy and fragrant. Yum.
This next dish combines two dim sum favourites into one dish so you get the best of both worlds -- pan fried shrimp paste on two kinds of veg. ($4.50) -- that is, if you consider tofu to be a vegetable... Again, the shrimp is bouncy, while the tofu and eggplant bases are both silky and well-cooked. The sauce is also not too heavy and well-seasoned.
Another item worth getting (in my opinion) is the pan fried bean curd roll with prawns ($5.25). It's akin to deep fried shrimp spring rolls, but the bean curd wrapper is just slightly chewier than your norm. It also comes with a side of black vinegar for dipping, but I think the roll has enough flavour on its own.
We're in the home stretch! (Thanks for reading this far down btw. You da real MVP!)
This was our first time ordering the deep fried squid ($6.95), so we didn't know what to expect. The squid wasn't too chewy and the batter was nice and crispy, but every bite was just laced with MSG. You can probably even see some of the granules if you maximize the picture and look closely enough. If you're worried about "Chinese restaurant syndrome", maybe stay away from this dish.
Final dish of the day was dessert! Steamed egg yolk sauce buns ($4.50) are an amazing thing. The egg yolks that they used must have been bright orange since the colour was so vibrant. Warning you now, don't just bite into these buns unless you want molten lava dripping down your chin. Simply break them apart and let the oozing filling cool down a bit. The filling is very rich on the salted duck egg yolk taste but overall, I'm a happy girl when these come out.
I've read a few reviews where the service at Wok N Roll is horribly inconsistent, but I genuinely like the servers here (... although I died of embarrassment when one of them witnessed me hitting myself in the face with my chopsticks. She laughed along with my family. *sadface* FYI, chopsticks can be lethal weapons). Now to be fair, my family and I are regulars so the service we receive might not be representative of everyone's experience but I do see them being pleasant and cordial with every table. My final say, give this place a try. The food, whether it's dim sum or dinner, is tasty and pretty cheap compared to other restaurants. It's a true neighbourhood gem.