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April 25th, 2011

PHOENIX PALACE (Marylebone)

Category: Bistro (££) green traffic3 150x150 PHOENIX PALACE (Marylebone) For me there is no better Sunday lunch than dim sum. I like the sitting together and sharing. In addition after a week(end) full of gluttony, it is a healthy option, particularly when you manage to stay off the fried stuff. When asking trusted foodies about their favourite dim sum place, Phoenix Palace is popping up again and again. As this year is my year of the dumpling, it was about time to visit Phoenix Palace located in a little side street just off of Baker Street to test their vast variety of dim sum. When we went to Phoenix Palace on a sunny Sunday afternoon, the place was packed. I would estimate that at least half to two thirds of the patrons were Chinese, which promised authenticity and quality. I rather liked the Chinese decor and style of Phoenix Palace, and it is not as stuffy and claustrophic as for example the famous (but in my opinion overrated)  dim sum joint Royal China.

Interesting were the Cold Tossed Baby Octopus (3.80) which came in a chili and lemon sauce. Half of the table hated it; the other half really liked it. I was part of the latter and really enjoyed the chilled pieces of tender octopus with the flavoursome sauce, spicy but not overwhelmingly so.  PHOENIX PALACE (Marylebone) On the insipid side were the Noodles with Spicy Hot Meat Sauce, Sichuan Style (6) – they were not spicy at all and for me there were no Sichuan flavours detectable at all unfortunately. I would not order these again.  PHOENIX PALACE (Marylebone)

My favourites were the steamed Wasabi Prawn Dumplings (3.80) – thin and translucent dough filled with plump and tender prawns followed by a fierce wasabi kick. A definite must have! 

 PHOENIX PALACE (Marylebone)

Something I always order when I see it anywhere on the menu are the Pork Buns (2.80). At Phoenix Palace, the dough was the revelation of fluffy and light, filled with perfectly seasoned and non greasy bbq pork.

 PHOENIX PALACE (Marylebone)

Nothing to write home about were the sticky rice things (their correct name being Glutinous Rice in Lotus Leaf Wrap). I have had them much better at Leong’s Legends. Excellent however were the Vegetarian Spring Rolls (2.80). I usually never order spring rolls. The greasy variant filled with low quality meat that we used to eat when the first Chinese restaurant opened when I was a child, put me off them forever. I therefore was glad that someone else on my table insisted on ordering them as the light and crispy batter with the fresh and tasty vegetables were a real pleasure.  PHOENIX PALACE (Marylebone)

The Grilled Chicken Gyozas (2.80) and the Prawn Cheung Fun (4.40) were solid fare. Not spectacular but definitely in the upper range. None of us liked the Cheung Fun with Dried Shrimp. Sometimes it just doesn’t pay off to order something weird sounding…  PHOENIX PALACE (Marylebone)

Now we come to the desserts. I have a weakness for desserts that are not too sugary and you often find this kind of  sweets in Chinese and Japanese cuisine. The desserts we tried at Phoenix Palace had a rather mixed reception on our table, but that’s the thing with Chinese sweets, they are definitely an acquired taste. I thought they were actually the highlight of the meal.

Red bean ice cream (3.80) with little red beans sitting on top like tiny insects was almost savoury and highly addictive.  PHOENIX PALACE (Marylebone)

Even better and so pretty were the perfectly round and white Cream Custard Buns (2.80) filled with a sweet and salty vanilla custard.

 PHOENIX PALACE (Marylebone)

Everyone liked the hot and glutinous black sesame things (3), which funnily enough were decorated with a couple of parsley leaves. So much for non-sweet.  PHOENIX PALACE (Marylebone)Verdict: Even though it is overall not the best dim sum I have ever eaten, some of the dishes were truly outstanding and considering that the atmosphere is rather pleasant, I can only recommend Phoenix Palace for some serious dumpling feast.

  • Food: 7/10
  • Service: 5/10
  • Ambiance: 6/19
  • Value for money: 7/10
  • Chances of returning: 40%.

biglink PHOENIX PALACE (Marylebone)

4 comments to PHOENIX PALACE (Marylebone)

  • Phoenix Palace is one of my favourite places, not just for dim sum, but for any occasion. I just love the buzzy atmosphere when it’s busy.

    I’m a big fan of their specials like the baby octopus and the wasabi prawn dumplings – I’m glad you like them. Interesting, though, you didn’t like the cheung fun with dried shrimp, as that’s a very popular Chinese street food – I guess the dried shrimp is an acquired taste.

    From a noodles perspective, the dan dan noodles look awful. Although I’m not sure that I’d order anything purporting to be Sichuan given that PP is SO Cantonese, if you know what I mean.

  • Those wasabi prawn buns look wicked, amost neon green.

  • I’ve heard differing reviews about this place, but it sounds worth a punt, especially for the wasabi dumplings.

    (Are the prawns in the cheung fun dried though? They don’t look it…)

  • Ute

    @ Mr Noodles – yes, I went there on your recommendation actually :) I have yet to try their non dim sum dishes, maybe I’ll take you as a guide, so that I don’t make the Dan Dan Noodle mistake again… you are right, I should not have ordered them in a Cantonese restaurant.
    I thought the dried shrimp cheung fun were rather dull tasting, I was expecting something a bit more distinct. Interesting to learn that they are popular Chinese street food!

    @Barton – you are right, dim sum 80s style!!

    @Lizzie – you are right about the picture – the cheung fun on the photo are with whole prawns, I didn’t take a picture of the dried ones. Well spotted :)

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