Located in Eastin Grand Sathorn, Chef Man is probably the most popular place for dim sum these days. If you’re thinking about going there, make your reservation yesterday. It took us a month to get a lunchtime table and dinnertime tables weren’t available for some three months.
Even though the décor is not the main focus, it is a fairly vibrant atmosphere, thanks to the large open kitchen with a small and frenzied army of cooks preparing such Cantonese dishes as the classic Peking duck (B1,500, ordered in advanced). The duck skin here is aromatic but not all that crisp or even particularly flavorful. It’s ably supported by ripe mangoes, peanut sauce and shredded garlic to liven up the flavor, though. But the highlight of this particular dish is the wonderful pancake: thin, soft and chewy. Snap to it, though, as it gets sticky really, really fast.
The rest of the duck can be prepared as ped pad prik Thai dum (stir-fried duck meat with Thai peppers), a delicious dish which proves that these guys are really up to speed on their wok techniques. Similarly, we licked our plate of stir-fried fish with XO sauce and asparagus (B500 for small) clean. Produce is impeccable, naturally, but the accompanying sauce is what makes the dish—thank goodness you can actually buy a jar of that sauce to take home (B350).
Not that any this is why the place is fully booked. Chef Man singlehandedly rekindled the dim sum craze in this town (they start from B99), making even the humble kanom jeep gung (shrimp dumpling) or pork dumpling with seaweed exciting. It comes down to preparation, fresh ingredients, perfect timing and the long process involved in the preparation of the amazing rice flour wrapping that is very chewy yet thin. And that’s all there is to it, really. Even the pao hima (pork buns, ordered in advance, B120), while very tasty, can’t compete with the ones in Hong Kong.
You can always finish on a sweet note with the popular steamed lava bun (B110, and worth an Instagram shot), which is filled with a comforting salted egg custard, but it’s the dim sum that will keep you up at night. The good news? That’s even more reason to go for lunch, when you can actually get a table within this lifetime.