If you love har gao (hakkao/hakaw) as much as I do, you're now probably done with your quest for the best and have already concluded that Li Li Restaurant serves the best version of the steamed shrimp dumpling in Manila.
At one glance, Li Li’s har gao is nothing extraordinary. Like every version else, the shell-shaped dim sum is served in a steamer basket. There, it lies meek and fragile; even the best chopstick user will be extra cautious in picking it up.
You can try to peek at what's inside the har gao, but you’ll barely see past through its delicately folded translucent skin. Tainting the pale but radiant dough wrapper with dark soy feels sinful, so you only dip it lightly. Only by biting will you discover that the har gao is pregnant with a pair of plump shrimps. Chew it. The firm shrimps will resist for just a nanosecond, before bursting their ocean-flavored juice for your tongue’s pleasure. With this, the flimsy dough melts into your mouth, before finally sliding down your throat.
Only few food in this world can give effortless indulgence just like how Li Li's unassuming har gao does.
If you love har gao, but you have yet to taste Li Li's version, then take advantage of the restaurant's weekday lunch promotion. Hyatt Hotel's internationally-acclaimed Cantonese restaurant allows you to consume as much dim sum as you can (har gao included) for only P888 net.
I suggest that you start your dim sum buffet experience by ordering the familiars like the Sio Mai and Har Gao before moving on to the rarer ones like Deep Fried Taro Dumplings with Chicken and Baked Barbecued Pastry Puff. My previous dim sum adventures taught me that if a restaurant can't get the basic variants right, you cannot expect it to please with the rest of the fare.
Deep Fried Taro Dumplings with Chicken
Baked Barbecued Pastry Puff
And right, Li Li's sio mai and har gao are. The steamed pork and shrimp dumpling is chunky alright. One can easily discern which bit is which. The flying fish roe atop the ball are too miniscule to register on your tastebuds. Nevertheless, just like the previously described har gao, Li Li's sio mai is the closest approximation of an authentic Hong Kong sio mai.
After the basics, be sure to also feast on Steamed Chicken Feet in Abalone Sauce (also a personal favorite in Li Li) that pairs well with Machang (Steamed Glutinous Rice with Assorted Meat in Lotus Leaf). If space permits, stuff yourself with Deep Fried Bean Curd Sheet Rolls with Shrimps. Its oily crunch gives your tongue a good break from all the slithering of the steamed items.
Steamed Chicken Feet in Abalone Sauce
Steamed Glutinous Rice with Assorted Meat in Lotus Leaf
Deep Fried Bean Curd Sheet Rolls with Shrimps
Just recently, Li Li updated their selection by adding six unconventional dim sum items. Not to be missed in the new menu are the Steamed Scallops Dumpling-- the freshest you can get in the metro and the Steamed Shrimp with Dried Seaweed and Asparagus, which tastes as fancy as it looks. There's also the pretty Steamed Fish Shaped dumplings, which despite being made with cod fish, doesn't taste fishy at all.
Steamed Fresh Scallops Dumpling
Steamed Shrimp, Dried Seaweed Roll, Asparagus
Steamed Fish Shape Dumplings With Cod Fish Parsley
If you love crab, order the Steamed Crab Meat dumpling for a hassle free crab meat eating experience. Black mushroom slivers make this dim sum chunkier. Subdue your tempura craving in a Chinese restaurant by ordering the doubly good Crabstick-wrapped Deep-fried Prawn. For a spicy finish, get the Deep-fried Norwegian Salmon Pockets drizzled with Wasabi mayo.
Steamed Crab Meat Dumpling with Black Mushroom
Fried Ocean Prawn Encased with Crabstick Meat
Deep Fried Norwegian Salmon and Turnip Pockets
And as if its not enough, the dim sum buffet selection also gives you access to a handful of Li Li's favorite main dishes and desserts. The Honey Roasted Barbecue Pork and Soy Chicken are safe and familiar options. At the end of your meal, get all three desserts: Sesame Balls with White Chocolate, Chilled Mango Sago with Pomelo, and Steamed Egg Custard with Dessicated Coconut for varying textures and sweetness.
Honey Roasted Barbecue Pork
Chilled Mango Sago with Pomelo
Steamed Egg Custard with Dessicated Coconut
This buffet flow has been tested to fit on a tiny woman's body and is guaranteed to give you your money's worth. But I would also understand if you choose to spend all afternoon and your P888 net consuming har gao by the dozen. Because on my next visit, I'll also probably do that.
Li Li Restaurant offers this unlimited dim sum buffet promotion from Mondays to Saturdays, from 12NN to 3PM. Dim sum, main dishes, dessert, and hot tea are included in the P888 net rate. On Sundays, Li Li runs a special Yum Cha Dim sum Buffet which includes access to live dim sum, duck, and dessert stations. The Sunday Buffet is priced at P1,550 net per person. For inquiries and reservations, you may call +632 245 1234.