Last Updated on October 28, 2022 by Jeremy
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The Parlor Dim Sum, the latest concept by Chef Roger Li of Umami and Nanban fame, is a dim sum and Cantonese restaurant in Lawrenceville in the former Ki Ramen space. With a wide-ranging menu of dim sum, Cantonese barbecue, wok dishes, and more, this is the type of restaurant where it's best to bring a ton of friends and order family style to try some of everything.
We recently visited with friends and the meal hit so many high points for us with excellent cocktails, dishes with a mix of familiar and new flavors, and great service, all at a moderate price point.
The Parlor Dim Sum Delivers Stellar Cantonese Fare
Our meal started with some cocktails which were all excellently balanced with so many interesting ingredients. The Paper Crane with Old Forrester, Sichuan infused Aperol, amaro, and lemon juice was fruity and spicy. Another favorite was the Lingzhi with shiitake-infused whiskey, bean paste, lemon, and chili – the mushroom flavor was subtle but noticeable in a hauntingly delicious way.
The food menu at Parlor is split up into dim sum (where you order on a paper menu indicating quantities of each item), rice dishes, noodles, soups, Cantonese BBQ, and wok dishes. While we certainly tried a lot of different types of dishes, we still have so much more to come back for!
We started with our dim sum order of siu mai (open-faced dumplings with pork), braised chicken feet, roasted pork buns, fried taro dumplings, and fried wontons with pork and shrimp. We'd never had chicken feet before and appreciated our server's guidance on how to eat them. The chicken feet were definitely an experience, with a fatty, chewy texture not unlike a chicken wing. The spicy, savory sauce on the chicken feet was so good that was ordered some rice to soak up the extra.
The dumplings were all well-seasoned and comforting but one of our favorites was the fried taro dumplings filled with pork shoulder, scallions, radish, and corn. We loved how the starchy, creamy taro contrasted with the fried crispness of the dumpling. The pork buns were also delicious with a sweet/savory tender meat inside a pillowy bun. We also got the chili garlic sauce and dim sum sauces on the side which added yet another dimension of flavor.
For the main round of food we tried the Singapore-style rice noodles, BBQ trio plate, prawns “typhoon shelter” style, and a side veggie of stir fried sweet potato leaves.
The Singapore noodles were packed with onion, peppers, roasted pork, egg, and tinged yellow from curry powder. The crunch and freshness of the veggies was a counterpoint to the unctuous pork, and the whole dish gave a warming sensation from the curry powder. We all agreed this was one of the best iterations of this type of noodle dish we've ever had.
The prawn dish was all about texture with wok-fried prawns, crispy garlic and shallots, and crispy noodles. The garlic, shallots, and prawns were all fried to crisp perfection, creating a shattering explosion of flavor in your mouth. The shrimp was a little bit of work to peel and eat, but some of us just ate the shell which was definitely the easier option.
Last but not least, we also tried a Cantonese BBQ plate with duck, cha siu roasted pork, and steamed chicken. Each meat was cooked perfectly and so rich, but the chicken was a surprising standout (as we don't normally go for chicken). The fresh ginger on top of the chicken really made the dish and contrasted with the intense umami of the meat.
Dessert was perhaps one of the only misses of the entire night- we ordered egg tarts that seemed like they could have used a touch longer in the oven to crisp up the crust. The flavors were delightful but the texture was a bit lacking. Likewise, we also found the space to be super loud, which made conversing with our group of friends seated around the lazy susan table a little difficult.
But all in all, we absolutely adored the standout cocktail menu, family-style portion sizes, breadth of the menu, attentive service, and overall excellent execution of every dish we tried. We left The Parlor immediately planning our next meal there- there's so much left to explore. Who's joining us?
The Parlor Dim Sum is located at 4401 Butler Street in Lawrenceville.