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Restaurant review: Zhen in Sai Ying Pun – tasty animal-shaped dim sum

Joining the trendy cafes and Western restaurants setting up shop in Sai Ying Pun, Zhen Restaurant specialises in dim sum in the shape of animals.

The food on offer at Zhen shows the craftsmanship of the chefs in sculpting the dim sum. There’s the lotus paste puff (HK$38 for three pieces) made in the shape of birds in a nest. The filling for each bird-shaped puff is a tiny marinated mandarin orange, giving it an appetising, sweet-and-sour taste.

The restaurant’s signature’s lobster bisque (HK$48 for two pieces) marries Chinese and Western elements. The whiskers of the lobster dumplings are made of deep-fried spaghetti, although the skins could be thinner. The dumplings are served in a rich, delicious bisque made withlobster and shrimp shells, mixed vegetables, tomato paste, brandy and white wine.

Shrimp dumplings are made into the shape of goldfish (HK$38 for three), and the filling also contains coral mussels and parsley.

The restaurant also serves cold dishes and soups.

We tried the hand-pulled chicken with cucumber salad (HK$32), but it was disappointing, with overcooked meat and soggy cucumber. Double-boiled sea whelk soup with cordyceps and chicken feet (HK$98) and double-boiled sea whelk soup with pork, winter melon and lotus seed (HK$98) were soothing, delicious tonics, but were expensive for the small portions.

Unlike traditional Chinese dim sum restaurants that are noisy and crowded, Zhen is spacious and modern.

Zhen Restaurant, Nam Cheong Building, 48-52 Hill Road, Western District, tel: 2811 2568. Open: 11am-9pm

Two other budget restaurants in Sai Ying Pun we’ve reviewed recently

Restaurant review: LN Fortunate Coffee in Sai Ying Pun – a haven for the vegan grazer

Restaurant review: Artisan Room, Shek Tong Tsui – pricey coffee, tasty snacks