On a recent visit we were a little dismayed to find that things have changed. The addition of partitions to divide the main dining room was welcome, as was the spruce-up of the decor. But we spent most of the time mourning the disappearance of the trundling carts that used to roam the aisles like smoking cumbersome dragons piled high with bamboo steamers. The staff has also changed—the curious polyglot gaijin waiter seems to have been given a pink slip, along with the often abrupt but always efficient Chinese waitresses.
A survey of the room showed that at least the clientele remains the same: extended Chinese families crowded around big round tables, ladies of a certain age dripping in jewelry and fake fur as they chain-smoke and gossip in Cantonese, young couples barely uttering two words of Mandarin between bites of gyoza and parties of tourists from Hong Kong. The service may have taken a dive—our Chinese companion is of the opinion that the new Japanese waiters don't hold a candle to his compatriots when it comes to getting the food to the table on time—but we regulars continue to visit for the simple reason that the food is still as good as ever.
Dinner is worthwhile, if a little pricy, but the real treat is stopping by mid-shop for an afternoon of jasmine tea and dim sum. From nira manju (fried green onion dumpling, ¥550) and melt-in-the-mouth daikon mochi (fried white radish and bacon mochi, ¥500) to steamed dumplings, it's all good. The choice of gyoza makes ordering a bind—the shark's fin steamed gyoza (¥800) are a must and it's always wise to try some of the Shanghai-style shaoronpo (¥800) with their juicy filling and hidden treasure of a mouthful of soup. Whether you choose the crab shumai (¥600) or regular pork, you won't be disappointed. Our dining companion was in bliss when an order of Cantonese pork knuckle (¥550) arrived smothered in a rich sauce. We watched as it went the way of the steamed ducks' feet (¥600)—ending up just a pile of bones. A new addition to the menu, and a little easier on the eye, was the nama harumaki (raw spring roll, ¥950) filled with tuna and accompanied by a delicious and slightly spicy sesame dressing.
Despite the wait for our food and all the cosmetic changes, we still have a soft spot for Daihanten. There are other authentic Chinese spots throughout the city, but as long as visiting Hong Kong stars and the locals continue to do dim sum there, so will we.