New World, W1D 5PA
Note: The New World was closed by order of Westminster City Council in July 2011 due to food hygiene violations, but as of September 2011 it's open again.
Chinese restaurant in Chinatown, offering decent dim sum. Like many of the restaurants around here, it's very big — seats a few hundred when all the floors are open — but they don't always open all the rooms, so if you're after a dim sum lunch come early (noon) to avoid the queues. What makes this place different from the others is that the dim sum is served from trollies photo that come round to your table. There's no menu involved; you're told by the driver of each trolly what's on offer, you choose what you want, and it's dished out in front of you. To our (extensive) knowledge, the New World and Chuen Cheng Ku are the only places in London that do dim sum on trollies.
The advantage of the trollies is that you get food on your table very quickly after sitting down, so it's handy if some of you are in a rush. The disadvantages are that you need to have at least one experienced dim sum orderer in your party, and also that the food will have been sitting on the trollies for a little while, so it won't be as fresh. They do have one trolly where things (e.g. tofu stuffed with prawns, "three treasures" stuffed with meat) are cooked fresh to order, though.
On a January 2007 visit, Kake and doop discovered that they even do a smaller selection of dim sum in the evenings now, though without the trollies (about 14 dishes, including pork and prawns in beancurd skin, grilled pork dumplings, rice and pork steamed in lotus leaf, har gao, and prawn or vegetable cheung fun). The evening portions are smaller than the usual three pieces that you get at lunchtimes; most of the things we ordered only had two pieces.
On a June 2008 visit, Ewan found that there was nothing vegetarian available from the dim sum trollies except vegetarian spring roll (or at least, if there was, the waitress wasn't forthcoming, though she suggested shark fin dumplings). We did see some cheung fun go past on a plate, but that looked to be a special order. In the end, I had vermicelli noodles with mixed vegetables (£5.80) from the their noodle/rice menu, and that was fine.
Kake, Leon, and other Perlmongers have been coming here for years, and indeed it was the venue for our first ever dim sum meet. Having since visited a good proportion of London's other dim sum restaurants, we returned for a re-evaluation on a Thursday lunchtime in October 2008.
Beef and ginger dumplings, which we ordered because they used to be good here, were disappointing - no ginger flavour and indeed very little flavour at all. Soup dumplings arrived lukewarm and soupless (but this is a silly thing to order off a trolley). Cheung fun was just about adequate, but the "sauce" tasted of cheap soy sauce and neither wrapper nor filling was anything special. Fried turnip paste was good, with a decent flavour and texture - note though that this is one of the things that comes off the "cooked to order" trolley, so it hadn't been sitting about. Tea was neither good nor bad. Overall it was fine though, and the stripy jelly was amusing as always. We paid £13/head including service, which is a little more than usual for us.