Mwah Dim Sum Bar, Hastings: ‘Properly delicious Chinese home cooking’ - restaurant review
Hastings and St Leonards boast a wide and growing variety of Asian food outlets - from authentic tastes of Nepal to Thailand to Japan.
But one of the best is Mwah Dim Sum Bar in Marine Parade, Hastings, which specialises in the home cooking of northern China. It’s a snug, brightly-decorated eatery with excellent, friendly service - and judging by the moreish food, a chef who clearly knows her stuff. For this reason alone, the giant, red kiss mark emoji on the restaurant window next to the name Mwah! is richly deserved.
The no-nonsense approach means the food comes quickly, and customers can choose how spicy they want each dish. You won’t find any Anglicised versions of Chinese food. Instead you get the real thing - big bowls of steaming noodle soup, chow mein, fried rice, even chicken feet (which from years spent living in Asia, I can tell you are a lot more delicious than they sound).
As the restaurant name suggests, they take their dim sum very seriously, claiming it’s “as close as you can get to eat in China.” They do little dishes of fried and steamed dumplings containing chicken, pork, vegetables or prawn, all for less than £4 for four pieces, as well as other varieties of dim sum like steamed sticky rice in lotus leaf (£3.60), and prawn and pork siu mai (£5.90 for eight pieces).
A group of three on a table next to me order huge bowls of chicken noodle soup (£5.80 each) and are soon slurping away with contented looks on their faces. “Delicious!” one of them says, puckering her lips. She calls over the owner, who proudly tells them: “This is cooked as though you were going into a house in northern China. If they served you up a bit of rice or noodles, it would be done in this way.”
I order a Mwah! pot - which means three choices. You pick either rice or noodles, then chicken, tofu, vegetable, king prawn, roast duck, or char siu pork, and finally two grilled chicken, pork, or vegetable dumplings.
I go for the roast duck version (£7.90), and it’s a classic, very well executed. The rice is fried with red pepper, carrot, red onion, spring onion, strips of cabbage, and broccoli, expertly cooked so the vegetables have just the right amount of crunch. The duck is both juicy and crisp, subtly hinting of star anise. The dumplings are perfect: golden brown on the underside, and filled with delicately-flavoured minced chicken and sweetcorn. I’ll definitely be going back - this time for the noodle soup.