At first glance, Stacked looks like one of the many breezy, unassuming bars mushrooming everywhere. If you weren’t familiar with the menu or, perhaps, the classic dim sum order chit, nothing about Stacked’s mix of industrial-chic, unfinished wood-panelled walls, wood-and wire-mesh tables, hard couches and sunny yellow barstools hints at the dim sum on offer here. Opened by the daughter of the next-door Red House Seafood’s proprietor, the restaurant’s moniker takes its cue from the square dim sum baskets made of stackable bamboo.
The space was quiet on our Thursday night visit, save for two parties of friends gathering for after-hour beers on stiff resin seats, under a gargantuan twirling steel fan – a design DNA that Stacked shares with Red House. Clearly, ventilation’s not an issue here. Service was equally thin on the ground: only two staffers were present, and the first mini-crates of dim sum appeared nearly half an hour after ordering. Their rapid demolition had as much to do with our hunger as it did with their taste – which was, by the way, of a high quality.
In addition to a condensed list of common traditional dim sums on offer (among them, siew mai pork dumplings and yam spring rolls), Stacked has created five kinds of dumplings, each stuffed with a fusion mix such as Thai basil beef and scallop pesto. One of the newfangled dishes, the lightly fried dumplings of shredded duck – crescent-shaped bundles filled with tender, roasted meat, cucumber slivers and sweetened with Hoisin sauce – were our pick of the litter. A less laborious take on the traditional Peking duck pancake, the dip in hot oil adds an unusually effective gyoza-style crunch.
Another example of the kitchen’s freewheeling approach were the English Cumberland dumplings – coarsely minced sausage and caramelised onions wrapped in fried wanton skins. Served with mustard mayo, their meatiness paired well with traditional Chinese vinegar. Another twist: the vinegar’s presented in cute, no-mess dropper bottles which are especially useful if, like me, you’re a klutz with chopsticks. The best was saved for last. Piping-hot chilli-crab paus – fried buns that were crisp on the outside, soft and fluffy inside – oozed sweet and spicy crab pulp as you sank your teeth in.
To accompany the bites, the bar offers Tiger on tap, a selection of champagne, red and white wines, and 12 bottled beers including our choice sip, North Taiwan Lychee Beer. Refreshingly fizzy, the lightweight brew went down like sparkling juice that didn’t aggravate our post-dinner bloat: the dim sum servings might be deceptively small, but they’re a tightly packed bunch that, once popped, will leave you pining for more. But while the food here stacks up squarely against the time-honoured dumpling houses, the sluggish service could use more steam. Cherylene Chan
Dim sum $5.90-$8.90, bottled beers $10-$15.
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