Lunar New Year is my favourite non-official holiday, and one of the places that celebrates it well is the Fairmont Pacific Rim. Every year the lobby of this prestigious hotel dawns lanterns and drapes the year’s zodiac animal across their ascending steps. And for 2024’s year of the dragon, this is no different.
To further the celebration, their Lobby Lounge bar and bistro also offers a limited edition dim sum menu. I have visited it in year’s past. so was curious to experience their new collaboration with Chinese fine dining behemoth Mott32.
Our group was seated across 3 tables, arranged in 4’s to be able to perfectly share the dishes traditionally served in 4’s.
But first drinks. This limited time only menu also includes 6 alcoholic and non-alcoholic drink options, just as unique and opulent as the food.
The Winter Jasmine was a mix of michters bourbon, jasmine tea, yuzu, ginger, and lime leaf. This one I would recommend more as a digestif given how ginger forward it was. It heats you inside out and feels almost herbal, like it is good for you.
For something a lot lighter, look to the Pandan Sling with hendricks gin, chartreuse vert, pandan, pineapple, lime, soda, and angostura. As a fan of pandan, I had to try it, although couldn’t make it out past all the botanicals of the gin and the pineapple used to chase it. Not what I envisioned, but a great option with the food, given how it was not too sweet and more refreshing with the citrus.
But if you can only pick one cocktail let it be the Black Truffle Old Fashioned. This one has made it to the top of my cocktail list as it delivers on truffle scent and taste. Hennessy vs, demerra, black truffle, and angostura. The distinct scent of truffle wafts into you nose as you edge in close to the rim for a sip. The flavour comes through on the onset and continues to deepen and linger the more you drink. Otherwise it is a well executed Old Fashion. And as a bonus is comes with a chocolate truffle square, (not the mushroom variety).
I did not explore the non-alcoholic options more, but they included a cocktail with soy milk and black tea, one with mandarin and ginseng, and one was named “Wood Dragon” in honour of the occassion.
The above are available anytime from the bar up to February 25th, however the dim sum menu is only served between 11am-3pm, daily. The dishes are prepared at Mott32, then transported to the kitchen of the Fairmont Pacific Rim to be either steamed, fried or baked to order. We would try everything available and honestly this is the most expensive dim sum I have ever seen, but also best dim sum I have ever had. I normally don’t list prices, as I focus on the quality and flavours, but I feel it necessary here for transparency, and so that no one is caught off guard. Whereas you expect dim sum to average $9-12 a steamer you are looking at $16-$24. Although steep, this was elevated takes on classics and the use of quality ingredients on the tried and true.
The King Prawn Har Gow had a fancy title, but was essentially the traditional shrimp loaf filling wrapped daintily with the perfect folds, and a little on the smaller side than what I am use to seeing. Where we would typically reach for chilli sauce here, they had none and relied on the quality of their dim sum dishes as is. I did not miss the condiment.
The Black Truffle Siu Mai was a divergence from the classic with a whole soft quail egg centre surrounded my iberico pork. The truffle was prominent and the egg added a unique texture with its velvety yolk. Truly an amazing take.
The most memorable bite was the Black Cod Dumpling with celery and miso. It didn’t even look like a regular dumpling with its jet black shell and metallic gold lining; almost like decor. It was so flavourful with the bold miso. The fish had a thicken glaze giving it an almost char siu quality. Once again, I did not feel like I needed chilli oil here.
The Wild Mushroom Dumplings were lovely and light with the chewy umami of sweet shiitake with the crisp neutral freshness of the chestnut. Here, you could really feel the amazing texture of the chewy dumpling wrapper in contrast to the filling.
The Crab Meat, Scallop, Flying Fish Roe, Egg White Dumplings was a name that said it all. Another dainty presentation that included the claw for show. This was a bevy of textures and flavours in harmony. Nothing overpowered or distracted and there was just a hint of cilantro for an herbaceous end. The sweet seafood brought out the sugars in the egg white, but it was the fish roe that took my attention with its popping texture.
Bordering on dessert was the Signature Crispy Sugar-Coated BBQ Iberico Pork Bun. Once again quality barbecue pork meat and not just fatty bits, well sauced in a sweet honey glaze. This was much like the sugary topping on the bun that also offered a nice crispy to it. Tasty, but not my preference as I am less partial to sweets than savoury.
The Canadian AAA Beef, Onion, Black Pepper Filled Pastry reminded the table of a pot pie in an ashy and flaky pastry shell. Each pocket was stuffed with a beefy stew filling that had hints of curry.
The Crispy Vegetable Spring Roll was nothing unique. Crispy skin, and a hearty mushroom filling as is, without sauce. Tasty enough, but where the others wow-ed, I found this plain by comparison.
Especially when compared to the Signature Apple Wood Roasted 42 Days Peking Duck feature. This was the tasting serving, but for $158 you would get the whole duck to feed 6-8 people; and it includes the skin to have with sugar as a delicacy. As well as the classic pancake wrap accompaniments of cucumber, leek, and hoisin sauce; all to craft your own wrap out off. Please note, this is only available Saturday & Sunday, with limited quantities available.
As for how it tasted, there was nothing to hate about Peking duck. The duck meat was tender and plentiful in ratio to the silky soft wrap dough. Mix in the vegetable for freshness and the tangy sauce for flavour and you have an amazing two bite wrap you can’t get enough of.
And for dessert you have two options. The Glutinous Rice Roll was filled with fresh mango and coconut. I was surprised to discover that it was more tangy than sweet, with a cleansing quality. I am just not a fan of the chewy and gritty texture of the shredded coconut.
The Caramelized White Chocolate & Tangerine Mousse with tangerine gelee and a walnut crumb made for a better sweet end. The mousse itself was lighter with white chocolate and a creamy citrus. The addition of the crumb gave it some added crunch.
In short, this was an amazing dim sum in a unique setting, only available for a limited time, so take advantage when you can and celebrate Lunar New Year in style. And while you are there, be sure to take in all the decorative elements that bedazzle the hotel lobby.
Fairmont Pacific Rim Lobby Lounge
1038 Canada Pl, Vancouver, BC V6C 0B9