Taro Puffs at Hong Kong Dim Sum

I love dim sum. I love the variety of dishes, the low prices, and the pleasant nap that inevitably follows my (over)consumption of fried dainties. Seems even endless cups of jasmine tea can't keep me awake after multiple dumplings.

The problem is that I can't always afford to drift into dreamland after dim sum if I want to get anything accomplished that day. And since dim sum is traditionally served in the morning and late afternoon, I don't go as often as I would like, lest I become totally unproductive.

But Hong Kong Dim Sum, bless its heart, serves late into the evening, which means I can stuff myself and then fall right into bed. And they also serve amazing taro puffs.

The exterior of a standard taro puff is certainly appealing: light brown, flaky, and slightly shiny from excess grease. But I'm the first to admit that on the inside, they don't look particularly appetizing. HK Dim Sum, like many establishments, stuffs its taro puffs with pork, so when they're broken in half, one encounters gobs of purple mash studded with gray chunks. Furthermore, the cooked taro's violet color misleadingly suggests a light, even floral, flavor.

But the suspect consistency and flowery hues of HK's taro puff belie an amazing (dare I say, even complex) combination of flavors. The thin, deep-fried first layer imparts a saltiness that contrasts wonderfully with the subtle sweetness of the creamy taro. The pork chunks are surprisingly soft and seasoned just enough to stand on their own without overwhelming their starchy surroundings.

I know the whole point of dim sum is to share dishes, but I couldn't bring myself to give away even one bite of the three taro puffs. Fortunately, one of my dining partners was vegetarian, and the other, extremely forgiving of my greediness. Not that getting two plates (six puffs) would break the bank -- at $3.30 per order, HK Dim Sum's taro puffs are cheap enough to hoard for yourself.

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