From the partnership of a Hong Kong (via Toronto) chef and a suburban restaurateur, this big, bright, gaudy second-floor banquet hall, rivaling only MingHin in size, if not execution or tasteful design. It has a deep Cantonese evening menu, but of primary interest is its similarly extensive dim sum selection, available only until 4 PM each day. What strikes me immediately is the quality of the sweets, in particular the baked egg tarts. For a bite so ubiquitous, this little pastry is practically inedible everywhere you find it. At Cai, however, the pastry is light and flaky, the custard warm and smooth, made with love, much like a steamed custard cake; layers of piping hot moist sponge sandwiching bits of mildly sweet papaya. A well-constructed dim sum meal—with its contrasting textures of the soft and steamed, the greasy crunch of the fried, and the mitigating slipperiness of the gelatinous bits—is the refuge of the hungover. Cai's lo bak ko, or turnip cake, is the ideal combination of the three, its crispy panfried exterior girding the soft pork-studded understory. And a jiggling mound of steamed beef tendon in a thick curried glop that slides down your gullet and settles in your belly like a booze-sucking sponge.
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