So, it finally looks like Grandad's on the move. After nearly 89 years in Harrow and it's surrounds (discounting the 'lost' teenage years spent working in a shoe shop in Leigh-on-Sea and a stint serving in Germany during WW2), he's moved down to Wimborne for some southern sun and sea air.
While, hopefully, this change of scenery is going to be a good thing for him it means that we won't have the need to chug up the A40 come the weekend. Deciding to fit in one last hoorah we headed to the inauspicious surroundings of the East Pan Asian restaurant, found above the Loon Fung supermarket in Alperton before a Sunday visit for tea at Grandad's.
While it doesn't look like much from the outside, upstairs is a large and modern restaurant that was teeming with Chinese faces and empty dishes. Always a promising sign. Daytime dining means the choice of large dim sum menu, while they also offer a decent selection of sushi rolls sashimi and tempura (with fresh fish from the supermarket below), alongside rice dishes, soup and noodles.
One of the delights of eating dim sum is filling in the menu yourself. Who would have thought being given a stubby pencil and a sheet full of unintelligible squiggles would be so much fun - and while most the dishes have translations, a few don't. Probably, I'm guessing, as they contain some variety of internal organs. Worth a try if you're feeling lucky...
To drink was an endless pot of jasmine tea, another source of amusement for our simple minds as the Ewing and I always insist of serving each other and tapping the table in some ham fisted attempt at Chinese decorum.
Also, unlike most meals, dim sum doesn't seem to miss an alcoholic accompaniment. Yes, a cold lager will always do nicely alsongside, but the tannin in the tea does a very fine job of washing away all the salt and fat and doesn't make you feel quite as much of a lush. And without those 'essential' bloody marys and bucks fizz, it also makes it the most affordable of brunch options.
Cheung fun stuffed with beef and water Chestnut Steamed and Pork & Prawn Bean Curd Roll were the first out. Both solid were choices; the slithery rice dough of the cheung fun that I found so strange the first time I tried it (on a failed date in Chinatown, the lack of romantic spark not down to my table manners) has become one of my favourite dim sum picks.
Next was a tower of steamed goodies. Lurid wasabi infused dumpling wrappers encased a juicy prawn filling, although the Japanese horseradish kick was notably absent. Steamed pork buns, a must with the Ewing around, did the job without too much fanfare and the scallop dumpling were delicate and sweet - although our over-eager waiter whisked away the third one away unbidden, causing some divisional consternation (always try and eat dim sum in multiples of three people, unless you want arguments).
Best of all, from the weekend specials, was a plate of mixed roast meats that included the distinctive red-edged char sui tenderloin, slow cooked belly pork with its creamy frill of fat and a magnificent duck breast, with a crisp bronzed and lacquered skin that wouldn't have looked out of place on TOWIE.
Alongside - following the only bit of advise I have ever heeded from Giles Coren, a self-confessed expert in eating Chinese food - we chose a dish of greens to add a modicum of fibre to proceedings. This time it was stir fried gai lan, or Chinese broccoli, with a touch of oyster sauce and plenty of garlic and ginger.
We finished with little fried custard buns (only at the weekends, although you can get the steamed version all week) which were like a superior fairgound doughnut - the puffy and crisp outer casing giving way to a dense, sweet eggy filling. Better than jam and caster sugar, any day of the week.
Grandad may have moved south, but we'll be back soon to enjoy this piece of the East in West London - especially when the supermarket below sells such delights as the Lonely God vegetable flavoured maize snack. Befriending a packet of these after a bun feast sure beats church on Sunday.