LivingTravelMaxim Palace City Hall in Hong Kong

Maxim Palace City Hall in Hong Kong

In the house of Dim Sum, (and if you’re not sure what Dim Sum is, check out our Dim Sum Guide). Maxim’s Place City Hall is the most famous Dim Sum restaurant in Hong Kong. The cavernous dining room has been serving Dim Sum for decades and is a local institution.

The revision

While Maxim’s Palace City Hall has a reputation for being touristy, it is not a tourist trap. There remains a dedicated local clientele who camp out here on Sundays to dig into an endless selection of Dim Sum. They are joined by office workers and large groups of friends celebrating birthdays and festivals.

Part of the attraction is that Maxim’s remains completely unrefined. Dim Sum has become chic in Hong Kong with contemporary dining rooms and designer dishes. Maxim remains unrepentant, shrill, flashy, and loud.

The main room is filled with lazy betty tables and white cloth-covered chairs adorned with gold trim and tassels. Large chandeliers, floral swirling rugs, and thick red rugs may no longer be in style, but they capture the essence of what Hong Kong’s Dim Sum restaurants looked like.

The Dim Sum itself is delivered in the traditional way. Crispy food carts are carried around the dining room by uniformed waitresses and diners can choose the dishes they want; English menus are available. This traditional delivery method almost disappeared in Hong Kong, replaced by food cards on the table. Are food carts gruesome? Probably. Are funny? Absolutely

Perhaps the best thing about Maxim’s Palace City Hall is the atmosphere. Dim Sum is a community meal and the tables are usually packed with large groups of co-workers and families digging at dinner. All Dim Sum restaurants are loud, Maxim’s is raucous. The crowds mean that the food is heaving, and you can also expect queues at the door, especially at lunchtime and on Sundays. Noise and crowds can be intimidating, but they are an essential part of the Dim Sum experience.

So is it good?

Probably the biggest source of discussion about Maxim’s is the quality of the food. That it is good is not in doubt, but many people claim that you can get much better Dim Sum elsewhere cheaper. That is probably true. At Maxim’s you’re paying a small premium for atmosphere and reputation – you could have Michelin-starred Dim Sum for half this price at Tim Ho Wan. While the price may be a bit inflated, Maxim’s is inexpensive and a visit here shouldn’t hurt your budget too seriously.

The dishes are almost all classics, including favorites like Siu Mai (pork and shrimp dumplings) and char siu bau (steamed pork buns). You can use our Dim Sum ordering guide to find out what the best dishes are. It’s best to prepare before you go as (as in many Dim Sum restaurants) service can be quick, at best.

The bottom line

Maxim’s is more than a restaurant – it’s an experience and that’s what Dim Sum is all about. For those who have never tried Dim Sum or been to Hong Kong, this is still a must see. Try to get some friends so you can try various dishes. Remember to arrive early, queues can be longer than 30 minutes at lunchtime and longer on Sundays, so try to arrive soon after opening.

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