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Taste of home: A mini dim sum empire dishes dumplings with a provincial flair

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The shao mai pork dumplings at Jiang Nan Cun’s Diamond Island restaurant. Alessandro Marazzi Sassoon

Taste of home: A mini dim sum empire dishes dumplings with a provincial flair

Though its restaurants are few, Anhui province is known for its xiao long bao, or steamed soup dumplings. Owner He Yan has perfected her hometown recipes for a local clientele.

Among the countless Chinese restaurants in the capital, Jiang Nan Cun distinguishes itself by offering a taste of central China’s Anhui province.

With its name meaning “village south of the Yangtze River”, the restaurant is hyper-aware of its origins. Owner He Yan says she created the eatery, which in two years has expanded from its original location on Diamond Island to a second shop on the ground floor of Vattanac Capital Tower, to fill a niche still missing in Phnom Penh: her hometown cooking.

“These are the original traditional foods from my area in China, and I want to introduce them to the market here, as well as to serve the Chinese [community] in Phnom Penh,” she says.

She hails from the city of Wuhu, built on the south side of the Yangtze River. It’s “a town around Shanghai”, she says – although town is a relative descriptor given it’s a city of some 600,000 people a few hours’ drive from the metropolis.

“Some of those foods I couldn’t find here like xiao long bao or [they are] not as good as from my hometown,” Yan says, referring to the Chinese soup dumplings.

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Owner He Yan, a Wuhu native, at her restaurant. Alessandro Marazzi Sassoon

And so, while her husband worked in an agricultural venture, Yan recreated a taste of home with Jiang Nan Cun.

The artwork on the wall, which features images of Wuhu and Chinese paintings by her husband, fits the theme, adding a sense of place to the lofty interior. But the food is where the satisfaction is.

The menu is designed around dim sum – or ordering many shared plates – and Post Weekend strongly recommends going as a group to make the most of the experience.

Beyond the iconic soup-filled xiao long bao dumplings Yan’s favourite and “a recipe with over 100 years of history from my husband’s mother’s village” the sticky rice and pork filled shao mai dumplings are a must-try ($6 for 10).

Technically “breakfast foods” in China, according to Yan, the dumplings are eaten dipped in rice vinegar sauce with ginger, but they were more than satisfying for lunch.

It would take several trips to try everything on the menu, which Yan says may soon include new approaches to traditional dishes, but Post Weekend suggests the very flavourful smoked fish ($5) and the refreshing cucumber salad ($4) to go with your meal.

But while Jiang Nang Cun gains popularity in the city, Yan gives a reminder of their origin.

“It’s a village south of the Yangtze river where all of these foods come from traditionally.”

Jiang Nan Cun is located at #B15-B17 Sopheak Mongkol Street on Diamond Island and is open from 8am-9:30pm. Tel: 098 892 77. Its second location is in the B1 level of the Vattanac Capital Building and is open from 8am-9pm. Tel. 097 8440 098

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