In the home of Dim Sum, (and if you’re not sure what Dim Sum is you should check out our Dim Sum Guide) Maxim’s Place City Hall is Hong Kong’s most famous Dim Sum restaurant. The cavernous dining hall has been serving up Dim Sum for decades and is a local institution.
While Maxim’s Palace City Hall has a reputation for being touristy it’s not a tourist trap. There remains a dedicated local clientèle who decamp here on Sunday’s to dig into an endless selection of Dim Sum. They are joined by office workers and big groups of friends celebrating birthdays and festivals.
Part of the attraction is that Maxim’s remains wholly unrefined. Dim Sum has gone upmarket in Hong Kong with contemporary dining rooms and designer dishes. Maxim’s remains unrepentantly, garish, gaudy, and loud.
The main hall is packed with lazy betty tables and white cloth covered chairs adorned with gold trimming and tassels. The grand chandeliers, swirling floral carpets and thick red carpets may no longer be in vogue but they do capture the essence of how Hong Kong’s Dim Sum restaurants once looked.
The Dim Sum itself is delivered in the traditional fashion. Creaking food carts are wheeled around the dining room by uniformed waitresses and diners can pick the dishes they want – there are English menus available. This traditional delivery method has all but died out in Hong Kong, replaced by food cards at the table. Are the food carts gimmicky? Probably. Are they fun? Absolutely.
Perhaps the best thing about Maxim’s Palace City Hall is the atmosphere. Dim Sum is a communal meal and tables are usually filled with large groups of co-workers and families digging into dinner. All Dim Sum restaurants are noisy - Maxim’s is raucous. The crowds mean dining is cramped, and you can also expect queues out the door – especially at lunchtimes and Sundays. The noise and crowds can be intimidating but they are an essential part of the Dim Sum experience.
So, Is it Any Good?
Probably the greatest source of argument about Maxim’s is the quality of the food. That it’s good is not in question, but many people claim that you can get far better Dim Sum elsewhere cheaper. That's probably true. At Maxim’s you’re paying a small premium for the atmosphere and the reputation – you could have Michelin Starred Dim Sum for half this price over at Tim Ho Wan. While the price tag may be a little inflated, Maxim’s isn’t expensive and a visit here shouldn’t damage your budget too seriously.
The dishes are almost all classics, including favorites such as Siu Mai (pork and shrimp dumpling) and char siu bau (steamed pork buns). You can use our Dim Sum ordering guide to find out which are the best dishes. It’s best to prepare before you go as (like at many Dim Sum restaurants) service can be brisk – 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 that have never tried Dim Sum or been to Hong Kong, this remains a must visit. Try and grab a few friends so you can try a number of dishes. Remember to arrive early, the queues can be upwards of 30mins at lunchtimes and longer on Sundays so try and arrive soon after opening.