We were seated upstairs and had a nice window view. Soon the trollies started coming round with their offerings. Looking over the edge of our area and downstairs, I couldn't help but feel there more choices on the ground floor. Having said that, over the course of our session, I certainly didn't want for any more!
Service was attentive with water glasses being re filled often, empty dishes taken away quickly and the tea pot topped up regularly. Food wise there was a wide choice of dumplings. The steamed ones were mostly good. There were one or two that didn't quite work - hot and sour dumpling which taste of tom yam soup which we love but not as a dumpling, fishcakes that were cold and a cheesy scallop dish that was also cold. I guess the key thing is to try and get the fresh stuff or at least the stuff that keeps the heat. Stuff that did taste good were the siu mai, chive dumplings, stuffed mushrooms and scallop dumplings.
If there was another complaint it would be that there seemed a lot more steamed dishes on offer than fried stuff and Steve likes his fried stuff. Dessert offerings were a little disappointing - what looked like a pineapple bun was dry and had a weird red filling which I thought was red bean paste but didn't taste of much except sugar. The almond cookies were a bit dry and floury. The egg tarts were good though.
We concluded that Red Emperor is miles better than Dragon Boat but not as good as Shark Fin Inn or Shark Fin House. It is more expensive but is more convenient for us to get to and the service and ambience is nicer than the Chinatown offerings so it's a bit of a tough call. I guess the biggest problem with Red Emperor is that the quality of the dishes is inconsistent. If they could just turn up the notch a little on the deliciousness of their dim sum then it would be the outright winner.
It's funny; I wouldn't take my parents or Chinese family here as there are better and tastier places but I would bring Western friends as I think they'd find the dim sum pretty good and they'd probably prefer the ambience and the friendly service.