Sesame | Authentic dim sum in Valletta

Authentic dim sum is hard to come by in Malta. This little spot is providing the goods.

Steamed bao buns
Steamed bao buns

Asian food, particularly Chinese food, has never been very good in Malta. We lack enough people coming from that area for the emergence Chinatowns, resulting in Chinese restaurants that cater for westerners. Lemon chicken, sweet and sour pork, wonton soup… these are the typical dishes you find at most Chinese restaurants and their recipes don’t really vary from restaurant to restaurant.

A trip to any large European city will reveal a different world of culinary delights, Asian in nature, in the various Chinatowns – my favourite is dim sum. I remember going to a Chinese restaurant in Paris when I was in my late teens, where no one spoke any English (or French for that matter) and an old lady with a trolley came up to your table, yelled at you in Chinese and left whatever she wanted at your table. But boy was it worth it. The steamers were opened to reveal soft steamed dumplings stuffed with meat, veggies, fish or a combination of the three and buns made with rice flour with several dipping sauces. Though I had no idea what I was eating, this was one of the best Chinese meals I had ever eaten.

Back to the present, I’ve walked by a little shop… restaurant… takeaway spot… I’m not really sure what to call it, claiming to serve authentic dim sum, all made in house. The place is tiny with just two tables that seat maybe two people each inside and two tables outside. Just opposite Is-Suq in Merchant Street, the tiny place is wedged between two construction sites; the market itself and a boutique hotel going up next door. Though this doesn’t make for the ideal dining scenario the food definitely makes up for it, and, in a few months the construction situation will get better.

Sesame is a dim sum and noodle bar with a short menu. Though the chef is of Chinese origin, the dim sum take on a broader Asian theme with steamed bao buns from Vietnam and curried vegetable samosas from Thailand.

Sui Mai
Sui Mai

As dim sum was what I was after we settled on a number of starters and skipped the noodles this time around. We went for steamed shrimp dumplings made with the lightest rice flour pastry, sui mai – again steamed dumplings stuffed with a mix of pork and shrimp, curried vegetable samosas and Vietnamese bao buns stuffed with braised pork, pickled vegetables and a house sauce. Paired with a Thai beer this went down a treat.

Though dining in is not really ideal at the moment, the tiny restaurant is busy with takeaways, delivering to central areas via Time to Eat. Once the dust settles (literally) and there is less construction going on around the area, they plan to have some tables outside, making it more pleasant to sit down and eat there, should you happen to be in Valletta.

Vegetable samosas
Vegetable samosas

So is Seasme as good as that place in Paris? Probably not but then again my palate has developed since my early teens along with my expectations. What Sesame has over the Paris spot is that it is close by and as I live in an area they deliver to, this is going to be my go-to takeaway. Every single time.

Rating ***

What I ate

Steamed shrimp dumplings

Pork and shrimp Sui Mai

Curried vegetable samosas

Steamed bao buns

Total: €21.35 excluding drinks

Sesame Dim Sum and Noodle Bar

31, Old Theatre Street,


Tel: 2732 2022

Opening hours: Daily from 10am till 10pm

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