Imagine a Chinese restaurant that has a buffet of all the food you can think of… then imagine that buffet brought to your table by ladies with trolleys. This is heaven. This is yum cha!
I’ll let you into a little secret: when it comes to yum cha, I am a total pig. I could eat. All. Day. When everyone else says ‘oh, I am so full, I couldn’t eat another thing’, I’m nodding but I really want to jump on one of the ladies’ carts and eat everything on it like Slimer from Ghostbusters!
Having never heard of yum cha before moving to Australia, the novelty factor is still there for me. That, coupled with the delicious food the Chinese ladies bring to your table on their little trolleys… I’ll be in need of dumpling rehab in the not too distant future.
Yum cha literally means ‘drink tea’ in Cantonese, which is where this tradition comes from. Thinking back on the various dumpling campaigns, I suppose I have drunk my fair share of delicious jasmine tea while I’m plundering what the steamed gow gee lady has left me.
There are a couple of good things to know about the tea you get at Yum Cha:
- Drink a lot of it! Not only do you get free refills, but it also acts as some kind of stomach sedative. In other words it helps you eat more!
- If you want a fresh pot, leave the teapot lid at an angle and the waiters will replenish your tea when they come to clear any empty plates.
My most recent foray into dumpling heaven was to the Palace Chinese Restaurant, Piccadilly Tower, Castlereagh St, Sydney. It’s got a nice décor, there are about as many waiting staff as there are patrons, and the food is really good. Check out what Mrs Romance and I ate… please don’t judge me!
Steamed prawn, spinach and garlic gow gee!
Scallop and prawn dumplings!
Prawn gow gee (top) and garlic and greens dumplings (bottom).
Rice noodles stuffed with crispy shallot and shrimps. The sauce is just… drool-worthy!
I’ve learnt another good tip about pork buns – a new favourite to my eating repertoire: a good pork bun should have split apart slightly when you get it. This means the bread and filling have been made by an expert. Be warned though: get a good one and you’ll be hooked like me!
These are (or were!) excellent examples of pork buns.
We are blessed with so many options for yum cha here in Sydney.
These are some of your best options for Sydney’s best yum cha:
- Palace Chinese Restaurant – if what you’ve just seen hasn’t convinced you, head over to Piccadilly Tower via Pitt or Castlereagh Street. Doubt you’ll regret it!
- Marigold Hotel – the biggest yum cha here – two levels of foodness! This place is an institution.
- East Ocean Restaurant – another mega restaurant in the city.
- Sky Phoenix – revamped from after the Westfield took over – this restaurant is much improved.
- Dynasty Yum Cha in Canterbury.
For a much more extensive listing of all the places in the Sydney area offering yum cha, check out this on Urban Spoon.
Where do you go for yum cha? Tell us about it!