Yum Cha: where the buffet comes to you!

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!

Chinese food dumplings 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.

Chinese food dumplings yum cha tea

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.

Chinese food dumplings yum cha

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!

Chinese food dumplings yum cha garlic spinach prawn dumpling gow gee

Steamed prawn, spinach and garlic gow gee!

Chinese food dumplings yum cha scallop and prawn dumplings

Scallop and prawn dumplings!

Chinese food dumplings yum cha prawn spinach garlic dumplings

Prawn gow gee (top) and garlic and greens dumplings (bottom).

Chinese food dumplings yum cha prawn rice noodle

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!

Chinese food dumplings yum cha pork bunThese 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.

Chinese food dumplings yum cha lone prawn

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!

Images by Mr and Mrs Romance.

Sky Phoenix on Urbanspoon


  • Reply March 17, 2013

    Clare // george&bear

    If you love yum cha, you should go to the one that sits inside/next to Souths Leagues Club in Maroubra. AMAZE.

    • Reply March 18, 2013

      Mrs Romance

      Thanks for the tip Clare! We love trying new places and will definitely check it out xx

  • Reply March 18, 2013


    I’ve never had Yum Cha but have literally just sent an email to my sister asking if we can try it VERY soon!!


    • Reply March 18, 2013

      Mrs Romance

      You have to go Erin! So delicious and such a fun way to eat xx

  • I adore yum cha and like you, I can eat so much of it, that we end up foregoing dinner. But we’re both dumpling fiends so we enable each other 😛

    • Reply March 27, 2013

      Mr Romance

      Tell me about it, Lorraine! Lurv dumplings. I like going to yum cha with Mrs R because I think she understands me and doesn’t judge. And is also a dumpling fiend like us!!

  • Reply October 12, 2013



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  • Reply November 6, 2014

    Mary Zach

    For yum cha deep in suburbia, Phoenix Rhodes and Parra is good, a slightly fancy ambience (noise levels still high) and they have good dessert variety (Tau Foo Fa my go to dessert!). Other cheaper options are the ones in Parra Leagues Club and of course, North Ryde RSL – good value for money and the dumplings are delicious too. Chatswood has plethora of dumpling options and if you have a hankering for soup-filled dumplings, Taste of Shanghai in Eastwood.

    • Reply November 7, 2014

      Mr Romance

      Hi Mary! Thank you for your recommendations! Love to see what other people have discovered in the world of food! It’s funny you should mention Phoenix Parra – we went there about two or three months ago on a random trip west. Thought it was pretty darn good! As for the Parra Leagues, we go there quite a lot with Mrs R’s sister, who lives out that way. Love that big tree that runs up inside the middle of the building!
      Quick story about the North Ryde RSL btw – we went there years ago with Mrs R’s family. I’d forgotten about the ‘no flipflops’ rule in RSLs so they wouldn’t let me in. Mrs R’s dad paid $50 for a pair of the ugliest Crocs I’ve ever seen – the only footwear available in their little gift shop – so that we could go in! Amazing I couldn’t wear flipflops but green and orange Crocs: no problem!
      Taste of Shanghai for soup-filled dumplings? I’m there! Thank you so much! Damn I love those dumpos!

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