Palace Chinese Restaurant Yum Cha, Sydney

Considering that I regularly yum cha, it’s a little embarrassing that I haven’t blogged any of it yet. A comforting mid morning affair for me, I find the combination of warm savoury mouthfuls and sips of hot chinese tea a relaxing way to start a weekend day. My only warning when it comes to yum cha – never underestimate the filling power of those bite sized morsels, or the tea for that matter. Clever dish selection and portion control is your friend here, unless you want to pull out those elasticised pants you save for buffets.

If you’ve never tried yum cha, expect something like an oversized sushi train, substituting the train for a neverending line of food trolleys, and the sushi for small dishes. It’s fantastic!

These photos are from a few outings at Palace Chinese Restaurant, which seems to be our yum cha of choice at the moment. I’ve heard grumblings that service has declined since being named Favourite Yum Cha in Sydney by the SMH Good Food Guide last year. I disagree. I’ve always found service to be attentive and considerate and I haven’t noticed a difference since the food guide mention.

Char siu bao

I’ve tried to make these at home, with random success. Even when the filling is perfect, the dough is never as airy. A pretty standard dish across the yum cha restaurants, a crowd favourite in my circles.

Har Gow

The har gow at Palace are full of Actual Prawns, which can’t always be said. It’s not uncommon to bite into a har gow to find a sticky mess of flour, prawn like goo and miniscule prawn scraps – not here.

Ham sui gok

Usually we lean towards the steamed options at yum cha but I can’t go past the deep fried shells on these. The texture is an addictive contrast of mochi like chewiness with the unmistakeable deep fried crunch, while it’s subtle sweetness is offset by the savoury pork and vegetable filling inside. The Palace version some some sort of pickle in it too, giving it a sour note as well.

Pai gwat (Pork Ribs)

With a hint of chilli and black bean, half the fun is in the nibbling – the bone:flesh ratio is almost akin to a chicken wing.


Sad to say but I have no idea what these may have been filled with. Knowing us, it was most likely custard or BBQ pork. If you’ve ever had chinese bakery bread you’ll understand how moreish these can be.

Chicken and Sweetcorn pan fried dumpling

Along with the food trolleys, most yum cha places will generally have random specials that come out regularly on large trays from the kitchen, which can be quite hit and miss. This was one those. Served with a mayonnaise like sauce, there wasn’t a lot of flavour around, I wasn’t too impressed and wouldn’t get it again. Definitely a miss.

Fung zhao (chicken feet)

Be adventurous! After all you only live once… The outer layer of skin is completely removed, leaving only the thin soft inner skin (never exposed to the elements). Slow and long cooking then gives you a lovely gelatinous texture. The thought of eating the bony foot of a chicken may be cringe and shudder worthy at first, but I’m sure the sweet black bean sauce along will convince you otherwise.

Har cheung fun (steamed noodles filled with prawns)

Silky smooth rice noodles are always delicious and even more so when served with prawns and a sweet soy sauce. These slippery tubes can get messy to share but you’ll be glad you did. You can also get beef, BBQ pork, plain and vegetarian versions to keep things interesting.

Siu Mai

Steamed parcels of pork topped with the obligatory carrot piece. A yum cha staple.

Wo tip (pot stickers)

Filled with a mince mixture and served with vinegar, the starchy pastry is thicker than a steamed dumpling but the best bit for me is the golden crunchy bit on the bottom.

Wu Gok

I always make an effort to get things I can’t be bothered to make at home and these are a prime example. The deep friend taro shell encases a dollop of chopped pork and prawn mix inside, great for those wanting a starchy carb hit.

Yeung tofu and eggplant

Fried tofu cubes and braised eggplant wedges filled with a meat mixture. At home, my mum makes these with a fish filling but at Palace I tasted a hint of pork in the mix as well.

Char siu so

BBQ pork covered with a thin flaky pastry. Ideal for BBQ pork lovers. Slightly inaccurate photo, usually comes with four individual servings – sneakiness and hungriness amongst the masses in the morning to blame.

Lo mai gai (sticky rice with chicken)

The lotus leaves impart a delicate fragrance to the glutinous rice and chicken mixture.

Prawn dumplings

Another item from the specials tray, these were boiled and packed with prawns and pork, reminiscent of wonton filling, served with superfluous carrot shavings.

Onto the sweets! I always try and save room for dessert and when that dessert trolley comes along, it’s probably the most decisive moment at our table.

Dan tart (Egg tarts)

The most traditional of sweets, the pastry should be thick yet flakey and crumbly while the sweet egg custard should be silky and of course, yellow! We’ve been lucky enough to get them straight from oven most times – even better!

Tofu fa

A favourite of Daisy Moo’s. The tofu is a much lighter and even more delicate than silken tofu, served here with a plain sugar syrup. Some places will also add a hint of ginger.

No name dessert

I’ve never managed to fully catch the name of this dessert but it’s one of the main reasons I love Palace for yum cha. In true chinese style, it’s name is elaborate and along the lines of “golden dream” but please, don’t quote me on this one, just trust that it’s a satisfying sugar hit. It’s a combination of mango, coconut jelly, lychees and sago in a chilled, lightly creamy base topped with pomelo flesh. Lately they’ve also been adding the pearls that you get in pearl tea, Easyway style. Fruity and sweet.

Well, the blog has finally been christened with a yum cha post, I’ll make sure you posted on all other food outings, yum cha or otherwise:)

Palace Chinese Restaurant
Shop 38 Level 1, Piccadilly Tower
133 - 145 Castlereagh Street Sydney 2000
Phone: (02)92836288
Fax: (02)92836566
Yum Cha: 11:00am - 3:00pm
Dinner: 5:00pm - till late

Taste of Sydney, March 09

Welcome back lovely reader of my recently neglected, but dearly loved food blog! In the next few weeks/months, I’ll be rampantly posting a huge backload of posts, in an effort to clear out a ballooning WIP folder, sync my computer with my little external hard drive (a trusty friend in the last few disjointed months) and basically make more time for my love of food/blogging. Well that’s the plan anyway:P

Well, to start, my recent interludes into Sydney have been fortunate enough to coincide with some fun food events, one being the Taste of Sydney festival. An outdoor festival held last month in the serene Centennial Park. Being lucky ticketholders of the Saturday night session, the girls and I were offered not only the gourmet delights of Sydney, but as a bonus (and for free I might add), we were was treated to a night of torrential rain, gale force winds and plastic ponchos. Mother Nature sure knows how to add some atmosphere.

So, after arriving at 5pm on the dot, the clouds descend and suddenly a storm in upon us. We dash to the nearest pavilion, finding a wine tasting class ready to begin – How Convenient! I generally prefer to eat before/while drinking but really, between a choice of first class wines and cold, soul drenching rain….it’s a pretty easy decision isn’t it?

Beautiful wines; I loved the tasting, Sindel loved finishing my spread, Madam Saucy loved the fact there was no spittle bucket and H perfected her wine musing look – all in all, a fun way to begin our night.

Berowra Waters Inn – Arancini of truffle risotto and buffalo mozzarella, spinach and fennel sauce

After the wine tasting we are 4 ravenous women - our plan of attack: Sharing is Caring. The rain has stopped and to start we head for a vegetarian option, so all of us can dive in. The arancini is piping hot, with a moreish centre, I wish it was bigger.

After this little nibble we meet up with Herr Mouttard, JJW and Snow White, who point us in the direction of Restaurant Balzac.

Restaurant Balzac – Wagyu Beef “Bourguignonne” with Truffle Cauliflower and Onion Rings

A fancy spring roll - a damn good fancy spring roll. The beef melted in my mouth (as expected) and the crunchy outer contrasted nicely with the cooling cauliflower cream.

Restaurant Balzac – Saddle of suckling pig with crackling and baby garden peas

I look up to notice our resident vegetarian looking hungry, next stop Danks St Depot. As we arrive, we’re greeted by Jared Ingersoll, who emerges to reassure us his food tastes as good as it looks.

Danks St Depot – Pastrami of Kingfish with Smoked Oysters and Cucumber and Apple Salad

Danks St Depot – Ham steamed in Hay served with buttered suedes

Danks St Depot - Poached Strawberries with a chocolate and hazelnut meringue with whipped cream

Suddenly, the urge for wine overcomes us, fortunately the girls at the Wyndham Estate stall are more than happy to oblige. We meander through the side stalls drinking wine, tasting cheese, sweets and olive oils among many other mouth watering treats.

At this point, I’m getting hungry again and can feel the Crowns (the festival’s currency) in my bag calling out to me. Next stop – Jonah’s at Whale Beach and Bécasse. Being men who love meat (let’s face it, most of them do…), JJW and Herr Mouttard are almost physically pushing us towards the Plan B Wagyu beef burger. We trek over to the stall and find a massive line waiting for said burger. Generally, we found the crowd and lines quite small in the festival, but this beef burger was pulling in a huge crowd, by far the most popular dish of the night.

Plan B – Gundooee Organic grass fed Wagyu Beef Burger

We waited patiently… and were rewarded with this awesome baby! Apologies for my amateur photo, this is a truly unflattering shot of a truly delicious burger. I found myself in my own little world, groaning with satisfaction as I was eating it and oddly, paranoid that someone would ask for a bite. If you have never experienced a foodgasm, I’m sure this will do it for you, (pending meat eating status).

Speaking of non-meat eaters, resourceful Sindel joined Herr Mouttard next door to grab some fish action.

Jonah's at Whale Beach - Sesame seared yellow fin tuna, crisp spring onion rings, red radish and watercress

Jonah’s at Whale Beach – Tempura ricotta filled zucchini flowers with basil pesto sauce

I grabbed a bite of these and again wished I had the courage to deep fry in my own kitchen.

On our way to grab some champagne (I’m a sucker for the bubbly at the moment), Madam Saucy and I were distracted by seafood.

Assiette – Sydney rock oysters with Vietnamese dressing, crispy shallots and baby coriander

Not sure where the alleged crispy shallots and coriander have gone but that didn’t stop us enjoying these slurpy little mouthfuls. We tried to save some for Sindel and H (Group motto had changed to Divide and Conquer by this point) but with no luck finding them we took it for the team and finished off the plate, it’s the thought that counts?

It’s time for dessert and with our few remaining Crowns, we find:

Lindt Café

Being the predictable chocoholic that he is, Herr Mouttard instinctively veered towards the Lindt stall to finish his night with this gooey concoction. The icecream was a bit melted by the time I’d gotten to it but still good nevertheless.

Jonah’s at Whale Beach – Vanilla Panna Cotta with lavender honey and fresh pomegranate

I know panna cotta is a cinch to make at home but I still gravitate towards it when I’m out. This wobbly baby really hit the spot that night, it was sweet yet light, and it’s provocative vanilla seed peak was a was fun to watch – until I ate it!

Mother Nature has incredible timing and as we polish off our last bites the rain returns with renewed vigour. Suddenly the only thing I can think about is how fat, cold and hard the raindrops are on my head and how grateful I am that I didn’t end up wearing that white top that seems to be on high rotation in my wardrobe at the moment. Turns out I go home in a white top of a completely different kind – an unbecoming white plastic poncho which renders me devoid of any womanly shape and is irritatingly much too long, but keeps me (somewhat) dry as I walk what seem to be miles, out to Oxford St to get a cab. That poncho providing man must have been everyone’s hero during the night. Now, if only someone would organise a food festival for me every weekend.

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