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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Steamed parcels of pork topped with the obligatory carrot piece. A yum cha staple.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The lotus leaves impart a delicate fragrance to the glutinous rice and chicken mixture.
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.
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!
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.
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
Yum Cha: 11:00am - 3:00pm
Dinner: 5:00pm - till late