Thursday, September 18, 2008

Mongkok for Yum Cha

Enter Adelaide's Moonta Street or Chinatown at noon on a Sunday and you will find it hard to score a table without a booking in hand. Having heard so much about Yum Cha and having never formally tried it I decided it was time to experience it first hand.
Although Yum Cha means to drink tea, it refers to the custom of eating of dim sims and several small servings of different foods while sipping Chinese tea in Cantonese speaking areas of southern China. Traditionally Yum Cha is served on weekends and the tea is said to to help digest the rich foods. Yum Cha seems to have taken Australia by storm with people using this traditionally Chinese custom like brunch, a great time to catch up with friends and family over a relaxing and utterly delicious meal.
First stop Mongkok, on Gouger Street recommended by fellow Gastronome Jackie as one of the city's leading Yum Cha restaurants. Entering the packed eatery, we sat down to a simply laid table with the order form (printed completely in Chinese) for the waiter to mark to record our selections.
The service was prompt and as I waited for Amy to join me, I was approached about three times in five minutes with enquiries about drinks. (This is far from typical in Adelaide, where waiters are almost never attentive of on the ball!) Waiters with trolleys or trays come around with steaming baskets of goodies for you to choose from and you simply pick what you want, she marks it on the slip and you enjoy! Voila...

A bird's eye view of the hot wooden steamers on the trolley. This one is loaded up with various dim sims and chickens feet a Chinese delicacy.

We started with some braised pork with a sweet BBQ sauce and steamed prawn dumplings.

A plate of roast chicken slices proved to be far too bony!
The Stir-fry Chinese Greens in Oyster Sauce... brilliant!
See, I'm actually going for a big piece when there is an abundance of meat... alas green veggies that are delicious! The steamer on the left contains pickled octopus with ginger and the one on the right, a portion of the deep fried, succulent chickens feet.

Mixed dumplings, pork, prawn and tofu.
My partner in crime Amy!
And her best friend : hot chili sauce! Whopa!
Amy goes feet first, sucking on the flesh in between the toes!

These little buns sealed the deal for us, the pastry is lightly sweetened and sprinkled with sesame seeds, stuffed with sweet pork mince in a hoisin flavoured BBQ sauce - so delicious!
8 steaming baskets, 2 sodas, a pot of Chinese Tea and the bill came up to $48 - very reasonable!
Having thoroughly enjoyed the weekend Yum Cha brunch, and mystified by this popular Chinese tradition, I hope to visit a couple more of places and draw parallels in terms of service, ambiance, price and of course highlight interesting dishes . So, watch this space for further yummy Yum Cha adventures.

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