I hold in my hands a small, rather plain, half empty glass at the moment. I look at it and I know it can change, but I'm not sure how. Do I turn it a little this way and see it from a different angle? Do I turn it completely upside down? Or do I compensate for the overly rosey tint and see it for what it really is? A small, plain tumbler filled half with air, half with other matter and just one part of the whole?
It takes a serious optimist to find the silver lining sometimes, to the point cynics doubt there even is one. Zilver's silver lining is found somewhere in between some of the service, some of the food and some of the interiors - somewhere.
It's late in day in the scheme of yum cha but a significantly calmer atmosphere than peak hours. Our self-appointed seating turns out to not really be on the trolley route, but a few steer over and the rest are brought to the table by friendly and helpful faces.
The har cheung is a staple on my personal yum cha list - silky soft rice noodle enveloping a few firm whole prawns, drowning in sweet soy sauce and oil pool. The perfect starter from my current half empty tea cup perspective, although sadly left of lukewarm on this occasion.
It's a long, chatter-filled pause before a red-clad waitress notices our barren tabletop and offers aid in the form of tracking down specific requests. Out comes the rest of the must-have list plus a friendly suggestion too.
The har gow look sprightly in their clear white skins, more prawns peering out temptingly. These are nice and hot, the prawns ever so much nicer for it. I must also mention my sudden, but probably actually gradual, need to have condiments with everything these days. So it goes without saying that everything consumed got the chilli sauce treatment. I wonder if it's a genetic tendency?
siu mai are unexpectedly massive, the egg wrapper barely containing the minced pork and mushroom filling. An additional prawn sits precariously on top of each dumpling, also topped with a dollop of bright orange roe. It's packed with bouncy meat and fresh flavour, winning favourite dish of the day.
The suggested dai ji gow uncharacteristically fall short of the mark, probably having done a few rounds of the restaurant since leaving the steaming coop. On first look, the skins are broken here and there. On first barely warm taste, the scallops are dry and hardening. It still retains flavour of the sea and fresh vegetable, but is a disappointing mouthful or two. Serves us right for being tardy, I guess.
foong jao - on another's must-do list. These are delightfully hot and steaming, pleasingly soft and juicy with a spot-on sweetness to spiciness ratio. For those who aren't enamoured with the concept of chook's feet, it really isn't that bad - these marinated versions especially. Think soft, flavour-packed skin with some tendons in a slightly strange form - not unlike pork knuckle when you really think about it, just minus all the meat.
It's not yum cha for me without coconut jelly. Three jiggling, snow white cubes signal the end of a yum cha meal, despite my being able to pick at the jelly for ages. These wobbly but firm boxes are lightly scented with creamy coconut, the sugar levels subdued and the perfect follower to numerous soy sauce-rich plates.
As the restaurant peters out to empty, we're left pondering our empty teapot and half-filled teacups amid busily hustling staff. As I down the rest of my chysanthemum tea I notice the world looks different in a teacup. Zilver provides a hour or so of escapism away from the real, half-empty glass world, and if that's not a silver lining I don't know what is.