Thursday, May 3, 2012

Yum cha to order at Golden Century

With yum cha in Sydney, most of the offerings in one restaurant are much the same as those in any other. Restaurant selection then becomes a matter of service, which has improved immensely from what I remember in my younger days.

Indeed, it's changed dramatically at the likes of East Ocean in Chinatown and Golden Century in Moore Park where they've taken on an ordering system that is now common in Hong Kong and Macau. Select your choices and number of each from a sheet which is then handed to the waitstaff. Dishes are then delivered to your table direct from the kitchen as they are ready.

No more pushy yum cha ladies wielding trays or trollies here, which I personally think detracts a little from the yum cha experience - for the sake of freshness, hygiene and probably food wastage too.

Scallop siu mai at Golden Century, Entertainment Quarter, Moore Park
During my first visit to the Moore Park outlet of Golden Century (their restaurant at The Star is experiencing opening delays), it's clear that this is a lunch venue and not a breakfast or brunch affair as yum cha is traditionally.

The self-select menu is much more brief than a regular yum cha experience which is a shame since I normally like to order a huge range of the steamed dim sum.

The plump and bouncy dai ji siu mai, jam-packed with minced pork and prawns, were jauntily topped with a scallop (at a premium price to your standard siu mai, of course). Chilli sauce is a must.

Salt and pepper deep fried whitebait
I generally steer clear of the deep fried items at yum cha (I think the food can be oily enough as it is without deep frying) but the salt and pepper whitebait were surprisingly light.

Crisp and flavoured with loads of sliced chilli and garlic, playing fiddlesticks with these tasty little whole fish was worth the additional oil and calorie count.

Har gow - prawn dumplings
For some, yum cha is not complete without har gow prawn dumplings. This quite large version was perfect: not-too-thick translucent skins pleat-wrapped over chubby prawns and bamboo shoots, eaten with dabs of chilli sauce.

Bor choy gow - spinach dumplings
The other steamed dumplings we ordered were clearly just fresh out of the steamer. The steamed rice flour skins generally need some cooling time to ensure they don't break when being picked up with chopsticks.

I love the vegetable focused steamed dumplings (spinach, garlic chive, snow pea sprouts) at yum cha although they often contain prawns too. Chilli sauce needed here too with these spinach filled dumplings.

Radish cake
The lor bak guo radish cake are a popular item featuring grated white radish steamed into a cake with dried shrimp and other goodies, and then pan fried for a crisp, golden surface. Best eaten with chilli sauce.

Pai gwut - pork spare ribs
One of the most satisfying yum cha dishes for me has to be the steamed pork spare ribs with Chinese fermented black beans which remind me of Vegemite. The pork is generally always tender and sweet with steamed juices, and there's a nice combination of fat, flesh and bone.

Dou fu fa - tofu pudding
We used the ordering sheets again for dessert: the delicate dou fu fa tofu pudding for me. This was a fairly good version, warm with silky tofu and plenty of ginger-infused sugar syrup.

Mango pudding
(excuse the table stains - though it's not yum cha without them)
The mango pudding, served with a layer of condensed milk on top, was remarkably pale compared to the artificially bright colours normally seen in this dessert. The fact that it had all the flavour of a normal mango pudding, without the colouring, is going to turn me off future fluorescent-coloured ones.

As we left the lunch crowd was in full swing with as many kids pointing their chopsticks around as adults. It's gorgeous to see yum cha as a fully integrated part of many Australian lives. And the ordering system? It might just grow on me.

Moore Park Golden Century Restaurant on Urbanspoon


john@heneedsfood said...

I'm well overdue for a yum cha fix. I agree about the oiliness in many of the non-fried dishes but am always a sucker for whitebait. The radish cake looks especially delicious.

joey@FoodiePop said...

The a la carte yum cha ordering system can work well, as proved in HK, but when it doesn't it's a wreck. We went to East Ocean last weekend, and having ordered 12 things, six came at the same time and most of it became cold very quickly. A good example of a shambolic kitchen and disorganised staff; I won't return to East Ocean.

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

I remember going to HK for the first time and being disappointed about the lack of trolleys but then the food was so much fresher too!

SarahKate (Mi Casa-Su Casa) said...

That radish cake looks great! Haven't had yum cha in ages and this post is making me want to schedule in a yum cha session!

Tina said...

Hi John - That was actually the first time I saw/had whitebait at yum cha...!

Hi joey - Hm, well this one at Golden Century wasn't nearly so bad but it wasn't packed, which may contribute to the issues...

Hi Lorraine - Yep, piping hot steamers that people haven't stuck their noses into! :D

Hi SarahKate - I get yum cha cravings every now and then. It's so nice and easy to get a yum cha fix in Sydney :)

Anonymous said...

That radish cake looks divine! Have you been to Dynasty at Canterbury Leagues? It was recommended to me by my Chinese cousins, and they have some seriously good yum cha... the whitebait is a must!

Rita (mademoiselle délicieuse) said...

Love salt and pepper whitebait! Not everyone shares my love so the smaller serves at yumcha offer a good fix =D

Tina said...

Hi scoffandquaff - No, I haven't although I'm not out that way too often... :/

Hi Rita - I think this was the first time I've had whitebait at yum cha!


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