Yum Cha!

8/09/2008 10:48:00 PM

Yum Cha! Who stayed up late watching the Olypmics opening ceremony last night? I watched it over at a friend's house, up until 1:30 AM!!! We marvelled at the massive LCD screen and the incredible co-ordination of all performers, thought the little girl singing in the red dress was cute, if a bit psychotic, wondered WTF Sarah Brightman was doing there, and rolled our eyes at the woeful commentating. I secretly wished that Jackie Chan or Andy Lau would be involved in the ceremony, but no such luck.

As always, the most interesting part of the ceremony was watching the parade of participants. I love seeing people from exotic countries that I've never heard of - Azerbaijan, Guinea-Bissau, Moldova, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines to name a few. (Obviously, "exotic" is a relative concept, so please excuse me if I sound as uncultured as Homer "hey... there's a New Mexico!" Simpson). I cheered the loudest for the Malaysian, German and Australian teams, and loved the Malaysian team's outfits. Good luck to all athletes, especially my peeps, the Malaysian badminton players. Malaysia Boleh!

In keeping with the Chinese theme, and in honour of my Chinese heritage, today's post is about that great Chinese culinary tradition - YUM CHA! (After some research, I realised that Yum Cha is a Southern Chinese tradition, rather than a Northern, Beijing thang, but let's not let that spoil our enjoyment of delicious yum cha). Yum Cha literally means "drink tea" in Cantonese, and is the Chinese tradition of eating many small plates of different foods for a weekend family breakfast / brunch / lunch. And of course, drinking lots tea with it.

We have yum cha quite often, more so when I was a kid, but I never even though to blog it because it was just way too ordinary. I mean, yum cha is a regular family weekend activity - definitely not special occasion or exotic or unusual. However, remembering that "exotic" is a relative term, I thought some of you might be interested in how Yum Cha from Melbourne goes down.

I'm no expert on Yum Cha, and I don't even speak Cantonese - we're proud to be Hokkien-speaking Penangites - so my approach to Yum Cha is the good old "point-and-nod", which is what I advise to anyone else who doesn't speak Cantonese. So, with that in mind, please excuse any mistakes I may have made in the following captions. This particular Yum Cha session was at Shark Fin Inn in the city (see below for address), and although there are hundreds of different types of dishes that can be eaten at Yum Cha, the ones below are my family's standard dishes.

Top Row R-L: Chee Chong Fan (Prawns wrapped in rice-noodle sheets), Sticky Rice in Leaf, Some dumpling or something
Middle Row R-L: Japanese Tofu with Minced Prawn and Scallop, Eggplant/Prawn, Vegetarian Rolls, Sticky Rice with Lap Cheong
Bottom Row: Siew Mai (steamed pork dumplings), Har Gao (steamed prawn dumplings), Shark Fin Dumplings

Clockwise from Top Left: Century Egg Congee, Roast Pork Puffs, Teapot, Woo-cock (Deep-fried yam balls)

Tan-taat (egg custard tarts) and Yong Tau Fu (sweet bean curd with sugar syrup - light and refreshing).

FYI, these photos of me eating are a joke. Despite what Kylie Kwong might seem to think, Chinese people do not eat paus with chopsticks. Why don't we just eat tan-taats with chopsticks then? Silly.

Sarah's Top Picks for Yum Cha in Melbourne

Shark Fin Inn
50-52 Little Bourke St
Melbourne 3000 VIC
(03) 9662 2681

Shark Fin House
131 Little Bourke St
Melbourne 3000
(03) 9663 1555

546 Doncaster Road
Doncaster 3108
(03) 9840 1122

239 Blackburn Rd
Doncaster East 3109
(03) 9841-9977

Of course, I'm just scratching the surface here. Tell me, what are your favourite restaurants in Melbourne for Yum Cha? And what are your family's favourite dishes?

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  1. Anonymous11:40 AM

    "Fu Long" in Box Hill is pretty decent.
    As for my favourite "dim sum", it's gotta be egg tart!!!!! Mango pudding is good, too. And deep fried squid. And "jar leong"!!!! OMG "jar leong" is DA BOMB!! It's "yau tiu" wrapped with "cheong fun"...SO good...especially dipped with chilli sauce on one end, and sweet sauce on the other.

  2. Ooo! I wanna get some yum cha so bad..

    Taipan is my #1 in Melbourne for sure.. They have more obscure dishes there, stuff other than the standard siu mai, har gow and cheong fun. I had a wonderful river eel with ginger dish there once that I still think about!

    Great post. Made me salivate.

    btw: Olympics - awesomeness. Come over some time and watch on the 42" plasma with me! ^_^

  3. Anonymous9:25 AM

    I've been dreaming of yum cha the past few weeks. Have to say tai pan and plume top my list!

  4. i freakin LOOOVe dim sum!

  5. Yum cha!

    I personally don't like Taipan. I feel they have too much MSG in their food and you can suffer from delusional headaches and insatiable thirst after...

    My favourites are "New Panda" on Doncaster Road which has now been newly renovated and "Golden Dragon Palace" on Manningham Road for its ambience. Golden Dragon Palace is slightly more expensive, but you are paying also for large throne like chairs, fine service and an environment where it isn't so loud and it sounds like you are playing mahjong rather than eating yum cha.

    My favourite dishes are eel with ginger and "tau cheo", chicken feet and this ginger duck dish that comes out at only a few places. Har Gaos are still my favourite dumpling, but I also am keen on a nice sticky rice. Dessert wise, I like the lotus paus.

    Num num num...yum!

  6. Oh god, I have that feeling about Kylie and her bao eating habits as well.

    It's all about the hands, baby!

  7. Thanks for your comments and recommendations guys! I have to go to yum cha again!

    Hey Bunches - Yay! I'm not the only one who feels like that about Kylie's book cover, lol. It so looks like she was just trying to make herself more Chinese! Hehe.

    xox Sarah

  8. Anonymous2:32 AM

    There's one in Lower Templstowe. I hardly remember the name but it has been my favourite Yum Cha place when I stayed in Melbourne.

    I thought Fu Long changed their name to Fu Lin? Correct me if I'm wrong.

  9. Hi,

    "Yong Tau Foo" is stuffed tofu, white or fried tofu filled with fish paste. Also can stuff various vegetables (eggplant, chillies etc) and foochok beancurd skin.

    Sweet dessert at dimsum is "tau foo far"




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