Tag Archives: Yum Cha

Yum Cha @ Spice Temple, Sydney

Spice Temple recently introduced yum cha style options for lunch – which is great because down that end of town there is very little of it other than Mr Wong. And yes I know people will say ‘you could get that for half the price in China Town blah blah blah’ but this isn’t mass-produced-sitting-around-in-a-trolley type yum cha – it is Neil Perry yum cha, made to order and using some great ingredients.  I’ve been to Spice Temple a la carte several times, so was keen to try the dumplings.  The optimal group size though, seems to be 3 people, as that is the serving size of most of the dumplings. They won’t up it to four, so if everyone wants to try one and you’re a foursome, you’ll need to order two serves.  Tasting it, it is obvious that this is premium stuff, you just need to get your head around the association of yum cha = cheap.

The standouts for me were: Gua bao with roast pork belly and chilli paste ($9 each), which you order individually (spice, texture and flavour), the lobster siu mai – $12 for two – (such luxury! And just devine), the Wagyu beef and chestnut siu mai (not too often you get beef in dumplings, and these were delicious), and the Pork balls with XO sauce (oh that sauce! Give me a bowl of it with some steamed rice). Excuse the pics – Spice Temple lighting is not conducive to good photos!

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We also tried the Har Gow steamed prawn dumplings (these were probably the only ones we tried which didn’t stand out in particularly versus say Palace or other yum cha), the Prawn and scallop spring roll, and the Lamb and cumin pancake

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To finish, we had the three milk cake (normal, condensed and cream I think) with raspberry, pistachio and almond, with meringue on top. It had a slightly Middle Eastern bent with the rosewater and pistachio, and the milk was just delicious. I could happily skip the meringue and just have that gorgeous cake with lashings of the milk mixture. Any chance of a recipe, Neil?


Spice Temple, 10 Bligh Street, Sydney ph (02) 8078 1888

Palace Chinese – CBD Yum Cha, Sydney

It was Friday. We’d been working hard. It was time for some team yum cha. If you don’t want to go all the way to Chinatown, in the city you go to Palace (no, I don’t like Sky Phoenix, my experiences there have been average,  it’s only advantage is that you can book, and skip the inevitable queue you’ll encounter at Palace).

A small space compared to the Chinatown behemoths, I’m a big fan of its dumplings, salt and pepper squid, and also the rice noodle dishes, especially the rice noodle with barbecue pork (top picture). Plus there’s the added advantage of it being quick when your famished, and cheap when you’re not flush with funds. I do think its always best to go to yum cha early, at 11.30-12.00pm, when the food is the freshest (and if you go later you will undoubtedly have to queue). It also has to end with an obligatory serve of mango pancakes, though I’m a big fan of their mango sago.

Chi fan!



034036039Palace Chinese, Level 1, 133-145 Castlereagh St, Sydney, Ph (02) 9283 6288

Palace Chinese on Urbanspoon

Mr Wong, Bridge Lane, Sydney

When I first heard the name of Justin Hemmes’ new restaurant, I’m sure I’m not the only one who remembered this…..

Female tourist: Mr Wong! Mr Wong!
Mr Wong: What is it?
Female tourist: I’ve lost all my traveller’s cheques!
Mr Wong: Ohhh. What kind were they?
Female tourist: American Express…

mrwongs nraThat ad was shot somewhere in Hong Kong (or at least it looked like it was, might well have been a back street in Sydney) and here in the old Tankstream site the Merivale crew have re-created the whole British-Colonial-post war-Hong Kong thing, with the tuxedoed waiters and a truly amazing fit out. This is actually my third visit, and the food has been solid both times but the service a little mixed.


It starts off well, we are welcomed by some eye candy and taken to our table. The menu is extensive but not overwhelming like it can be at some Chinese eateries. You’ll find plenty to order. We begin with the scallop and prawn shumai. There’s some clever maths at play here, there are only 3 per serve. I’d hazard a bet that most tables are two or four. Can they add another one to the serve for our party of four? No, they can’t, you’ll have to order two lots if everyone wants one, we are told. We don’t mind the extras as they are juicy and flavoursome.

We follow on with a cold dish, the drunken pork hock with the marinated jelly fish. If the thought of jelly fish alarms you, you’d never know if you weren’t told, and the lovely marinade with the tender pork make a great combination. The roasted duck, on the other hand, is a little average, good crispy skin but nothing special and I’m sure you’ll find better in Chinatown.

Then onto the dish which was the winner of the day – steamed scallops with ginger, shallots, XO sauce and silken tofu. These are scallops on steroids, fat, and delicious, with an excellent XO. We then have the twice cooked green beans with pork mince, which have a little more punch than the last time I was here, though I still think I prefer Din Tai Fung’s version. And then Mr Wong’s special fried rice, which is a staple order on each visit – its great fried rice. We order a large which is too much for four of us.

But like my last visit, they leave the empty plates on the table far too long though, and it can be hard to get waitstaff’s attention. But its a fairly minor negative in the great scheme of things.

I’ve heard people say this is overpriced Chinese. And sure, its more than a whole-in-the-wall you might find in Chinatown, but its not really any more expensive than say Golden Century. Our six dishes came to less than $40 a head, which I think is pretty good when you’re sitting in a place that looks like this one (there are also various banquets starting at $68). Its also the only decent Chinese at this end of the CBD. The no bookings policy for a 240 seater is annoying, but lunch bookings are usually not an issue, its evenings that often mean you’re in for a long wait. The wait in my view worth it – I’m sure my third visit won’t be my last.

Mr Wong, 3 Bridge Lane, Sydney Ph (02) 9240 3000

Mr Wong on Urbanspoon

East Ocean Yum Cha, Haymarket

East Ocean took the brave step a while ago of dispensing with the trolleys and giving you the option of ticking what you want on a form, though there are some wait staff carrying around other dishes on trays.  It makes for a much more sedate yum cha experience, and takes away the bustling and some of the fun.  Its not quite the same if you can’t wave away a pushy trolly dolly, or peer eagerly into the steaming baskets to unearth the contents.

Overall it was a bit hit and miss – some dishes worked well others didn’t – it seems to be about knowing what to order here. I doubt I’ll be back –  I’ll stick to my old favourites, Marigold and Palace.

On the menu:

Yum cha isn’t yum cha without a bit of salt and pepper. We started with salt and pepper calamari, the stalwart, and some salt and pepper whitebait.  The first was as it should be – bit of punch and tender calamari.  The whitebait was cold and we had to send it back, but even the replacement was lukewarm –  it was very average and could have been fabulous if cooked well (and served hot!).


Next was the beans with mince pork.  Dish of the day. I’ve had the Din Tai Fung version (excellent), the Mr Wong version, and the Lynn Shanghai Cuisine version (both a bit bland).  This was flavoursome and with a nice hit of chilli.


The dumplings overall where a little ho hum – we had a scallop and seafood, the snow pea and seafood and the Shanghai style pork dumplings.


The fried rice also average, but the soy marinated chicken and bbq pork combo was tender and well flavoured. The bbq pork puffs had nice flaky pastry but needed more filling.


It is however a great Cheap Eat, you can do it for under $20 a person – but there are other better choices.

East Ocean, 421 – 429 Sussex St, Haymarket Ph (02) 9212 4918

East Ocean Restaurant on Urbanspoon