Friday, 25 April 2008 by kinakoJam
Well, my yum cha experiences are somewhat limited. I haven't been to the excellent-sounding East Ocean in Sydney, let alone Hong Kong. I spent six weeks staying in Melbourne's Chinatown, but found the yum cha there to be on the flabby side (at its best when scooped out of the deep frier), and wasn't impressed by the yum cha in New York's Chinatown either (I have read that dedicated yum cha hunters there go to New Jersey). I enjoyed the expensive dim sum at London's celebrity joint Hakkasan, but seriously, with those prices, who are they kidding? I found the great blogger Chubby Hubby's recommended yum cha spot in Singapore to be ridiculously cheap - and not outstandingly deliciously so. (The steamed carrot cake and custard buns were OK...A moot point since, for me, the top priority is non-gluggy dim sum, and a great variety thereof.)
I'm under no delusions that it's the world's best, but I must say a cracking yum cha spot remains Auckland's Grand Harbour restaurant down at the Viaduct. For taste & value for money, it's probably the best overall experience I've had. (Of course I do have greater ambitions: some day i hope to eat waves of dim sum made by a top Hong Kong or Singapore chef until I start to hallucinate). But here, for roughly eight euros p/p you can enjoy a veritable feast of dumplings, proffered by tolerant servers in a restaurant that is clean and comfy, carpeted wall-to-wall and bedecked with Ming-style vases filled with flowers. Seafood fans can enjoy a serving of NZ green-lipped mussels from a steaming cart, and the beef shu-mai are enormous - and juicy, not fatty. Judicious use of herbs, sweet corn, water chestnut, peanuts or brown vermicelli noodles is found in many of the dumpling treasures that end up on your plate - and the prawns and seafood elements are plentiful and fresh. The rice paper wrappers are never gummy. Those green beans in chilli oil were yummy, too.