This will be a quick play by play of our yum cha lunch at The Eight, chosen because sadly Marigold is no more, and The Eight had 2 hours of free parking (though we overstayed by like 20 minutes and paid $9 for the privilege).
These pork spare ribs in black bean sauce were fine. Pretty meaty, not super fatty. Flavour I thought was a bit too mild.
I think these steamed chicken feet could’ve been steamed a little bit longer, but the flavour was good.
I actually also thought these bean curd skin rolls could’ve been more flavoured.
The steamed chive dumplings were fine, not extraodinary, and could’ve used more chive taste. I don’t know what’s happening. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with my specifically, things just tended towards blandness.
The shu mai were good, and adequately flavoured.
The texture and flavour of this this doufu fa was good.
The steamed custard buns were really good! My first one burst hot liquid all over me and the table, and our friend MP gave up hers so I could have an extra.
Overall We had a pretty decent and well priced meal, spending around $32 per person for yum cha, with 2 hours free parking down below during the day, and unlimited free parking after 6PM (important for CBD lunch considerations). My partner had had dinner with her mother and brother the previous week and had a similarly good experience.
Not bad (though I think Marigold was better. RIP.)
The Eight Market City Shopping Centre, Level 3/13 Hay St, Haymarket NSW 2000 (02) 9282 9988
As someone who is neither a gambler nor a returned serviceman I’ve seldom had the opportunity or desire to visit my local RSL club, but a recent move to Campsie and the promise of weekday yum cha at the local RSL was reason enough to change this. Being a recent transplant to the club’s 5km radius I was asked to sign up as a member for the year – a very nominal fee for a nice card with a horrible photo of me, 20% off my meal, and presumably voting rights, though I can’t find a copy of the club’s constitution online.
What struck me as I gazed at the wall of powerful faces in the club’s lobby was the very interesting racial and age make-up of its board of directors. Though at the last census in 2016 the median age in Campsie was 34 and the largest group by ancestry was Chinese at 31% of the local population followed by Nepalese at 6.9%, the distinguished gentleman (and they were all gentleman) who steer the RSL were of a distinctly more Caucasian (the club is located on Anglo Rd) and more experienced vintage than what you would expect. While the club doesn’t publish a racial breakdown of its membership, a glance around the dining hall’s patrons suggested that 31% Chinese ancestry could even be a bit on the conservative side, as far as estimates go. This of course wouldn’t account for the proportion of the membership who remain part of the club for its other facilities.
A diverse board is generally thought to be a safe board, and as I waited for my food to arrive at my table I reflected that whilst the club’s board of directors may not be as diverse at face value, it is extremely possible that they are diverse in other ways. I joked to my partner that I perhaps I should at the next election – after all I have a name and face similar to the membership, as well as a few years of non-profit directorship experience under my belt – but she told me to stop talking about nonsense and focus on my primary exam instead.
And now to the food. These durian pastries were really pretty good. The actual pastry of it was quite buttery and flaky and nice in that regard, though the durian filling was a bit too sweet for me.
These egg tarts met the critical criteria for being egg tarts, but I did not feel that they went above and beyond. Stronger candidates in this area might feature a flakier crust, though perhaps my enjoyment of these was tempered by both the excellent pastry of the durian cake and the fact that I had to have both egg tarts as my partner does not like them.
I was not a fan of these black bean pork ribs, unusual for me, but my partner found nothing wrong with them.
The chive and prawn dumplings were good, though (and I don’t know if this is seasonal) I felt that better 韭菜饺 have a greater level of fragrance to them.
I enjoyed these chicken feet. These met the standard set by my extensive yum cha training a a child growing up in Western Sydney.
I wasn’t the biggest fan of the beef rice noodle rolls, the filling felt like the difference between a party sausage roll from the freezer aisle at Coles and an artisanal sausage roll baked on site.
I can’t comment on the turnip cake as I’ve never been a fan, but my partner was satisfied.
OTHER THOUGHTS, CONTINUED
Ultimately while I like to daydream about a get out the vote campaign leveraging the local Chinese community via WeChat, ultimately being a director of an organisation with such a significant involvement in gambling just isn’t what I’m looking for right now. Some inspired soul could potentially stand for election and use their position to reduce gambling in our clubs.
Sun Ho Campsie RSL Club, 25 Anglo Rd, Campsie NSW 2194 (02) 9784 0200
We took advantage of my partner’s day off to have a nice little weekday yum cha at Hung Cheung in Marrickville.
Though I saw a line down the street outside Hung Cheung when I went to neighbouring Goodwood the previous weekend, the weekday clientele at Hung Cheung was far more sparse, with only about a third of their modest dining room filling up with a collection of mostly mums and bubs during our visit. We had a few small initial misgivings about the place given its apparent lack of patronage and minimal cart service, but given it was a random Thursday we decided to stick it through. This turned out to be a good decision.
I’ll try not to bore you with a blow-by-blow description of each dish, by simply prefacing that most were quite good.
The steamedchicken feet– (fèng zhuǎ 凤爪) were good. Good flavour, good steamedness. I wouldn’t have minded a slightly plumper chicken foot, but all in all a good showing.
The pork spare ribs in black bean sauce (pái gǔ 排骨) were not the best that I’ve had, nor were they the worst. I wonder if I just don’t like these any more though, I haven’t had one that’s really made me go ‘wow’ in a while. My partner thought it was a tad too porky. It is definitely pork.
I don’t think there’s really an English term for these apart from siu mai (shāo mài 烧卖), though I did hear the ladies go around asking customers if they wanted “dim sims” without any further elaboration. These were pretty stock standard, reasonably prawned, even to the point of being a little too prawned from my partner.
We both really enjoyed these tofu skin rolls (Xiān zhú juǎn 鲜竹卷). The flavour was outstanding and both the bean curd wrapping and fillings of a high quality.
A brief intermission to discuss the tea. Customers upon seating are asked if they want tea, though not directly asked the particular kind of tea that they want. This happened not only to the inner-West yummy mummies, but also to us, two people who not only look like we speak Chinese but also who spoke to the staff in Chinese upon entering the restaurant. We asked for tiě guān yīn, but clearly heard other customers answer “yes”, after which presumably a random tea of the server’s choice was served. I’m not really a tea expert so I can’t comment on the quality of the tea, though it was interesting to see it served in a tea bag (presumably to help with cleaning).
The fried taro dumpling (yùtóu jiǎo – 芋头角) was not my choice, but I did eat it. I don’t love it as a food in general, and this one was certainly as oil as any other I have tasted. I told my girlfriend she wasn’t allowed to order anything else deep fried after this. She enjoyed it.
The garlic chive and prawn dumplings (jiǔcài jiǎo 韭菜饺) were really good. I didn’t love the ones at Sun Ho Restaurant in Campsie RSL, so I was pleasantly surprised to taste these delicious, plump, and fragrant dumplings with huge pieces of prawn inside. These were not available on the roving cart during our weekday visit, and we had to ask for them specifically.
The BBQ pork rice noodle roll (chā shāo cháng fěn 叉烧肠粉) was a rare point of weakness. It was probably partially our (my partner’s) fault for ordering it with char siu rather than something more classic like prawn, but I also didn’t love the texture of the rice noodle rolls, finding it a bit more sticky and less silky than I would’ve preferred.
The mango pancakes were good. Pretty easy to eat by hand, portioned well for each human, unlike the ones I had in my childhood that I had to share. The pancake batter was a bit thicker than I would’ve liked, but this added a good level of structural integrity, allowing it to be eaten like a burrito.
OVERALL We very much enjoyed our yum cha lunch at Hung Cheung in Marrickville. We paid around $75 for two people and left quite full, which my partner thought was a little too much but I thought was an appropriate price to pay. The staff were nice and appropriate with good bilingual skills that catered well to their mixture of Chinese and non-Chinese guests, and while the trolley has all of the staples I think the real trick is to not be afraid to ask for stuff that isn’t being carted around. There’s even a menu with photos of each item in both Chinese and English (the best kind of menu) to pick from.
We also got to meet this good little cat on the way back to our car.
This is less of a restaurant review and more of a grocery store review. The only cooked, ready to eat item that they sell is an egg tart, which is itself only available on weekends.
The egg tarts ($1.50) are however very good, with great colouration, a nice sweet but not-too-sweet filling, and a delicate flaky puff pastry crust, which is in my opinion across the board superior to shortbread crusts. They are served room temperature, unfortunately, and having them warm would make them just a little bit more perfect.
The majority of Best Tastes Dim Sim’s business is in the frozen dim sum game. Best Tastes, along with Hurstville competitor Delight Dim Sim are my two go-to sources for frozen treats like siu mai (shao mai), har gao (xia jiao), and all kinds of other buns, dumplings, and things wrapped in bean curd.
The service at Best Tastes Dim Sim is also extremely straight forward and friendly, you essentially just pick out what you want from their freezers and take it to the front. I even dropped and destroyed an entire box of dumplings (my fault entirely, I was on the phone and holding way too much stuff), that I was not charged for, even though I offered to pay.
Their food is cheap and delicious, and got me through the recent COVID-19 Delta variant lockdown in Sydney without suffering yum cha withdrawal related delirium tremens. A little bottle of Koon Yick chili sauce also goes a long way.
Best Tastes Dim Sim 11 Henley Rd, Homebush West NSW 2140 (02) 8746 0498
It’s been a recurring joke within our household that the names of most formal Chinese restaurants are essentially some permutation of the words “Jade”, “Empress”, “Crystal”, “Golden”, “Dragon” in front of “Seafood Restaurant”. Crystal Seafood Restaurant skips all this nonsense and has chosen just one word to put in front of Seafood Restaurant, across branches throughout Sydney.
We had a thoroughly adequate yum cha meal at Crystal Seafood Restaurant one Friday afternoon. Whilst I won’t go through every dish that we ate in detail, just imagine that the meal was generally very good and if I haven’t mentioned something that means there was nothing wrong with it.
The selection of food available for Friday lunch was quite limited, especially for the size of the restaurant and the significant size of the patronage. Whilst , as you will see, most yum cha favourites were available, items that were even slightly less standard, for example beef tripe, were nowhere to be found.
Steamed chive dumplings (韭菜饺) were good. Huge, full of prawns and chives.
Steamed spinach dumplings (菠菜饺) were also good, though I think less so than the chive ones. They had lots of garlic within.
Siu mai (烧卖) was very meaty with lots of meat and prawn. Good.
Both of these were also good.
And now to the bad.
The egg tarts (蛋挞) were cold, not warm, and one of them had pastry that had been ripped or torn off. How strange.
The pork ribs (排鼓) had a really odd smell that made me not want to eat them. They smelled like they were a bit off. This didn’t bother my partner very much, but then again she generally doesn’t refrigerate her food.
VERDICT Pretty good, not bad, range very narrow, paigu not good, dan ta not good.