Friday, May 6, 2011

Yum Cha Restaurants in Sydney

Back in Dallas, Texas, when our oldest child was six months old, we forwent the traditional first food of rice cereal, opting for a more exotic "introductory to solids" of steamed dumplings instead.  (exaggeration)  So it's not surprising that while many spend their Sunday mornings at church, our Sunday morning religious experience is referred to as "Yum Cha"-- or "Dim Sum" as they say in America.

Back in 2003 and 2004 We used to go with our friend Auntie Abby to a Dim Sum restaurant in Dallas's Chinatown area, it was one of those massive banquet-style restaurants with over the top crystal chandeliers and seating for probably upwards of 1000 people.

Luckily for us, Sydney has no shortage of great Liberace-motif-esque Yum Cha restaurants.  And at this point, I'd say we've officially done the Yum Cha circuit in Sydney, and I'm prepared to share our findings...

So here are some Sydney Yum Cha restaurant reviews which I hope will be helpful to others in their quest for the perfect shu-mai.

I'll start with our favourite...

1.  At The Palace in the Sydney CBD's Picadilly Tower, they call our six year old "The Dumpling King."  No seriously, when we walk in-- they say, "Why helloooo Dumpling King".  And then, the child who declared himself a vegetarian about six months ago, and adamantly refused to consume any type meat, proceeds to sit down and eat at least eight-ten dumplings (some of which contain pork)-- every single weekend-- he stocks up, like a chipmunk-- fur real, haha.

We highly recommend their prawn and snow pea dumplings, shumai, and seafood shumai.  Any of the BBQ pork buns varieties are excellent; steamed, donut style, and pastry triangles.  Yum.  The kids beg us to get them chocolate mousse from the dessert cart, and if they've behaved really well, we oblige.

I'll safely assume we can call this the "fried food cart".  The fried scallops are excellent, the hubby and kids love the fried prawn dumplings.

And here is a photo of "The Dumpling King" with our most-favourite (favorite) waiter.


Did I mention we bring our own training chopsticks for the kids?  The waiters must think we are total wackos.  (Note the chandelier in background).

2.  Another Yum Cha we go to, especially when we're looking for somewhere interesting to take out-of-town visitors, is the Fisherman's Wharf Seafood Restaurant at The Sydney Fish Market in Pyrmont.  It's basically a massive, brand new, sparkley clean restaurant, upstairs at the back of the fish market, with gorgeous water views over what I believe is Black Wattle Bay.

One of the maitre-d's here is extremely friendly and helpful.  And he and/ or a few others will often go out of their way to find the specific dumpling or item you are looking for if it hasn't come around yet.   The dumplings here are good, the dessert buns are possibly better, and the views and atmosphere (as Yum Cha restaurants go) is second to none.

The boys and BooBoo the Bunny waiting for the dumpling cart to come, at the gorgeous sun-filled Fisherman's Wharf Seafood Restaurant Yum Cha at Sydney Fish Market.

3.  Sky Phoenix, located in Sydney CBD's Pitt St. Mall, is definitely a delicious Yum Cha choice.  And if we were going solely based on food quality, this could possibly be our number one choice.  But for us, it seems less convenient to get to, and not as child-friendly as the other places.  Sky Phoenix's food and service has been excellent, but we have found this to be a smaller feeling, and more formal atmosphere.  My husband and I have also dined at Sky Phoenix for dinner-- and that was absolutely yum-tastic. Sky Phoenix also has a massive restaurant in the Rhodes Shopping Centre (or known in our house as "the IKEA mall"), would say it's still good eats, but not the same as the CBD location.

4.  Marigold Restaurant on George Street in Sydney's Chinatown is another Yum Cha we'd recommend.  In our experience, the food is good, but the service is quite lacking.  It was somewhat difficult to get the items we wanted, and with two impatient little boys, and a language barrier that seemingly could not be broken, for us, there were issues here.

Regal Restaurant on Sussex was also supposed to be on this list, but after finding that they have "merged with Marigold", it looks like they've basically shut the Regal Restaurant down.

5.  Bodhi Yum Cha in Sydney directly outside the entrance to the Cook & Phillip Pool complex is a cute little vegan Yum Cha spot.  Most of the seating is outside, with a friendly staff and good selection of obviously solely vegetarian pickings--  I'm guessing it's likely the only vegetarian/ vegan Yum Cha in town.  So if you're not a vegetarian, but hungry nonetheless and it the neighborhood, it's worth giving a try. However, if you're craving a traditional porky and prawny Yum Cha, this is probably not going to scratch that itch.

6.  And in this case we will not say "last but not least", because Kam Fook, the Yum Cha at Bondi Junction mall would definitely come in a far last in my little black Yum Cha book.  Kam Fook belongs in a mall-- at the food court.  Sorry.  This has been a restaurant often used for school-mum (that's "mom" for all y'all yanks) meetups.  And the food, combined with the dodgy service, and sweat-box area in the back under the un-tinted windows makes for a big loser in my one-woman Sydney Yum Cha competition.  But if you're in the beautiful Bondi Junction Mall and need Yum Cha-- give it a try, it's okay.  Though in the food court on level 5 there is a tiny dumpling place directly next door to Yumba (the fallafel shop)that recently opened, where they make the dumplings in front of you that is probably more delicious.

So there you have it-- we love dumplings, shumai, steamed pork buns, Chinese broccoli, soya noodles, spring rolls, fried prawn dumplings, custard buns, Chinese donuts and chopsticks.



Amy Sheaves said...

I like your list Florida Girl. We have a 'Hilltop Phoenix' where we live (part of the Phoenix family) and they are VERY family friendly. The best yum-cha I've ever had was in Melbourne (Chinatown) and I have no idea what it's called, all I know is how to get there!

Our family looooooooves Yum Cha too.

Florida Girl In Sydney said...

Hi Amy, What is the Hilltop Phoenix?? That sounds very good!! We went to a Yum Cha in Melbourne with our friends, but it was waaay too fancy for us, they didn't have carts-- that says it all ;).

Cafe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Andrea said...

OMG! Marco has those same chopsticks in green. So funny. I always bring them when we go out for Asian.

steck said...

I've only tried East Ocean on Sussex, which I thought was pretty good. And it's near the place on the corner where they sell chocolate sorbet.

Funny the topic of yum-cha vs. dim-sum came up the other night, and I was told that dim sum is a Hong Kong name that made its way to the US.

I still think the dim sum I used to get in Boston's Chinatown is the best.

Florida Girl In Sydney said...

oops- forgot I was on the hubby's computer...

Andrea- Yes we use them all the time-- we also have the ones we bough in Texas a long time ago, a smaller version in white made by a company that makes strollers and I totally cannot remember the brand-- but those are really good. Now it's going to bug me!

Steck- When I was googling the restaurants to link to I kept seeing East Ocean, so now we definitely have to try them out!

Anonymous said...

Aussie guy in Florida - Hi Florida Girl I miss Yum Cha - best I had was in Brisbane, do not remember its name, But if you are the only white person and everybody else is asian you are probably in the rught place.

Might be heading back to Australia soon - Tired of fighting the INS 4 years for a green card and still jumping through hoopes.

Brendan said...

I have to correct steck on a point: "dim sum" and "yum cha" are both Hong Kong/Cantonese terms. "dim sum" is the actual dumpling, "yum cha" is the act of eating it. So the Australian standard is probably more correct. You would "go out for yum cha", not dim sum. By the way, most of Australia's Chinese immigrants were from Hong Kong until 1989.

Florida Girl In Sydney said...

Aussie Guy in FL- Long time no hear from you! That is unfortunate to hear about immigration being so difficult-- doesn't the married part make it easier?? Unless of course you want to come back...?

Brendan- Thanks for that, I've wondered since we've been in Sydney, why there are two different names.

steck said...

I guess I am just dim sumtimes.

Florida Girl In Sydney said...

Steck- You kill me. ah hahahaha

Marvin the Martian said...

Happy Mother's Day!!!

Florida Girl In Sydney said...

Thank you Marvin :).

The Kid said...

Thanks for the tip! I'm definitely printing this list off, I haven't been to any of these places. I was wondering what the price range was for the first couple?
Oh, very cute pic with the chopsticks!

Florida Girl In Sydney said...

Kid- We order an absolute excessive amount and bring some home from The Dumplng King-- and it's about $80 for the four of us at the Palace.

And the Fisherman's Wharf at Sydney Fish Market is generally less.

Florida Girl In Sydney said...

that should have said "for the dumpling king".

Jayson James said...

Great post!

I am big on dumplings. I never miss on ordering one everytime we go Asian. I'd love to visit this place one of these days. Everything just looks delectable.

Thanks for sharing!

Florida Girl In Sydney said...

Jayson- Then we'll call you the dumpling king jr. :)

Allison said...

Printing this off and going somewhere this Sunday!

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