Eleven meals in 60 minutes? It must be Yum Cha!!
In Cantonese, Yum Cha means ‘drink tea’.
In the Queen’s English, I’m pretty sure it means ‘stuff your pie-hole with vigour’.
While in Melbourne we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to partake in such debaucherous deliciousness. Staying at the Ovolo Hotel at the eastern end of Little Bourke Street (aka Chinatown), we were literally 20m away from the Shark Fin Inn, one of Melbourne’s most well regarded Yum Cha restaurants.
We knew it was popular, so prior to leaving Hobart we made sure we made a booking over the internet for the 11:30am sitting. It was a good thing we did, because the restaurant filled up very quickly with a wide cross-section of humanity, all there to enjoy the numerous varieties of dim sum on offer!
To be honest, I can’t remember the name of every dish we tried, but I took photos…so that will have to do for those that I’ve forgotten.
In order of consumption:
1. Jasmine tea – This tea was sensational! I very rarely drink tea in every day life, but I took the punt that these guys would know how to make a good one. My suspicions were well founded! Floral hints without any bitterness and refreshing the palate, this tea was the perfect foil to each of the dishes that we tried.
2. Chicken feet – It may sound strange and even a little scary for some, but chicken feet are really tasty! It would be easy to imagine them as being tough and crunchy, but in Cantonese cuisine they are deep fried, steamed and then simmered in a black bean sauce. The result is a soft bone covered in a layer of tasty, gelatinous chicken meat and skin. You literally suck the meat right off the many tiny little bones that make up the chicken foot!
3. Duck rolls – tiny pieces of roast duck, mixed through rice noodles and other tasty ‘stuff’.
4 – Steamed pork buns – Sweet pastry enveloping hot, porky goodness!! This is a mandatory dish for us when eating dim sum.
5 – Steamed pork dumplings – More commonly known as dim sims or ‘dimmies’ in Australia. These were a massive step up from what you would get deep fried at your local takeaway store. Not as good as the other dishes we tried, but still pretty reasonable nonetheless, particularly with a little soy sauce.
6 – Pork belly – I’m not sure how they cooked this one, but the result was soft, gristly bones covered in tasty pork meat.
7. A prawn and tofu something-or-other – My favourite dish of the day! The perfectly cooked prawn was tied with seaweed to the top of a slice of fried tofu. The textures and flavours were amazing!
8. Calamari and seaweed salad – I thought this was a warm dish when ordering, so I was a little surprised at my first mouthful to find it was cold. Despite the surprise, it was very tasty. I actually preferred the seaweed to the calamari, with the seaweed so fresh it was bursting in your mouth each time you took a bite!
9. Prawn dumplings – An ever popular dish, I thought these prawn dumplings were good, but not great.
10. Seafood and cheese ‘bake’ in a scallop – I’m guessing this isn’t really a traditional Cantonese dish, but it wasn’t too bad anyway. Containing scallops, prawns, minced meat (pork?) and spring onions, it was much heavier and more filling than the other dishes we had tried, but full of flavour. I also liked the way they used the scallop shells to present the dish.
11. Pan fried pork dumpling – A great way to end the meal.
We tried to show decorum, but chopsticks and chicken feet are not conducive to a spotless table cloth! Much mess was made on both sides of the table. All signs of a very good meal, thoroughly enjoyed by both of us!
Caressing our bellies while rolling from side to side like a couple of sailors on shore leave, we attempted to squeeze through the front door. With much effort and the odd little grunt, we popped out the other side like two large champagne corks, into the warm Melbourne sunshine.
What better way to start the day?!
Taste – 4/5
Coffee – NA
Menu – 5/5
Atmosphere – 4/5
Service – 5/5
Value – 5/5
Overall – 4.5/5