Saturday, 23 July 2016

Yum Cha - the most Instagram ready food in Hong Kong

I love that Hong Kong is a central hub for many flights coming from Europe to Australia (or vice versa). It means that we often have friends stopping by, sometimes for a few days and other times for just 24 hours.  One of the girl's great friends and her family were coming back from a family holiday and managed to spend a fun filled day in our new city.

We're no strangers to having meals with Fi and Kev, with the girl and Fi having regular get togethers in the Indian restaurants of Brisbane.  I'd even bumped into Kev in the UK one time and we shared an interesting dinner at Two Michelin starred Hibiscus (see post here).  For this short trip, we'd arranged two dining extravaganzas, the first of which was at one of Hong Kong's most interesting and fun Chinese restaurants, Yum Cha.

Now, yum cha is both the name of a restaurant and also a style of cuisine, which roughly translates to  'drink tea' and/or 'going for dim sum' - small, bite sized portions of Cantonese cuisine.  What makes Yum Cha the restaurant so incredible is the fun and unique manner in which they present their dim sum.  In fact, some of the dim sum is so interesting to look at, it's almost a shame to eat!

Covering a massive 6,000 square feet on the fringes of Central, Yum Cha distinguishes itself with it's high ceilings that are reminiscent of a New York style loft.  With it's high ceilings and large windows, there is a bright and airy feel to the dining area.  What I loved as I wandered up the escalators to the entrance of Yum Cha was the full scale truck that dominated the entrance and was used for displaying the restaurant's opening times (of course, seems legit!)

Chef Winson Yip is the head chef of Yum Cha and has been responsible for creating some of the most Instagram worthy food seen on the net.  The philosophy at Yum Cha is to serve traditional Chinese dishes and dim sum but with a very modern twist.  The team proudly pronounce that their food is infused with a playfulness that maintains traditional flavours and most importantly, is free of MSG.

We'd made a booking for lunch and arrived right on our allotted time, but were disappointed to note that our table had been given away already.  So much for a booking system.  Thankfully, the team were able to find a table, albeit a little small for our groups number of six - ahhh, what are you gonna do - this is Hong Kong.  Everything's cramped, so why not our table for lunch.

With an eclectic group at the table that included pescatarians and vegetarians, along with fully fledged meat eaters and with Fi recovering from a bout of food poisoning, we took to the the comprehensive Yum Cha menu with gusto, ordering a raft of dim sum and other Chinese delicacies with a view to keeping everyone happy.  Before too long, we had round after round of food delivered to our table and I got busy taking photos of some of the cute looking food.

I'm gonna talk about our food quite out of order for this post, mainly because I was so enamoured with some of the dishes, that were indeed crying out for posting to Instagram.

With a degree of cuteness that was almost overpowering, we loved the BBQ piggy pork buns that when presented to the table looked like three little pigs trying to escape from a future that they knew all too well.  Like the fates of the three little pigs in Red Riding Hood, the fate of our cute shaped pork buns was pre determined!  Munch and crunch, our little piggies were devoured and the sweet pork filling tasting as delicious on our palates as they had been visually.

Just as cute were the hot custard buns that resembled a cross between the heads of minions and a Sesame Street character.  With beady little eyes that gave the appearance of staring off vacantly into space, our little custard buns obviously knew that their fate was to be aligned with the little piggy pork buns.  The hot custard inside the buns was bright orange and oh-so-sweet.  Very much the dessert option from our meal, the table was completely enamoured with the treats; but no so much that we didn't devour them in seconds.

While the piggy pork buns and the hot custard buns were the most visually appealing dim sum from our meal, there was also a serious side to chef Winson's menu and I particularly loved the translucent shrimp dumpling, which were lovely and sweet; as well as the very traditional crab roe and pork dumplings, which were covered in vibrant orange roe.  The sweet pork contrasting nicely with the salty roe.

I wasn't a huge fan of the sticky rice dumplings, but I had to admit that the looked quite lovely. Luckily, it wasn't all about me and the sticky dumplings were quickly devoured by the non meat eaters at the table!  The naked vegetable dumplings were also a hit for the vegetarians at the table, although I admit to not trying the dish because -well, they were vegetables!

There were some other traditional Chinese dishes that we tried as well, oh, when I say we, I mean Fi, Kev and the girls.  Broiled cabbage and crab roe sesame spinach are not really food substances that I'm going to eat too readily, but it was fair to say that they were appreciated by our weary travelling friends who'd not been long off their flight.

It was my first visit to Yum Cha and I found the dim sum to be tasty and very entertaining.  The girl had been a number of times with her workmates, with the location perfectly located for office workers to get their lunchtime dim sum hit.

It's probably not a restaurant that I'd add to my regular roster for dining out, firstly, it's a little far out of my way and secondly, while I did quite like the novelty factor, my favourite spot to eat Chinese remains Din Tai Fung.

However, this is a place that you have to try out, for the kitsch factor alone - those BBQ piggy pork buns have to be the best thing I've seen in food for a long time - so cute.  I'm positive that Yum Cha will be incredibly popular with local Hong Kongers and is definitely a spot that if you're in HK for only a short time is worth checking out.

Ahhh, nothing like a local beer after a long flight!
Even our bowls were cute with little goldfish baked in
The Dim Sum at Yum Cha - so pretty and cute

Yum Cha is light and airy - like a NYC Loft

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