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Yum Cha

In Hong Kong, Travel on
April 19, 2018

Travel | HEXA 六公館 , Hong Kong

When in Hong Kong, we’re all for the cheap breakfast yum cha that’s available in pretty much all Chinese restaurants. Forget the dim sum specialist stores with long queues of tourists and tables crammed so tightly you can barely walk past the crowds to your own table- we’re quite content sipping tea and actually receiving service whilst downing a couple of steamers of food on a table that’s actually big enough to fit it all- and only costing a fraction of the price of Sydney Yum Cha.

But for something a little more extravagant, you’ve got to try Hexa.

HEXA 六公館

Yes, compared to our usual choices, Hexa is pricier, but for the price you’re paying not just for the quality of food (which is top notch I might add!) but also unobstructed 270 degree view of Victoria Harbour. And by pricier, I only mean Sydney prices. So really, it’s an absolute bargain!

HEXA 六公館

Steamed Shrimp Dumplings In Bamboo Charcoal Wrapping 黑金蝦餃 ($68HKD)

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In Hong Kong, Travel on
October 12, 2014

Travel | What to Eat in Cheung Chau, Hong Kong

Island Day Trip
 

Although I’ve visited Hong Kong numerous times through the years, I have rarely set foot on one of their many islands. Both because I’m not a huge fan of boat as a mode of transport, and also because the one time I do remember visiting an island (Lamma island), it consisted of countless hours of tiresome walking up and down hills. I wasn’t really too keen on visiting another island until a couple of TV shows and stories from relatives who visited convinced us that there was plenty of good food and fun to be had at Cheung Chau, so we decided to make a day trip of it!

 

It always amazes me how convenient transport in HK is. Getting to Cheung Chau is simple- take a train ride to Central, short walk to the pier and then a half to an hour’s ferry ride depending on which type you catch. The total trip takes less than the time it takes for me to get to uni, and costs around half as much as well. Oh Sydney transport…how I dislike you!

Drying Chickens in the Sun
 

The difference between the city and the islands is quite noticeable from the moment you leave the pier. It’s a much more relaxed atmosphere, much less noise and much less crowds. Unfortunately, I can’t say that the locals are too friendly, with an old lady screaming at us to move out of her way (who, might I add, was actually some 50m away from us) when we stopped to take a picture and the constant speeding of small trucks through the shared road without much warning than a hostile beep when you got too close. The shopkeepers were much more pleasant though!

 


Yum Cha

First things first- we needed breakfast!

Although the main road was filled with plenty of dining options, there was nothing we really felt like having for breakfast, so we wandered off to alley behind, running parallel to the main road which had a surprisingly large number of interesting options. We stopped by this old-style restaurant for some yum-cha, and were disappointed to find that it was packed, but luckily, there was additional seating in the adjacent cafe, which was run by the same owners.

漢軒茶樓
Siu Mai

 

Service is minimal, as there is no ordering of food- you simply hop out the front where all the steamers are, choose everything that you want, then the lady will stamp it off and you can bring your food back to your table. 
 
We were really surprised at the quality of the food here- it may not look it, but we unanimously agreed that this was definitely one of the best yum-cha’s we have ever had. The sui mai, one of our yum cha favourites was perfect- the right about of bounce, not too soft and not too dense. 
 
漢軒茶樓
Chive Dumplings

As they didn’t have har gow, we chose the chive dumplings instead, which were also quite enjoyable- generously sized dumplings with a soft, bouncy skin.

漢軒茶樓
Steamed Duck Claws
 
Instead of the classic steamed chicken feet, there are steamed duck claws here, which is great since I like them better anyway 🙂 They’re longer, bonier and have skin that’s not so soft and loose in comparison to chicken feet, and are cooked in a deep, flavoursome lu shui (鹵水)-like sauce. 
 
漢軒茶樓

 

Steamed Meat Balls
 
Although I’ve had many versions of these steamed meat balls in Sydney, none have been quite like these ones, with an bouncy texture, whilst retaining the slight chew of meat as well as the taste. 
 

In addition to the yum cha classics, they also offer some old-school yum cha dishes which don’t seem to be around much nowadays. These are what I like to call the ‘reverse’ sui mai- a small ball of glutinous fried rice, covered in the sui mai wrapping. Sort of like bite sized Lo mai gai (糯米雞).

 
漢軒茶樓
 
If you’re a fan of offal, then you must try the steamed tofu skin with pig stomach. I’m a huge fan of both tofu skin and pig stomach so it was no surprise I loved this- the combination of the too goes surprisingly well together!
 
After this satisfying breakfast, we headed off to find more food (and things to see), making a mental note that we’d come back next time we’re in HK, even if it were only for the yum cha!

Strongly recommended ‘must eat’ in Cheung Chau (if you like yum cha)

The restaurant is called 漢軒茶樓 (no english name) and is located on 58 Hing Lung Back St. Just enter second alley running parallel to the main street, turn right,
keep walk and eventually you should be able to find it!

 
 
We trekked a bit towards the Cheung Po Tsai Cave (one of the main attractions there), but decided against it when we got lost, realised that it was a long walk away, and although reception was good, both maps on iPhone and Android were nothing like what the roads were actually like there. 
 
We strolled around the main tourist area, and stumbled upon these homemade red bean pudding cakes (砵仔糕) by a friendly old man sitting by the waterside. Unfortunately, they weren’t as good as I had hoped, but it was still nice, especially since I hadn’t had some for quite a while!
 
 
We saw racks and racks of neatly lined seafood drying in the sun (I’m guessing the island gets quite a lot of sunshine compared to city!)- not sure if it would pass Aussie food safety standards though haha. 
 
 
There’s plenty of old-school things to be found on this island. These huge tins of cookies were apparently quite common when my parents were young. 
 
 
The beach isn’t a long walk away, and isn’t too busy, although it’s quite small and the water is all littered up. Not sure I’d want to swim in there, though I’d assume it’d be cleaner in summer when there are more people and people actually bother cleaning up.
 
 
On the walk back, there’s a couple of small stores and snack stalls. These japanese style red bean cakes at Hometown members club (which I later learn are quite well known) look quite interesting, though they weren’t as soft and as I’d hoped, probably because they weren’t very fresh (it seemed like a slow business day). 
 

 

There’s also a bar, which belongs to the b&b featured in one of the TVB dramas last year 😀

 

 

And of course we couldn’t come to Chaung Chau without trying their famed mega fish balls. You probably can’t tell from the picture, but they’re pretty big- the size of golf balls. 
 
 
We’d had them before, when someone brought them back from a trip to Cheung Chau, but fresh is so much better! They are nice and tasty, though not quite worth the hype they create. 
 
Mega sized fish balls aren’t particularly hard to find in Cheung Chau- they’re everywhere!
Definitely give it a go if you’re on the island!

Recommended ‘must eat’ in Cheung Chau

There’s plenty of fish ball places around the Island. This one is easiest to find because of its central location and huge signs/posters with celebrities on them. It’s called Welcome Food Court (時來食坊_ and located on G/F, 150 San Hing Back Street, Cheung Chau 長洲新興後街150號地下 and definitely hard to miss. 

 
 
We thought we’d have lunch before heading back home, so we walked around again looking for a place to eat. We see this cute little police car parked in the middle of the road- the local policemen are having their lunch break too, and we figured since they probably know the area best, we couldn’t go wrong trying the restaurant they chose too!

 

Stir Fried Noodles
 
It’s a small HK style cafe with your typical menu items, and we’re lucky enough to step in just before afternoon tea, so we’re able to choose something light from the afternoon tea menu (we were still pretty full from breakfast!). The stir fried noodles are good, with a good breath of wok, and strong taste, though it’s nothing amazing. 
 
 
I quite enjoyed the burger, with the soft fluffy white bun, crunch fried chicken fillet and plenty of mayonnaise. Be prepared to make a mess!
 
 
We saw lots of dumplings being made when we walked in so we ordered a couple to try. They take a while to come though as they are pan fried from raw, but it is worth the wait, as they are pretty delicious dumplings. It actually reminds me a lot of the ones we make at home 😉
 

The restaurant is called 為食堡 and is located on G/F., 10 Kin San Lane, Cheung Chau 長洲建新里10號海景樓B座地下. Turn right along the main street and keep walking down til you get to the intersection at the end.

 

 
And just when we thought we couldn’t fit any more into our stomachs, we came across this bakery selling egg tarts, coconut tarts and other snacks. 
 
 
How cute are these individual new year cakes! I love how everything is organised into beautiful neat rows. 
 
We couldn’t choose everything so we ended up only getting coconut tarts and egg tarts which were just as delicious as they looked!
 

Recommended Snack in Cheung Chau

Eat there on the spot if you have the stomach space or buy some to take home! Definitely try this if you’d like to try some HK style baked foods (they also do the Cheung Chau buns during festival season). The bakery is called 康蘭餅店 (no English name) and is located on 91 Praya St, Cheung Chau 長洲海傍道91號B地下. From the pier, turn right along the main road and walk for around 2 minutes until you see trays of baked goodies!

 

 
I’d been seeing these chip on a stick things all around the island since morning so I decided to grab one before I left. Yes, I know you can get them in Sydney too, but here, you can add your own flavouring onto your chip!. I sprinkled a bit of everything on, but my favourite was the seaweed flavour!
 
 
There’s plenty more snack stores on the way, selling all sorts of things from waffles to shaved ice. As much as we’re tempted to try those as well, we couldn’t really fit much more into our stomachs. Oh well. There’s always next time!
In Asian, Dining on
July 21, 2013

Cha Cha Dumpling Train

I’m quite a fan of fun food, so where there’s new and creative gimmicks and I won’t hesitate to give it a try!

That’s how we end up at Cha Cha Dumpling Train – just like a sushi train, but with steamers of dumplings and buns rather than sushi- and it’s ‘opening special’ of $3.50 per dish made it rather attractive too!

We arrive early as the yum cha train is rather small, seating about 20 people in total on the train, and we notice the place fills up quite quickly! The train is quite empty at first but the dishes fill up quickly as more customers start sitting down.

Scallop and Chive Dumplings

The steamers are labelled on their lids so you don’t have to open each of them to figure out what they are. We’re a bit disappointed that there are only a total of 5 different offerings in the steamers on the train- 3 types of dumplings (scallops, prawns and vegetarian) and 2 types of buns (pork or vegetarian), even though the sign at the front of the shop shows a lot more steamed options!

We go for the scallop dumplings first, and realise the dumplings are unlike the any of the varieties of dumplings you’ll get from yum cha restaurants. These have a tasty scallop and chive filling, though the soft, gow-gee like wrapper reminds us rather much of our own home-made dumplings!

Prawn Dumplings

 

The prawn dumplings are pretty much the same thing but with a different shape and filling. We find the dumplings to be rather dry and bland and much prefer the scallop ones. 
 
The buns on offer don’t look too attractive, and aren’t great for sharing as there’s only one in each steamer, so we move onto the non-steamed options. There’s a couple of fried options such as lemon chicken and salt and pepper calamari, and we can see them cooked in through the window into the kitchen, they come in rather small proportions and not exactly what we’re in the mood for. 
 

We go for these beef rice paper rolls, the yum cha train’s alternative to sushi, which seem more a little out of place here as they look a bit Vietnamese to us. They’re wrapped beautifully with a generous amount of tasty stir fried beef (a bit like kebab meat actually!) and veggies, though they’re a bit difficult to eat!

Unfortunately, that was all on offer that we were interested in as we’re not too big on Westernised chinese food when it comes to yum cha, though we did really enjoy the idea of yum cha train!

Cha Cha Dumpling Train
Shop 2020A Level 2 Westfields Sydney
Cnr Pitt St Mall & Market St

In Asian, Dining on
May 13, 2010

Emperor’s Garden

IMG_4785

I don’t know about you, but the only reason why I’d be up early (ie before 10), in the middle of the school holidays (yeh, this was a while ago) is if I’m forced to. But when we decided to make a trip to the city (we rarely go) there were two options- waking up early or not going at all. You see, parking your car in the city costs a lot and we’d much rather spend the money on food so we decided to go early to make it in time for the early bird specials =] Of course, we chose the first option.

So what does one do so early in the morning? Well, we walk around looking at all the not yet open shops and restaurants wishing that they were open so that there would be something to do other than yum cha-ing at Emperor’s Garden restaurant- it isn’t the best yum cha restaurant in the city. But as luck might have it, there is nothing open other than a restaurant who’s entrance is blocked by the delivery van and does not look too appealing. So we end up walking into Emperor’s Garden. It is already quite full, which wasn’t too surprising given that it’s the only restaurant open. We walk in and are quickly shown to a table. The food is already beeing wheeled around and seems good to our stomachs.

We just had breakfast about an hour ago.

IMG_4780
Rice Noodle Rolls

Perhaps it’s because it’s early, but there don’t seem to be many fried dishes. But that’s okay because the variety of dim sum on offer isn’t too bad, and seem to be steaming hot. The steamed food is enough to satisfy our stomachs as we do intend to eat later.

The rice noodle rolls are pretty good, although the rice noodle bit isn’t as soft as I’d like them to be. It has a slightly bouncy texture, and the filling of strands of meat and mushrooms is pretty tasty, especially with the sweet soy sauce that the rolls are sitting in.
IMG_4778
Chicken Feet

What I like about yum cha is the excitement of discovering what lays inside the dim sum trolley. Unfortunately, there is only about two dim sum trolleys, both containing similar food items. The food therefore gets offloaded in two batches which doesn’t make it as fun as yum cha usually is.

The chicken feet come and our chopsticks fly over, trying hard to grab one which is dark in colour. They haven’t been flavoured evenly, and there are some which are lighter in colour than the others and some which are drier too. The chicken feet are also a tad smaller in size than the ones we usually have but otherwise, they are not too bad. The sauce is more garlicky than the ones which we’re used to but I love garlic so I quite like these chicken feet.

IMG_4776
Steamed Pork

The service here however, is quite terrible. The yum cha ladies are, as usual ,not the nicest people in the world. What bugged us was that one lady conviniently parked a hot trolley right behind my seat and went off somewhere. At first I ignored it, thinking she’d come back soon. But then it started to get hot- since yum cha trolleys are …well, hot. We pushed it away, and the trolley was later retrieved with evil glances in our direction, and definitely no apology either.

The steamed pork is soft and really yummy, as it is steamed with bits of dried scallop and mushrooms in it. It sits on a bed of some sort of melon (winter melon I think) which is very soft and tasty, as it has absorbed some of the pork’s flavours.

IMG_4769
Steamed Dumplings

The steamed dumplings were yummy- I love how they’re so big they actually fill up the whole steamer. The wrapper was slightly dry, but still delicious and the filling of prawns, chives (I think?), mushrooms and meat was delicious and very satisfying

IMG_4768

Can’t seem to think of the name right now……
Which is surprising because this is one of my favourite yum cha foods, although this one was not all that great. The meat was very tender, although some bits were slightly chewy and some bits were slightly dry- the garlic and black pepper sauce was delicious though.

IMG_4767
Beef Sui Mai
Sui mai isn’t my favourite of all yum cha foods, but these beef sui mai are a little different and their meatiness is quite nice. The meat tastes slightly like the meatballs you get at yum cha only these are a little stiffer but eqaully as tasty!

With yum cha being so expensive nowadays, the cost of yum cha in the city is now similar to yum cha elsewhere (It used to be more expensive). Nevertheless, this ‘light’ meal did cost us quite a bit, but was a nice way to spend our time whilst we waited for the shops to open. It wasn’t as bad as I’d thought it’d be! Now, we were fuelled and ready to start on a food-filled day around the city =]

In Asian, Dining on
March 31, 2010

Sunny Harbour Seafood Restaurant- Hurstville


One of the yum cha restaurants I’ve always liked is Sunny Harbour Seafood restaurant. We used to come here quite often on weekends, depite it taking more than one hour to drive there (which meant long waits) and even despite the fact that the employees would let in the people they knew quickly, whilst the rest of us watched in frustration. The restaurant was small and cramped but the food was good, which is really what mattered. But the one thing that set the yum cha apart from others in Sydney was the fact that they’d often have seafood dishes- such as prawns, lobsters, crabs and my favourite, steamed eel. They’d brought out on the small yum cha standard dishes, often stacked so high they’d almost topple over- and they’d be as hot and yummy as they’d be if you ordered it from the menu at dinner. The only difference was the price- it was really cheap! This meant that we would often be able to eat luxuries which we’d normally eat on special occasions (i.e. birthday dinners, new year dinners etc etc). Somehow, this made it taste especially good.

However, as restaurants do, it grew and moved to a much larger building (with three levels!) which meant a few changes. Unfortunately, this meant the end of such dishes and they turned ‘normal’ and only served yum cha dishes. As good as they may have been, it was not good enough to keep us coming back as often as we used to- especially as the restaurant became busier than ever, the wait did not shorten and the employees STILL ‘pushed in’ the people they knew. Eventually we stopped going there altogether.

What brought us back was an advertisement in the chinese magazines, advertising that they had employed a new dim sum chef from Hong Kong and that there was a 15% discount on weekdays. So, on a weekday when I probably should have been studying for exams, my parents took me here to give it another chance. Although the quality of the dim sum was still not as good as the Hong Kong standard, there was quite a large variety of things to choose from and the quality was good, compared to others in Syney. The 15% discount also meant that it was really cheap, compared to other yum cha restaurants- especially as yum cha seems to be getting more and more expensive these days.

Now, you might be wondering what I’m doing taking a picture of teapots. The teapot on the left was really small and cute! Yes, I know, they look the same size. =[ The smaller teapot is for water, so you can distinguish between the two- I only ever drink water because I don’t like tea (Or coffee…. if anyone wanted to know). Infact I dislike it so much that on the rare occasions that water is not ordered, I’ll only drink the tea when it’s dilute and will refuse to drink it once it goes past a certain shade of brown…… tehehe….

Gosh. I’m so mature =D

Steamed Pork Ribs

I never know what the food is called in english! Steamed pork ribs is one of our all time favourite yum cha foods because the meat is so soft and tender (or rather, the fat is). This one is no exception and the fact that there are a couple of pieces of taro in it gives it a bit of authenticity. The taro is actually the highlight of this as it is surprisingly good.

Chicken pie

I love chinese chicken pie- I love how the pastry is almost opposite of normal ‘western’ pies which use puff pastry for the top and shortcrust for the base. This chicken pie uses puff for the base and the top is sort of like short crust only it’s much crumblier, and biscuit like. The contrast between the savouriness of the filling and the sweetness of the top makes this pie so distinct and delicious.

The chicken pie is good but not my favourite (that would be the one in Eastwood…)

Pan fried buns

The buns are wrapped in cling wrap, and are obviously cold, or at the best, warm . Neverhteless, they have got the taste right. The slightly sweet pillowy bun with the delicious chicken filling (like that of your normal steamed chicken pie) is really good, and I wouldn’t mind having all three to myself! The bun is awfully soft, like the steamed ones but with a fried bottom which give it its slight crunchyness, and that extra bit of texture. I can’t help but imagine how good these would be if they were just hot!

Har Gow

These cute little dumplings are not only cute but delicious too! I can never really tell the difference between good and bad har gow, although this may have to do with the fact that we don’t order it much. These are pretty ordinary, but they taste good!

Beef Tripe

Mixed innards of a cow (I’m sure there’s a better name for this!)

This is wheeled out in a huge hot trolley, alongside various congee. The large amount of liquid means that the trolley is awfully heavy and we notice the yum cha lady finding it difficult to manouvre it through the tight spaces. We ordered this and whilst the lady scooped it out from the trolley and into the bowl, my mother started a friendly coversation with her ( Something along the lines of ‘wow, that trolley looks really heavy!’) and so they talked . And talked. And she kept scooping stuff out, until it was pretty much overflowing! Which was awesome because I love this =]
Lotus Paste Buns

The lotus paste buns are smaller than the usual ones, which is why they give us 4 of them instead of the usual three. Personally, I prefer larger buns but I don’t really like lotus paste buns anyway (I’m not a huge fan of lotus paste) but since there are four buns, I help out and eat the bun of one of them. THe bun is soft and yummy- I don’t know about the paste though, I leave that for my parents =]

Pan fried Rice Noodle Rolls

These are a little underfried for my liking- i like my rolls extra crispy but other than this, the dish is really good.

Crystal Skin Dumplings

Ideally, a meal would end with dessert, or something sweet. However, our choice of dessert, these crystal skin dumplings, are rare and we end up asking a lot of the ladies whether or not the trolleys they are pushing have these. When we finally come across a lady who answers yes, we order it immediately, although we have not finished yet. These crystal skin dumplings are best eaten hot, so we I eat it straight away (burnt tongue…..I know) and the filling is so hot that it almosts oozes out. This restaurant must stock u ppon a good supply of taro because the taro crystal skin dumplings (the purple ones) have a really nice taro taste. The normal custard ones are good too but the taro one is definitely better =]

Afterwards, we stop by a bakery which also sells drinks. Freshly squezed sugar cane juice is something we get almost everytime we visit Hurstville. The old Sunny Harbour Seafood Restaurant was situated next door to this shop, and we would buy it almost everytime we were waiting for yum cha. Although the quality of this drinkis pretty bad, it doesn’t bother me or my sister, since we love sugar cane so much and we quickly finish it.

 

Sunny Harbour Seafood Restaurant
9-11 Crofts Avenue
Hurstville NSW 2220

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