Monday, November 22, 2010

The price of precious metal

Taking part in the weekend yum cha crowds doesn't top the list for my favourite weekend activities. But it must be done if you're after a huge variety of freshly steamed dumplings, or golden fried  tidbits, or other traditional Cantonese yum cha fare.

We're at Zilver one Saturday morning with half of Sydney it seems; all patiently waiting and craning to hear the inaudible, jumbled raffle ticket numbers being called out. Fear sets in that you may have missed your calling - I think we checked with the front desk three times to see if our number had been called.

Dai ji gow - scallop dumplings from Zilver, Hay Street, Haymarket
Eventually we get into a slightly crammed spot and sigh, then immediately look out for desirable food. For me, scallops have an irresistable magnetic attraction - I have to work real hard to not order them if they're on a menu. The scallops are a little difficult to find in these dumplings, which also felt like they'd done a few rounds while we were waiting outside. Dunked in chilli sauce though, it's hard to really tell.

Braised honeycomb tripe
Not my offal of choice, these honeycomb-patterned strips, while vibrant in colour and marinade, were a little too chewy for ladylike consumption. Don't try talking with an entire piece in your mouth unless someone nearby knows the Heimlich maneuvre.

Pai gwut - pork spare ribs
The steamed pork spare ribs were easier eating, although still a little messy with bone-littered plates all over the table. This dish came with large pieces of taro steamed with the pork ribs; a very nice surprise as I have taro so rarely in its pure form (that is, not powdered in a milk tea or in sweet bun).

Siu mai - pork and prawn dumplings
The siu mai are boisterous little things; stuffed to the max with minced pork with a whole prawn and fish row added on top for mostly visual purposes. Delectable with chilli sauce and an absolute must-have.

Har cheung - prawn rice noodle rolls
The har cheung here also seemed to have done a few rounds, presented to us in a lukewarm state and as ever, drowning in a sweet soy sauce. These rice noodles are delicate stuff: too hot and they stick, too cold and they just don't have the silkiness that makes them so great.

Prawn wontons
We don't normally get the deep fried items, but one of us are unable to resist the perfectly formed and fried prawn wontons, like beautiful, golden yellow crowns filled with nothing but prawns. This was served with a plain mayonnaise and a green tinted wasabi mayonnaise.

Beef balls
This was actually the first time I'd ever had the beef balls, ordered by a devotee. Despite their intimidatingly large size, they are actually really light, the meat taking on a mousse-y texture and thus making for delightful, slightly whimsical eating. Who thought beef could be so light? These are steamed and served with a vinegary sauce that had mandarin peel notes.

Har gow - prawn dumplings
Last but not least, good old dependable har gow - these ones fresh hot from the steamer and an appropriate end note, with chilli sauce, of course.

Tofu fa - tofu dessert
In absence of my favourite coconut jelly (they only had the one with red beans in it), I had tofu fa, which was not at its best. It lacked smooth silkiness, which is one of the primary traits of this dish, but was still edible, especially with the subtle ginger syrup.

In all, the weekend yum cha affair takes a good couple of hours including the wait, though lunch is seldom needed afterwards. And that's the price of Zilver.

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6 comments:

Lil said...

Yumm!
Those pictures make me crave yum cha!!
My yum cha staple is definitely har gao XD

chocolatesuze said...

*gasp* no egg tarts??

MelbaToast said...

I am totally going for Yum Cha this weekend as you've made me crave it! I've been to Zilver a few times and thought it was "OK", but really really chaotic. The fried calamari is always must have on my list...oh and the dumplings...and the eggs tarts.

Tina said...

Hi Lil - My staple is coconut jelly... :S Weird, I know.

Hi suze - As above; and they didn't have any! *gasp*

Hi MelbaToast - A few must-haves there ;)

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

I haven't had yum cha for ages. We also don't order deep fried things-the steamed dumplings are usually our favourite, especially the har gow!

Tina said...

Hi Lorraine - Yeah, good but not too often :)

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