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FOOD & DRINK

Where to Eat Yum Cha When You're Feeling Like a Bottomless Pit

It's a truth universally acknowledged that it is impossible to leave yum cha feeling hungry.
By Kara Jensen-Mackinnon
April 11, 2018
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By Kara Jensen-Mackinnon
April 11, 2018
  shares

WHERE TO EAT YUM CHA WHEN YOU'RE FEELING LIKE A BOTTOMLESS PIT

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It's a truth universally acknowledged that it is impossible to leave yum cha feeling hungry.

Regardless of how hard you hit the clubs or your Netflix account on a Friday night, you can rest assured that your weekend morning hunger pangs will be fully satiated by a hot plate of juicy dumplings. Dim sim literally means 'to touch someone's heart', so no matter what your preference — soupy xiao long bao, prawn har gow, pork belly bao, crispy duck spring rolls, sang choy bao or those creamy mango pancakes, there's a carb combo out there waiting to touch your heart and fill your grumbling stomach.

While we all aspire to be that person who spends their weekends meal prepping for the week ahead, by the time the weekend rolls around, you're lucky if you have the energy and willpower to think, let alone cook. We've teamed up with our friends at American Express to bring you the definitive list of the best places to get your feast on. So rather than spend your precious free-time huddled over a hot stove top, put on your stretchiest pants, grab some eating amigos and hit up one of the many incredible, Amex-accepting dumpling depositories that Sydney has to offer.

Got yourself in another dining situation and need some guidance? Whatever it is, we know a place. Visit The Shortlist and we'll sort you out.

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    They say that when Mr Wong launched its much anticipated yum cha menu, the collective stomachs of Sydneysiders increased by 300%. Set among the colonial, bamboo-focused furnishings of the 1930s Shanghai-inspired eatery, Mr Wong’s yum cha is available every Saturday and Sunday between 10.30am and 12pm. The dumpling selection is pretty exquisite, featuring tobiko, scallop and prawn shumai; abalone, snow crab and white rice bamboo rolls; and poached pork, prawn and black truffle dumplings. But if choosing is too difficult for you, you can opt for the steamed dim sum platter (eight pieces for $32) which comes with scallop shumai, jade seafood dumpling, har gow and Chinese mushroom dumplings.

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    Madame Shanghai is a veritable homage to executive chef Chris Yan’s hot take on Shanghai-style street food. Yan’s goal is to expand on the yum cha options in the city, and Madame Shanghai intends to open our eyes (and our stomachs) to a whole new world of Chinese breakfast foods in Sydney. “The yum cha offering in Sydney can be limited,” Yan says. “So if I’m doing yum cha, it’s got to be different and fun.” If you feel like taking your dumpling journey to the next level, opt to pair your dim sim with cocktails, and with the ’76 Negroni at that — it’s made entirely from ingredients bottled in the 1970s. The fancy drink is made for true dumpling ballers, though, as it comes complete with a hefty $130 price tag. So if you’re wallet isn’t feeling as bottomless as your stomach, maybe stick to the green tea.

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    Become the queen of chow at Queen Chow in Enmore, a Merivale eatery serving up Hong Kongese street food and yum cha-inspired delicacies in a glamorous old-school imperial dining house. After 30 years of pastry parcel packing, dumpling master Eric Koh (ex-Tim Ho Wan and Mr Wong) has his dough down to a fine art. His dumpling menu features a range of more-exotic-than-usual fillings beyond the basic pork and chive, including jade seafood, crystal pumpkin, Alaskan crab and lobster and asparagus, each one pleated and pinched to perfection ($12-16). The dim sum menu also includes plenty of deep-fried goodness such as crispy duck spring rolls ($12) and the cloud-like pork and prawn ‘footballs’ ($12) made with chewy gelatinous rice flour and coated in toasted sesame seeds.

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    Sky Phoenix is a CBD institution that has been serving up the tastiest carb parcels since 2002. The eatery has been crowned with the title of Sydney’s best yum cha for a number of years, and once you’ve dined there you’ll understand why. Housed in the Westfield food court, the busy dumpling house serves yum cha every day of the week, and because the turnover is so high, you can rest assured that the dumplings will arrive at your table fresh and hot. It’s also worth noting that coke — the yum cha non-alcoholic beverage of choice — is served in glass bottles rather than in a can or from a fountain, so if you’re looking for a low key way to treat yourself, look no further than Sky Phoenix.

    Image: Natalie Carroll.

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    For those who prefer to indulge in their yum cha within a dumplings throw of the beach, look no further than China Diner in Bondi, which serves up grade-A dumplings from noon to 4.30pm on Sundays. The dumpling choices are extensive, prepared to order by head chef Seb Gee. The friendly staff recommend the prawn har gow dumplings ($13 for four) and the pork xiao long bao ($12 for four) — because who can pass up a perfect parcel of hot, rich soup that bursts in your mouth. If you’re keen to explore other carb and meat combos, the pork belly bao buns ($14 for four) do not disappoint, either.

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    If you’re a professional business type who works in the CBD, you’ll no doubt be aware of Palace Chinese and their trusty menu of Cantonese favourites. Unless you’re feeling particularly peckish, it’s probably best to bring some hungry mates with stretchy pants to this one. There are more than 60 yum cha classics on the menu, including steamed duck meat dumplings ($11.80) and seafood sang choy bao ($22.80 for four). The price tags at Palace Chinese are a little heftier than their Chinatown counterparts, but this place is all about convenience and proximity. And really, what’s better than indulging in a midweek dumpling session?

    Image: Kimberley Low.

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