For eastern suburbians, yum cha used to mean a trip to the Junction to visit Kam Fook. Since its closing earlier this year, it's become a real hike outside of the bubble to the rowdier, filled-to-the-brim yum cha havens of the CBD.
However, for those locals who would rather spend the entirety of their weekend just a stone’s throw away from the salty seas, you’re in luck. Just in time for the winter season, China Diner has introduced a new yum cha menu to run from noon to 4.30 pm on Saturday and Sunday.
The moody interiors are the perfect place to while away hours working your way through the cocktail menu and an extended list of dumplings prepared just for the occasion by head chef Seb Gee. By recommendation from the knowledgeable staff, the prawn har gao dumplings ($13 for four) were juicy little parcels topped with fish roe, mushroom adding just the right amount of earthiness. Simultaneously, we started in on four scallops ($12) served on the shell and piled high with shallots soaked in tangy Vietnamese dressing. The best part were the crunchy bits of fried shallots intermingling which their vinegar-soaked green counterparts.
We were most looking forward to the pork xiao long bao ($12 for four) and that hit of hot, rich soup that bursts into your mouth on first bite. Unfortunately, we found this rendition slightly lacking, if only in that the salted duck egg broth housed in the thin dumpling skin had a milder flavour than we'd hoped. The pork and cabbage filling was still tasty in its own right, if you come at it with a mind cleared of expectations.
The pork belly bao buns ($14 for four) did not disappoint. Pork belly, crispy in all the right places, came folded into fluffy white steamed buns and complemented with a generous heap of cucumber kimchi and spicy sriracha mayo. We finished the savoury portion of the meal with a serving of duck pancakes ($24): moist slices of duck breast, shallots, pickled cucumber and tamarind sauce laid out carefully for you to construct to your taste.
For dessert, the mango pudding ($6.50) is smooth and tart, topped with sweet berry compote and a sesame crisp perfect for scooping custard out of the stubborn corners of the tiny jar. But the stand out was a surprisingly complex coconut sago ($8) served in a generous bowl and filled with the texturising tapioca-like bits.
If you can, it's worth staying for the full length of yum cha service. Why turn your back on the possibility of more dumplings?