Monday, August 16, 2004

Washing it down with a cup of Tea
{ fook yuen yumcha }

Weekly or even daily yumcha must be a Cantonese/Hong Kong thingie. Back home, a usual sunday would normally start with a long yumcha with a couple of family friends. When I said long, it was a real long yumcha. I remembered going to the restaurant at about 10-ish and leaving at around 3-ish!

'YumCha' is a cantonese term. It literary means 'to drink (yum) tea (cha)'. Of course, it doesnt take after its literary meaning and is more than just drinking tea. Traditionally yumcha is to be consumed early in the morning at the cha lau (tea-house). You sit down with a good pot of chinese tea, order a few nice dimsum dishes when the dimsum carts stroll by, read newspaper and chat to friends and families.

The first time i had yumcha in Sydney, i was pretty much impressed by its large portion. The portion is at least twice as big as those back home. But everything is in proportion. The price has at least doubled too. As much as i would love to go for weekly yumcha, my meager student allowances sadly do not approve of such indulgence.

♥ foodies date: 07 August 2004
♥ where:fook yuen, chatswood

This is probably my second (or third) yumcha of the year. Been on a yumcha crave for a long time. *Someone* had promised to bring me yumcha but never did. Alas, I had to arrange for a yumcha myself.

Everyone was put off by the thought of long queue outside the restaurant and the funny murmur of ticket-number calling for your table (think Dragonstar aka Kamfook in Chinatown). So this time we ventured out of the usual yumcha spot in Chinatown and headed north to the much recommended fook yuen in chatswood.

♥ first round of dimsum!
Front row (l-r)
Siu mai (pork dumpling)
Fung Jao (literary means phoenix feet) - it really is steamed chicken feet in black bean sauce

Back row (l-r)

Yong ai gua (stuffed eggplant)
Har gow

♥ Har gow - prawns dumlping
This is one of the staple dimsum at every table. Not much of a prawn fan, I always wonder about the magic of prawn dumpling. This also reminds me of my dearest friend, C (now back in malaysia) who would order prawn anything dimsum.

♥ Gao Choy Gow - Chives dumlping
I like this much better than prawn dumpling.

Jin cheong fen - pan-fried steamed rice-noodle roll
Sorry for the funny english name I have come up with. How can it be panfried and steamed at the same time? It's a double cooked dish. In fact, many chinese delicacies have been double cooked but it can be hard to tell. The rice-noodle roll is steamed until it's cooked. Then pan-fried with lots of oil until it's brown and golden on both side. Served with peanut sauce and hoisin sauce, the best bit is the crunchy almost charred bits.

Har Cheong Fun - prawn steamed rice-noodle roll
The steamed rice-noodle roll is the same of the pan-fried one. Instead of rolling the rice-noodle sheets up into bundles and then pan-fried, prawns are rolled in as fillings and this dish is once again steamed until the prawns are cooked. other fillings include char siew (bbq pork), beef.

Avery special steamed rice-noodle roll and also one of my favourite is 'zar leong'. It's yao-zar-guai (chinese deepfried cruller, the name means 'oil fried ghost') rolled with rice-noodle sheets.

zar wonton - deep fried wonton
Served with a red sweet and sour sauce (not in pic). I used to like it as a kid. It's absolutely yummy with mayonnaise. The yumcha restaurant back home serves this with mayo. now i wonder if it's the mayo that I am in love with or the wonton...

char siew sou - bbq pork pastry
Another of my favourite but highly fattening!

sha yong - chinese donut
'Sha yong' means sand-man. I am not sure of the story behind it. i guess the 'dan' has to do with the sugar sprinkle on top. sugar (sha tang) rhymes with sand (sha) in chinese. it is made with flour and eggs, and then deep fried. the white bits on top is caster sugar. it's the white bits that lured us into ordering this dish. it has a very egg-y taste. you got to eat this when it's still warm, else you would be eating a bread soaked in oil!

Hong Dao Ye Zhap Gow - red bean coconut jelly
One description: plastic-like.

This is the only dessert dish we ordered apart from the chinese donut. Usually we would have ordered the mango pudding but we didnt this time after learning that one mango pudding cost $6.50! Oh dear. $2 more expensive than its peer: Kamfook.

Food isn't bad at fook yuen. Service was okay. At least no rude waitresses. It's a lot more spacious and a lot brighter (thanks to the large clear-glass panels). But i do have some doubt about their dimsum cart waitresses. Some muttered the dishes rather quickly, some seemed shy and dishes were announced in very soft tone. Definitely not helping in a very noisy environment. And some couldnt even pronounced the dishes in Cantonese properly. We had to take a guess at what she was trying to tell us.

To tell the truth, I do find fook yuen food a little ordinary. Would it be because we haven't actually come across their specialties? hmmm..It's something to wonder about. The price is no cheaper either. It cost us about $15pp (no drinks, no special dishes). There are still many dimsum that we didnt get to try out. Maybe next time or perhaps we should venture out to search for another yumcha place? *hint hint*

fook yuen
level 1, 7 help street, chatswood
ph: (02) 9413 2688