dumpling/yum cha

Mr Huang Jin

Remember when Melbourne was xiao long bao mad a couple of years ago?

That’s one food trend I’m happy to consume. And when Sarah posted about Mr Huang Jin’s XLBs recently, I was keen to check them out after an average XLB experience the previous week.

Mr Huang Jin are located in the Rialto tower on Collins Street, and haven’t been open for terribly long. And I feel the need to get this out of the way first: they’re not your typical dumpling restaurant where you can eat until you burst for $10. A serve of dumplings at Mr Huang Jin is $18-$20. Is it worth the extra money when you can go to a cheap cheerful place for much, much less? Well: read on.

I rocked up with Alastair and Bro on a warm Wednesday evening. We were the only table, so service was attentive, and very sweet.

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Tao Tao House

Sometimes the best planned ideas go awry. I often talk about my insane love for egg tarts (I’ve even baked my own before!) and I had plans for an egg tart tasting. A group of egg tart lovers would buy an assortment of egg tarts, get together, and then we’d EAT THEM ALL. After some chatting back and forth, it was decided that we have lunch beforehand at Tao Tao House, thanks to an excellent suggestion made by Allan.

However, unexpectedly several people had to drop out, causing us to cancel the egg tart tasting. Boo hoo! At least we kept the plans to go to Tao Tao House for yum cha.

Tao Tao House opened early this year on Glenferrie Road and is run by a father and son team, Jason and Eric Au. Jason Au was once the head dim sum chef at Flower Drum for nearly 20 years, and more recently worked at Donnie’s Golden Dragon Palace for 5 years. Impressive resume!

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International Dumpling Incident Party

Dumplings

International Pizza Pie Incident Party

It’s time for another International Incident Party hosted by Penny from Addictive and Consuming, and this time we’re bringing dumplings to the table. When I started thinking about what I was going to make, I immediately thought of the mother of all dumplings (imho) – Shanghai soup dumplings / xiao long bao. But after a bit of research on the internet I decided it would be too much trouble and tried hard to think of an easier alternative.

I walk past a butcher on my way to work every day and as well as all the usual cuts of meat they also sell a lot of offal. Last week I noticed they had a tray of pork skin in the window – and since pork skin is one of the components of the broth that goes in the xiao long bao I decided it was a sign that it was meant to be!

Xiao long bao

For those uninitiated in the magic of xiao long bao, they are dumplings with a meat filling that contains jelly made from a savoury soup. When the xiao long bao are steamed, the jelly turns into a piping hot soup inside the wrapper. They are WONDERFUL. After picking up my pork skin and chicken carcasses, I set to work.

Stage one in making the dumplings was to prepare a broth out of chicken bones, pork skin, ginger and onions. After the broth was ready, I added flavourless gelatine to set it into a jelly.

On Sunday morning I got up early just so I could make them. First I made the dough for the xiao long bao wrappers. The dough had to rest for thirty minutes, so while that was happening I put together the meat filling, which has the jelly mixed into. I wish I had read the filling recipe before I made the jelly, because it turns out only 1 & 1/2 cups of jelly is required – but the recipe said to make 4 cups of jelly. Rah! I was a bit annoyed – maybe because I was up early and hadn’t even eaten breakfast yet!

After that it was time to roll out the dough and pleat the dumplings. I started off by rolling out the dough and using a cookie cutter to cut out circles, but eventually found it easier to roll the pieces of dough thinly into circles. The thinner the dumpling dough was, the easier it was to pleat (and the better they are to eat as well). My pleating was not great – but hey it was my first time!

Xiao long bao

The xiao long bao were steamed and, after giving them a bit of time to cool down, it was time for a taste test. It probably took me about an hour to make forty xiao long bao – but it certainly didn’t take that long to eat them! I thought my wrappers were still a bit thick, but the filling was tasty and, JOY OF JOYS, the steaming hot soup was contained inside. We ate them with vinegar. Nice! I was rather pleased with my effort – they weren’t complicated to make, just time consuming. The hardest part was not losing the soup after they had been steamed – the little buggers had a tendency to stick to anything and everything!

I also made har gow / prawn dumplings, apparently because I hadn’t spent enough time making dumplings! I found the har gow much harder to make than the xiao long bao. I could tell when I went to roll out the har gow wrappers that it was too stiff. Because the dough was relatively stiff, I couldn’t get the wrappers to be as thin as I wanted them, and I also couldn’t pleat them nicely. You really want a very thin wrapper for har gow, because the best ones have that translucent, thin skin when steamed.

Har gow

The har gow were, as I expected, not great. Bro said they were better than the xiao long bao, but Alastair wasn’t a fan. I didn’t think they were terribly great, although not THAT bad for my first attempt. However, I don’t think I’ll try making har gow again – it’s too much effort to master the wrappers.

So that’s it for my contribution to the International Dumpling Incident Party. See Addictive and Consuming for the round up, I’ll update this post later with links for all the party goers.

Recipes:

Xiao long bao

For the xiao long bao, I found Steamy Kitchen’s post very useful.

Har gow

For the har gow, I followed this recipe on About.com.

Footscray Lunar New Year Festival

We went to the Footscray Lunar New Year Festival recently – Chinese New Year is tomorrow, but the Festival was held a couple of weeks ago. It was a hot and windy day, so we showed up at Footscray early in an effort to beat the heat.

We did a quick lap of all the stalls, and then decided we would have yum cha and then return to the Festival. We headed to our usual yum cha haunt – Dai Duong.


Yum cha in FootscrayYum cha in Footscray

We pretty much ate all our usual stuff. The first two things we had were pork buns and radish cake. Alastair ate both the pork buns, so I don’t know what they were like, but the radish cake was good.


Yum cha in FootscrayYum cha in Footscray

Bro said yes to a basket of tripe. The tripe was really good – lovely flavour and not too chewy. I know most people don’t like tripe, but it’s really so good! We also had some pan fried pork dumplings. I love these with red vinegar.


Yum cha in FootscrayYum cha in Footscray

Next up was a basket of steamed dumplings – I think these had prawn and garlic chives. They were fantastic. The wrappers were smooth and thin, and they had big pieces of prawn in the filling. We also had beef cheong fun, which were fine.


Yum cha in FootscrayYum cha in FootscrayYum cha in Footscray

Yum cha isn’t over until Bro has eaten a basket of chicken feet (normally a whole basket by himself) whereas I don’t leave until I’ve eaten an egg tart. There were only two egg tarts per plate, so we had to get two plates so everyone received one. I got to eat the extra one. Wahoo! Alastair finished off with a bowl of dessert tofu.

Read about a previous visit to Dai Duong here.

Footscray Lunar New Year Festival

After filling up on yum cha, we went on a walk through the festival and took some photos. Unfortunately we were too full to eat anything! Waah! There was lots of grilled stuff going on.

Footscray Lunar New Year Festival

More grilled stuff.


Footscray Lunar New Year FestivalFootscray Lunar New Year Festival

I was full, but still bought a drink – this was a basil seed drink with what I think was grass jelly. It was kind of strange. The seeds sort of looked like tadpoles!

Footscray Lunar New Year Festival
Footscray Lunar New Year Festival

There were lots of dodgy looking rides and games.

Footscray Lunar New Year Festival

Some kids looked like they were having fun on the rides, but I don’t know if I’d trust my life on them!

Footscray Lunar New Year Festival

The MFB had a tent, and they were giving out paper models of fire engines – complete with road cones and little paper firemen! Squee!!


Footscray Lunar New Year FestivalFootscray Lunar New Year Festival

We arrived just in time to see the firecrackers being lit, but unfortunately there was a crowd and I couldn’t manage to get a photo. Afterwards there was a lion dance. A stall was also selling funky balloons.

Footscray Lunar New Year Festival

Some more drinks on offer.

Footscray Lunar New Year Festival

And more grilled stuff – corn, betel leaves and meat on skewers.

Footscray Lunar New Year Festival

There was also dried squid hanging up for sale.

Footscray Lunar New Year Festival

This was a big pile of betel leaves stuffed with beef.

Footscray Lunar New Year Festival

And egg cakes (I think! Someone correct me if I’m wrong!)

Footscray Lunar New Year Festival

I have no idea what this was, but it was GREEN. And HIGH. How could I not take a photo??

Footscray Lunar New Year Festival

Happy Chinese/Lunar New Year and Valentine’s Day! We aren’t doing anything for CNY (I haven’t even cleaned the house – gasp!) but we are going out tomorrow for a late lunch/early dinner. More later. I hope everyone has an auspicious and love filled day!

Wellington: Regal Chinese Restaurant

The day we flew out of Wellington, we had yum cha with my parents at Regal Chinese Restaurant. We’ve been to Regal a couple of times with mum and dad for yum cha – there’s always a good selection of food and my parents seem to like it.

There’s not much to say about yum cha that I haven’t said before so this post is light on words and heavy on photos.

Regal Chinese Restaurant

Fried taro dumpling (wu gok).

Regal Chinese Restaurant

Deep fried crescent dumplings (ham sui gok).

Regal Chinese Restaurant

Steamed BBQ pork buns. One day I’m going to try making these. From scratch (including the BBQ pork). I have made my own BBQ pork before, so I’m halfway there.

Regal Chinese Restaurant

Steamed pork dumplings (sui mai).

Regal Chinese Restaurant

I think these were pork and ginger dumplings.

Regal Chinese Restaurant

This looks like the more well known radish cake, but it’s actually taro cake. It’s made in a similar way to the radish cake but using taro. This was really good! I don’t see taro much in Australia, and eating this reminded me of how much I like it.

Speaking of radish cake, Mum used to make it when we were younger. We would eat it for breakfast with a chilli and garlic sauce. Radish cake is yet another thing I’m going to make one day.

Regal Chinese Restaurant

My favourite savoury dish – chicken and sticky rice wrapped in a lotus leaf (lou mai gai). Here’s a tip if you’re ever at yum cha: don’t let them cut the parcel open (they’ll want to, with their scissors). If it’s cut, you get leaf bits all in the rice. Unwrap it instead!

Regal Chinese Restaurant

One of these prawn dumplings (har gow) made a beautiful dive off my chopsticks and somersaulted its way under a chair.

Regal Chinese Restaurant

I think these were chive dumplings.

Regal Chinese Restaurant

Rice noodle rolls (cheong fun) – love ‘em!

Regal Chinese Restaurant

A basket of chicken feet (fung jiao).

Regal Chinese Restaurant

And, as always, I refuse to leave until I’ve eaten an egg tart.

Regal Chinese Restaurant
7-9 Courtenay Place
Wellington
New Zealand
Phone: +64 4 384 6656

Dai Duong

On the Sunday of my Bro’s birthday weekend, we went to yum cha. He woke up feeling a bit nauseous (hung over), but when I suggested that we reschedule yum cha, he bravely said that he would eat through the pain.

What a trooper!

When it comes to yum cha, we used to go to Golf Leaf in Sunshine. One day, on a whim, we tried Dai Duong because it was closer to home. Not only is it closer, but the restaurant is huge, so there’s no problem getting a table. Food comes out incredibly quickly, particularly if you get there early, and within five minutes of sitting down, our table is normally full of dim sum.

These photos aren’t actually from our last visit, but we usually eat the same things whenever we have yum cha anyway.

Dai Duong yum cha

Chicken feet/fung jiao is my Bro’s favourite. We always get two, one basket for him, and one for everyone else.

Dai Duong yum cha

The prawn dumplings/har gow are pretty good.

Dai Duong yum cha

Pork dumplings/sui mai – steamed dumplings with a pork filling in a wonton skin. Actually, I don’t know why I always get these. I don’t like them that much, and I could use the stomach space for other things!

Dai Duong yum cha

Probably my favourite (apart from the egg tarts) – lou mai gai/chicken and sticky rice wrapped in a lotus leaf.

Dai Duong yum cha

Deep fried goodness! These taro dumplings / wu gok have a wrapper made from mashed taro, and a savoury filling (pork and other assorted ingredients) inside. I really enjoy the crispy, flakey outside.

Dai Duong yum cha

Another one of my Bro’s favourites – deep fried crescent dumplins / ham sui gok. These have a similar filling to the taro dumplings, but the wrapper is made with glutinous rice.

Dai Duong yum cha

Shrimp rice noodle rolls/cheong fun. I’m surprised to see that we got the shrimp ones for a change. I think they didn’t have the beef (which I prefer).

Dai Duong yum cha

Dessert tofu / dou fu fa – the tofu is pretty silky, but I thought that the sugar syrup could use a little more sweetness and ginger.

Dai Duong yum cha

And finally, yum cha isn’t over until I’ve had an egg tart. It doesn’t matter how full I am, I can always fit at least one in!

The prices are fairly standard and range from $4.20 – $6.20 for a standard to a deluxe dish.

Dai Duong Restaurant
Shop 5/ 64 Hopkins St
Footscray
Phone: (03) 9689 9899

Gold Leaf: yum cha

Tea

Yum cha early on a Sunday afternoon was a common occurrence for our family. Wellington may be a terribly long way from Hong Kong, but there is a Cantonese community, as well as several good yum cha restaurants. Yum cha was always a busy, bustling affair with trolleys full of steaming baskets being squeezed past packed tables. Ordering dim sum off a menu and cooking to order may ensure fresher food, but the atmosphere just can’t compare.

Yum cha in Cantonese literally means “drinking tea”. It’s the custom of eating small servings of food, dim sum, and is a tradition on weekend mornings. By the way, dim sim, is different from dim sum. In Australia, a dim sim is a Chinese inspired dumpling style snack. Dim sum is the Chinese cuisine which involves a wide range of light dishes served alongside Chinese tea, and yum cha is the term that is used to describe the dining session.

In the years we have been in Melbourne, we have been on the hunt for good yum cha. Gold Leaf was recommended by a friend of my Bro’s, and it turned out to be a good recommendation. I booked a table for 11am, and when we rocked up around 10 minutes before this time, they hadn’t started seating guests yet. We waited in the entrance with a couple of other groups, where live seafood gulped unhappily in tanks off to the side. Above us was a huge crystal chandelier suspended below the gold ceiling that Alastair contrarily said looked like the chandelier at my parents’ house.

Not long after we were seated at a table, trolleys full of food started coming past and our table filled up quickly with plates of steamer baskets.

Chicken feet

Chicken feet / fung zao

In this dish, chicken feet are fried, marinated and then stewed. The end result are feet that are puffy, rich and the sauce is generally a slightly spicy, black bean sauce. The texture is very gelatinous. There’s not much meat on chicken feet and it’s mostly skin and tendons. The trick to eating them is to take the foot into your mouth and slurp the skin off the numerous small bones, spitting them out as you go.

Scallops

Scallops on bean curd

This looks like minced scallop meat sitting on tofu. I’m sure I ate a piece, but I don’t actually recall it.

Ham sui gok

Deep-fried crescent dumplings / ham sui gok

In these dumplings, seasoned ground pork is covered in a wrapper made with sweet glutinous rice They are then deep fried, resulting in a crispy, sweet and salty morsel.

XLB

Shanghai pork buns / xiao long boa

I’ve spoken about Shanghai pork buns before. Traditionally the bao are eaten with ginger infused vinegar, so we received a little dish of vinegar as well. There didn’t seem to be much liquid inside the bao but the filling was tasty.

Fried pork buns

Fried pork buns

The buns were pan-fried crisp on the outside with a soft layer of meat underneath. We got another little dish of vinegar to eat with these as well.

Prawn noodles

Beef rice noodle / cheong fun

These are thin rolls made from a wide strip of rice noodles, that are usually filled with shrimp, pork, beef, and occasionally, fried dough. The rice noodle sheets are made from rice flour and water, which is then steamed. Sweet soy sauce is then poured over the dish upon serving. I always order the beef version. There’s also a fried version of cheong fun that I like where rice noodle sheets with shrimp are pan fried, and then covered with a thick, hoisin type sauce.

Tripe

Tripe

My Bro said yes to a bowl of tripe. I think we were the only ones at the table who ate it. It was flavoursome and not too chewy.

Har gao

Prawn dumplings / har gow

Har gow are a very standard yum cha dish and I reckon that if a restaurant’s har gow are good, then the rest will be good too. These dumplings have a thin, translucent rice-flour skin cloaking baby shrimp and some minced meat. The wrapping should be tender and silky, and the filling should taste fresh. These were good.

Dessert tofu

Dessert tofu / dou fu fa – silky tofu

After all this food, we were starting to get full. But when the cart with the wooden bucket of dessert tofu / dou fu fa came past, I knew I could fit a bowl in! Dessert tofu is a silky tofu served with a sweet ginger flavoured syrup. Silken tofu has a high moisture content and the texture is similar to a custard. It’s delicious.

Egg tarts

Egg tart / dan tart

We waited for ages for the egg tarts and basically we weren’t leaving until we got them. After waiting all that time, the tarts were just okay. The pastry was very puffy and flakey, but the egg custard wasn’t as sweet and eggy as I like.

There was also other desserts on offer – a whole cart was dedicated to items like mango jelly and coconut jelly.

Unfortunately we missed out one of my most favourite dishes – lou mai gai / sticky rice and chicken wrapped in a lotus leaf. I don’t recall it being on offer, but it may have come past at a time when we had a lot of dishes on our table. We kept waving stuff away so we could eat what we already had.

Prices of the dishes ranged from $4.30 for small, $5.40 for medium, and $6.40 for deluxe. Reasonable prices, along with the best dim sum we’ve had in Melbourne so far, might make yum cha a more regular occurrence for us.

Gold Leaf
491 Ballarat Road
Sunshine
Phone: (03) 9311 1863

Camy Shanghai Dumpling and Noodle Restaurant

Has this restaurant been around forever? It certainly feels (and looks) like it. Even despite closing for “renovations” last year. Perhaps this is code for something else, as when they reopened, nothing had changed!

Eating here is like being part of an efficient factory line. Get in, order, eat, get out. There’s no niceties here, no waiting for you to digest your food over a drink and conversation. As soon as your chopsticks have been put down, you’ll be asked if you’re finished. Yes? Then what are you still doing here?

Let’s be honest. Camy does not make the best dumplings in the world. But they’re quick, and they’re cheap and there’s something about the place that’s good despite the daggy décor, and the abrupt service. Most occasions that we eat there, the bill comes to less than $10 per person (this occasion we were slightly over, $13.50 each, because we ordered beer). And sure, you may wait in the queue for 10 minutes, but you only wait a couple of minutes for dumplings to start arriving once you’re ordered. This time, I swear, it took one minute for our first plate of dumplings to be delivered. Obviously they’re not cooking them all to order!

IMG_01772
Fried pork dumplings (15 pieces – $6.80)

Ahh… good old fried dumplings. With a slightly chewy skin, they’re usually not too oily. These are quite popular and they’re favourites for many people I know.

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Steamed beef dumplings (12 pieces $6.80)

If you’re not that keen on fried dumplings, there’s also steamed dumplings. These ones are beef. They’re not bad, although I seem to prefer pork dumplings.

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Steamed chicken and prawn dumplings (have forgotten the price!)

As you can see, there’s not much prawn in the chicken and prawn dumplings. I don’t find them as tasty as the other ones.

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Chilli oil dumplings (15 pieces – $6)

Now we’re getting to the good stuff. These are pork dumplings floating in a soup slicked with chilli oil. There’s only the hint of heat in the chilli oil, despite the red slick.

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Mushroom and vegetable dumplings (10 pieces $4.50)

The mushroom and vegetable dumplings are my second favourite ones at Camy. They’re chock full of garlic and onion and are a little sack of dumpling goodness. Mhmm hmmm.

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Shanghai pork mini buns (8 pieces $6.50)

And finally the best is last – the Shanghai pork mini buns (also known as xiaolongbao in other places). The mini buns are little dumplings that are filled with meat and soup. The soup inside is made by placing a little bit of jelly inside prior to steaming. Once they are steamed, the heat turns the jelly into a liquid. Eating them can be a bit of a challenge – first, trying not to pierce the dumpling skin so you don’t lose the soup inside (hint: roll them on to a spoon), and second, trying not to burn yourself on the scalding liquid!

Although we didn’t have it on this occasion, the pumpkin cakes are also really good. They’re small, sweet, deep-fried morsels. We always order two plates and save them for dessert, managing to fit them in despite the plates of dumplings we have ingested!

Camy Shanghai Dumpling and Noodle Restaurant
25 Tattersalls Lane
Melbourne 3000
Phone: 9663 8555