I love Yum Cha. It’s often hectic, long lines, rude waiters, sometimes lukewarm food, but I never turn it down. I love how trolley’s of food go past and you get a nice surprise sometimes when you’re not expecting it.
There’s a few Yum Cha places I frequent, there’s one in the Valley – Golden Palace, which is okay, but nothing to write home about. There’s one in the city (of Brisbane), China City, which is in the Lennon’s hotel, across from the Myer Centre. I like that China City during the work week on my lunch break, their prawns are always plump and maybe it’s the fact that have city folk clientelle, their service is always decent.
When I go to Sunnybank (it’s like a mini Asian Town), I usually go to Landmark. Landmark is one of those restaurants that cater to big, expensive weddings (I’ve been there a couple of times for their wedding banquents, and they do it well – 10 courses usually including lobster, abalone…). Anyways, for Yum Cha, Landmark is insanely busy. The restaurant opens at 10am, and on a Saturday morning, at 9:45, there is a huge queue of about 30 people or so people waiting, at 11 o’clock, you’ll be waiting a good 30 minutes and it is like this every weekend.
As Landmark is so busy, I guess they can afford to be rude, when I went there last, we asked the waiter for more tea and water, and he promptly replied (and not too nicely), “Not enough hands man!” and stormed off…what the?? The trolley girls are lack-lustre and must be completely over it. Waiting for what you want to eventually come to you may take a while (it is a big restaurant) so there’s an area where people can take their cardboard Yum Cha tally card to and pick what they have available – I usually go there for the custard tarts.
My usual Yum Cha order are Rice Noodle rolls with BBQ pork 豬腸粉, sticky rice 糯米雞, egg custard tarts 蛋撻, Turnip cake 蘿蔔糕…there’s usually a bunch of other stuff too, but these are my usual favourite. The food here is pretty good, I like all the Yum Cha things on offer here, and I must say their turnip cakes are delicious and their egg custard tart pastries, one of the best, flakey, buttery and usually hot and delicious. The last time I went to China City, their egg tarts were burnt and cold. The food is great, it is hustle and bustle, and the service is brusque but the long wait at times deter me if I am not craving Yum Cha. They even charge you a DOLLAR if you request extra soy sauce and chilli! Ridiculous.
I went to Sangrila for Yum Cha today for the first time. It’s housed in a non-descript peach coloured building right next to Little Taipei Food Court, and the block looks like it should be a bunch of offices . As you walk in, it looks like it is still undergoing some renovations. We were given a number when we went in, it was full, but it definitely wasn’t crazy busy. Everybody who were waiting were able to seat and wait in a civilised manner. At Landmark, people crowd around the entrance like crazy shoppers before Myer opens for Boxing Day Sales. We were seated after about 10 – 15 minutes in a little room…some trolley people miss us, they never brought my water and we never got the soy sauce and chili sauce. We didn’t eat as much of the food, but the couple of dishes we tried were all really good. The spare ribs with black beans sauce were delicious, slippery and not just lumps of fat. The fried prawn dumplings were crunchy, full of plump prawns and the mayo was nice…not too sweet like translucent Kraft mayo, definitely had the taste of kewpie mixed with a bit of fruit salad taste to it. The sticky rice, delicious, perhaps the portions were slightly smaller than Landmark? The service were a lot better, when I asked the girl at the front how long the wait would be, she smiled and answered honestly – Amazing! I don’t even usually get eye-contact from the sullen girl at Landmark! The trolley girls were a lot more enthusiastic.
Overall, next time I want Yum Cha, sure I might go to Landmark first – food is good…but if I don’t want to wait for 40 minutes, get aggravated by rude staff (I am irritated very easily) I’d definitely give Sangrila a go – it doesn’t have crystal chandeliers, and it’s not plush, but the food is pretty good.