Literally meaning "drink tea", Yum Cha is a popular feature at most Chinese restaurants, where a variety of steamed and fried small dishes known as "dim sum" (snacks) are enjoyed along with tea. Yum Cha is a popular weekend activity for many families. Dim Sum dishes are brought around the restaurant by waiters for you to take a look and pick what you want. This manner of serving and ordering is fun and great for people who are not familiar with names of the dim sum dishes. However this method is not used at Chef Dong. Instead you have to order your dim sum from a menu.
Often considered to be one of the three "benchmark" dishes of a good yum cha, Shu Mai are steamed open pork dumplings topped with a savoury orange coloured topping, which is usually crab roe or a carrot. The wrapper of the dumplings was not too thick with a juicy pork filling with just the right amount of seasoning.
Shu Mai (Photographed by Jonathan Phoon)
Another "benchmark" dish and one of my favourites, Chef Dong's Prawn Dumplings consisted of a prawn encased in a thin translucent wrapper made from rice flour. Much like the Shu Mai, the wrapper was of the right thickness which was highlighted by the prawn. The flavour is quite subtle but you can heighten it by dipping the dumpling into either soy sauce or chilli oil.
Prawn Dumplings (Photographed by Jonathan Phoon)
The last of the "benchmark" dishes is Cha Siu Bao, also known as BBQ Pork Buns. The pastry of the steamed bun was not too chewy with the BBQ Pork filling cooked just right with a delectable flavour. It is recommended to break the bun in half to let it cool down before eating as the filling is steaming hot. If you prefer, there is also a variation in which the BBQ Pork filling is replaced with a chicken and mushroom filling.
Cha Siu Bao (Photographed by Jonathan Phoon)
Chicken Bun (Photographed by Jonathan Phoon)
Perhaps my favourite Yum Cha dish, the Salt & Pepper Squid Tentacles were fried to golden brown with the tender squid making it very enjoyable. Squid can be very chewy if it is overcooked. The salt & pepper seasoning the squid is tossed in gave it a bit of spice as well as making it very moreish.
Salt & Pepper Squid Tentacles (Photographed by Jonathan Phoon)
My father's favourite dish is their Steamed Bean Curd Rolls, consisting of a vegetarian filling wrapped in bean curd skin steamed with a soy sauce based sauce. The bean curd rolls were cooked just right with the filling complementing the bean curd skin well. A deep-fried version is also available with the texture being firmer compared to the steamed version.
Steamed Bean Curd Rolls (Photographed by Jonathan Phoon)
Fried Bean Curd Rolls (Photographed by Jonathan Phoon)
A commonly served dish at yum cha and a dish my mother and sister like to eat, Spicy Chicken Feet in Black Bean Sauce uses chicken feet, an ingredient rarely seen in Western cuisine. The bony nature of the chicken feet makes it difficult to eat but the skin is tender with the sauce bringing out its flavour without overwhelming it.
Chicken Feet in Black Bean Sauce (Photographed by Jonathan Phoon)
Rice Noodles Rolls topped with soy sauce is also a dish commonly served at Yum Cha. They are usually filled with a variety of savoury ingredients to complement the bland rice noodles. The prawns in Chef Dong's King Prawn Rice Rolls were cooked to perfection with the crispy Chinese Fritter in the Savoury Chinese Fritter variation being a great contrast with the soft rice noodles.
King Prawn Rice Rolls (Photographed by Jonathan Phoon)
Savoury Chinese Fritter Rice Rolls (Photographed by Jonathan Phoon)
Some of the other dishes available are Chicken Dumplings, Deep Fried Prawn Balls and Taro Puffs. As mentioned earlier the steamed dishes are typically dipped in either soy sauce or chilli oil and the plainer deep fried dishes come with sweet chilli sauce that can be dipped in to give it a bit of zing.
Chicken Dumplings (Photographed by Jonathan Phoon)
Deep Fried Prawn Balls (Photographed by Jonathan Phoon)
Taro Puffs (Photographed by Jonathan Phoon)
For dessert a variety of sweet buns, puddings and pastries are available but we ended up only ordering our favourite Egg Tarts. The pastry was flaky and buttery with the custard filling not being too firm with a subtle vanilla flavour. It is served piping hot so it is advisable to eat it slowly to avoid burning your mouth.
Egg Tarts (Photographed by Jonathan Phoon)
The décor and furniture gave the restaurant a bit of a formal feel. There was a large table which can accommodate more than ten persons if you come as part of a large group. While there is a decent amount of off-street parking in St Peters Village it is advisable to arrive early as yum cha is quite popular with the locals and the lots get taken up quickly.