Sunday brunch has become somewhat of a weekend ritual for many people as it's a great way to catch up with friends, eat, relax, and as an added bonus you get a sleep in. Why not change it up and swap the scrambled eggs, focaccias and lattes for the Asian tradition known as yum cha.
The term yum cha when translated literally from Cantonese means, "drink tea." In Australia yum cha is a dining experience that takes place between approximately 11am – 2pm and involves the serving of a variety of small Chinese dishes accompanied by drinking Chinese tea.
Ordering is different to the way most of us are accustomed. Typically there are no menus, instead a trolley comes past your table and you pick and choose to your fancy. Each time you select items off the trolley, the waiter records your choices and will tally up the total cost at the end.
There are many choices available, dishes are usually either steamed or fried, the majority contain meat, and can be either sweet or savoury. Steamed dumplings are the most popular yum cha dish and are available in a variety of fillings. The more daring foodies should take advantage of the more exotic items that are sure to be available.
There are a number of restaurants in Melbourne that serve yum cha, here are a few recommendations:
Red Emperor Restaurant - 2 Southgate, Arts & Leisure Precinct. Southbank VIC 3006. Ph (03) 9699 4170. Set on the banks of the Yarra with idyllic views of the city, the Red Emperor is a good spot for a special occasion and has a reputation of serving some of the best yum cha in the CBD.
Shark Fin House - 131 Little Bourke Street, Melbourne VIC 3000. Ph (03) 9663 1555. Shark Fin House is located in the heart of Melbourne's Chinatown and has become somewhat of an institution. This three-story restaurant is always bustling so make sure you book ahead. Tai Pan – 239 Blackburn Road, Doncaster East, VIC 3109. Ph (03) 9841 9977. Definitely worth the hike out to the eastern suburbs and has been operating for almost twenty years. Vegetarians aren't forgotten at this restaurant as many dishes are available.
Don't forget that it is customary to fill the teacups of your companions before you fill your own and the use of toothpicks between meals is perfectly acceptable as it is believed that the aftertaste of one course should not taint the following course.
Pity you guys recommended the Shark Fin restaurant..
By marka22 - reader Thursday, 30th of June @ 04:12 am
My family and I went to East Imperial on Rathdowne St for my brother's 21st, and it was brilliant! We chowed down numerous dumplings and fiddly morsels before calling it quits. My only regret was filling up on the savoury, because once we'd decided enough was enough, and we'd paid the bill, all of the yummy sweets came out. Next time I'll resist stuffing myself full of dumplings, and save room for the sugar!
By Lisa Williams - senior reviewer Monday, 18th of July @ 07:46 am
Yum! I haven't been to yum cha in ages, just reading this made me hungry. Yum cha is definitely such a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon. I remember when I lived in Vietnam we had a great place we used to go to, but I still haven't found one here. Unfortunately I don't like in Melbourne so I can't take your tips, maybe if I holiday to Melbourne I can try them.
I would love to find a place in Adelaide to start grabbing yum cha again. Although I hate to think how expensive it would be, I can't imagine I would be too good at saying no to too many things. I'm still drooling about the thought of steamed dumplings. Mmmm. Thanks for the review.
Thank you for this list of yum cha favorites for Melbourne. We are hoping to plan a weekend away in Melbourne soon and as we have yum cha religiously every Sunday in Sydney we were wondering where we could go to get out usual 'fix'.
The Red Emporer sounds like it might be perfect for us to enjoy brunch while looking out over the city of Melbourne. Cheers.
By Karen - senior reviewer Friday, 5th of August @ 05:34 am
Yum, speaking of yum cha is making me hungry. A popular spot for yum cha is Dragon Boat, which has three branches near Melbourne CBD - Chinatown, Lonsdale St and Crowne Plaza. The restaurants have a large capacity to accommodate a lot of people.
I'm not sure what other branches have this deal but on weekday lunches the Dragon Boat Palace has "yum cha buffet", all you can eat, for $16.80 per person. Everyone pays the same and can pick their favourites, so it's a good place to host gatherings. You can find most dishes you would expect at a yum cha restaurant, and the food quality is surprisingly good (depends on how fussy you are though).
By Winnie - senior reviewer Sunday, 4th of September @ 07:16 am