For me the culinary choices for morning catch-ups in Sydney are divided into brunch and yum cha. When I want a break from the increasingly unique and hipster ways to serve avo and egg on toast, I escape into the traditional world of tea and dim sum - where eating the same food over and over does not go out of style. In contrast to the intimate sidewalk brunch cafe, Yum Cha is also the type of activity that I like to do as a bigger group (of at least 4) for the simple and practical reason that I can sample more food - the more the merrier, I say!
As an interesting aside, the term "unicorn" is not an exact translation as it refers to a mythical Chinese creature with two horns associated with prosperity (to be fair, what mythical animal doesn't?).
The Golden Unicorn retains the traditional food trolley method of service - an iteration that has been around since the sixties whereby waiters visit each table pushing food trolleys piled high with bamboo steamers. As a child it always gave me a sense of excitement to not know what was coming next. As an adult, the excitement has worn off a little and to be honest I have reached an age where I like to have some predictability in my food choices. The main downside is having to wait and hope that you see the dishes you want to eat - I have on occasion been to less than upstanding yumcha services where the food options have been limited to only a few trolleys and the disappointment is real. I am also not the biggest fan of waving manically at the right food trolley in the hope of attracting their attention - brunch simply should not be that hard.
I say all of the above only to highlight that this was not the case at the Golden Unicorn where the trolleys came both quickly and in great variety. It was not long after we sat down to our first cup of tea that we had amassed a respectable banquet. Oftentimes, the first 30min or so of the meal is spent waving down waiters or awkwardly turning them away but I felt they should be commended for their seamless service and we barely needed to interrupt our conversation in order to get food - the way it should be. In these settings, a marker of staff attentiveness is tea refills, those familiar with the ways would know the standard practice of leaving the tea pot lid ajar or inverted to signal for the refill without having to signal a waiter, in the more chaotic yumcha settings this can go completely unnoticed, but our tea was refilled in a matter of minutes and that is what I call good service.
I am a frequent flyer to yumcha so I have it down to an art. In most cases when it comes to ordering it is sufficient to point and nod, however I try to situate Cantonese speaking friends closer to the passing trolleys as they can also be called upon to order the things on the menu that you want, but you're not seeing carted around. On the topic of food selection I like to stick to old faithful with an occasional wild card (usually something deep fried and unhealthy to keep things interesting). I can't say that there was a standout dish but all the usual suspects were done well - the dumpling skins were thin and not-chewy and the fillings were fresh and well seasoned. I always like to finish my meal with and egg tart and I found these to be pleasantly crumbly and flavoursome.