I decided to take both Lovely Daughters out to Camden market this week, and see whether I could satisfy my dim sum craving at the same time. Good quality dim sum just isn’t a big thing in the countryside an hour away from London.
Up against the time limits of the day trip out, I wasn’t keen on trekking right into Chinatown and back out again for my dim sum fix. So how pleased was I when Google revealed such an establishment right in the heart of where I wanted to go?
Being a Monday lunchtime, there was only one other table of customers in the entire vast restaurant, so service was pretty quick. They give you what Lovely Daughter #2 thought was an Argos pen, so that you can tick your orders on the paper menu – it’s been such a long time since I lived in London that I forgot you do this.
Unfortunately, the menu link on http://yumchasilksandspice.co.uk/ doesn’t work as of August 2013. Suffice to say that most of the usual suspects are here. Pricewise, the bill came to just under £50 for four of us, and we over ordered – ten dishes when we could probably have got away with eight. I have to say that one of these was an extra dish of egg tarts – these were delicious, the pastry short and flaky, the insides wobbly and cool.
The steamed dishes were generally better than the fried. The deep fried dishes in particular (eg spring rolls and crispy prawns) were maybe veering away from the crisp, oil tinged taste of the freshly fried and ever so slightly towards the crunchy. But it was only marginal. The fried turnip (I am sure that it should translate to taro, it is not made from a turnip?) cake was delicious though, all crispy bits on the outside and soft on the inside encasing salty shrimp and bacon.
I’ll be concentrating on the steamed dishes next time (and there will definitely be a next time): the pork bau (always an indicator of a restaurant’s focus on quality or otherwise) were full of sweet, lean meat; sticky rice was satisfying and came in two little parcels – perfect for me and Lovely Daughter #1 to have one each (no-one else in the party likes sticky rice); the har gau came in floaty soft wrappers around a lovely crunchy prawn. The only disappointment was the cheung fun, usually my fave – the wrapper wasn’t quite as melt in the mouth as I am used to, but I am only really being fussy because I love it so much.
Yum Cha do what I’ve always dreamed of too, dim sum in the evening! I am trying to explain to Lovely Daughter #2 that dim sum for dinner is a crazy, crazy idea to a Chinese person. Dim sum is a lunch thing! But Lovely Daughter says “I’d have dim sum in the evening. I’d have dim sum every day.” And then I explain that at the Yum Cha they do half price dim sum for dinner on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Can you imagine that?? And she says, we should go there, for dinner, this Wednesday. And I think back to a time when I loved dim sum so much that I would have eaten it every day for dinner too. I think it’s a child thing.