Yum Cha is such a great concept. This centuries old Cantonese brunch tradition, involving Chinese tea and finger food items, is a great way to set up your day.
What can be better than enjoying a delicious spread of dumplings, spring rolls or steamed buns with family or friends?
Literally meaning ‘drink tea’, Yum Cha, in Australia, tends to be more about the food. It became popular in the 1980s in the Chinatown areas of Sydney and Melbourne. But has since taken off massively from there.
Sydney has a number of excellent venues to choose from when it comes to Yum Cha. Here are some of my favourites.
Now this place is very special indeed!
Found inside the Establishment Hotel, in a stunning two-story French-colonial setting, Mr Wong is widely regarded as serving up some of the best Yum Cha in Sydney.
For this reason it is the place I go to most regularly when I want to treat myself.
I could eat about 100 of their wagyu and truffle puffs, while their aromatic duck spring rolls are simply to die for.
The décor and atmosphere here is casual, yet refined, and the service is outstanding. Bookings are highly recommended too as this place always tends to get busy.
Another very popular place, Palace Chinese is much loved by the city workers in the CBD, and its somewhere I go to every now and then for an early work lunch break.
The Yum Cha here is delicious and I can highly recommend their holy trinity of pork ribs, phoenix claws (braised chicken feet) and honeycomb tripe.
For something a little different you might want to order the stir-fried kangaroo fillet off menu too, which is rather delicious.
Considering its CBD location I find the prices quite reasonable here. The food is always served up very quickly and the vibe is pretty relaxed too.
Yum Cha often has a lot of meat based products in it. Which of course is not great for vegetarians. But at Bodhi they have solved this particular issue by offering a fully vegan Yum Cha experience.
Delicious selections like tofu puffs stuffed with crunchy water chestnut, flaky prawn taro ball and pan seared stuffed sweet potato slice, make a nice change from the more traditional servings you get elsewhere.
While one of the best aspects of this restaurant is its beautiful setting. Presented among stately fig trees and ornate hanging lanterns, it lies on the picturesque grounds of St Mary’s Cathedral College.
The Eight is one of the bigger Yum Cha restaurants you will find in Sydney with its expansive dining space being able to accommodate a number of patrons. Which is just as well really because this place usually has a (fairly fast moving) queue to get in.
The décor here is very ‘Chinese’ with a classic presentation of red and black colour scheme providing a very agreeable setting in which to eat.
The food is of a very high standard with delights like barbecue pork buns, prawns in rice noodles and the siu mai being some of my favourites.
If you have a sweet tooth like me, you will find their mango pancakes exquisite too.
Another CBD stalwart, I have been known to spend the odd extended early lunch break in the Sky Phoenix and had a number of business luncheons over the years in here too.
The contemporary décor and ambiance are very benefitting of an establishment within the CBD, and the food is exceptional.
Presented almost as if it were a living art exhibition, the restaurant runs a minimum six person Yum Cha banquet menu, which features a steamed dim sim platter, fried prawn dumplings and a BBQ roast duck and pork combination, that will leave you licking your lips.
In case you don’t fancy tea, the wine list here is also first rate.
And once you’ve tried all of these, Sydney still has more excellent yum cha restaurants to sample. Here are a few more that we highly recommend: