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Lifestyle : Focus on China 2012
1HERSA1 0017 Golden Harbour Restaurant 9212 5987 Ground Floor, 31- 33 Dixon St Haymarket www.goldenharbour.com.au Email: firstname.lastname@example.org • China Town’s best Yum Cha • Traditional favourites like Peking Duck and Chilli Crab • Fabulous Variety of Menus • Function and Party Specialist AT YOUR PLACE 0419 273 208 www.yumchaatyourplace.com.au SydneysFavouriteSydneysFavouriteBoutiqueCatererBoutiqueCaterer PARTIES WEDDINGS CORPORATE FUNCTIONS We have a maximum of 6 children per class to ensure every child receives attention and assistance Our teachers are all from mainland China with Mandarin Certificates We have four age groups to meet the needs of different children Our classes incorporate play, games and music to make learning Mandarin easy for non-Mandarin speaking children Let us teach your child one of the most one of the most valuable languages in the world to speak & understand! www.mandarinmandarin.com Ask for Jo - Mobile: 0400 285 082 | Email: email@example.com Mandarin mandarin Bilingual Centre Eastocean.com.au 02 9212 4198 421-429 Sussex st Haymarket / Chinatown NSW 2000 Open 365 Days AUSTRALIA’S WINE LIST OF THE YEAR AWARDS Szechuan Garden Restaurant MODERN SPICY CHINESE Shop 1 / 599 Pacific Highway, St Leonards (02) 9438 2568 | 0412 386 298 www.szechuangardenrestaurant.com.au Experience a New Kaleidoscope of Taste... For Reservations, please contact 02 9267 8877 Shop 12 (facing Bathurst Street) | Ground Floor Regent Place | 501 George Street | Sydney NSW 2000 | www.chefsgallery.com.au AG5030036AA-150512 good living Cart stoppers . . . (clockwise from main) yum cha in full swing at The Eight; the busy kitchen; owner of The Eight, Henry Tang; Hung Cheung owner Tom Lu Tao; The Eight’s popular prawn dumplings. Photos: Danielle Smith, Fiona Morris of 300 different dishes but ‘‘we can’t serve that many dishes every day so we choose between 150 and 200,’’ Li says. ‘‘Each chef has their own specialties so they change the style and rotate.’’ The kitchen is divided into three sections: a la carte, yum cha and barbecue. The yum cha section is run like a production line. Before service begins, some chefs make dumpling fillings, others make dough and roll it out, others fill and pinch together various gow gee, siu mai and rice-noodle dishes. Once service starts, steamer baskets are filled and piled high, and woks run red hot. In the barbecue section, flocks of whole ducks, chickens and lengths of char siu are hung in rows in gas-fired kettles, taken out when needed to be chopped and sliced ready for the trolleys. It’s hot, crowded and frantic. And no wonder, with up to 900 mouths to feed with up to 200 different dishes in just five hours. Li, who originally trained in Hong Kong, regularly travels there and to other parts of the world to eat yum cha. How do we stack up? ‘‘Compared to Hong Kong, generally speaking we are better than most but not the first-class restaurants. There, the quality is very high,’’ he says. ‘‘I’ve also been to Europe, America, the USA, including San Francisco – I don’t think they can beat us.’’ In his 25 years of serving yum cha in Sydney, Li has noticed differences in what we eat and how we eat. ‘‘When I started, Australian people ate very simple Chinese food. Now they’re more adventurous and most of them can manage chopsticks. Now they want healthier food – people are ordering more steamed than fried.’’ Tang opened The Eight, the newest and plushest yum cha joint in Chinatown, in January last year. He and his wife, Chillie Poon, also own Zilver, another Chinatown yum cha restaurant. The Eight seats 750 and begins yum cha service at 9am on the weekend – for many Chinese, yum cha is breakfast and in Hong Kong yum cha can start at 6am. Service finishes at 3pm, with 26 trolleys on the weekend and about 14 during the week. Tang estimates he feeds about 1500 customers on a Sunday but he thinks Chinatown serves fewer people these days. Why is that? ‘‘Five or six years ago, there weren’t that many Chinese restaurants outside the traditional Chinese suburbs and Chinatown – now they’re opening everywhere,’’ Tang says. ‘‘Before if [people] wanted yum cha, they had to come to Chinatown. The suburban Chinese rarely come to Chinatown now, they eat near where they live.’’ Li agrees. ‘‘My customers are all local – why would they go to Chinatown? It’s crowded and parking is so expensive.’’ This doesn’t mean Chinatown is dead – just that they have to try harder. The Eight serves what Tang calls ‘‘creative’’ yum cha dishes such as steamed melting green tea custard bun, pan-fried diced radish cake with XO chilli and Japanese seaweed wrapped prawn roll, dishes devised by Tang and his head chef, Kwong Wah. These are studded among the standard dim sum varieties and rotated every two or three months. Because of its size, The Eight has a more elaborate service system with trolley pushers, waiters, bus boys and section heads. ‘‘All the section heads and waiters can take orders to the kitchen,’’ Tang says. If you have a child demanding prawn toast and you can’t see it on the trolleys, it’s perfectly OK to order it from the kitchen, although, depending on the order of the production line, it might not be any quicker. And the most popular dish? ‘‘Prawn dumplings, everyone goes for prawn dumplings,’’ Tang says. As to how yum cha compares here to elsewhere, he agrees with Li’s assessment. ‘‘According to the feedback we get from customers,’’ Tang says, ‘‘the quality is better than most countries outside of China. People in Sydney have high standards, probably because Australia is part of Asia, and there have been Chinese here for a long time.’’
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