Happy belated Chinese New Year!
This year Roxy and I celebrated the lunar new year in delicious frivolity at Emperor's Garden Restaurant in Chinatown. To me, Yum Cha is an excellent way to celebrate: you have elaborate dishes, friendly atmosphere, and a communal style of eating that just seems to lend itself beautifully to festivity.
When we arrived at the beginning of Dixon St, there was a large group of people waiting in line, and a lady behind a lectern was handing out tickets to people. When we reached the start of the line, she told us we had a 10 minute wait, but we were actually escorted upstairs in less than 5 minutes, which was great. Everyone looked very organised, and that they knew what they were doing.
We were seated at our table with little trouble, and just let the carts start a-coming:
The steamed prawn dumplings were STUFFED with large, juicy pieces of fresh prawn, in a light glutinous skin. They were quickly devoured before we even had time to order another dish.
The red bean dumpling had a delicious, subtly sweet and thick red bean paste centre, which contrasted well with the light, crispy texture of the fried dumpling shell. Although I prefer a red bean steamed bun, this was a good dish.
The BBQ Pork dumplings were great, as always. Fluffy bun exterior, filled with tender little bits of pork and the sweet BBQ sauce.
The vegetable dumplings were moist and flavoursome, but I did notice that the edges were a bit dry and chewy.
Every time I go for Yum Cha, I always scan the carts for these beauties. If they don't have them, I ask the ladies for my 'Football Dumplings'. They laugh a little, then tell me if they have them. These ones were full of tender pork mince and flavoursome, earthy mushroom, and the outside was crunchy yet chewy at the same time.
Feeling mildly guilty with all the steamed and fried dumplings we'd shared, we had a stab at eating healthier and ordered some greens. The brocollini would have benefited from a little less soy sauce: it was drenched, and a little unpleasant, but the texture and flavour of the actual vegetable was ideal.
The beans were good as well, but were served with a mince that was burned so that I couldn't quite tell if it was pork or beef. They were accompanied with hoy sin sauce, but I preferred them on their own.
Alas, we had no room for dessert, but the food here, while maybe not as varied as Iron Chef Cabramatta, was just as delicious. Also, because I can't decipher the prices of the dishes on those little bits of paper that the ladies stamp, I'll tell you that the total price for everything (we only drank water) was $44.60. Not expensive at all for two people and 7 dishes.
Emperor's Garden Restaurant
Level 1, 100 Hay St (Cnr Dixon St)
Phone: (02) 9211 2135