Chinese restaurants seem to be getting fancier these days, with the likes of Mr Wong and China Lane setting a new standard. Following the same path is He Tai Open Kitchen in Macquarie Park. The setting is elegant and spacious, with wooden carved screens and decorative tiles adorning the restaurant. It definitely lived up to its name, with the dumpling masters and chefs plying their trade in full view.
Finding the restaurant was a little mission in itself. Whilst listed as being on Level 3 of Macquarie Centre, you actually have to walk through the carpark to enter from the outside of the shopping complex. Food selection is via a tick sheet, without the hustle and bustle of yum cha trolleys. The dimsums had five categories of pricing, ranging from small $6.80 to special $12.80. On first impression, the food was very pricey with only one dish classed as a small (the congee).
The Deep fried tofu had a nice crust and I liked the flavours of the spice mix.
The Prawn dumplings - so often an indicator of overall dim sum expertise - were great, but I was expecting for a little more 'wow'.
The Seafood fried rice with XO sauce was a generous portion. The XO sauce gave it a great flavour but my gripe is they didn't have enough seafood.
The Okra & Mushroom Dumplings with Squid Ink were somewhat of a novel item on the menu. I liked the texture of the filling and the dumpling skin wasn't too thick allowing the flavours of the filling to shine through.
The Snow mountain BBQ pork buns were probably the highlight of the meal. The buns had a flaky crust with a very flavoursome filling. Are they as good as the TIm Ho Wan variety? Almost!
The Vermicelli rolls with prawn were expertly made. The vermicelli was smooth and silky, a notch above the average yum cha fare.
Mango pomelo sago is normally one of my favourite desserts. I love the combination of pomelo, mango, sago and grapefruit. The colour of Open Kitchen's version is a lot more orange than I remember... not exactly sure why but it may have something to do with the fact they used canned mango instead of fresh - disappointing considering it is right in the middle of mango season!
Opening at the end of last year, the service was a little inconsistent - the wait staff were unsure of table numbers and end up walking around each table trying to deliver the dishes before they get cold. I did enjoy the ambience of Open Kitchen and the food overall was of god quality, but not so good to justify the expensive prices.
Ever since the world's cheapest Michellin starred restaurant Tim Ho Wan landed in Sydney back in late March, there have been constant queues for a table, especially on the weekends. The hype seemed to have died down a little and getting there just after 8 on a Tuesday night a couple of weeks ago, we were seated straight away. The menu contains all the familiar dishes you would find at Yum Cha and you order from the menu rather than from the roaming trolleys.
We couldn't go past the famous Baked bun with BBQ Pork filling. It is definitely sweeter than the average BBQ bun but I didn't actually mind it. The crust of the bun is quite crunchy but the inside of the bun is pillowy soft filled with delicious roasted BBQ Pork. I can see why it is the go-to dish at THW.
Another essential dish at any yum cha is Prawn Dumplings (or Har Gau). They are a bit pricey at $8.30 for four, but the flavour could not be faulted with a generous amount of prawns.
The Turnip cake was less impressive. Whilst it was tasty and had a lovely crispy coating, it could have done with more filling and flavour.
The food came very quickly...and by the time I got to the Steamed Egg Cake, it was getting a little cold. Despite this, the cake tasted delicious. The texture is very much like a chiffon cake - very light and fluffy and with just the right hint of sweetness.
The Spring roll with egg white were very crunchy, though I think I preferred the more common filling of meat and vegetables.
The Rice with Chicken, Sausage and Mushroom was rice full of flavour, but would have loved another couple of pieces of chicken.
One of my all time favourite desserts is Mango and Pomelo with sago and they do it very well in HK. It is almost like a cold soup, light and creamy. The sweetness from the mango goes perfectly with the slightly tangy pomelo.
So would I come back? Definitely. I am keen to try out the rest of the menu selection, but I will definitely order the pork buns again! The service is quick and efficient, and even though it is a bit more pricey than your standard yum cha restaurant, it is still very reasonable.
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