August 12, 2017
One week after visiting the Social Place, our gang of four met up again for dim sum lunch, this time at the playfully named Yum Cha. To open shop one block away from the Social Place? That’s basically the Yum Cha’s team flipping a bird and saying go to hell to their former boss. I would go out on a limb and guess their split was less than amicable. Feigning ignorance I asked the reception at Yum Cha if they are related to the Social Place; the response was a stern “no”.
Yum Cha takes the general concept of open kitchen, airy interior and no MSG and sprinkles in elements that are unmistakably intended for the Instagram crowd. Look at the truck at the entrance! They have even turned their signature custard bun into mascots and stick them all over the dining area. And instead of printing insects on their crockery like the Social Place, Yum Cha’s bowls are decorated with fish. The visual aside, the two restaurants share more similarities than differences, especially in regard to how the menu is structured.
We began with four cold vegetable dishes — crab roe sesame spinach, chili eggplant, tofu in sesame sauce and curly kale. The first three items tasted normal, but the kale was strangely bitter.
Then came the buns. White = BBQ pork. Yellow = custard. Green = green tea custard. The BBQ pork was fine, like what you can find in a typical dim sum place. The custard buns were thicker than the Social Place’s with a lesser amount of filling that was also not as runny. Perhaps because the steamer of the green buns wasn’t covered up properly, the buns were soaked with moisture.
Among all the items, the baked pineapple cake took the crown as the most photogenic. The bird-like shape is a wordplay on the Chinese word for pineapple, which means “phoenix’s pear”. The piping hot pastry was delicate and not too sweet.
The savoury dim sum didn’t fare as well. The bottoms of the shao mai (pork and shrimp dumpling) were uneven, causing all the dumplings to sit on their sides and bundled up together. This unevenness might cause the dumplings to be either undercooked in the attached portions or overcooked on the surface, and in this case it was the latter.
The translucent wrapper of the vegetable and truffle dumpling was thick and gluey, reminding me of my toddler’s clumsy handcraft. The har gow (shrimp dumpling), with a beautiful multi-coloured wrapper, was slightly better. Best was the rice noodle roll, with a good chewy texture.
We capped off with Seafood Fried Rice with Squid Ink and Egg White, served in a metal pot. This was well done — the rice retained a firm texture that contrasted with the soft egg white and seafood. Adding goji was a nice touch.
The bill came to $891 for four, around the same that we paid last week at the Social Place. On my first visit I thought the playfully designed food was paired with decent quality. My opinion remains about the same, but compares to the Social Place I find Yum Cha to be less consistent and generally sloppier on its execution. Yum Cha is by no means bad, but I know which place I will go back to if I want a casual dim sum fix.
Address: 2/F, Nan Fung Place, 173 Des Voeux Central, Central
Opening hours: 11:30 – 22:30