You canâ€™t always use Instagram to pick your food. You would either OD on sugar from the doughnuts, milkshakes and cakes and all the foodporn around, or miss out on all the greasy spoons and local favourites off the Insta map. That said, I love a picture-friendly lunch â€“ especially if it includes steamed buns, plenty of colour and a Central Hong Kong location. Hereâ€™s what to expect from Yum Cha Central.
My friend Charlotte (whom I have to thank for the pictures throughout my Singapore and Hong Kong trip) and I went to Yum Cha on a busy Tuesday night. We found a beautiful space, with relaxing grey, beige and white dÃ©cor and a friendly team that looked after us to make sure we tried the best of Yum Chaâ€™s menu. Little did I know that we were about to try my personal favourite dining option: mixing sweet and savoury, in a dinner that felt like a five-course dessert with some much-needed vegetables in the middle.
We started with the pineapple bird puff, a lovely puff pastry with texture not unlike that of a biscuit, shaped as a little bird and with pineapple filling. Served in a tiny birdcage, in a reference to the old Chinese teahouses of the past, the pineapple bird puff was just the opening of a picture-worthy meal.
Then inÂ came the savoury BBQ pork bun, my favourite dim sum dish ever which tastes even better at Yum Cha. Served in the shape of a piggy emoji, it balances the delicate and nearly sweet taste of the outside steamed bun with the real Chinese barbecued pork thatâ€™s inside. The pork bun tastes great with a side of dragon kale, a tastier and more chewy version of the humble kale cut like a flower and served with chilli and garlic for extra flavour.
Hot dog fans will be pleased to see their favourite snack made cute at Yum Cha, which turns the humble dog into a sausage dog buns, again blending delicate dough with spicy sausage.
The piatto forte of the menu however are without doubt the emoji custard buns. Whether you try the yellow hot custard molten buns or the green tea custard buns, youâ€™re in for a treat: it will be hard to eat them with their little eyes staring at you. If you cut them up with a knife (like yours truly did, due to hopelessness at using chopsticks), it will almost look like theyâ€™re staring at you with their mouth open, dripping in custardâ€¦ My expression exactly just after eating them.
The actual desserts (yep, we didnâ€™t have enough) were equally stunning. We tried the fried sesame and coconut balls filled with hot chocolate, served on a smoking plate, and the candy floss mango cake, served with a â€˜hatâ€™ made of candy floss that sent us back to funfair days.
Developed by Dining Workshop, Yum Cha gives you a fun, unique dining experience that doesnâ€™t break the bank, with most Dim Sum trios costing HK$49 (about AUS$9 orÂ£4.50).
Despite the cartoonish presentation, the restaurantÂ doesnâ€™t compromise on quality: using seasonal and fresh ingredients, the restaurant sticks to authentic Chinese cuisine while playing with dishes. Yum Cha means â€œdrink teaâ€ in Cantonese. It’s a ritual that sees family, friends or colleagues get together to enjoy dim sum. Yum Cha keeps the tradition alive using its own take on the dishesâ€™ presentation.
Before I even went to Hong Kong I stalked Yum Cha on Instagram. Its cute buns and eclectic flavours are a must-do during your trip to this marvellous city, giving you all the authentic cuisine with extra playfulness. Make sure you bring a friend whoâ€™s as excited about posting pictures of food as you are. Otherwise, they will kill you.
Pictures: Charlotte Howells from The Fashion Division
Nan Fung Tower, 2/F, Nan Fung Place
173 Des Voeux Road Central
Central, Hong Kong
*Yum Cha offered me a meal for two but all opinions are my own*