I do eat out relatively frequently, however I don’t tend to eat out with a big group of people very often. It’s normally a company of two, three or maybe four. So, when 11 friends came together to go Yum Cha, I was very excited.
It isn’t just because I don’t normally eat with so many people, it is more due to the atmosphere it creates. When I was growing up in China, we used to have big family dinners a lot. Everyone would seat together at a big round table, the poor table itself laden to the point of near-collapse. The adults would immerse themselves in gossip and chatter, though never forgetting to pester us kids to “eat more, eat more”. It’s always a loud and joyous affair. Ah, the nostalgia.
Anyway, back to the present. So when the 11 of us sat down together for a Sunday Yum Cha lunch at Gold Leaf, it felt like family.
There are multiple bonuses to eat out with so many people. But, the number one advantage would be, being able to try out so much variety and variety we had. So much in fact, I didn’t get to take a photo of all of them. I also apologise in advance for any blurry photos, for everyone was hungry and I didn’t want to take up too much time getting my shots. Without further ado, let the feast begin!
The must-have of any Yum Cha session. How can you resist these cute little dumplings,who even blush a translucent pink? I know I never can. The version at Gold Leaf is probably one of the best ones I have had in Melbourne. The contrast in texture between the bouncy prawn filling and the soft, slightly chewy skin was spot on. Steaming hot, these were very comforting. Do be careful though, these little things like to escape; my first one slipped from my chopsticks and fell onto the table.
Salty, slightly sweet, meaty and absolutely moreish. These ticked all the right boxes for me. I also have an odd, addictive habit of chewing on the individual black beans for a pop of extra saltiness (it probably really isn’t the best thing health wise).
I actually didn’t have any of this, because I really don’t like the custard filling in Asian breads and buns. It’s so sickeningly sweet that it hurts my teeth, the yellow too bright that it screams out fake. I have no way of confirming this at the moment, but I’ve always been suspicious about the ingredients they use to make this custard. Artificial colouring and flavouring maybe? If someone knows, please educate me. Having said that though, the bun itself did look incredibly soft and my Hong Kong friends gave it a thumbs up. So maybe don’t trust my opinion on this one completely.
Now this is the bun I prefer. The skin, fluffy, soft like a wad of cloud, encasing piping hot, sweet and sticky barbecue pork. I used to occasionally have two of these for breakfast with a glass of soy milk. It really makes getting up more purposeful and worthwhile. Plus, it makes me happy and chirpy for the rest of the day.
I already harped on for at least a paragraph about why I love this little parcel so much in my previous post about Sharkfin Restaurant, so I won’t bore you again with it. Due to the fact we had so many people and also because I didn’t want to appear like a pig, I only had one spoonful of this. Was it good? You bet it was.
Yet another favourite at Yum Cha, though I don’t think I had any of this.
This is one of the things that my family always orders but I always have a nonchalant attitude towards it, because to be honest I find them rather boring. Though, Gold Leaf has made me give them another chance. These give you the most satisfying feeling when you take a bite. Meaty, bouncy and wonderfully refreshed with a balanced mixture of herbs, which saved them from being overwhelmingly rich.
Despite the fact that Chinese people say congee it’s very good for your health and for your skin, I’m really not one who eats congee, because it’s just so bland, gluey and sticky. When I make congee at home I actually make sure the rice grains stay in tact, to avoid that problem. Though that really isn’t the proper way to make it. I think out of all the components of a dish, I’m most sensitive to texture. If it doesn’t taste so nice, I will still eat it. But if I hate the texture, I really can’t force it down. However, unknowingly one of the guys at the table was being a real gentleman and ordered me a bowl. It was such a kind gesture and I didn’t want to appear rude, so I lapped it up anyways.
When I saw someone ordered this I was pretty excited, because I’ve never had it before. It spun around a few times on the Lazy Susan before I had a taste of this and it was already cold. The eggplant was nice and soft, almost melting away in my mouth. The seafood stuffing inside the eggplant had bite. The whole textural combo was then covered in a sweet and sour sauce. I think I would have really liked it if it was hot.
So this dish may divide or disgust some people, but it is a very common dish in China. I grew up eating it, so I find it rather normal, but I do also understand why people may be squirmish about ordering something like this. I enjoy trying the different textures of the different cuts, it’s a very interesting mix in the mouth.
I really like silken tofu and when it is paired with some of my favourite seafood then it’s destined to be my dish of the day. The tofu was silky soft, the seafood simply seasoned and delicious. Sometimes, simple and clean is the best.
Some people may only associate tofu with savoury, but actually tofu is used very commonly in desserts in Chinese cuisine. Basically this dish is curds of soft tofu, steeped in a sweet, ginger syrup. Soft, warm and lightly sweetened, it was the perfect way to finish off our meal.
I really enjoyed dining at Gold Leaf. I think it’s the best Yum Cha I’ve had in Melbourne so far and it came to just over $20 per head. The dining hall was big, bright and spacious. The waiters attentive and polite. The food was also top notch. But what trumps all that is the company I dined with, because what is more amazing than food itself, are the memories that food can help us create.