Restaurants & Bars

Yum Cha, Chalk Farm/Camden Town, London

limster | Jun 16, 200904:47 PM    

A friend recommended this place, and I'm very thankful for that.

More or less perfect prawn dumplings/har gau -- the prawns were very precisely cooked, giving off a very satisfying crunchy texture, the skins were just right, balanced between tenderness and chewiness, and while perhaps a tiny bit thicker than those at Pearl Liang, but equally elegant in its own way. In an ideal world, the filling would have had a few more tiny bits of bamboo shoots for more textural contrast, but that's really a very minor point.

Taro croquettes exemplify beautiful deep frying, the fragile and exquisitely lacy exteriors were a pleasure, an excellent light crunch followed by warm light puff mashed taro just beneath the surface, before yielding to the starchy meat filling. An outstanding textbook rendition.

Rice sheet/cheong fun were merely ok to good. I had mine wrapped round you2 tiao2/fried crullers, a contrast of crunchy crullers to the softer, slightly chewy rice sheets. The version I had at Dragon castle was superior in virtually all aspects, the crullers on the inside lightly crispy, rather than heavily crunchy, the rice sheets more glossy and oiled, and somehow more delicate. Had similarly impressive renditions at Pearl Liang and Yi-Ban, so the version that I had at Yumcha doesn't rank as highly.

The duck spring rolls were pleasant, but the wrappers were not maximally crispy, with the layer on the inside still a little dull. The shredded duck was also a bit dry. Perhaps it pales only with the inevitable comparision with the rendition at Min Jiang.

Sichuan dumplings were nice, solid hefty but tender skins, a lovely balanced sauce that was spicy and sour (loved the vinegar), with a slight tingle of citrusy/herbaceous flavour that was probably Sichuan peppercorns.

The char siu bao/glazed roast pork buns were very fluff, and compared surprisingly well against the version at Min Jiang.

Mini egg custard tarts were very good, rich custardy centres, flaky crust. Worth ordering, even if they were nothing like the oven fresh ones from Min Jiang. But does compare well with most other versions I've had.

Dou4 hua1/bean curd flower, a softer version of bean curd/tofu in syrup, while fairly delicate, seemed a little stiffer and firmer than most (gelatin?).

An ok Iron Goddess of Mercy/Tieguanyin, with a flavour in the roast that reminded me of certain types of Chinese seaweed (zi3 cai4/purple vegetable).

The menu sticks largely to the classics, and they were by and large very well done and impressive. Reasonably priced, most dim sum items at £2.40. Apparently they have discounts on Mondays and Tuesdays, so that might suit the budget conscious.

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