For a celebration, we wanted to go a bit old school and have yum cha. It's been some time since I had yum cha - I think the last time was about a year ago at Gold Leaf in Docklands.
I did a bit of research in picking out the restaurant for our yum cha outing. I wasn't keen on heading into the city/Docklands/Southbank (working in the city means it feels like a drag to go there on the weekend). Nor was I keen to visit the usual suspects located in Burwood, Doncaster and Templestowe. I wanted somewhere where we hadn't tried before. More importantly, I wanted to go somewhere that didn't have dodgy reviews (although I suspect a good number of them are fake/malicious reviews).
Running out of ideas, I made a booking at a restaurant that will remain nameless. I was taken aback to be told that each sitting was only one hour and that there was only a small table left, which would mean it'd be very squishy for the seven of us. I went ahead with the booking, but decided to do more research for an alternative (better) place. I'm glad I did, because I then found Mei Jing Chinese Restaurant. A good sign was when I rang up, they offer two hour sessions and had a nice big table for us. None of this "wham, bam, xie xie, ma'am" of the other restaurant.
Inside and outside, it's very Chinesey. Lots of red and gold furniture with big auspicious paintings and bright lighting. It's fairly spacious inside too. Surprisingly, it wasn't fully booked out. I suspect this could be because MJCR is in the outer suburbs.
As I didn't try everything we ordered, I'll only provide a few brief comments and let the photos do the talking. Also, we got the staff to divide/cut up most of the dishes that we ordered so that we could share them easily.
Combination deep fried thingies (I don't know what they're called in English). These remind me of my childhood as I'd always order them at yum cha. These were pretty good. Nice savoury filling and only a smidge of MSG.
Siu mai and pork and prawn wrapped in beancurd sheets.
I quite liked these - steamed Japanese egg tofu w minced prawn and scallops. Silky, subtle and very morish. Definitely one of the healthier options on the menu! And fairly decent sized scallops, which is a plus.
I can't remember what the prawn dim sum was but I remember being impressed by the size of the prawns. The chicken feet were lovely and deep flavoured. Eating chicken feet at yum cha is probably the only time that I enjoy gristle. Plus, recently I found out how much effort that actually goes into making this dish, so I was able to appreciate it more (I didn't realise that the feet were deep fried, then plunged in ice water for hours to make the skin puff up, after which they are braised).
Deep fried wontons.
Steamed prawn rice noodle. Reasonable sized prawns (three each in each noodle). Fresh noodle and not over cooked, which you could tell by the non-gluggy texture of the noodle.
Glutinous rice with chicken wrapped in lotus leaves. These come as a pair, and the above picture shows one of them with half of it already eaten. Reasonable amount of ingredients in there - pork, shiitake, salted egg yolk, chicken and dried shrimp. And you can properly taste the smoky, woody aroma of the lotus leaves. This is one of my favourite yum cha dishes.
A plate of seaweed - just like the ones you get in a sushi shop.
Deep fried sesame glutinous balls.
As we can always make room for desserts, both the big and little kids took the opportunity to order a few sweets. First up, how could we not order some egg tarts? Lovely, flaky pastry with a wobbly custardy center.
My favourite yum cha dessert has always been mango pudding. That solidly set jelly with that fake mango flavour and real mango bits mixed up, surrounded by a pool of evapourated milk.
Bubba Chuck insisted that we order this for her - melon balls with jelly cubes. It's a shameless dish that's obviously targeted at kids. Although we were all skeptical that she'd actually eat any of the melon, she did eat some of it. The staff even very kindly (and indulgently) allowed Bubba Chuck to swap the French flag with the closest flag resembling the Australian flag (the British Union Jack), which they had to go into the kitchen to get... you can't fault her on her patriotism, or her influencing skills!
Last but not least, a big bowl of tofu fa. Big slices of that wobbly, white stuff. Beaker said that this was pretty good - not too sweet, good amount of ginger in the syrup and lots of tofu.
Food - 8.5
Ambiance - 8
Service - 8
Price - 8.5
I'm pretty impressed with yum chat MJCR. The food was tasty and quite decent serving size. Price wise it was pretty good - about $125 for seven of us (for some of the dishes, we ordered more than one serve). We were all contentedly full - but not in an overeaten, belt un-buckling sort of way. Propz also for the minimal use of MSG.
Services was above average for a suburban yum cha restaurant. Friendly and prompt. The food came out quickly - there were no long waits between the different rounds of dishes that were being carted out and they never ran out of stuff that we wanted to order.
Seating is comfortable and you're not packed in like battery hens. Also, it's not as loud and chaotic as some yum cha dining experiences can be.
I'd definitely come back again for my next annual yum cha fix!
Mei Jing Chinese Restaurant
703 Boronia Road
Telephone: 9887 1508