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Home: Living Here: Dining Out: Yum Cha (Chinese Restaurant)

I remember my first Yum Cha experience years back at the home of a Cantonese family held to celebrate their daughter’s birthday. The experience, I must say, was wonderful and has remained with me till today. Since then, Yum Cha has always been an experience I’ve looked forward to.

With the introduction of a new Friday Yum Cha dinning experience at the InterContinental Dubai’s The China Club, I could not resist the desire to go down and relive the happy memories I had of the first time I was invited to partake in this Chinese speciality.

“Doing Yum-Cha” as they call it today is a perfect way to spend a Friday with family and friends. In fact Yum Cha is a perfect way to celebrate any occasion. For me The China Club evoked nostalgia of moments enjoying long back. Then, whole family along with many friends has gathered together not only to celebrate but also to enjoy this tradition. This is a time where the tea flows continually and the food is in abundance. The air was full of busy conversations and everyone was smiling and enjoying their moments spent with each other.

The feeling for me was one of being lost in a tradition that was long ago handed down by family members; long since passed on but till date remembered afresh. Yum Cha is as much a lifestyle as it is a tradition.

Long ago - this tradition is still followed today - the wives of farmers prepared small but filling snacks made from the left over food of the previous days meals as they awaited their husband’s return from the fields. These delightful snacks served with refreshing cups of tea, that encouraged digestion, proved to be the perfect meal for the family. Thus the era of Yum Cha began and continues even today in cities all around the world.

Yum Cha literally translated means “Drink Tea.” And drinking plenty of tea is what you do along with enjoying a delightful selection of snack that are more than enough to fill but not leave you feeling bloated.

The selection of teas you will find at any Yum Cha will astound you, and leave you thinking you never really knew there were so many varieties of flavours. The China Club has added a little bit of a Dubai twist to their Yum Cha menu by adding a selection of two very cooling iced teas. These summer coolers are the perfect way to enjoy the refreshing tea away from the heat.

But in saying that I must say I did find the light green tea a wonderful side accompaniment with my meal especially after being informed by Jane, the assistant manager of The China Club, that it was also good for my skin. So here I was not only enjoying the wonderful tea but my skin was having a rejuvenating “spa”.

Chinese tea is drunk without sugar and milk, which for some of us sounds and looks a little strange. When consumed this way the true flavour and goodness is extracted and thus providing you with the benefits. Tea helps in the digestion process of food, so is the perfect accompaniment with a hearty brunch.

And it was under this setting that we settled down in the daintily decorated restaurant ready to partake of a Friday special. The Yum Cha menu at The China Club is an “all you can eat”, and although looks a bit small, don’t be fooled by the appearance. This menu is more than enough for you to explore and enjoy. There is no set place to being you meal. With this menu you are free to start at whatever point of your liking. So for those of you who have always wanted to eat dessert first I guess this could be your chance.

The staff at The China Club as always were pleasant and smiling which was such a great treat for a Friday afternoon.

While we were busy going through the menu a rather interesting dish of Chinese cabbage and boiled peanuts was placed on our table. Although these may not be something you have tried before be sure to give them a go. The cabbage was a little spicy but a great way to set the stage for what is to come.

Each dish on the menu is made in a small sized serving to suit the size of the group at each table if all would like the same thing. But the best way to enjoy this menu is to order a little of everything and share it. Once you have finished something and you have really enjoyed it you can always order another round. Yum Cha truly is the perfect way to entertain a group of people, as you will fast notice the style of eating will not only be enjoyed but will also encourage conversation.

One the menu we found a selection of that ever-popular Dim Sum. There is steamed ‘Har Gau’ crystal Shrimp Dumplings, deep-fried Seafood Wanton Dumplings that were so crispy and full of flavour that we had to force ourselves to stop. The vegetable Spring Rolls were served up with a 5-spice sauce that accentuated their flavour.

I have a very vivid memory of my first experience with a steamed Chinese bum, I thought it was a bread roll when dished up to me and said “no thank you I don’t want any bread” which promptly sent the group I was with into fits of laughter until they explained it was a Chinese steamed bun filled with meat. Being more aware now I knew that this tasty treat was not a bread but rather a meal in itself so I was eager to enjoy the spring onion and ginger steamed bun, the flavour was not strong but is perfect with a little Soya sauce.

There are two choices of soup on the menu, Velvet Chicken and Sweet Corn and Szechwan Hot and Sour Vegetable both are very good, your only choice is which one to try but if you feel like trying both than just ask for two small servings the staff are more than happy to oblige.

There are two noodle dishes and one rice dish to choose from, stir- fried noodles with vegetables, Crispy noodles with chicken and a vegetable fried rice. These dishes I guess are more like the main course rather than snacks, but again are not big serving sizes. All of this menu is meant to be and is best eating as a selection, Don’t be afraid to order more before moving on because that is how you do “Yum Cha”.

The dessert selection offers you a selection of three cooling choices that are the perfect way to finish off you meal. Being a lover of Sago I chose the Chilled Coconut Cream and Sago Pearls. This is best eaten while still chilled as the cool feeling and the Sago are a perfect blend. If you are a mango lover than be sure to try the China Club Mango Pudding with Fresh fruit. Now that was a dessert so full of freshness that seemed like biting into a mango plucked fresh from a tree.

If you are looking for a meal that is not just an ordinary meal but something a little different than don’t look any further. Lets go Yum Cha! by Kerry Leigh

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