Thursday, 12 November 2009

Yum Cha review - cheap and good dim sum in London's Camden Town

Yum+Cha+review+Camden+Town+dim+sum+London+ChowYum Cha's name has been tossed around whenever I asked for recommendation for affordable dim sum in London. Rather than to return to Royal China (my current favourite) for afternoon dim sum, we decided to hop on to Northern Line and head towards Camden Town to try out Yum Cha.

The first thing that struck you when you reach Yum Cha are the posters that promises huge discounts (up to 50%) for dim sum if you are to turn up after 5pm on weekdays. I'm a bit sceptical about restaurants offering that huge a discounts; if the food is really that good, a discount shouldn't really be required, should it?

The range of dim sum offered by Yum Cha is rather extensive albeit the traditional sort. As both of us were famished (a bad thing when ordering dim sum), we quickly placed our orders a waitress, whose service though efficient, was rather curt.

The interior of Yum Cha reminded me of a lite version of Phoenix Palace at Baker Street. A pity that the tables belong more to the IKEA cafeteria than a dim sum restaurant, not to mention the loud incoherent music tracks playing in the background (mostly 80s English songs, there was a soundtrack from Pocahontas even). Then again, I was there for the food, isn't it?

Roast pork cheung fun (left) with fried dough cheung fun (right)

The Fried Dough Stick Cheung Fun (£2.40) at Yum Cha, often known as vegetarian cheung fun in other dim sum restaurants, is quite different in the sense that the fried dough within the cheung fun wrap has been fried to a crisp. Though I prefer it to be a tad softer, my lunch mate loved its crunchiness.

Clockwise from left: shumai, spare ribs and dumplings

Its Crystal Scallop and Prawn Dumpling (£2.40) turned out to be quite good. If you were to munch through it slowly, you'll be able to taste the morsels of scallops within it. That was much better than the mix mesh that I had came across elsewhere.

Its Pork and Prawn Shumai (£2.40) was one huge disappointment. The four pieces came stuck to each other and had to be prised apart. Besides, the meat within was tightly compacted, a clear indication that it was pre-prepared and frozen (probably in a factory).

Unlike those offered at Royal China, Yum Cha's Spare Ribs in Black Bean Sauce (£2.40) has huge bones in them. But if you are one of those sadomasochists who get a kick out of picking the pork remnants around the bones, this dish is for you.

Roast pork buns, could have been warmer

Its Honey Roast Pork Buns (£2.40) was run of the mill and we thought that its dough could have been less tough.

Mini egg tart - creamy custard just with tarts that crumbles in your mouth

A special mention has to be made for its Mini Egg Tarts (£2.40). Although it could be served slightly warmer, the creamy egg custard was heavenly. That coupled with its soft crusty tart made this a must order at Yum Cha.

Interesting combination of warm fried pancake with ice-cream

Yum Cha is rather limited on the dessert front and the only thing that is worth a try is perhaps its Chinese Black Bean Cakes with Ice Cream (£4.50). It's basically thin fried dough stuffed with block bean paste accompanied with a large scoop of vanilla ice-cream on the side. Not your traditional Chinese dessert (insert Golden Gate link) but it wasn't bad at all.

All in all, Yum Cha is way better than Pearl Liang at Paddington and is the place to go for decent dim sum without Yauatcha's price tag and Royal China's queues. Then again, don't expect the former's variety and the latter's standard.

Address: 28 Chalk Farm Road, London NW1 8AG
Tel: 020 7482 2228
Nearest Tube station: Camden Town / Chalk Farm

Ratings (out of 5 *)
Price: below £15 pp
Service charge: 10%
Taste: ****
Service: ***
Ambience: **
Suitable for: a weekday afternoon leisure lunch or a pit stop after weekend shopping at the nearby Camden Market
Yum Cha on Urbanspoon

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Kavey said...

As this is a bit closer to me than central London, it's an option, so good to read the review, thanks!

C K said...

You're welcome! Am looking forward to my next visit myself. :)

Iolo Jones said...

Had lunch there today. Best dim sum I've had this side of Singapore. A total find. Please don't make it too popular. This is a local I'd like to keep a secret!