It's Valentine's Day, and it's raining; it is cold and miserable, which also means is Yum Cha day!
In Central Coast, you won't have the dilemma of deciding which Chinese restaurant to go to for Yum Cha, because as far as I am concerned, there is only one restaurant in central coast that offers daily Yum Cha, and that is Dragon's Door.
After darting through the crowd in the giant maze, also known as the Erina Fair, the largest shopping mall on the Central Coast; out to the outdoor arena called "The Hive", Dragon's Door is just on the first floor adjacent to the Hoyts cinema.
The restaurant is spacious, tables are arranged in order with just enough space for trolleys to get past. It is bright and lively from the ambient sunlight through the glass walls, and the warmth amber glow from the red cylinder lamp shades in all shapes and sizes sets the mood.
Seems like everyone has the same idea to hunt for comfort food on a cold rainy Saturday, as the restaurant is already jam packed with hungry customers when we arrived. I love the hustle and bustle in a busy Yum Cha restaurant, a mayhem of people shouting of dim sum names, running around with plates and teapots, trolleys are pushed around tables with steamy baskets filled with dumplings inside. Totally catastrophe, in a good way.
Our table is set up swiftly once we sat down, hot jasmine tea is served and it didn't take long for the first tray of Dim Sums to arrive at our table. I personally prefer steamed dumplings over fried food at Yum Cha, but I'll make exceptions when I am dining with one white pommie and one white aussie. Big D wants the springrolls (春卷), which is hot and crispy, but bit greasy with oil leaking on the side. The Pom who is trying to eat healthy wants some Chinese broccoli (gai lan - 芥兰), drizzled with olive oil and soy sauce, which is crunchy and flavoursome.
I can be quite superstitious when comes to Yum Cha, it becomes a ritual and it is compulsory for me to have some Siew Mai (燒賣). If not, I will feel uneasy, I will feel something is missing for the rest of the day and I will be unhappy. The Siew Mai is juicy, the skin is thin and the pork mince is tender, and a little red dot of crab roe on top to add the saltiness.
Big D also ordered chicken stay sticks, which is not a very typical yum cha dish, but who cares. The chicken is fried till crisp and still juicy inside, served with smooth peanut satay sauce that carries a bit of hotness. We are keeping up with the fried food diet, the sesame prawn roll is aromatic and actually quite delicious. The fresh prawns inside are steamy hot, plump and juicy, while the pastry is nice and crisp.
Another "must have" at Yum Cha, the BBQ pork bun (Char Siu Bao - 叉燒包) is fluffy and soft, but with very little of bbq pork filling inside. The bbq pork inside is nicely marinated with great flavour, shame there just isn't enough. Despite the small dose of bbq pork satisfaction, we actually ordered another round of the buns to justify our desire.
The steamy dumplings trolley has finally arrived at our table. Unfortunately the prawn dumplings (har gau 蝦餃) are all gone, so we have to settle with steamed chinese chives dumplings, shark fin dumplings and steamed beef meatballs.
The steamed chinese chives dumplings (九菜饺) is steamy hot full of garlicky chinese chives wrapped in paper thin translucent skin, great flavour with a light crunch of water chestnuts. The shark fin dumplings (鱼翅饺) is a let down. We actually couldn't figure out what it was when we ordered it, as there is no sign of shark fins inside but rather filled with pork mince and coriander which The Pom thinks is overpowering. But the hero among the all surprisingly is the steamed beef meatballs! Usually I am not a big fan of the steamed beef meatballs as I found them a little firm and chewy with tendons and stuff. But these meatballs are extremely light and bouncy, full meaty flavour with a hint of fresh coriander. Definitely will order again.
Big D and The Pom already have their mind set on the Mango pudding, while I am looking forward to some refreshing mango pancakes. The mango pancake is refreshingly chilled with sweet and fluffy meringue and fresh mango pieces inside. And I had a taste of the mango pudding, with is smooth and creamy with a good drizzle of evaporated milk, however I found it could do with a bit of extra sweetness.
We also have this surprisingly good doughy chewy red bean paste dumplings look just like the ham shui gok (鹹水角). The pastry is crispy outside and chewy inside filled with a good dollop of sweet red bean paste. The saltiness of the pastry and the sweetness of the fillings works like a treat.
Dragon's Door is the only place you can experience yum cha on the central coast, and the quality of the dim sums are definitely above average with a great selections to tempt your tastebuds. The price is reasonable with the bill comes to $90 for three of us.
I had a quick glance over the crowd, apart from the chinese family at the table behind me, the waiters and the restaurant owner, the rest are actually anglo-Australians. When I first arrived in Australia back in 1996, I had to introduced Yum Cha to my Australian friends and explain what it is and how it works. Now to see a whole Chinese restaurant filled with Aussies, holding a pair of chopsticks grabbing dumplings (and occasionally dropping it), makes me realised food is really the universal language of the world. And Yum Cha on the weekend has definitely stamped its status in the Australian's lifestyle and culture.
Dragon's Door The Hive
T318-319 Erina Fair Shopping Centre, Terrigal Drive, Erina NSW 2250
T: (02)4367 0388
Open 7 days & 7 night
Yum Cha Lunch: 11am-3pm
Ala Carte Dinner: 5-10pm
Take Away: 11am-3pm/5-10pm