Yum Cha at Spice Temple
I had read a couple of good reviews about the yum cha at Spice Temple, Crown and thought a casual lunch was in order before coming back to Sydney.
The menu looked a little bit more expensive than usual but from the reviews it seemed worth it so I didn’t think twice. I was, however, a little disappointed.
Firstly, the location is great. On a sunny afternoon enjoying beers/cocktails by the river was a nice experience and the usual loud, bustling, packed room you usually expect from yum cha is definitely not what you’ll find here. There are no trolleys racing around and everything is ordered in advance.
We started off with Cumin Lamb Sliders ($9 each), Boiled Chicken and Pork Dumplings ($11), BBQ Pork Buns ($12), Northern Chinese Lamb Dumplings ($9) and Spring Onion Pancakes ($8).
The lamb sliders were a waste of money. Small (too small for a slider), fiddly in their miniature presentation and not enough filling for the price. There was too much bun for me to notice if the lamb inside actually tasted good.
The chicken and pork dumplings and bbq pork buns were a highlight but mainly because I felt like I could trust the quality of the meat inside. I love me some dumplings but sometimes at cheaper Chinese joints it’s a bit scary thinking about what you’re actually eating. The spring onion pancakes were, as usual, a welcome and comforting addition to the meal and are pretty essential at every yum cha. I think this was $8 well spent as one serve was almost the size of a dinner plate and was plenty for two, with the possibility to even stretch to three or four people.
I also had a ‘Rabbit‘ cocktail from the list of Chinese Zodiac drinks (London dry gin, green apple, jasmine tea soda and salted cucumber – $18) . This was unusual and refreshing. Salty and fruity at the same time. Probably not for everyone but the ‘salted cucumber’ description sounded like a good combo for the traditionally doughy and greasy food I was about to consume so I went for it. I’m also a “year of the rabbit” girl and I would definitely recommend this cocktail and order it again. The ‘Rooster‘ sounds so delicious – Aperol, Limoncello and fresh passionfruit – yum!!
We both love spicy food so we decided to go for some more dishes marked in red (to indicate their hotness). The first few – Boiled Chicken and Pork Dumplings and Spring Onion Pancakes – hadn’t exactly left us watery-eyed and red faced so we added Crispy Prawn Wontons with Hot and Numbing Sauce (for him) ($11) and Braised Lamb Pot Stickers ($9). The Hot and Numbing Sauce was neither hot or numbing. We wondered if we are just desensitised to hot food now? The ‘crispy’ wontons were not crispy (demonstrated at the table by him as he bent them without a single crack of the wonton wrapper). The pot stickers were very tasty, though, and all things considered, worth their price.
I can’t say no to dessert and the Black Sesame Pannacotta ($16) sounded perfect to me. It was covered in rhubarb, apricot compote and walnut crumble and while I don’t think he enjoyed his one mouthful, I could have gone in for another whole dish.
For two beers, one cocktail, 7 dishes and one dessert the bill came to $154 so it’s certainly more than you’d pay for your average yum cha on a Sunday afternoon.
For all our disappointment we were, however, impressed by how ‘clean’ we felt – none of that sleazy Chinese food regret that you often get after poor quality cuts of meat and loads of oil. I know that feeling puts a lot of people off yum cha so I will definitely be recommending it to them and look, despite not being overly impressed, I probably would return. We decided that it was just ‘good’ yum cha. There is nothing really fancy about it – all the dishes still get served as is, in bamboo steamers or on plain white plates – it’s probably the ‘best’ yum cha you will experience in terms of the lovely surrounds, large windows opening onto the river and boardwalk and the fact that you’re probably eating food made from premium ingredients.
I’d be keen to hear other people’s experiences and if you arrived at the same conclusion as me.
Yum Cha at Spice Temple runs from Thursday – Sunday 12:00 – 3:00 pm
For bookings, menu and more information: http://www.spicetemplemelbourne.com/