Dim sum today was observed in a manner true to all of the above. My brother in law and his wife were in Sydney for a brief visit from Perth and it was the perfect opportunity to head east, across the CBD to visit our extended family who live around Coogee. To bond over food, as is the way for all families.
Our aunts and uncles picked Imperial Peking, 558a Anzac Parade Kingsford NSW 2032, tel: (02) 9314 425. It is part of the South Juniors Club building. I'm ignorant of most of the history of NRL but understand that this is the home of the Rabbitohs and one Russell 'Rusty' Crowe. Who was on the cover of the SMH yesterday. Is it not more than coincidence how closely my life follows the influences of this newspaper?
I had little time to ponder this because we were quickly lead to a table large enough for the 9 of us. The staff were speedy, attentive and polite. It's just a little less rushed and brusque than Chinatown proper. Which instantly put a smile on my face.
The immaculate cutlery and table linen ... before I started eating. Apologies for the chilli sauce and other mystery splotches in subsequent photos. They don't wash out with iPhoto. I think I need photoshop.
All our favourites arrived in quick sucession. The wo tie dumplings and chee chong fun plus another dish. I'm doing well to be naming anything, to be honest. Please comment with the missing names. I didn't get a photo of the cha siew chee chong fan but it was fanstastic. Highly recommended.
I like the toppers for the tea pots, identifying the tea being served.
Should anyone forget that we are in a club, you will find yourself quickly reorientated by the flat screens flashing numbers for bingo, I think.
Dim sum isn't just about the food for me. It's about the people too. I'm putting aside my personal beliefs about gambling and the ethics surrounding mixing family food venues with slot machines for the afternoon. I just love going out for a meal in Sydney and being amongst the diverse cultures and age groups who converge at any one given venue, united by a joy for good food and the desire to meet and catch up.
Our group today were no different. The differences of age and generation slipped away, the conversation was lively and covered all manner of topics and we all had hearty appetites and one beady eye on the trays and trolleys that were paraded past our table.
The xiao long bao, below, were excellent. Just enough soup and the dough held togeter admirably.
A prawn and soft tofu dish that was new to me.
A quartet of savoury 'cakes'. As a child, I detested these at dim sum. They seemed bland and boring when there was every conceivable food avaiable wrapped in dough or fried or both.
Then I got older and more interested in vegetables as close to their natural state as possible and also when used in dishes to emphasize their healthy attributes. Our dish contained 4 varieties of 'cake'. I was familiar with the radish and taro versions but the water chestnut variety was a revealation. Sweet with a bit of crunch and so light.
We were all terribly restrained in the fried and battered dish selection. However, exceptions had to be made for this plate of crisply battered and fresh calamari.
Back to more steamed or shallow fried choices. Some even with visible vegetables. Today was dim sum done healthy.
Oh - found a shot with my cha siew chee chong fan, it's in the background of the photo above.
There were chicken's feet for those who appreciate them.
And cha siew pao. One of my many favourite dim sum buns.
My aunts are ageless and inspiring women. Aged in their 70s, they are much younger in their minds and hearts. Practical, sensible, kind and more open minded and accepting than many people of my age. These noodles are a favourite of one aunt. They remind me of her wherever I see them. This particular aunt just came back from Japan and was telling us about some exotic dish she'd eaten there. She was also very understanding of the food blogger obsession with photographing food. One of her friends has a similar interest.
We had 2 dishes of greens. One of my personal favourites - long beans with pork mince. The beans were fresh, crisp and plentiful with just enough oil for the taste of the dish.
Plain old greens with black sauce. Need I say more. Could eat plates of these on their own for every meal of the day.
The fried goodies kept trying to tempt us but we remained strong.
What is the point of having the healthy tick choices of dim sum if you can't go nuts with dessert?
The aunts had thought ahead and we had no trouble locating the best desserts, thanks to their inside knowledge.
The mango pancakes. Generous filling of mango and the mock cream so beloved in Chinese 'western' desserts.
Rusty may be a bit rough around the edges but gee he has a good eye for down lights, ceiling features and tasteful Asian prints.
Puddings! A choice of mango or strawberry. The wooden barrel on the right is full of the warm silken tofu and syrup dessert.
A whole cup of mango pudding to myself. Plus that essential layer of condensed milk on the top.
The tofu was too healthy for me, I had to pass.
Because 6 egg tarts landed on our table.
If you look closely at the photo below, the tarts were cut in half for
The pastry was very flaky. Apparently it's all about the lard, as opposed to the butter of European pastry.
We had a very respectable distribution and number of stamps on our card, I feel.
We stepped out of the brightly lit restaurant in what could have been Chinatown proper and took the lift down into the dark gaming area with its glowing lights and persistent beeps and trills. I am told that the restaurant operates independently of the rest of the club. You don't need to register your membership or personal details at the front desk register if 'You're here for yum cha', as the burly English door man told us.
Sydney, I love your heady mix of people, cultures, celebrity and questionable use of the pokies.