Oh yum cha, what would life be without you? The eternal hangover cure, the Sunday lunch, and the best way to get together with friends with a shitload of food, a few teas and a bottle of soft drink or two. Shaking your head and craning your neck for the holy grail of steamed dumpling trolleys is a rite of passage, and everyone has an opinion on what deserves the most space on that lazy Susan.
Here’s one thing I learnt while compiling this list: no two yum cha menus are the same, and what you see below is the best of all worlds. Don’t like it? Scroll down to the bottom for your say.
One thing is for sure, The Urban List team know what they like, and they won’t be deviating from it. Also, we’re basic as hell. Every last one of us. Check number one and you’ll see why.
#32 Braised tripe
I can hear all tripe purists yelling at me. Some just aren’t as evolved as you…
#31 Chicken feet
Sigh. You can’t blame people for being weirded out by gnawing on toe knuckles. Just think about it, there’s always some waiting for you if these are your fave!
#30 Radish/Turnip cake
Seriously… Who actually eats this? What even is it?
#29 Sweet tofu
I’ve learnt that if you’re a fan of this, you’re a HUGE fan of it. What’s not to like about a dish that is basically the offspring of tofu and custard?
#28 Eggplant stuffed tofu
Seems there aren’t many vegetarian voters around here? This one hits the spot big time, but can be difficult to find.
#27 Beancurd skin roll
Might be one of the lesser-known ones?
#26 Prawn rice noodle
The hardest part about these bad boys is trying to get it off the plate, onto your chopsticks and into your mouth without dropping it everywhere.
#25 Crispy taro-wrapped dumpling
Crunchy, sweet, porky. Dumpling trifecta.
If you can find this, it’s heaven. Especially on a drizzly day where your soul needs a warm hug.
#23 Scallop & spinach har gao
Right, who did this? Far too many dumplings on the high end of the list. The dumpling trolley lady is the queen of the world and is welcome in my house any time.
#22 Egg custard tart
Tiny bites of sweet heaven, best matched with a piping hot jasmine tea.
#21 Sesame prawn rolls
Plump, juicy prawns in a crunchy coating covered with sesame, this is apparently the inferior spring roll (spoiler alert).
#20 Baked pork buns
This has been described as ‘a doughnut with pork meat in the centre’, and that’s all I need to say on the topic.#
#19 Salt & pepper whitebait
Tiny fish in a crunchy, salty, spicy batter. A favourite among us, it would seem.
#18 Mango pancake
Ending your feast with this sweet, fruit and cream filled relative of the burrito is a must, no matter how full you are.
#17 BBQ Pork rice noodle
Surprisingly low on the list, this slippery, sweet and salty delicacy is a must on every lazy Susan.
#16 Prawn har gao
Surprising. Very surprising. Biting into a perfectly steamed, evenly sauced har gao is one of life’s greatest pleasures.
#15 Vegetarian steamed dumplings
Steamed dumplings are the far superior dish, if you ask me (you probably didn’t), when will we learn to wait until they cool? Probably never.
#14 Roast duck
Oh steamy, salty roast duck with your crispy skin, what would the world be without you? Not much, my friends, not much.
#13 Fried wonton
Not sure what meat is in these, but nibbling on that crispy fan thing up the top before devouring the meat-filled shell is mandatory.
#12 Stir-fried noodles
Judging my colleagues now tbh. How is this below har gao?
#10 Pan-fried noodles with peanut sauce
We all know this is just to get all up in that peanut sauce. Stodgy goodness on a plate.
#9 Suckling pig
Pretty much just really, really good pork belly. Big portions so you get to share.
#8 Sticky chicken & rice in lotus leaf
Yes. A thousand times yes. Saucy, sticky, glutinous rice is always a good idea.
#7 Chicken spring rolls
How basic are we? Very, apparently. Although there are few better hangover helpers than a crunchy, piping hot spring roll with a dribble of that red sweet and sour nectar.
#6 Pork and prawn shu mai
Surprisingly, this is where the dumplings end. Cut in half (with a chopstick), and slathered with chilli sauce, please.
#5 Steamed greens with oyster sauce
At least we try to be healthy. Also, delicious. Why is it so hard to replicate this at home?
#4 San choi bau
It’s messy, it’s crunchy, it’s tasty. These don’t come around that often, but dammit you stock up when they do.
#3 Duck Pancake
Crispy skin, fatty meat, a lick of hoi sin sauce and a soft pancake? We’ll take six.
#2 Salt & pepper calamari
The trolley ladies see us coming, and they know what we want. This.
#1 Steamed BBQ pork buns
Roll your eyes and call us basic all you like, but you can’t deny the delicious, stodgy, alcohol-soaking properties of the perfect pork bun. Another one? Okay.
Is your favourite missing, or too high up the list? Let us know!
Outraged by this list? You should check out our ranking of all 35 Messina flavours.
Image credit: Clare Acheson at Box Street Dumplings