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In Western countries like Australia and Canada, oriental food is consumed in large quantities. Whether it is Japanese, South Asian or Chines food, there is always such cuisine available to try. A lot of people love such type of food even if it is not part of their own culture and upbringing. Yum cha is one such example of tasty dishes that are fantastic to try out. For native Australian and Chinese people, yum cha is no stranger to the taste buds. It is essentially a plate of fried pork with dumplings and perhaps some garlic naan. But in actuality, there is so much more to the food and where it was initially from. When considering the inception and development of the dish over time, one will see exactly what it is and why you should try it out for yourself.

Whether you have tried it at Chatswood restaurants or are thinking of ordering online, yum cha will not disappoint you. Not only does it come from an elaborate cultural history but it also does wonder for your mouth and stomach. The words “yum cha” mean ‘drink tea’ in both China and Australia. Therefore, it is food for the masses in both these countries. But why should you go out of your way to have some yum cha?

The Background of Yum Cha

As there are quite a lot of Chinese immigrants in Australia, their food and culture have travelled with them. Yum cha became common in Australian cities during the 1980s where Sydney and Melbourne introduced it in their menus at different restaurants. But the initial inception and introduction of yum cha were made in the 1970s at the Mandarin Club. Soon, it became part of more accessible recipes that people all over the country began to make at their homes. While there were concerns about oriental food taking over these countries, it was welcomed with open arms. By the end of the 1980s, this minority food was a staple of Australian food and cuisine itself.

The actual history of yum cha dates all the way back to the Second World War. Chinese immigrants came and brought the culture of this food, which allowed them to have a routine from their birthplace in their houses. Even though the dish itself is regarded as Cantonese, it can be found in authentic forms all over the globe. Therefore, yum cha is not just food; it is an experience.

What is Yum Cha?

The essence of yum cha is the focus on sharing. Therefore, it is treated as a group activity which involves everyone at the table you are at. When being served or serving your mates, you should understand some customs and manners. Respecting the needs of your elders and youngsters is essential, while the rest wait until their turn comes around. It starts off with tea which has to be drunk with yum cha as part of its tradition. It helps with the digestion of the food later on. When the food arrives you serve others before yourself. In a gesture of thanks for being served, you can tap pointer and middle fingers on the table as part of the practice. If you run out of the food, you can turn the lid over and wait for a refill. It is also a custom for alcohol to be consumed with yum cha, which can take with it or anything else you enjoy.

Choosing the Kind of Food: Yum Cha Dos and Don’ts

When it comes to yum cha, it does not mean that you cannot choose whatever you want. But you do want to go for the best options available. So if you’re looking to try it out, here are some tips to aid you with the selection process.

More than Dumplings
Yum cha is more than simply oriental dumplings. Therefore, try not to limit yourself and miss out on the other great selections available. Yes, a shrimp dumpling is a wonder to try, but there is always more.

Barbequed Pork
This is part of the typical yum cha dish and is served primarily with sauce. You can select buns with pork fillings for the best yum cha experience ever.

Egg Tart
A common misconception about yum cha is that spicy food is dominant. This is not the case as you can also have a sweet and solidified egg with infer paste for dessert. This is perfectly baked and the right way to end your meal.

Rice Noodles
With a combination of sweet and salty fillings, these noodles come accompanied with pork, beef and shrimp all together. You can also add some sugar-soaked vegetables with fried sesame for the best blend of richness and taste.

Mango Pancakes
Another selection from the sweet aisle, mango pancakes are not actually Cantonese but they are part of the Australian experience. You will commonly find this in Sydney as a sweet and thin crepe served with whipped cream and mango chunks.

Sticky Rice
Yum cha dishes also come with sticky rice which is wrapped in lotus leaves. It is a classic but with a twist of adding fried rice with fresh, sticky sauce options.

Trying Yum Cha for the Native Australian

A lot of people wonder whether yum cha is quite different in Australia than the original recipe. As with all kinds of ethnic cuisines that migrate over time, of course, the courses and meals are bound to alter slightly. But the essence of the dish remains in both countries. The tender and gelatinous chicken is still found in abundance and eaten by Chinese immigrants and Australian natives alike. Chopsticks are used widely in the experience by all kinds of customers and the food choices will cater to each person’s preference.

Besides this, there are many other reasons to try out yum cha as a person in Australia no matter what your cultural background is. These are:

  1. Becoming accustomed to new and better foods

  2. Learning about distinct cultures through their cuisines

  3. Making new friends and broadening your social circle through networking

  4. Getting to experience brand new ideas and tastes that will reflect on the food you cook at home

  5. Understanding how Chinese migrants established their cultural food within your city and appreciating its value

The Bottom Line

When you consider trying yum cha, it is not just about the menu or the courses. It is an activity performed with people you know and admire. While you can go for regular steamed dumplings and fried rice, the best part about yum cha is the variety it offers. So consider what is in front of you and consult someone who has tried it. This way, making a selection based on your likes and dislikes will be simple and easy.


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