Thursday, May 30, 2013

Eastern Garden Chinese Restaurant

On Mother's Day, the food crew and myself were having difficulties getting ourselves into restaurants or cafes as most of them were fully booked for any form of afternoon service. Even the hidden cafe that is assumed to be less frequented is fully booked out. A hungry foodie is not happy and would resort to all types of schemes just to squeeze herself into anywhere decent.

As we were cruising around the eastern side of Adelaide, we concluded that a visit to Eastern Garden is necessary as they usually do have a higher turnover rate, despite their usual fully-booked out for lunch routine. I wouldn't admit that service here is top notch but if you just want to enjoy a pleasant yum cha session with yummy food, I would recommend coming here. Just like any other yum cha restaurants, the menu does not display the pricing of each dish and this may give some of us (myself included) a shock. If you are able to flag down a waiter/ waitress, do check the pricing before you order.

Allow me to introduce a few of my favourite must-have yum cha dishes, in no particular order.

For some strange reason, a good cup of tea is a compulsory custom for this type of afternoon meal. There are an assortment of tea leaves to choose from and each of them have different levels of intensities. I do not drink much tea but when I do build up a decent size tea collection, I shall dedicate a blog post about it!

Har gao/ prawn dumplings ~ ideally, you are looking for juicy prawn fillings, wrapped in a translucent and thin wrap that does not stick to the bamboo steamer. Most yum cha chefs take years to master the skill of making and folding these dumplings.

Chicken feet ~ my foodie crew's must have dish. Chicken feet braised in black bean sauce. Because the feet have been soaked in the sauce for some time, you are assured that this will be a delicious feast, if you are into chicken feet, that is.

Siew mai ~ minced pork encased in a thin pastry layer. A good siew mai does not have any raw pork smell and must be finely minced, not chewy. Best consumed dipped in chilli sauce.

Char Siew bao/ barbequed pork buns ~ I love having this as a child and the ones that we get in Adelaide is just not the same compared to the ones I get from Malaysia. I would rate this as decent, only because the bun dough is soft and well-steamed. The filling was not as intense flavoured but it was still prepared well. The search resumes?

Beef tripe ~ once again, the foodie crew's selected dish. Probably a good one to have, especially after too many meat-ish dishes. Braised in a light stock and garnished with sliced carrots and spring onions for freshness.

Pork dumplings ~ one of the what-to-not-order here. Nothing much to rave about as the dumpling filling was dry and the pastry was thick and clumsy. Thankfully, the pork filling did not wreck of undesirable pork aroma.

Barbequed pork in pastry ~ I absolutely love this dish! The flaky pastry layer just melts in your mouth and absorbs all the sauce from the delicious filling. I could easily polish off the entire plate of 3 pastries. If you are at Eastern Garden, this is a must have dish!

Salt and pepper squid ~ nothing much to rave about but kudos for not recycling the frying oil and for a crunchy exterior texture.

Thin rice pastry with deep-fried pastry ~ a bit of a dejavu going on but trust me, it is not the same type of pastry involved. Traditionally, the rice pastry has either pork or prawn in it but this one had a deep-fried pastry which makes it an interesting one to sample. A good contrast of textures and the chef does know how to fold these rice layers well.

Custard bun ~ I would have liked to see a smooth custard oozing upon tearing the bun but sadly, the ones I ate were clumpy and not as tasty. The yellow custard colour was not rich enough which may mean that the chef involved had not use sufficient egg yolks to prepare the custard and had substituted the richness with cornflour? That's my two cents opinion on it. Either that or the custard was just overcooked prior to filling the buns.

Radish cake ~ I am a tuber fan and must have this at any yum cha restaurant (to my lovely food crew...don't whine when I do). There is something so attractive about chewing soft pieces of radish cake around my mouth and finding small pieces of pork is a treat to have. Do note that some people might find the taste a bit bland.

Egg tart ~ flaky pastry with a golden, rich egg custard. This is a redemption for the earlier custard episode and as you can see via the picture, the custard is well prepared. Layers of flaky pastry easily crumbles with each bite and is combined with a warm and soft custard filling. Another must have here at Eastern Garden.

Mango pudding ~ I know how easy it is to prepare a good mango pudding but I can never bring myself to do it. Good puddings do not have too much gelatine in them and consists of fresh mango pieces. I can't be sure if the ones here are fresh but overall, the dish isn't too sweet to have.

Yum cha is a good way to spend a quiet afternoon with good company and at many chinese restaurants, you can get decent food at affordable prices. I always find yum cha sessions to be therapeutic because you can forget your week's mistakes and look forward to new adventures in the coming week. Where is your favourite yum cha restaurant?:)

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