I was exposed to Yum Cha for the first time on my first visit to Hong Kong, and it was love at first bite for me. Yum Cha is a Chinese style morning or afternoon tea, which involves drinking Chinese tea and eating dim sum dishes. So when I get an invite to a Yum Cha tasting session at the Jade, Claridges Hotel, I am excited for good reason.
As I enter the cozy, distinctly oriental looking restaurant, I am greeted by executive Chef Neeraj Tyagi. He explains to me that the concept goes beyond small bites and involves pairing food with teas. After much consultation with the tea sommelier, I decide on two types of tea that complement the full flavoured, spicy food. These teas are brewed on the table, timed by a charming hour glass.
The first one, Lapsang Souchong, is distinct from all other types of tea because lapsang leaves are traditionally smoke-dried over pinewood fires, taking on a distinctive smoky flavour. “Souchong” refers to the fourth and fifth leaves of the tea plant, further away from the more highly prized bud (pekoe) of the tea plant. Oolong, a traditional Chinese tea produced through a unique process including withering under the strong sun and oxidation before curling and twisting, is the second one I choose after much introspection. I choose ginseng tea from this classification.
Chef Lin Lin Yang, the master Chinese Chef here, who has put together the yum cha, joins us too. I look at the menu which has many exciting things to try. Without much further ado, the dim sums start rolling in. Chicken ‘Mi Fen’, a thick-ish, flavourful vermicelli soup (Rs 175) arrives first. Next is a trio of amazingly tasty dim sums that arrive on a tray. BBQ pork belly (Rs 195) is melt-in-moth tasty. Steamed scallops and asparagus dumplings (Rs 295) have to be tasted to be believed. Fried mixed squid balls (Rs 295) are crispy on the outside with the taste of sea on the inside. The Lapsang Souchong adds to the experience.
Amongst the other dim sums tasted, honey roast pork puffs (Rs 195) are nice though a bit doughy, steamed Chinese cabbage chicken roll (Rs 175) tastes fresh and exciting, and corn and water chestnut dumplings are crunchy with a nice umami aftertaste.
Black bean soya and chilly chicken feet (Rs 145) dim sums are one of my favourites that I could so far get only outside of India. These are every bit as good, though could do with more cooking. Beef Cheung Fun (Rs 185) is always a treat, but I miss the soft, delicate texture that this Cantonese delicacy is famous for.
Cantonese style steamed chicken and black mushroom (Rs 225) are made great by the chicken skin left intact on them. Pan fried gyozas (Rs 185) are competent and glutinous rice in lotus leaf (Rs 145) is a good ending to a great yum cha.
Jade is one of the handfuls of restaurants that dish out gourmet dim sums. There are many unique tastes and flavours, plus I appreciate the reasonable pricing of the dishes. A lunch time visit here can be a great experience.
Ratings (out of 5)
Food: 4.0 | Ambiance: 4.0 | Service: 4.0 |Overall: 4.0