Pearl Gar­den

Weekend Herald - Canvas - - CONTENTS - Sarah Daniell


Noth­ing says fam­ily brunch like “yum cha”. The shar­ing, the crowded ta­bles, the con­voy of tempt­ing morsels, the lazy Su­san spin­ning around in the mid­dle — a lit­er­ally move­able feast. The chaos and colour and sense of com­mu­nity. Nowhere, ar­guably, says “yum cha” more tri­umphantly than the fam­ily-run Pearl Gar­den, which has been dish­ing up yum cha since 1975. We climb the steps (or you can take the lift) to ar­rive at 11.30am and we are glad we booked a ta­ble. The place is to­tally packed. It’s colour­ful, rather beau­ti­ful and it’s hum­ming.


The trol­leys and trays start rolling past and soon our ta­ble is cov­ered in de­lec­ta­ble shu­mai (dim sum), cha siu bao (pork bun), and the best dumplings I think I’ve had in Auck­land. Yes, I know, that’s a big call. But there it is. Be­fore they make it to your mouth, take a mo­ment to clock how exquisitely crafted the dumplings are. The flavours are fresh, light and del­i­cate. We try an egg­plant dish, cres­cent-shaped and syrupy with black bean, but not too sweet. We de­vour bar­be­cue pork. It’s al­most im­pos­si­ble to pick a favourite here, be­cause ev­ery­thing is so damn good. But if I had to, it’d be the spinach and prawn dumplings that have pretty pale green wrap­pers. The sheer va­ri­ety of food is as­ton­ish­ing. We stick with the steamed dumplings but there are fried op­tions avail­able. Much of the food is pre­pared us­ing soy­bean oil and rice flour, which prob­a­bly ac­counts for the clean flavours. We are re­plete, yet there is more to tempt us. We pass on the co­conut and pineap­ple buns and fin­ish in­stead, with cus­tard tarts and more tea.


Our pot of green tea is con­stantly re­plen­ished. The wait staff are su­per-help­ful and friendly in de­scrib­ing the dishes we aren’t un­fa­mil­iar with. The ta­ble set­tings are re­ally gen­er­ous, there’s a sense of space, the china re­ally pretty and el­e­gant and it feels like some real love and care has been poured into pro­ceed­ings here. There are dishes of chilli and soy sauce. They don’t just chuck a bor­ing white side plate and dis­pos­able chop­sticks at you. It’s hard to imag­ine how a fam­ily of five could dine out for $17 each. It’s a great deal, made sweeter by the bril­liance of the of­fer­ings. Yum cha un­par­al­leled.

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