Yes, I'm one of those people who have always wished for a restaurant that serves Yum Cha at night. Mainly for greed related reasons: I can't eat as much for lunch as dinner so it allows me maximum opportunity for dumpling consumption. So when my father casually mentioned that Rockdale R.S.L. Club serves Yum Cha for dinner on Wednesday nights, I picked up the phone and booked for the coming Wednesday. There are no trolleys unfortunately but you can order off the menu.
The restaurant is fairly modern with new furnishings and at 7pm there are only 3 other tables so we needn't have booked (Bingo Night in the next room seems to be where the club patrons are at). We have a look at the Yum Cha picture menu and there is a fairly wide selection of dishes with steamed and fried dumpling lovers well catered for.
Service is never a strongpoint at Chinese restaurants and brusque is usually the word I'd use to describe it. Tonight is no exception, it appears that we need to order from the curt older gentleman and not the courteous younger waiter. There are no prices on the menu so we enquire about what the prices are and he doesn't seem too impressed. After he consults with the cashier, it seems that items range from $4.40 to over $10 for the BBQ/larger items which is fairly standard for Sydney. There are some dishes that we tried to order but they have run out of: the fried taro pastry, deep fried mince pork dumplings and the steamed prawn rice roll.
The Gai Larn in Oyster sauce ($10.80) is the first to arrive and it is succulent and tender without a trace of stringyness or toughness. The sauce is delicious and I am very glad we've had our serve of veggies.
The BBQ Pork pastry triangles ($4.40 for 3) arrive next and they and the plate they're on are piping hot. I love this chinese version of a meat pie and I find they're best when hot like this with a deliciously flakey and meltingly good pastry.
The love-it-or-hate-it chicken's feet ($4.40 for 5) is the next to arrive and two of us enjoy these while the other two look on in disgust. They're fall-off-the-bone good and we're both secretly glad that the other two can't stand them. More for us!
The steamed dumplings then arrive in quick succession:
A must have for me, the steamed spinach leaf dumplings ($5.30 for 3) are delicious, flavoursome and plump.
The steamed prawn and chive dumplings ($5.30 for 3) are a combination of my favourite two types of dumplings and are quickly popped into respective mouths.
Unfortunately I've picked the mixed mushrooms and seafood dumplings ($5.30 for 3) which I didn't realise are the ones that I've never liked. Packed with soggy peanuts, I've never understood their appeal but they masquerade under different names so I usually end up with a steamer of them.
For me, the true test of a restaurant is their Har Gow, their prawn dumplings. Are they plump and full of whole or halved prawns or are the prawns minced up? I prefer the former and having only found the significantly less tasty minced prawn variety in the freezer section of asian grocery shops means that we inevitably order 4 lots of Har Gows whenever we're at a good Yum Cha restaurant. Having actually made these several years ago I appreciate how hard it is to make the skin and how expensive the filling can be. The Har Gow here (steamed fresh prawn dumplings $5.30 for 4) are the very good sort and we order two more steamers of these, an additional bonus being that we get 4 of these dumplings per steamer.
The steamed glutinous rice in lotus leaf is the next to arrive. I love glutinous rice normally but I find that this rice is too watery and soft, perhaps a consequence of cooking for lunchtime yum cha and then reheating again for dinner? It also needs soy sauce as without it, there isn't much flavour.
We decline the Yum Cha desserts as my favourite on the menu are the eggy custard tarts but we reason that they won't be freshly baked which is how we like them. Our stomachs full, they bring out some warm sesame cookies which are more-ishly good, even better that they're warm thus giving the impression that they're freshly baked (nevermind the big bowl I saw outside of them ready to give to guests). The obligatory fruit tonight is orange and its sweet and juicy and rounds off our dinner quite nicely.
A quick inspection of the bill and tea is an extra $1.10 per person but a charge we haven't seen before is the "sauce" charge for $2.80. I can only guess that means the soy sauce and chili sauce that we've had since we've partaken of no other sauces. Some eyebrows are quietly raised over this sauce charge but all up prices are a pleasant surprise. They don't seem hiked up for dinner time and they seem the same as what you'd find at any other Yum Cha establishment for lunch so if we don't pick up the phone on a Wednesday night, you may find us here.
P.S. I have since learnt that lunch prices are 10% less than those for dinner and that lunch also includes free tea. I wonder if that includes free sauce too!:P
45 Bay Street
Open 7 days
Yum Cha: Monday to Friday 11:00-2:30pm Saturday and Sunday 10:00am-3:00pm
Dinner: Monday to Sunday 6:00pm-9:00pm. Wednesday night Yum Cha and a la carte