Posted by: spottedpufferfish | April 3, 2010

No trolley yum cha

I know- I probably should have warned you before I put this out there, but it’s true. N and I went to East Ocean yesterday, and they’ve TAKEN THE TROLLEYS AWAY. No more are there the ladies who push the trolleys around with the steamer baskets stacked up high, no more do the ladies open all of those baskets so you can peer inside to see what’s inside, no more is there craning your neck to see if the egg tarts are coming, no more is there the instant gratification of getting food on the table as soon as you’re seated….

It’s a sad day indeed for the yum cha-going set. I hope that the other yum cha places aren’t doing the same thing…. I’m not even sure that I would choose to go back there, cause I’m a yum cha purist!!!

Now, to order your food, there’s a piece of paper that you have to use to “dim choy” (select dishes).

Yum Cha (2)

There’s also a menu (with pictures!) that comes with the order form (which we didn’t realise was there until after we’d placed our order- again, putting it down to hunger pangs!), which would have been handy to work out what BBQ Crisp was. (Turns out it’s Char Siu Gok- the little BBQ pork-filled triangular parcels of flakey pastry goodness)

Yum Cha (3)

Yum Cha (4)

There was much conjecture between us, regarding the reasons for the change.
– New management?
– GFC/ Credit crunch? – it would cost less to hire the people who bring out your food, then to hire all of those trolley ladies
– a language thing? Maybe people needed to know what they were ordering and how much it cost (because really, who looked at those little cards on the table, that said how much each size basket was? And you could never work out what size you were getting anyway..)
– food wastage?- there was probably a lot of food that went to waste, because everything was pre-cooked.
– food safety? – The kitchen would also have had to be hyper-vigilant about how long food had been on the trolleys.

Turns out that it was a money/cost thing. The manager we talked to (incidentally, who I imagine to be the son of the owner, complete with freshly minted MBA, who’d just taken over, to re-vamp the place) told us it was because he could control the amount of food, (good point) and that food was cooked fresh to order (good point) and that you got your food quicker (bullshit!- we waited so much longer!) In reality, it was only 5 minutes or so, until the first dish came, but compare that to instant gratification of having the steamed dumpling trolley pull up beside you, in the old school way, and finding yourself with 5 different baskets on the table, within 30 seconds of sitting down.

Granted, those 5 minutes felt like a DECADE, since we were absolutely RAVENOUS when we got there. This was attested by how fast we ate all of this:

Snake beans with mince + garlic, Gai larn with oyster sauce
Yum Cha (5)

BBQ pork buns (Char siu bau)
Yum Cha (6)

Yum Cha (7)

Yum Cha (10)

and more dumplings:
Yum Cha (11)

(Mote the suspicious tea leaf stains on the table cloth- that happened when I did the inevitable tea cup knock over, which always happens to at least one member of the party at yum cha)

By checking our bus tickets, we realised it had only taken us an hour and a half from getting the bus into Chinatown and getting the bus back home. I know that sounds like a lot for a meal, but we didn’t just eat in that short space of time.

We also went for a wander up the street, ducked into one Chinese groc store, decided to go to the one up the road, which is much better, got some groceries AND went to St Honore cake shop for some Chinese breads.

Dumpling wrapper range at the Asian grocer:
Chinatown (2)

Our basket:
Chinatown (3)

We FINALLY bought some replacement blue fish rice bowls that we had chucked out in the “Great Cull of ’09”. And I couldn’t resist getting the snow crepes, which are flat egg rolls filled with sugar and nuts- mmm so good. These are a childhood favourite, but I didn’t know that’s what they’re called. We used to get the egg rolls (darn goon), and we just called them the flat darn goon… I’ll let you know if they live up to the childhood memory…

We also each got a Yeo’s fruit drink poppa, so we could pretend to be total Honkies.

N got lemon drink and I got lychee.

Chinatown (4)

Chinatown (6)

St Honore cake shop:
Chinatown (8)



  1. No trolleys! I’m not a fan. The yum cha does look yummy though!

    I’m also concerned that the dumpling wrappers at the supermarket weren’t being refridgerated 😮

  2. haha! My photo looks like they weren’t refrigerated, but they were- the shelves are actually built into the fridge. (We went to the one that has the built-in butcher)

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