A relaxed morning with a table full of delicious sweet and savory treats, with trolleys passing at regular intervals offering up even more, sound like your kinda thing? Then for sure you’ll be a fan of Dian Xin, also referred to as Yum Cha.
It’s a specialty of Guangdong province and it’s not to be missed. It’s also wildly popular in Hong Kong of course, but here’s a hot tip, head to Guangdong where it’s only part the price and sometimes twice as good. I’ll suggest a few places later in the post.
Of course not everyone has the luxury of hopping between Honk Kong and Guangzhou/Shenzhen, so in this guide I’ll try to introduce some of the specialties and common dishes plus plenty of pics so you can point and shoot on your next trip to your local yum cha.
You’ll be able to easily spot a good Yum Cha restaurant, it will be full in the mornings, with people waiting, and on Sundays, forget about it, it will be packed all day! It’s a favorite of all Cantonese people and especially the older generation who like to get together with family, talk, eat and drink tea.
Enough explaining, what we all want to do is eat, so here’s a popular menu including the all time favorites that I hacked up and uploaded here so you here so you have pictures to point at, or if your really cool, you’ll be able to read out the name in Chinese to your friendly Fuwuyan.
There isn’t much on a YumCha menu that you’ll find offensive in anyway, there is chicken feet and offal which some may dodge at first, but I really recommend giving it all a try. At first I wouldn’t go near a chooks foot, but now, they’re actually a personal favorite. Guangdong cuisine is one of the most palatable to foreign visitors and Yum Cha is definitely an experience not to miss.
When ordering you’ll probably get a pencil and sheet of paper with tick boxes, if your lucky it will have pictures, otherwise just show the waiter the picks and they’ll fill the menu in for you. Some modern restaurants now use iPads which makes life easy. On weekends when things get really busy you can order with the waiter or they may have trolleys coming buy and you simply pick what you like from it. You’ll also get given a card, on which the waiter will note down what you have received. At the end simply call the waiter over and she’ll go and tally things up and give you the bill.
At most places in China, expect to pay around 100RMB for two people and be disgustingly full, enjoy .
So where to eat in Guangdong? There’s so many places, but here’s a few I know that were awesome:
Kempinski Hotel Shenzhen – around the back of the hotel there’s a doorway, go in and take the elevator up to the second floor and you’ll see one massive restaurant that seats well over 1000 people. Gets super busy on weekends.
ShunDe Lao TianXin Shenzhen – right by the lake at Xiangmihu, fantastic, but expensive compared to other local choices. They have other locations in Shenzhen also, you can search Google Maps by this name.
Meixin Garden Tianhe Guangzhou – popular as it has English and Chinese menus, located at 75 Tianhe East Road, Tianhe.
Southern Garden Restaurant – 142 Qianjin Road, Haizhu District, Guangzhou
Hubin Bu Bu Gao Hotel – right in the center of Qingyuan, Guangdong. It’s packed, everyday. Get in early if your in the city.