Saturday, February 7, 2015

Where to go to get the freshest Yum Cha food: Crown Dragon Kogarah

With Chinese New Year around the corner, and the time of year when I check my Chinese horoscope for the year ahead for a bit of fun, where is the best place in Sydney to have Yum Cha? The Crown Dragon in Kogarah has the name sake of my Chinese horoscope... apparently an auspicious animal with strength, health, harmony and good fortune...always seeking to embark on a new project to feel truly alive, not to mention impatient, intolerant to imperfection … OK, let's leave it at that (for your 2015 Chinese Horoscopes, I've put up a post on what your sign has in store for you). 

I grew up in a family that loved going to different places for yum cha during the weekend. It’s the food yes but it’s also a communal gathering. Food is shared to enable conversations with family and friends. My palate has been accustomed now to taste what is a good, what is not. Let’s face it, yum cha in Sydney is pretty much a hit or miss affair. The Crown Dragon, however, is a place to write home about. 

How can you tell a good yum cha place from an average one?

They’re pretty basic things and the Crown Dragon has the hallmarks of all these things ensuring they deliver a quality yum cha experience.

#1 Freshly made food

Everything from the dumplings to each strand of noodle is made from scratch by his 11 chefs in the kitchen. “There is no food kept overnight here.” Andrew Chan the owner and managing director tells me and takes me into the kitchen. When I first went to the Crown Dragon, I didn’t even have to go into the kitchen to know the taste of each prawn dumpling, dim sim and noodles were fresh.

#2 Cleanliness

The way the staff are presented - neat and tidy from top to toe, the air conditioning vents and the state of the restrooms are a sign of the hygiene of an establishment. There are clear segregated areas in the kitchen for different types of food preparation – making dumplings, noodles and deep frying. Importantly, the cleaning up is a completely separate area of the kitchen.

#3 Service

Customer service here is given as much attention as the food quality. Simple yet easily forgotten tip in customer service is, ‘Smile at your customers when they first walk in’, says Andrew.

Bit about Andrew Chan, Restaurateur

I caught up with Andrew Chan, the owner of the Crown Dragon for a chat who just got back from travelling to China and Hong Kong, which he tries to go twice a year. A keen traveller who travelsoverseas for inspiration for ideas of new dishes and approaches to dining bring back to the Crown Dragon to ensure clientele have an evolving yum cha experience.

How did Andrew get into the restaurant business?

Andrew worked in some of the finest hotel and hospitality businesses in Hong Kong and Australia for over 30 years including the famous Gaddie’s, French haute cuisine restaurant situated in The Peninsula Hong Kong hotel. Everything Andrew has learnt in hospitality and his extensive international experience is applied in running the Crown Dragon restaurant ensuring Andrew brings the best of Chinese food quality and excellence and clientele experience to the Crown Dragon.

Something we don’t know about you we’d be surprised to learn…

Andrew is a keen photographer, and I don’t mean an amateur photographer - I mean a Hasselblad camera owner. What customers don’t know about Andrew is he is also a professional photographer for many years and displayed on the restaurant’s walls are his own fine art photography which personalises the Crown Dragon’s space with Andrew’s hidden talent. They are stunning imagery of scenic shots of his travels mainly to China, which show a story of China’s vast landscapes and history. I will show case some of his finest photography in a separate post as that’s worth mentioning separately.

Food trend we’ll start to see…

“Many of the Michelin starred restaurants in Hong Kong have yum food and ordered on demand, instead of yum cha food served in the traditional trolleys so that it is served hot. Yum cha food must be served hot. But the advantages of trolleys is that customers can see the food before they try it.” Andrew may look into something that strikes the balance between the two in the future.

About the Food

Typical yum cha would comprise of these following small shared plates, which is what I had for lunch the other day. The dishes are pretty simple and are pretty good if freshly made and served hot.
I love the taste, textures and the variety of yum cha food served at the Crown Dragon.

Peking Duck Pancakes

Delicious crispy roast duck, with plum sauce wrapped in a light pancake.

Prawn Dumpling

These dumplings are known as 'har gao' in China. The dough, made of wheat starch, becomes translucent when steamed. Nice sticky texture with prawn fillings.

Spinach Dumpling

Similar to the prawn dumplings in texture except with spinach within it.

Dim Sim

Congee (‘jook’ in Chinese phonetics)

Essentially, this is a typical Chinese porridge (overcooked rice essentially) popular at breakfast time and with deep fried bread.

Sticky dessert with custard and red bean paste

The restaurant is conveniently located on the 1st floor of the St George Leagues Club at 124 Princes Hwy, Kogarah. There are drop off zones at the front foyer with lift access to the restaurant, and over 500 free onsite parking for your convenience.

Location: 1st Floor, St George Leagues Club, 124 Princes Highway Kogarah, NSW
Phone: 02 9553 8199
Open 7 days a week.

Crown Dragon on Urbanspoon

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