Last Sunday in Auckland and I wanted something familiar for breakfast instead of the usual bacon, eggs and baked beans. Yum cha was top on my mind.
Lunch or dinner, Grand Harbour Chinese Restaurant has become Auckland’s premier destination for fine Chinese dining and authentic Hong Kong-style Yum Cha. Grand Harbour offers a host of delicious traditional dishes and over 70 varieties of dim sum.
Yum Cha is a term in Cantonese which literally means “drinking tea”. It refers to the custom of eating small servings of different foods while sipping Chinese tea. It is an integral part of the culinary culture of southern China, Hong Kong and Macau. Grand Harbour has offered yum cha since they started here in 2000.
Yum cha on the weekends here starts at 10.30am (just 30 min earlier than usual), and on this Sunday I was here, the queue has already formed at around 10am. You can see groups of Chinese emigrant families out in full force excited to have their usual activities continued in a foreign country.
The dimsum trolleys come out in full force, giving the place a strong sense of nostalgia. These days, we don’t even get these types of dimsum trolleys in Singapore or Hong Kong because of limited space or manpower or both.
I started my Sunday dimsum with a nice bowl of porridge (also called congee). Century egg is not really a century old. They are just eggs that have been preserved using potash. It has a alkaline taste and gave the porridge an unique taste that we grew up with.
And then there were the must order in a dimsum restaurants – hargow (shrimp dumpling), siewmai (pork dumpling), steamed pork ribs with fermented black beans, often referred to the treasures of steamed dimsum. I have left out chicken feet as I was dining alone and could not really finished everything. But I did order something that I would not get in Singapore – Teochew vegetarian dumpling that consisted of a filling of chopped jicama and peas.
The dimsum was delicious if you compare them to local choices, but if you compare to what you can get in Hong Kong or Guangzhou, you may be disappointed. They were still much better to the hawker centre dimsum in Singapore. But be prepared to pay twice as much as Singapore per person.
There were a lot of online comments that the service was bad, and they serve the Westerners better. Maybe you should try to speak English or Cantonese. For goodness sake, this is Auckland. One cannot assume that being Chinese means that you can speak Mandarin. The table next to me, a couple of old ladies from Northern China struggled to communicate in Mandarin with the young part-time waiters. These boys would most likely be second generation in Auckland and do not speak Mandarin at home. Give them a break!
Just be thankful you can still get a slice of home away from home. And it always works when you respect your server.
Grand Harbour Chinese Restaurant
28 Customs Street West, Auckland CBD, Auckland 1010
Tel : +64 93576889
Visited in Jun 2022