I've been craving dim sum for most of 2010 so far. Yesterday, when I picked up The Fortune Cookie Chronicles by Jennifer 8. Lee at the library, I knew I had to take care of my Chinese food urges before starting it or it'd get real ugly/pathetic, especially if I was going to be reading late at night (isn't it agony when food cravings hit after you've already gotten ready for bed?). So, this morning, I decided to get breakfast at Yum Cha Cafe, a place that landed on my radar via Wandering Chopsticks and Gastronomy.
As a food stall, there are no carts or anything one expects with the traditional dim sum experience, which is why it's so cheap! The pre-made items are on display, much like a bakery or a cafeteria, and you point-and-choose what you'd like (in my case, I had to gesture a lot because I do not possess any Chinese language skills).
Pan fried turnip cake: this was my favorite and something I order whenever I have dim sum. I love how the humble turnip shines in this preparation that doesn't seem like it has much in it, but packs great flavor.
Shrimp rice noodles (or cheong fun): Another go-to item for me usually and while the flavor was okay, the noodles sat too long and were cold and not very silky.
Fried taro with pork filling: Another old pal, the dear fried taro thing! The filling was very basic and I am 99% sure it was pork. My heart sank a little bit because this version wasn't amazing, but I was still thrilled to be reacquainted with it.
BBQ pork buns: too dry and could have used more filling, but they will be a-okay as a late night snack!
I had been curious about Yum Cha Cafe for ages, so was glad to relieve myself of its mystery. Although I would stop in for a shopping break or as a hold-over between meals, I wasn't blown away by its quality, so wouldn't make the drive solely for it. If I happen to be in the neighborhood, though, I'd like to try their roasted meats, particularly the duck. Here's what I imagine keeps the customers coming back: everything above came to about 5 dollars. YEP.
Yum Cha Cafe
421 N. Atlantic Blvd
Monterey Park, CA 91754