Thursday, January 7, 2010

Yum Cha Cafe

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).

yumcha turnip cake
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.

yumcha shrimp rice noodles
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.
yumcha fried taro
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.

yumcha pork bun
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
(626) 289-6287
Multiple locations
Cash only


Gastronomer said...

Yum Cha Cafe = Meh City. Can't beat the prices though ;-)

weezermonkey said...

Jenny 8 Lee and I were on the Harvard Crimson together.

Too bad I am book-less.

bagnatic said...

$5?! holy crap! i agree, sometimes you just need a fix. do they have chicken feet...chicken feet gets me excited :0

Wandering Chopsticks said...

I definitely don't go to Yum Cha Cafe for the dim sum. It's one of those places that if I'm going grocery shopping and want a few dim sum items, but not the actual dim sum experience. Hit me up next time you want to do sit-down dim sum! A real craving can't be satisfied this way.

Marie said...

Gastronomer: I suppose dim sum is already a fairly cheap thing, but their prices do fascinate!

Weezermonkey: Ooh, interesting! But you do have Mr. Monkey and Socal's glorious weather! :P

Bagnatic: Yes, they did have chicken feet. I never order those at dim sum; I think I could do one or two, but not an entire order. I need to bump up the Chinese poseuring!

WC: Sweet! I SHALL hit you up for quality dim sum time very soon! :)

SinoSoul said...

I'm sorry you ate this. This is shat. Dimsum Express is better than this. And that's not saying much at all. Or is it saying a lot?

Marie said...

SinoSoul: Thanks for your sympathy! Now I know to never set foot in Dim Sum Express! I have seen the name on Yelp. :P

Kung Food Panda said...

Yum Cha Cafe is cheap and that's about it. If you want cheap dim sum, I'd recommend Capital on the 4th floor of the Ranch 99 Market Plaza on Valley/Del Mar. Otherwise, go to Elite! :)

Marie said...

Kung Food Panda: Thanks for the rec, but I think I am done with cheap dimsum for the moment. :P