Yum Cha In Port Moresby

Yum Cha at Dynasty Restaurant, Vision CIty.

I was pleasantly surprised when I wondered into the Dynasty Restaurant at Vision City one Saturday late morning a couple of months ago to check it out.

Vision City is popularly called ‘kalakala siti’ by some of my friends because of the bright coloured lights at night along the rooftop. Vision City is PNG’s first ‘mega’ mall situated along Sir John Guise Drive, Waigani, NCD.

In fact that morning I went with a colleague to Vision City check out a new art gallery – a recently acquired shop space at the mall. It was their first day of business. I heard about the gallery from another colleague and decided it was time to take a peek myself. When we got there the gallery wasn’t open but we noticed that the neighbouring Dynasty Restaurant was, so we decided to check it out then go back to the gallery when/if it opened.

We entered the restaurant and were shown to a table (for two). We sat down and checked out the menu. Once inside I realized I might as well have been in Hong Kong or Singapore. I just drank in the surroundings and excitedly chatted with my colleague. It is a huge place!

No sooner had we sat down than the waiter pushing the trolley with the rice porridge (congee) rolled up alongside our table and asked if we would like to try some congee. After a few encouraging words to my colleague (who had never seen congee or tasted one in his life), we ordered one bowl to share. I tell you, as soon as I tasted my first mouthful of congee I was transported back to breakfast in downtown Kowloon many, many moons ago. The congee was served with ‘century eggs’.

I’ve never really acquired a taste for century eggs but for what it’s worth it was an okay addition. I bowed out anyway – politely refused. Even up to now I really have not acquired the taste for century eggs. My colleague at first was unsure too of the ‘century eggs’ but gradually succumbed to the delish morsel.  The novelty of it, maybe, like I once did.

Yummy yum cha...

The next trolley that rolled up was full of the steaming bowls – all piping hot. It was unmistakable to me but I wanted to be sure what these steaming bowls represented. I knew there was something familiar about this presentation like a smorgasbord on wheels ala Chinois(e).

I sort of slowly got the question out, haltingly like, ‘is this yum cha’? The waiter said yes it was and would we like to try some of the dishes. I just smiled stupidly, 101 things running through my mind simultaneously – partly memories and partly the discovery of yum cha in Port Moresby. Why did it take so long to find this culinary delight or was it just me discovering yum cha  here in Port Moresby for the first time. Wadex (whatever)!

This was indeed the yum cha! This is one definition of yum cha I found on the net (Wikipedia source).

Yum cha service

Well I was again transported back, my mind that was, to another Chinese restaurant in Chinatown in London – one Sunday about 6 years ago when I joined some friends and colleagues for yum cha in Chinatown near Soho and Haymarket.  Another time after church at All Souls Langham Place in London when a Singporean friend took us  to another famous yum cha place in Chinatown. Far back in my memory I also dug out another occasion – a Sunday morning yum cha in Adelaide, South Australia. Happy memories of many a yum cha meal in bygone days.

What a find! Yum cha here in Port Moresby. I never thought I’d find yum cha here but the city is changing ever so fast so yum cha in Port Moresby was only a matter of time. Am not sure whether yum cha is served in other places in the city.

I probably could call my pet puppy or kitty “Yumcha”… sounds kind of cute.

Some of the Dynasty's delish ala carte offerings.

Fast forward to 2011…despite my happy memories of yum cha I decided not to partake of it this time. Instead, we ordered ala carte. Well, what do you know, the offerings were so so sumptuous and so so tasty that my mouth was shocked with such luxury.

Our food (ordered from the ala carte menu) finally arrived. I was clearly impressed with the food and ambiance, let alone the service. However, I was slightly thrown off by some of the dishes that were unfamiliar when they arrived at our table.  Dishes I thought I knew – what I mean is that the names of the dishes don’t always turn out to be what one expected. I enjoyed what we ordered though but asked lots of questions as to why it was like this and not like that, sort of thing. I was holding us up with these questions. Eventually we ate!

My barrage of questions always received a polite response such as ‘that’s the way it is served here’ or ‘that is barbeque pork ribs ma’am’. I realized to my utter embarrassment that Chinese cuisine is far from homogenous. The method of cooking varies from province to province in China. I found myself on a learning curve – and was humbled by it.  I guess it depends on the types of Chinese restaurants one patronizes around the city or provinces and in other cities in the world for that matter.

In London, I go to the Hees (Mill Hill Broadway)  or in Chinatown, central London when at the Four Seasons or The London Grill some of the dishes are cooked differently although having the same name. The dish that doesn’t seem to change much between the various Chinese restaurants I’ve had the pleasure to dine in all over the world is the ‘steamed fish’.  It seems to be the same whichever Chinese restaurant one chooses to dine in.

An often obscure but significant feature we all tend to forget when eating out in Port Moresby is the PNG waiters and waitresses. Well, on this day they rose to the challenge and service just flowed. Now that is refreshing. They were ever so polite and attentive and they looked absolutely becoming in their uniforms. What a lovely change that was. A must-return place, the Dynasty.

I could easily have been in Hong Kong or Singapore!

Kaikai Long Chinatown…

Buzzed with diners...always a good sign of a good restaurant.

One of the great things about central London is that everything, it seems, is within walking distance. Last evening a close friend and colleague and I volunteered to serve at the staff social club bar for about an hour which meant that after 7.30pm we would have loads of time afterwards. But we made no plans at the beginning of our ‘shift’. There were lots of patrons – chatting, drinking and playing pool. I enjoyed catching up with other colleagues who I have not seen in a whole week or for yonks.

When it was sweltering outside during the day, the throat tended to get drier and drier and a handy watering hole is never too far away from one’s thoughts. Last night was no exception. The social club was buzzing with life and music and the soft drinks and ice cold beer where hitting the spots, alright. I poured myself a glass of pineapple juice after having guzzled a half a glass of cabernet sauvignon thanks to the generosity of my fellow bartender.

An ornate gate...you know you are in Chinatown straightaway...always a great feeling.

After doing time at the bar, we made an impromptu decision to have dinner and catch up too. So we headed for the place of feasts – Chinatown. Within walking distance of course. It was just the right time in the evening to season our palates with three great dishes and a small bowl of lychees in syrup to wash down our culinary indulgence. This was a kind of reward – I had a good solid week and the sterling service and great food was a fantastic beginning to a lovely weekend.

Steaming hot and welcoming...a great way to start a Chinese meal
A welcoming sight...
Visibly attractive and tasty too...
One of my favourites...hits the spot!
The green of greens...

To complete a lovely sumptuous meal, the lychee in syrup lived up to expectations. Wow! it was well worth the hard work and the heat during the day as we continue to endure the Summer sun’s rays well into the night. But am not complaining…

Happiness in a bowl...

Then all too soon, the yawning began. Trying not to look so zapped I left for Piccadilly Station after saying goodnight to my close friend and colleague. It took over an hour to get home but it was a great end to a great, albeit busy, week.