Last Saturday I found myself back at InAzia – Sheraton Hyderabad’s signature Pan-Asian restaurant. This time, it was to experience their new Yum Cha menu. Yum Cha literally means drinking tea, and usually involves getting together with friends and family in early afternoon and sipping tea accompanied by dim sum and other short eats. Somehow, this little known Chinese tradition caught the fancy of the Aussies and became quite a rage down under. In its modern avatar, food is carried around in trolleys while patrons try out whatever catches their fancy. InAzia doesn’t have the trolley but Yum Cha food menu won’t leave you disappointed.
I was invited to the blogger’s table where I had the opportunity to try everything on the Yum Cha menu. I started off by tasting some of the quick eats on offer – Chun Guen (Glass Noodles and Vegetale Spring Role), Bok Choi in Oyster Sauce, and Siu Arp (Roasted Duck). Duck meat is a difficult protein to work with, but the Siu Arp left little room for complaint – the meat was tender, moist, and fragrant. However, if you are not used to duck meat, the intensity of the aroma and flavours might catch you off guard. I was also surprised by just how much I enjoyed the Bok Choi in oyster sauce. Bok Choi is not exactly my favourite veggie, but the wonderful oyster sauce made this bite-sized dish really addictive. Next up, were some classic dumplings – Mu Er Lu Sun Shui Jin Jiao (Steamed Black Fungus Asparagus Dumpling) and Shui Jin Xia Jiao (Steamed Crystal Shrimp Dumpling). The juicy and crunchy shrimp, wrapped in smooth and translucent dough, were a feast for my eyes and my palate. Dimsums are all about getting the basics right – a thin yet reassuring skin with a juicy filling is often all you need. Technique is especially important with Crystal Dumplings, and the Shrimp Dumpling nailed it. My favourite dimsums of the afternoon, however, were the Siu Mai (open-top, sack-shaped dimsums). They were available in veg (Shu Siu Mai) and chicken (Ji Rou Sui Mai), and both were absolutely amazing. Also on offer were Lai Wong Bao (Steamed buns with Custard filling) and Cha Siu Bao (Steamed buns with BBQ Pork filling). I didn’t try the veg variant, but the Pork Bao made a really neat combo with the thick, plum sauce that was provided on the table. The Yum Cha menu is offered in a choice of 3, 5, and 7 varieties priced at Rs. 750, 850, and 950 (plus taxes) respectively. You’ll be served four pieces of each kind.
If just short-eats alone aren’t enough for you, you can also opt for the special set menu priced at Rs. 1600 (plus taxes) which includes seven short eats and adds three more courses (soup, mains, desserts). The Hot and Sour Chicken soup was quite well made, but still couldn’t avoid tasting rather generic. The Sea Weed and Egg White soup (Zicai Danhua Tang), on the other hand, was quite brilliant. If you don’t mind the fishy flavour of seaweed, this is definitely the soup you should order. The main course offered Shrimp Fried Rice and Stir Fried Vegetable Noodles paired with Fish in Chilli Sauce, Chicken in Shezwan Sauce, and Tofu in Chilli Bean sauce. Finishing off the Yum Cha set menu is Tian Mi Mi (Honey Noodles with Vanilla Ice Cream).
By and large, Chef Ninza stuck to the classics, and I’d have loved to see a bit more experimentation in the Yum Cha menu. That being said, I can’t fault her execution. Everything across the board was consistently good. While the Siu Mais were the star of the show, the Bok Choi in Oyster Sauce and fragrant Duck Meat were the surprises. The Yum Cha promotion is on until the 26th and should be on any dim sum lover’s list.