I've only ever been to Citi Zen once a long time ago when it was still across the road but on this particular Sunday I felt like going 'yum cha' somewhere else so we decided to revisit Citi Zen. Yum cha literally translates to 'drink tea' which is a Cantonese term commonly used as families and friends go out to "drink tea" and catch up. Back home we refer to it as 'dim sum'. While often thought as the dim sims you get at fish and chip shops here, 'dim sum' actually means bite sized dishes commonly served as a light meal. 'Dim sum' translates to "touch the heart" hence why it is just a light meal or snack. It is quite an art to get it all right and a good dim sum chef is hard to come by as they have to make all sorts of pretty looking and extremely tasty snacks.
The tradition of 'yum cha' comes from a long way back when travellers and locals alike would visit tea houses for a drink and snack.They were like our modern day highway stops. It used to be a Sunday morning thing for us sometimes to go out with the family for dim sum but meals would be served from as early as 6am in the morning because we absolutely did not have a problem with starting our first meal of the day with dinner like food.
The decor was very beautiful and it has certainly changed a lot from the time it was across the road. That did however get me worried because I have this theory about nice decor Chinese restaurants lacking on food but I loved it all along with the beautiful lights nonetheless. We were excited and hungrily awaiting the trolleys and trays to come pass to entice us with dishes on offer.
It wouldn't be right to go for dim sum and not order 'Har Gao' - prawn dumpling. The prawns were fresh but the skin was a bit too thick. Another old favourite of mine was the 'Wu Kuok' - Fried taro dumplings. They were crispy on the outside with a nice mince filling inside encased in mashed yam or taro. I found the taro to mince ratio too high for my liking.
Mr. Foodie wanted Fish Cakes seeing as they had no fishballs or beef meatballs.
These two are definitely on my list of favourites for things to order. Sticky rice in lotus leaf and Spare ribs with black bean sauce. The ribs were juicy, tender, flavoursome and all round delicious.
Steamed sticky rice in lotus leaf was a bit of a disappointment. It's usually packed with some meat, sauce, mushroom and Chinese sausage which it was but the flavour was really lacking. The sticky rice had a bad cakey texture to it so it was all quite bland.
Char Siu Pao - BBQ Pork Pao is another must have with a tasty sweet and savoury BBQ Pork mix enveloped in soft fluffy steamed bun.
This my friend, is Fried radish cake. A dish that I miss very much from home where mum used to get them from this stall at the morning market. It is basically radish cake cut into cubes and stir fried with onions, chives, bean sprouts, chilli, egg and pickled vegetables. It wasn't too bad but not one of my favourites.
Squid tentacles came out pretty much at the end but we had to have some so we ordered it. They were probably the biggest tentacles I've seen and possibly a bit overcooked as it was flavourless and rubbery, it gave my jaw a run for its money.
To finish on a sweet we decided to get this Kiwi Sago Pudding. I have never had a kiwi pudding before so was intrigued but I loved it. It was a nice change from going mango all the time.
Citi Zen has certainly had a face lift and it looks absolutely beautiful in there. Dim sum was okay with some hits and misses but overall a good experience. We did however find sitting in the right place does give you more choices as a lot of dishes went past the table next to us and we never got offered. If you don't have exactly what you want to eat in mind, the trolleys really do help you so it does matter. It definitely gets busy in here on weekends and there are two sittings available so make sure you book ahead to secure a table.
401 King William St
08 8212 8383