Just across from the melee of Camden’s Stables Market, Yum Cha (‘drink tea’) is named after the Hong Kong institution also known as dim sum. It’s decorated with red silks and crafts from across Asia, including a large gold reclining Buddha.
An impressively diverse choice of dim sum is offered day and night (with prices higher in the evening), plus dozens of main-course dishes from South-east Asia and China. A half-price dim sum deal from Monday to Wednesday, along with karaoke rooms for hire, makes this a lively and inexpensive party venue.
Nevertheless, we reckon the kitchen, a culinary jack-of-all-trades, does nothing particularly well, classic Cantonese dim sum aside. True, we enjoyed the Japanese whole baby octopus, nicely balanced by the sharpness of worcestershire sauce, but beef mee goreng (spicy fried noodles) lacked character and was short on beef. Har gao (shrimp dumplings) and lor bak go (turnip paste) were excellent, but siew long bao (steamed pork soup dumplings) was disappointing; the delicate skins burst, spilling out the prized soup before we got a taste.
Sichuan pork dumpling topped with spicy oil and crushed peanuts proved to be bland. Service was ill-informed. Though dishes such as Sichuan spicy duck tongues, and morning glory with balanchan shrimp paste bode well, Yum Cha failed to dazzle. Stick to Cantonese, and there is a better meal to be had.