Work life balance is important, and at the moment, New Zealand is a country that goes a long way to allowing that, with an entitlement to four weeks a year. That’s not to say that everyone gets to take that leave in a given year, leaving some employees with over ten weeks outstanding to them at any given time. One of my and Mrs P’s strategies is to keep our outstanding holidays down is to ensure that we take at least one long weekend in a month where there are no public holidays. This week was one of those weeks, and Mrs P was keen to reintroduce me to Yum Char at Grand Harbour, which is the seaside sibling to the trackside Grand Park. Grand Harbour is Mrs P’s work local, so she can often be found there with a friend during the lunch hours. If you like Grand Park and don’t mind paying city parking prices, there is a different mix of offerings compared to Grand Harbour’s thoroughbred companion.
If you’ve been paying attention at all, Mrs P and I are all about the dumplings at Yum Char. Today’s choices were prawn and corn, spinach and prawn, prawn and coriander, prawn and mushroom and ginger and cabbage, deep fried (for those who read before the edit, Mrs P did catch the “deep friend” prawn error, but I forgot to change it) prawn, and just to throw off the theme, deep fried pork, pork and chives, and Xiao Long Bao. I do still enjoy the occasional Char Siu Bao, and other pastries and buns filled with barbeque pork, but these days prefer not to fill up on bread.
Mrs P goes there so often the lady on her favourite trolley had a little chuckle because she knew exactly what to give us before we asked for it. I do like the way that the dumplings are given a distinct look, so you can fairly easily remember which one is which, I have been to the odd establishment where you’re not sure whether the green inside the dumpling is from coriander or chives, once there’s a lot on the table.
I didn’t really get the prawn and corn, which didn’t bother Mrs P because she’s a big fan. For corn and prawn to work together, I think I need something else in the mix to bring the two together. I prefer the zing from the coriander dumpling and the mushroom, ginger and cabbage, which was the find of the day for me. These haven’t made an appearance at any other Yum Char I’ve been to, with the well defined flavours lifted that much further with the inclusion of ginger, which felt nourishing and comforting on what was a rain swept and slightly chilly day.
Deep fried prawn with mayonnaise is always pleasing, and it’s nice to have it offered without the often included toast, although I could have done with more mayonnaise. I quite like to order the deep fried pork dumplings, because I love them done well, but I’m hard to please at the same time, and these did not hit the mark. It’s all too easy to overdo the dough and lose the savoury flavours in the centre. That’s what happened for me this time.
Xiao Long Bao is similar. If I leave Yum Char with nothing else, I’ll leave happy if I’ve had a good Xiao Long Bao. These ones felt dehydrated. The undersides looked wrinkled like they’d been in the bath for too long, rather than deliciously bloated with stock. No tell tale scalding of the mouth for me, just pork mince. Somewhat disappointing as the inclusion of ginger slices with the vinegar was quite delicious, and would have been a nice pairing with a more stock filled bao.
Still, overall it was a happy trip. I had two lots of the prawn, mushroom, ginger and cabbage. They will leave a sense of longing in me until such time as we go again. All the prawn offerings were strong, with the exception of my personal taste with the corn. Going on a Friday, we weren’t given a time to leave like we are when we go to Grand Park in the weekend. That brings pros and cons. You can wait a little longer for something like Xiao Long Bao if you want, but a restaurant working to get people well fed in under an hour will probably get your favourites out to you faster. So far my impression is that Grand Harbour wins, quite appropriately, on the prawn, but Grand Park edges on the pork. Both are great options, probably my favourites along with China, which I hope to make a return trip to soon.