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yum cha in Auckland - my fave place - whats yours?

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Just went for Yum Cha at Grand Harbour down at the Viaduct:
http://www.grandharbour.co.nz

Not really an expert on Yum Cha - have had it maybe a dozen times but still getting to grips with all the dishes on offer - but this was definitely the best example of Yum Cha dishes I have ever had.

We had:

- crab - softshell fried with chili, salt and pepper
- sui mai - this was by the far the best i have had
- delicous melt in the mouth egg custard tarts
- coconut jelly - a bit tough for my liking (maybe a lot of agar?) but nice flavour
- combination dumpling - this was turnip, peanut and other things (?what) in a soft wrapper
- scallop dumpling - same wrapper as the above
- tripe - not sure what sauce but very delicious and garlicy

and of course tea!
all up for 2 of us was $50NZ and we had way too much food

Interested to hear what other chowhounders think of this place and what your favourite yum cha places and dishes are!!

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  1. Grand Harbour is really good but it can be hard to get a table if you don't book so it can be hard to go there spontaneously. I like the fact that they validate your car parking for the carpark building next door so you get cheap parking (or is it free parking for the first hour? I can't remember). Sunshine (at the Viaduct as well) is excellent. If you go there, try the dessert of ice cream mochi balls. They look like a platter of small, pure white, slightly flattened balls. My husband could eat a whole plate on his own! I'm sure they validate parking as well.

    My favourite is Pearl Garden in Newmarket - good quality, nice decor and service.
    I've just tried Dynasty in Wakefleld St for the first time and they were good - friendly service, lots of trolleys going around with lots of selection. We had 6 dishes (deep-fried squid, coriander dumplings, prawn dumplings, beef tendon, deep-fried taro dumplings and eggplant stuffed with fish paste) and that cost us $31.95 - mega good value. They do yum cha until 4.30pm.

    Ming Court at SkyCity is good for families and if you are shouting because it is all-you-can eat yum cha. I think it's NZD$17.95 pp? The selection is not has varied as a proper yum cha restaurant but it is supplemented by a serve-yourself table of hot dishes and another table of desserts. The yum cha comes around on trolleys as usual and the portions are smaller so you don't waste the food but it is all you can eat.

    My favourite yum cha dish is deep-fried squid and I also can't go past beef tendons or turnip cake. Sticky rice is soooo good but far too filling if there are only 2 of you. I'm not usually a dessert fan but I like the desserts at yum cha but I'm usually too full to have any.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Billy33

      Just a heads-up that according to the sign on the door, due to unforseen circumstances Sunshine is closed until further notice. We were going to go there to try a different place but ended up back at Grand Harbour since I couldn't get through on the phone to book at Sunshine.

    2. Grand Harbour is far and away my favorite yum cha in the world - and I have had it in HongKong, Shanghai, Singapore, Malaysia, Sydney, NYC and even Guangzhou! it is Cantonese so you think it would be better there wouldn't you? but no they use a lot of pork fat (even in the steamed seafood dumplings..) which overpowers the flavour..
      My fav's at Grand Harbour are the seafood combination dumplings, the snow pea shoot and prawn.. spinach and prawn.. I also like the taro cake thingys..

      Grand Harbour does get very busy.. the trick is to get there early especially on the weekend.. if you turn up around 11 you will have a much better chance (and time) this applies over the weekdays too - I had it down to fine art when I was living in Auckland - it made for a perfect working lunch catch up with girlfriends.. no wasting time on worrying what to order.. it just comes to you while you chat and zoom you are done in under an hour with a stamp for your parking (which used to be free for an hour.. now it is only 30 mins darn..) Another little secret - if you go there enough and then you turn up when it is busy they sneakily jump you through the queue.. not democratic I know but..

      1. I also recommend Dynasty (57-59 Wakefield St CBD) as an alternative to Grand Harbour if it's a spontaneous meal you are after. Another alternative is also China at 2 Beach Road, CBD, which is also good and has a large selection of dim sums and dumplings. I've also tried Sunshine and while I can recommend it for yum cha, I had a bad dining experience there with a group of friends with terrible service and we were ridiculously overcharged for corkage so I tend to avoid it! However it's difficult to go past the raving reviews of Grand Harbour on here!

        My fave yumcha items are the deep fried taro balls (feathery light and crispy taro batter over pork mince filling; and deep fried sesame seed balls filled with sweet black sesame paste for dessert!)

        1. We went to Grand Harbour this past Saturday and it was outrageously good! Background: I grew up in NYC and ate dim sum (as we call it) about once every couple months at least. I usually live in Minnesota which has surprisingly good dim sum as well. Grand Harbour was the best I have ever had. Particular favorites (and I don't really know the names:
          Shrimp-coriander dumplings: just exquisite
          Deep-fried "football" (or rugby ball) shaped dumplings filled with pork + were amazing, so light and crispy
          Shrimp-rice noodle: these are the long dumplings with shrimp inside (they also had pork): this is my favorite dim sum dish and this was the best I have had--had scallions as well as the shrimp
          BBQ pork buns, steamed and baked
          Deep fried squid

          It is going to be hard for me to try other places after this one. Is it worth it to try Sunshine, or should I just stick with what works?
          Thanks for the tip!

          1 Reply
          1. re: AliceS

            Lucky you...no such animal on mid North Coast of NSW....Just adore Yum cha. (sigh)

          2. Adding my two cents worth
            For bustling atmosphere, good food and very reasonable prices - China, in the bottom of the Scene apartment buildings on Beach Road.
            For outside the CBD - the yum cha at Alexandra Park, on Greenlane West.
            For a classier version of yum cha, with excellent service (staff top up your tea cups every time they walk past, and they are very willing to fetch any special requests) but a little bit pricier, Crystal Harbour, down in the viaduct (not to be confused with Grand Harbour). I used to go to Grand Harbour a lot, but it is really annoying to get a table, so have migrated away from there.

            2 Replies
            1. re: kiwichick

              Crystal Harbour is the old Sunshine, which has gone out of business is run by the old floor manager of Grand Harbor..
              I did mean to go there when I was back in Auckland in Dec but I just cant go past Grand Harbour.. I have been going there for years so get special treatment.. but, as I said before the trick is to go at around 11am - always the best / freshest selection and lots of tables. BTW The Yum Cha at Alexandra park is owned by the same people as Grand Harbour.
              I haven't tried China but friends say it isn't a patch on GH..

              1. re: brigide

                Hi brigide, you really must go to Crystal Harbour. It's just as good as Sunshine was.