All things considered…

After our visit to the Farmers’ Market at Parnell in Auckland, New Zealand, my friend and her family took us for dim sum or what they call yum char there, at this very posh and expensive-looking Chinese restaurant

Grand Park, Auckland

…at Alexandra Park there.

Let us look at the things that we had and we have here, like the char siew pao (barbecued meat steamed buns), for instance…

Yum char 1

Theirs were very nice and I loved the filling…

Yum cha 2

…but they were very small – maybe half the size of what we have here…or three-quarters, give and take a little. We also shared the porridge and I would say that it was really very nice as well.

The siew mai (meat dumplings) were very good too…

Yum cha 3

…but I had better har kau (prawn dumplings) elsewhere…

Yum cha 4

One thing I noticed when I was in New Zealand was that they had awesome crayfish and scallops and mussels and everything but their prawns were not as nice as the ones we have at home, or not the regular ordinary ones, at least.

Their chee cheong fan was great too…

Yum cha 5

…and the skin of the yam puffs…

Yum cha 6

…was excellently done. Melissa and my missus loved them a lot but I was not too crazy about the filling – I think I am more accustomed to the char siew filling in our yam puffs here, the one they have in their char siew pao.

This was their fried fish balls in curry…

Yum cha 7

The balls were fine – very firm and springy, no fishy smell but when it comes to curry, I guess the Chinese would have to take a back seat – definitely nowhere near my friend’s nyonya chicken curry that we had the day before when we arrived in Auckland.

These were tofu slices with fish paste toppings…

Yum cha 8

…if I’m not mistaken and they had brinjal…

Yum cha 9

…too and something wrapped in bean curd skin…

Yum cha 10

Those reminded me of yong tofu, the dry version.

These would have been really nice – prawns on toast…

Yum char 11

…had the prawns been as sweet and succulent as the ones we have here and I think I had better beef balls…

Yum cha 12

…before when the Shanghai chef was still in town at the dim sum place here.

Everybody enjoyed these sotong (squid) sticks…

Yum cha 13

…and the roast pork belly…

Yum cha 14

…was simply out of this world! Yum! Yum!

I’ve never been a fan of these…

Yum cha 15

…but theirs were pretty good.

Hmmmm…I can’t seem to remember what these were…

Yum cha 16

…or what they tasted like. Looks like I will have to go to Auckland and my friend will have to take me here again! Hehehehehe!!!!

The lau sar pao

Yum cha 17

…were, at best, just ok. They were not so generous with the filling which was not as goo-ey as elsewhere so much so that I had to press the bun a bit to get it to flow out…

Yum cha 18

…but I loved this a lot! It is something that I have not seen anywhere else (…not that I’ve been to a lot of dim sum places! Wink! Wink!). It is yew char koi wrapped with chee cheong fan skin and served with a special chocolaty sauce…

Yum char 19

Not exactly sweet, great fusion between the east and the west.

I came across this webpage and it seems that the restaurant has been getting not-very-flattering reviews from diners who have been there before. I would agree with those who said that the people were very rude – I thought the older (Chinese) ones were definitely no Miss Congeniality, like the people in Hongkong when we went there in the 80’s. The younger ones were very nice and friendly though – probably part-timers, university students working on weekends to earn a bit of pocket money.

I must say, however, that it is somewhat true what one said that one should “bring someone who speaks Chinese if you want to find out what you are eating”. We had a bit of difficulty describing what we wanted to the older lot – things that  my friend and her family had before and would like us to try. The younger ones weren’t so much of a problem. I did not know of any time limit given and the only hitch we had was that we arrived before the carts came out at 10.30 and the old waitress insisted that we should order from the menu and did not look too pleased when we insisted on waiting.

Personally, I would not think it was as bad as how some of those people put it in their comments. I guess those of us over here who are more accustomed to such rowdy or  boisterous, eat-and-run dining conditions would not feel ill at ease at places like this. I don’t know how much all that cost though – my friend and her hubby would not let me pay for anything no matter how bad I felt about them footing the bill ALL the time…but I am pretty sure that it cost a bomb!

Thank you so much, nonetheless, for the yum char feast! All things considered, it definitely was a great brunch and we enjoyed it very much. Thank you…thank you…thank you!

The market…

That first morning in Auckland, New Zealand, my friend and her family took us to the Farmer’s Market at Parnell

Market 1

They call it the French Market as it is supposed to have a French theme.

Strawberries were in season so we saw lots of those and they were pretty cheap too…

Market 2

I think these were organic breads…

Market 3

See if you can identify which one I think looked like a character in Sesame Street. LOL!!! (Oops!!! According to my friend’s hubby, they’re dog biscuits. Vitamin sticks! Hmmmm…whoever said, “It’s a dog’s life,” is sadly mistaken!)

This one sold freshly-made gourmet sausages…

Market 4

…with all kinds of names that I had never heard of before. One could get help oneself to the samples – I certainly loved that! Wink! Wink!

The lady here was selling whoopie pies and whoopie pops…

Market 5

…but I was saving tummy space for brunch so I did not get any to try.

At another stall, one could easily see that they were all gearing up for Christmas…

Market 6

Everything looked so pretty!

More sausages, anyone?

Market 7

These were smoked and cured chorizos and the like, if I’m not mistaken.

Now, this man was definitely not French – he was Italian and he made these stuffed pastas…

Market 8

…for sale at the market.

There was a stall selling fresh raw oysters but of course, I would not touch them with a ten-foot pole. If you’re one of those oyster-lovers, remind me to tell you my “looks terrible, smells terrible, feels wonderful” story when we get to meet. I’m afraid I cannot share it here as it is not very suitable for general consumption. Rancangan ini sesuai bagi semua lapisan masyarakat! LOL!!! 😀

I did buy these oyster fritters though…

Market 9

…at NZ$10 for three. My daughter loved them but not me. They were not like the fried oyster fritters that I used to buy at The Fish Shop, a New Zealand franchise that had outlets in Malaysia at one time, and loved a lot. The batter came across to me like some kind of pancake and the oysters were pretty much uncooked – raw! I just tried a bit and that was it. Give me our or chain (oyster omelete) anytime! Hehehehehe!!!!

There was a pâtisserie in the adjoining building…

Market 10

I did not buy or try anything there either.

Well, what I enjoyed most here was the very nice songs rendered by this busker at the market…

Market 11

…so much so that I found some place to sit and listen to him sing. Actually, I thought he looked like Willie Nelson and sounded like him too. He sang some of my favourite Christmas songs like “The Christmas Song” and “Have yourself a merry little Christmas” so beautifully that I was wishing I could get up and dance but unfortunately, my missus and everybody else were pre-occupied somewhere in the market, totally engrossed in looking at the things that they were selling.

All too soon, we had to adjourn some place else for brunch so I had to no choice but to get up and leave. I walked out of the place, crooning along to the lovely singing in the distance…