I’ve had a lot of people tell me they know of the best Yum Cha place on the Coast so I’ve tried quite a few, and I keep coming back to Mandarin Court. Why? It has a bigger range of Yum Cha on offer, the best custard tarts around, and I really like its 70’s James Bond Hong Kong Casino style decor! (complete with fish tanks and lanterns)
We decided to grab some Yum Cha for lunch, as it’s only recently Sime has decided he likes it after bad experiences with too much deep fried stuff and chicken’s feet. I tend to order the same thing every time I go to Mandarin Court but only because I know it’s good. Like I said, some of the other places I’ve been don’t have as big a range, or my favourites like stuffed eggplant, pan fried dumplings with sour sauce, prawn dumpling with asparagus, or warm creamy custard tarts with crispy flaky pastry. Some other custard tarts have a shortcrust style pastry or aren’t served warm, and I’m sure once you’ve tried Mandarin Court’s custard tarts you’ll agree. But more on that later…
To start we had Asian Greens with Oyster Sauce (final price at the end of this post as it was a bit hard to tell what each item cost). This is simple steamed Gai Lan with Oyster Sauce. Nothing fancy but a great side to have as a contrast to all the glutinous rice, seafood and meat you consume with the rest of the meal. Perfectly steamed with wilted leaves and crispy stems, yum.
Sime chose some Cuttlefish Balls from a passing tray of Yum Cha to start. They were served on a bed of peas which I think sounds a bit weird… Anyway, he said that the dumplings were nice, good calamari flavour but this dish wasn’t one of his favourites.
I decided to order as the items coming out weren’t to our liking (think tripe, pork ribs, fried stuff). First to come out was one of our favourites – stuffed eggplant. The eggplant is steamed until it is soft, smokey and sweet, and is stuffed with a meatball of mixed seafood. Delicious!
Next the Prawn and Chive Dumplings arrived. Gently steamed glutinous rice dumplings stuffed with prawns, chives with a hint of sesame flavour. The dumplings were soft and salty with small juicy pieces of prawn. We really enjoyed these, but next time we’ll try the Prawn and Asparagus Dumpling for a bit more crunch.
Last to arrive was the Pan Fried Dumplings. I always ask for extra sour sauce on mine (it’s never enough). I’d describe this dish as somewhat similar to Japanese Gyoza, mainly because it’s made with pork mince and has sour sauce as an accompaniment. Sime describes these as a spiced pork sausage in a dumpling with sour sauce, they’re not his favourite. Anyway, they tasted great – this dish will continue to be on my list of favourites.
Whilst we were eating the staff kept arriving with steam baskets full of treats to tempt us. On this visit the staff were attentive and friendly – I actually learned that Shark Fin Dumpling doesn’t have shark’s fin in it, which I’m very happy about. Still, I wasn’t tempted to try it.
A tip – if you are out of tea and need a refill, put your teapot lid upside down on top of the teapot. I learned about this in Hong Kong years ago, it goes back to an old story about a guy who took his prize songbird into a restaurant only to accidentally have it made into bird soup in the teapot. The waiter had filled up the teapot when the lid was sitting in its correct position – hence, the story goes that you should only top up the hot water if I put my teapot lid upside down (regardless of whether you recall this bit of trivia however, Mandarin Court staff will offer to fill up your teapot… or you could just ask…!).
So, on to our dessert. At Yum Cha they have all variety of amazing looking desserts, from coconut jellies to custard buns and brightly coloured multilayered jellies. But why have any of these when you can have the custard tart? We ordered two plates (two each), and they arrived gently warmed to perfection. The custard itself has a subtle flavour, not too sweet, is bright yellow and has a beautiful soft consistency. Surrounding this is flaky pastry that gently crunches and melts in your mouth as you eat. I enjoyed these so much that I closed my eyes to enjoy the flavour!
I’ve visited Mandarin Court many times before and have generally found the service efficient but not friendly. This visit was different. Several staff made conversation with us which was lovely (the cynic in me wonders if it’s because I was taking photos of the food, however I’m hoping it’s because I’m a semi-regular visitor). There are always lots of options on offer with the Yum Cha trays circulating the room, and if nothing takes your fancy, ask to order (don’t be shy!).
The cost was $48 for our lunch. OK, not exactly a cheap lunch but not breaking the bank either. As I said at the beginning of this review, I’ve tried Yum Cha at Robina (x2), Surfers Paradise (x2) and Broadbeach, and as far as I’m concerned none of them stack up to Mandarin Court. Now that Sime likes Yum Cha, we’ll be back (again!).
Loo review – I have visited the ladies here before and generally try to avoid it. The bathrooms need work, they’re clean but old and dingy looking. 4/10.
2374 Gold Coast Highway Mermaid Beach (07) 5572 3333