Last Sunday my parents and I went over to Marigold Chinese restaurant for 'Yum Cha'. I took my camera this time to snap a few dishes, and also because afterwards I needed to go shopping for a new camera lens and tripod.
yum cha literally means to "drink tea" in english translation, often in some places the cuisine is referred in different names like dim sim/dim sum but all is similar. It's usually served in the daytime from breakfast to afternoon tea in Chinese restaurants. It is serving a variety of small dishes which is great when you're accompanied by friends, family, or even business colleagues that could easily have food to be shared (similar to how the Spanish tapas works out).
My grandfather and father often tend to share tidbits of their wisdom for yum cha 'etiquette and history' - for one, it's considered respectable to refill everyone else's teacup before your own at the table and if you're on the receiving end, it's a common Chinese gesture to tap your fingers on the table in response. That 'tapping' gesture has abit of a story to it aswell:
[Apparently]... The Emperor [of the Qing Dynasty] used to travel incognito. While visiting South China, he once went into a teahouse with his companions. In order to maintain his anonymity, he took his turn at pouring tea. His stunned companions wanted to kowtow* for the great honour but to do so would have revealed the identity of the emperor. Finally, one of them tapped three fingers on the table (One finger representing their bowed head and the other two representing their prostrate arms) and the clever emperor understood what he meant. From then on, this has been the practice. - 'Yum Cha' on Wikipedia.
*Kowtow is chinese for the gesture of bowing/kneeling before someone of higher status in deep respect.
The usual dishes are often served from waiters/waitresses (often known as the 'yum cha ladies/boys') in uniform and carts that go down the aisles to offer different dishes to tables. There's alot of steamed and fried portions, buns, vegetables, desserts such as tapioca or jelly and most notoriously, the Steamed Pork Bun or Dim Sim.
My favourites of today was the steamed pork buns, pork mince with a sweet sauce that is wrapped up in a soft white dough, steaming hot in the bamboo dishes. Then there was desserts; custard tarts are quickly ordered as was the tofu fa! The latter being one of my dessert faves - it's a dessert that usually tastes better served hot with sugar syrup and white silky tofu.
Although the restaurant itself is huge and decorative in ambience whilst the food can be quite eatable at times pending on what you've ordered; the service is often it's downfall. So FYI - try to sit in the central area rather than off the side for more food and hopefully efficient services.
Marigold Chinese Restaurant