One of the best things about living in a multicultural society like Australia is that you have easy access to restaurants serving up the cuisines of different countries. A favourite activity of mine is going to yum cha, which is a lunchtime activity at Chinese restaurants where trolleys and trolleys of dim sims are pushed around for you to choose from.
Today some friends of mine take me to Iron Chef at Cabramatta as they tell me it’s the best yum cha in the area. Finding parking can be a bit difficult especially during peak periods (weekends), but conveniently enough a new car park has just opened next door offering limited free parking, hooray!
Iron Chef is connected to an RSL club and the inconspicuous entrance can be a bit difficult to find. Once you find your way into the restaurant, the normal yum cha process begins – let the front lady know how many people you have, take a ticket and wait patiently. I would recommend going early (no later than 11:30am) in order to secure a table with minimal wait. Thankfully one of our friends got a ticket at 11am and we get a seat in no time.
As soon as we sit down, food starts coming out left, right and centre from trolleys everywhere. It’s a bit hard to figure out how much each dish costs because they’re not labeled but when you order, the wait staff will stamp your table’s card to indicate what type of dish you’ve eaten (S, M, L, XL, XXL, Special) and you will be charged accordingly. Our first dish for today is some chicken feet. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but these have been stewed in a sweet, bean-like sauce and are very soft. They do have a little bit of meat in them and lots of small bones. Once you get over the initial strangeness of eating chicken feet, the flavour is actually quite nice.
Steamed Prawn Rice Paper Roll
Next is a steamed prawn rice paper roll. This consists of layered rice paper with little prawns inside, steamed, and served with a light soy sauce. It is delicious when served hot and the best thing is being able to control the amount of soy sauce you have as it is served separately from the rolls. We only try this version but we eye a beef and BBQ pork variant which looked quite tasty!
Fried Taro Dim Sim
The next dish which catches our eye sounds just as interesting as the previous dish. The fried taro dim sim has a crispy net coating with a taro batter underneath which encases another filling of pork, mushroom and prawns. It’s a mixture of sweet and savoury with some crunchy and soft textures which ends up working very well. If you’re up for trying new things, this is the one for you.
Pork Siu Mai Dim Sim
We also get some classic pork siu mai during our meal. In this dish, a ball of minced pork is wrapped with wonton pastry, topped with a prawn and steamed. It’s one of the most popular and loved dishes at yum cha and Iron Chef’s rendition of it is delicious.
Peking Duck Pancakes
One cool thing we’ve noticed at Iron Chef is that Peking duck pancakes are also an option for yum cha! Normally I am used to having to order an entire duck but am excited that I can have it in single servings off the trolley. The pancakes are steamed on the spot with the assembly process taking place next to your table, which shows how freshly made they are. As usual, there is a higher proportion of skin than meat but that just means the dish is that much juicer and tastier, especially when accompanied with the hoisin sauce, cucumber and shallots.
Our last dish of the day are some egg tarts to let us finish on a sweet note. These egg tarts taste best when served warm and the Iron Chef version features a light, flaky pastry which encases the fairly firm egg custard inside.
Overall, Iron Chef is a winner in my books. Although a bit further than where I’d normally travel to for yum cha, if you’re ever in the area it is well worth the wait. The price isn’t too bad either (<$20 pp) if you’re just doing yum cha. But be warned – it is extremely popular among locals and Sydneysiders alike so best to go early, or on a weekday even!
Iron Chef Seafood Restaurant
84 Broomfield St, Cabramatta NSW 2166
Ph: (02) 9723 6228