I just came back from a Friday Yum Cha brunch at Yuan in Atlantis and I am still thinking about it. This would be one of those fine dining Dubai brunches (mostly dim sums and what a mind boggling variety of them) that comes at a casual dining price. Priced at Dhs 188/person (why such an unusual figure? 188 is a lucky number in Chinese tradition), one can taste an unlimited amount of the dim sums that are offered in the Menu, plus 4 more pages doling out a selection of steamed items, wok-fried/deep-fried items and salads, rice/noodles and of course some traditional Chinese desserts. And the entire experience starts with the *dim sum trolley* that rolls out (below)…  oh what a brilliant start to a weekend indulgence!

Yuan unmasked itself (a term that had been used in its launch propaganda) in October last year and although I was unable to attend the launch, I heard that the restaurant opened with a lot of aplomb. My first dinner at Yuan was marked with a bit of *hits and misses*, although I was floored with the interiors. Apart from an Oriental inner courtyard, designed using Chinese elements of harmony and balance, there was the Principal House, reminiscent of dining halls built for Chinese nobility. Diners could also opt to relax in private dining rooms while enjoying a menu that has been created with a blend of traditional Szechuan cuisine and diverse flavors of the Sichuan province. But the Friday *Yum Cha* experience sealed out everything else. From the smiling Executive Chef (below) and a team of courteous staff hovering around the diner, this was sheer pampering.

What is Yum Cha? Yum Cha is a traditional Chinese style morning tea. Also known as  Ban ming, this Chinese style of  drinking morning or afternoon tea is accompanied by eating dim sum dishes. In Yuan, a Yum Cha session is drenched with the finest selections of free flow teas (and also non-alcoholic beverages). A traditional Yum Cha not only focuses on drinking of tea but also on the range of small dishes served (which are collectively known as dim sum) either with breakfast, brunch or afternoon tea. It is customary to share the dim sum dishes among everyone seating at the same table. {More here on customs and etiquettes of Yum Cha and Dim Sums}

As is evident from the pictures above, our table had been overflowing with a non-stop serving of a variety of dim sums, each type of dim sum served delicately in bamboo boxes like wrapped up gifts. Each time we lifted the lid of a box, along with the steam, a surprise dumpling was being revealed. Instead of choosing from the menu, we let the staff choose a variety of dim sums for us – a wise decision, I must say, considering the long list of interesting options listed in the menu. Here’s an account of those dishes that can’t be missed at any cost. The first dish that we tasted was the Steamed Sticky rice with shrimps. Wrapped in lotus leaf – the rice was delicate, flavorful, really soft and sticky. This was followed by the Steamed Seafood Tart and the traditional steamed buns – a version of the famous char siu baau, but made with Chicken – the Steamed Barbecued Chicken Bun. Another baked version of the same – Baked Barbecued Chicken Bun was served later on (I liked the latter much more). One of my top favorites of the day would have to be the deep fried King Crab Meat and Taro Puff – the crispy fried Taro Puff probably not being the main reason behind salivating on this dish, but the deliciously moist crab filling inside. Now here comes a confusion – the same dish came arrived on the table in two avatars – one with a frizzy crispy fried outside and the other one looking a bit more sober with a smoother looking appearance (pictures much below) – what do I order from the menu (it’s written simply the deep fried King Crab Meat and Taro Puff!) if I want the wilder frizzier one that stole my heart? Don’t miss the fashionable Crispy Duck and Pumpkin Puff looking like mini pumpkins. Although I am not too fond of the typical sweet fillings that characterize many of the Chinese dumplings, I was surprised with myself for liking these sweet filling. For example, the Baked Barbecued Chicken puffs and the Baked Barbecued Chicken buns – bite into them and a sweet filling of chicken strips lost in caramelized onions squeezes out delicately. Or the steamed Custard Pumpkin Bun. I was told that the latter could also be served as a dessert – well, I would prefer to order this one as a Starter, because, for a dish to be categorised into a dessert, my Bengali genes demand more sweetness. Not that we were any less full, but because of sheer greediness and shame (it’s an all you can eat menu and we hadn’t even covered 1/3rd of the Menu!), we did order two non- dim sum dishes – San Bei Chicken Clay Pot with sweet Basil, Chili and Spring Onion and the Crispy Chicken Salad with Pomelo in Mango Plum Dressing. The sweet fragrance of Basil in the San Bei Chicken Clay Pot fooled us  initially and made us forget that the other ingredient that had been mentioned in the dish was Chili – until the subtle spiciness hit the nostrils. And the Pomelo Salad reminded me of a traditional haute couture French Salad being ‘orienatlised’ perfectly!

Our Yum Cha experience in pictures…

Steamed Sticky rice in lotus leaf with shrimps
Steamed Sticky rice in lotus leaf with shrimps
Steamed Barbecued Chicken Bun
Steamed Seafood Tart and Steamed Barbecued Chicken Bun (behind)
Steamed Seafood Tart
Deep fried King Crab Meat and Taro Puff
Deep fried King Crab Meat and Taro Puff
Deep fried King Crab Meat and Taro Puff – the inside
Crispy Duck and Pumpkin Puff
Steamed Shrimp Dumpling
Vegetable and Mushroom Spring Rolls
Baked Barbecued Chicken Puff
Steamed Barbecued Chicken Bun
Steamed Custard Pumpkin Bun
Steamed Custard Pumpkin Bun – the filling spilling out
Baked Barbecued Chicken bun
San Bei Chicken Clay Pot with sweet Basil, Chili and Spring Onion
San Bei Chicken Clay Pot with sweet Basil, Chili and Spring Onion
San Bei Chicken Clay Pot with sweet Basil, Chili and Spring Onion
Crispy Chicken Salad with Pomelo in Mango Plum Dressing
Crispy Chicken Salad with Pomelo in Mango Plum Dressing

With the 2/3rds of the menu remaining untasted, I am going to come back for a Yum Cha brunch very soon. Next time, I have to be bring a bigger appetite and the Z-Sisters too, coz although Yuan is positioning itself as a lounge cum fine dining outlet sans children, the Yum Cha brunch does permit children above 4 years. I think the killer USP is the pricing and it’s fabulous, considering the quality of the food that Yuan is serving, plus a whole lot of vegetarian options. At the same fine dining category, Hakkasan offers a Yum Cha brunch on Fridays but that comes at a higher price range (Dhs 278 and above). If you are looking for a cheaper option, you can try Da Shi Dai in The Walk which serves a Dim Sum brunch at Dhs 88 (a full review by fellow blogger FooDee).

Do you know of any cheats to dine in a fine dining restaurant? For example, The Hedonista suggests a tea option that lets you experience Burj Al Arab in a less pricey way. Throw in your tips please. By the way, although we didn’t have any dessert at Yuan this time, please don’t miss out a dessert with this peculiar name – Textures of Corn: Custard, Crumble, Crisp, Coconut Sorbet, Sweet Milk Snow (below) – I had tasted it in my earlier visit (you can read my review here) and I just realised that I completely forgot about it this time. Also my good friend Debbie (Coffee Cakes and Running) captures the Plum Martini (along with the dim sums of course) that was such a hit in our table on our Yum Cha morning   – another reason to come back to Yuan!

Unblogging it all… Ishita

Disclaimer: Please note that this post is not a sponsored post and the subject, story, opinions and views stated here are my own and are independent. While you enjoy reading the posts with lot of visuals, please do not use any material from this post. You can see more pictures of my travel and food journey here.

Written by IshitaUnblogged

A Culinary Travel Blog by a Bong Gourmet. From Dubai, Kolkata & the world beyond, street food to fine dining, recipes to chef talks, it pens down experiences. With 2 kids in tow!


What do you have to say?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s