It was a Saturday afternoon, and Little J was up from his morning nap, fed and changed. In other words, he was in a good mood. And when he was in a good mood, mommy and daddy were in an awesome mood! So out we went for lunch at Jin Yan Asian Cuisine, using a voucher that Saucer bought. We seldom use group buying vouchers now unless it’s for something that we really like or we know it’s tried and tested. For Jin Yan, it falls into the former category, because both Saucer and I (well, it’s me, really) are suckers for dim sum. Fortunately, booking was a breeze and we managed to get a reservation for Saturday afternoon, which I assumed would be the peak time to go.
Check out my new shoes!
The restaurant is located in Castle Hills RSL club, and our address happened to be within 5km radius of the club. According to the NSW Registered Clubs Act 1976, we have to be club members to be able to enter the club. Since we only found it out at the entrance of the club itself, we had to quickly decide if we wanted to be members, which cost $22/year per person. We were definitely not inclined to join the membership just for what might be a single visit to the restaurant, and wondered what to do with our voucher. The receptionist then said that she would be happy to let me in if I could get a member, any member, who would be willing to sign us in. So I turned around, spotted the first family I saw, and approached the father. He turned out to be a member and was kind enough to sign us in. So yay! Problem solved!
Prawn dumplings / Har Kau
The voucher we bought entitled us to 9 courses, starting with the Har Kau or Prawn Dumplings. I thought the prawn dumplings were done well, with thin translucent skin and decent-sized succulent prawns inside. Loved that the skin did not break easily too despite having let them sit for a while since I was feeding Little J his lunch.
Pork dumplings / Siew Mai
The Pork Dumplings or Siew Mai were also generously sized with bits of prawns mixed on top. The addition of prawns gave the dumplings a succulent crunch on top of the juicy pork within. Oh, did I mention that service was pretty quick too? Once it was made known that we were there on a voucher deal, we were given a table stand with a label “Special” on it. Since then, the dishes came one after another (sometimes too quick), until all 9 courses were on the table.
The Spring Rolls were nothing out of the ordinary. They were freshly fried and they arrived hot to touch with crispy skin. The star of the day, according to Saucer, was the Salt and Pepper Calamari. They arrived with a distinctly fragrant aroma and were super crispy! The batter they used was also nicely spiced, making this dish very addictive. In fact, while I was busy feeding Little J his lunch, Saucer finished almost half of this plate. LOL! Good thing the portion was pretty generous, which left me quite a few pieces to munch on after.
Salt and Pepper Calamari
The BBQ Pork Buns were slightly smaller in size and did not have much filling. The bun was a little too doughy for my liking too, so I thought they could do better with this. The vegetables came as part of the 9-course menu and was worth a mention because we would otherwise not order this on our normal yum cha. The greens were nothing to shout about, in fact, I thought they were a little too matured. So the stems especially, were rather tough to chew on.
BBQ Pork Buns / Char Siew Pao
The Special Fried Rice is a common dish in all Chinese restaurants here, but it’s not so common to find good ones. This was not the best, but it was certainly above average. At least it did not taste like it was scooped out from a tray of pre-fried rice from the morning. It was nicely peppered with bits of golden egg and had 2 sizable prawns inside. I also liked that it did not have the typical chicken breast fillets inside, which is a common occurrence in most fried rice in Sydney. I mean, who puts chicken breast in proper fried rice? Give me BBQ pork anytime!
Special Fried Rice
Oh, now it comes to my favourite of the day. The Egg Tarts! They were absolutely heavenly! The egg custard really melts in your mouth. I have eaten a good number of egg tarts before and when I said the custard melted in my mouth, really I could still feel it being a gelatinous form on my tongue before it dissolved. But this one, I could not even really feel its presence on my tongue because it dissolved almost immediately. It was almost like a transition from solid form to liquid in an instant, and I just loved the feeling of the smooth, silky egg on my tongue. Of course, the pastry did not disappoint. Flaky, crispy and buttery – an absolute yum!
Egg Tarts – Heavenly!
The last item on our menu was the Coconut Jelly, which was mixed with red bean. This was served slightly cool, so it was a nice ending to our otherwise hot lunch. We were also given a glass of wine each, which I thought was a rather weird combination with dim sum, but it came with the voucher so, whatever. But just let it be known, that dim sum only goes well with Chinese tea, and you don’t need wine for every meal of the day. There, I said it.
On another note, Little J was a charm that day! He finished his lunch of mash potatoes, sweet potatoes and carrots while we enjoyed our dim sum. I guess he also loved the racket there because he was just laughing and banging his arms on our table the whole time. We had to clear our table on the area within his reach, so most of our dishes were crammed to one side of the table while the other was empty. It was really quite funny. But it was overall an enjoyable experience and a satisfying lunch too. We would certainly not mind going there… now if only we know another RSL member who could bring us in.
Happy boy having his lunch!
Jin Yan Asian Cuisine
Castle Hill RSL Club
77 Castle Street
Castle Hill NSW 2154
Phone: (02) 8858 4848
Fax: (02) 8858 4881
Yum Cha Lunch: 11AM – 3PM