Monday, December 05, 2016

Craving Chinese egg tarts

I first encountered yum cha (and Chinese egg tarts) at the iconic Marigold Restaurant in Sydney's Chinatown in the early 1990s. The yum cha lunch, featuring all sorts of intricately crafted dumplings, filled buns, unusual vegetables, spring rolls and spicy delights was a revelation in itself ... but the Chinese egg tarts afterwards were magnificent! So I've been mildly obsessed with egg tarts ever since. They're hard to find in Canberra (more on that shortly) but when in larger cities I make a beeline to Chinatown to satisfy my cravings. Dixon Street in Sydney, Little Bourke Street in Melbourne, and almost anywhere in Singapore are good places to search for them.

As far as I know there's no place in Canberra where you can buy authentic Chinese egg tarts separately; I've only found them as part of yum cha lunch menus. About a year ago Andrew and I went out for yum cha with eight friends. As usual I quietly counted down 'til the end of the meal, in anticipation of egg tarts. To our dismay, the servers only brought three tarts to the table, saying they'd run out! Very disappointing. We made a mental note to try somewhere else next time ... and did so yesterday . Once again, we enjoyed all sorts of delicious morsels (and they were delicious) and eagerly awaited dessert. This time there were only two egg tarts. To be shared among a table of nine people. And when we asked for more they said there were no more available. I'm puzzled. Are egg tarts somehow rationed in this town? The arrangement with yum cha is that the diners pay for each dish ordered, so we were willing and able to pay for more egg tarts. Many, many egg tarts! Another dozen would have been about right. We were at an early lunch sitting, too, so wondered whether everyone who dined after us missed out on the tarts altogether. It's a mystery. If you happen to be reading this, and happen to have any insights (or know where I can buy egg tarts in Canberra without signing up for a full yum cha lunch) please let me know in the comments.

Have I thought about making them myself? Well yes, but by all accounts they're hugely finicky and time consuming ...

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