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Published: 24 July 2008

Yum Cha manager Frederick Lee and head chef Lau Manwah
Even tastier than the sum of its parts

A NEW Chinese restaurant is aiming to prove that small is beautiful with its ‘tapas-like’ dishes.
YOU don’t have to go the Beijing Olympic Games this summer to discover and enjoy one of China’s great traditional culinary delights.
Instead, watch the international athletes run the race of their lives on the telly while you tuck into delicious and perfectly formed parcels of Chinese food, all washed down with copious quantities of tea.
Dim Sum – which means “touch of the heart” – is a Chinese snack or brunch and has arrived in Camden Town.
The newly opened Yum Cha restaurant, (Cantonese for “drink tea”), dominated by a statue of the sleeping Buddha, specialises in tasty dim sum snacks and offers a little bit of peace and serenity away from the merciless roar of traffic on Chalk Farm Road.
Attentive waiters serve up to 14 different varieties of tea and more types of dumpling and pastry than you can shake a chopstick at. Should you arrive between noon and 5pm there’s a 30 per cent discount.
Dim Sum, thought to date from the Tang dynasty (618-906), consists of various small daintily prepared savoury and sweet dishes served with tea.
Tea is even more popular in China and Japan than it is in the UK. Ceremonies that can last for hours revolve around drinking tea – tipping the lid of the teapot in a dim sum restaurant is meant to alert the server to refill it.
Looking at my girth, Yum Cha manager Singapore-born Frederick Lee, 32, suggests that this way of eating, with Oriental tea to help with the digestion, can even keep the weight down.
We sipped Dragon well tea (£3), a mildly aromatic green tea in which the leaves are steamed rather than roasted, as a starter. Very relaxing. It was followed by exquisite baked char sui (£2.40), or honey-cooked pork in a very light puff pastry. Then came a tray of har gau prawn dumplings (£2. 40) cooked in flour, crispy duck spring roll (£2. 40) in a spicy sauce and crystal scallop dumplings. At an average of £10 per head with a 30 per cent discount, it was very good value.
Fred, who has lived in Britain for eight years, previously managed the Nippon Tuk Japanese fusion restaurant at the London Hilton.
“My first job was table manager at the Grand Hyatt, Singapore, making sure diners were being looked after and enjoying themselves,” he says.
“Dim Sum is a big favourite in Chinese and Japanese culture. It’s a light snack, a bit like Spanish tapas, which can be enjoyed at any time.”
The business employs 16 staff – eight waiters and eight chefs in the kitchen including head chef, Lau Manwah, from Hong Kong, who is one of the directors.
It seats 96 on the ground floor and there are three private rooms, including one that can accommodate 20 diners.
Fred added: “There are lots of Chinese restaurants in London, but fewer Dim Sum outlets. We aim to provide authentic dishes with the freshest ingredients.”

* Yum Cha, 28 Chalk Farm Road, NW1.
020 7482 2228

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