Tag Archives: Chinatown

Ching Yip Coffee Lounge Review: Hong Kong style cafe food in the heart of Sydney.

Love kitsch?

Love ‘old-skool’ H.K diners that seemed to have froze in time back in the late 80′s?

Then this awesome ‘hide-away’ cafe serving some authentic Hong Kong ‘fast food cafe’ style food is the place to be!

This funky little cafe sprung back into my mind as I was reading one of my favourite blogs ‘Grab Your Fork’ when it mentioned about this cafe I had forgotten temporarily. As I read the review, I was immediately transported back to my high school daze, as though it was  like an old MTV replaying in my head… I remembered those ‘cool’ days, rocking out my ripped Levi 501′s, Hound Dog t-shirt and Stussy skater shoes – when my besties and I would catch the L90 bus out from Dee Why and venture out to the City and make a day of it. I would of course also show them around Chinatown – and how I would introduce them to the retro HK food at ‘Ching Yip’ or better known as ‘Tim Tim’ in Cantonese ( meaning: ‘Sweet Sweet’) Sweet! :) Those were the days…. and revisiting this cafe was almost like stepping back 10 years into time -as nothing looked like it has changed much. Same was the neon pink lettering sign that gives the whole entry a soft and retro glow,same are ‘tacky’ plastic flowers for decor and best yet is the cylinder cake fridge which does not display any cakes – but an ‘artistically’ arrangement of lemons. ( I assume they ran out of space in the kitchen and could kill two birds with a stone by combining storage vs. art) With such a large amount of lemons stacked up – one can only assume these are gathered and used for the very popular HK cafe style drinks which always asks for slices of lemons: ceylon red tea, hot lemon coke and ever popular ‘lemon water’ ( Yes. Basically it is boiling water with a slice of lemon and you add the packet of white sugar…delightful!)

Ching Yip Lemon Tea

Infamous lemon display work of art...

Infamous lemon display work of art...

Now onto the food.

The food is awesome. Nothing spectacular but in every way, comforting in the sense that it appeals to my ‘Hong Kong cafe style food’ liking. It is non pretentious, it is not fancy but just tasty and ‘sloppy’ food. Sloppy, not in the way it is bad – but just how HK cafe style food IS good for and I love that. The Hubby’s order was a ‘Baked Pork Chop Rice’ This is the ‘safe option’ at most Chinese cafes – as it really should be a ‘no fail’ ( Or at least that is how you can test the cafe’s quality and authenticity) So in this case…. ‘Sloppy’ tomato sauce covered rice with all the ‘kitsch’ goodness of the slightly ‘baked/burnt’ marks over the sauce which covers a huge piece of fried pork cutlet that is flavour-somed yet tender and somehow a perfect compliment with the frozen peas and corn fried rice underneath. Genius!

Ching Yip Pork Chop Rice Ching Yip Cafe Soup Ching Yip Cafe 2

This is accompanied by the ‘Daily Soup’ which both The Hubby and I get with our meals. What I also love is the ‘Soup Of The Day’ that accompanies the dinner sets and makes the meal out in this cafe so homely. Tonight the soup is a Chinese styled broth made with generous amount of lean pork and pork bones and some ‘unidentified vegetables’ which was lovely with bites of soft pearly barley for texture. The colour is a bit dull, but this is the kind of soup that taste better than it looks. I love how something as simple as the ‘Daily soup’ can be comforting to me -growing up in a Chinese house hold and visiting my Grandma’s place, being offered a bowl of ‘home made soup’ as you come home from school or from visits to Grandma’s place – soup is like a ‘warm hug’ and that is so nourishing. :)

Although the soup at Ching Yip is nothing as ‘sweet’ or as nourishing as the way my Grandma and my Mum makes her soup – the bowl I was served on this rainy evening, warmed me up none the less.

My friends, a lovely couple from my church who came to dinner with The Hubby and I ordered some stirred fried noodles with lean pork strips and pickled cabbage and ‘Special Set Menu Of The Day: Chicken with special sauce on rice + daily soup. This was the same as what I ordered.

Ching Yip Noodles Ching Yip Chicken rice Ching Yip Chicken 2 Ching Yip Cafe 4

The stirred fried noodles with lean pork and pickled cabbage looked delicious as it arrived promptly to the table. It was indeed ‘ sloppy’ and the sauce glistened with the generous portion of chubby egg noodles scattered with pieces of pork. From the ‘MMmmmmm~!’ coming from Mrs P – she gave the smile of approval and ate the dish happily.

Mr. D’s and I ordered the same ‘Set Menu Of The Day’ and the Chicken with special sauce came out quick and fast.

Our crispy skinned 1/4  chicken with a good cover of a ‘mysterious’ brown sauce was served on a bed of fluffy white rice. The size was very generous and I was thinking I would not be able to finish – yet I dig in and curious to know what the ‘brown sauce’ was. ( We guessed it was most likely chicken gravy seasoned with the ‘Maggi’ sauce)  The taste was definitely as I expected – similar to something I would have eaten at Hong Kong’s most popular chain cafe franchise ‘Cafe de Coral’ ( Hubby and my favourite cheap eat’s in HK on a budget)

Mr. D loved his ‘brown sauce’ so much – he inquired for more from the kitchen. Calling out to the ‘party of waitresses’ standing by chatting, they happily gave us a full bowl of sauce – The Hubby thought he would be as ‘charming’ as people are in HK – addressing the lovely waitresses as ‘ Excuse me pretty lady!’ *cringe* but somehow a bit of flattery went along way, as the sauce we were given was in a large soup bowl, which I jokingly said to Mr. D ‘ I think they are expecting you to drink it like soup with a spoon!’ :)

Ching Yip Sauce

Overall – my re-visit to ‘Ching Yip Coffee Lounge’ was very pleasant and even had Mr. D and Mrs. P wishing to come back again soon to sample more of their kitsch menu offerings. Already we are happy to try out the cheap $6.00 breakfasts of toasts with a bowl of soupy macaroni and choice of hot or iced cold Ovaltine. This is VERY H.K and we all love it!

With our tummies full and smiles all round from our ‘HK cafe’ experience – both from the decent food at a very decent price ( $20 for Hubby and my meal and I think we even got change for it…) Our band of waitresses bid us farewell ( how polite!) and as we take our last glance at the lemon cabinet with a few jokes… we get in the elevator time machine and transport ourselves back to 2009.

For a visit back in time ~ be sure to give this cheesy H.K cafe a visit. ( Sense of humour and an appreciation of ‘sloppy’ HK style food required)




7 DAYS, 9.00AM-8.30PM
P:9281 1591

(No bookings required ~ spontaneous rock up is best!)

Gumshara Ramen – Voted Top 5 Noodles 2009 in Sydney by Time Out Magazine.

Gumshara Ramen at Eating World Food Court, Harbour Plaza, Chinatown.

Gumshara Ramen at Eating World Food Court, Harbour Plaza, Chinatown.

As a result of an incorrectly scheduled event in my diary, my Thursday evening was free and my Hubby and I had a spontaneous date night in ‘downtown Chinatown’ for dinner.  What a treat!

After ‘studying’  my latest copy of  ‘Time Out Sydney’ Magazine all day and reading up on the features of  the ‘Food Awards 2009′ – I was armed  and informed with enough food recommendations to try out for tonight, and being around Chinatown – I suggested we try out ‘Gumshara Ramen’ for a ‘thrifty’ and easy meal as we were both pretty tired from our day.

I gave my Hubby the challenge of parking – considering it was on a Thursday evening, that if we fail to find a parking spot in Chinatown, we will have to go home and eat the left overs that he made the other night… ( He did this Moroccan Lentil Soup from a ‘Food Safari’ receipe on the SBS website! heheh and we still had PLENTY left over. The Hubby didn’t know how much lentils can ‘expand’ whilst cooking! heheh)

So as we both shuddered at the idea of eating more lentils… we hoped and prayed for a parking spot.

And THANK GOD that after only circling once around Liverpool St, we found a spot nearby on Dixon St. (Yay! No Lentils!)

Eating World at Harbour Plaza, Dixon Court... opposite from the Sydney Entertainment Center.

Eating World at Harbour Plaza, Dixon Court... opposite from the Sydney Entertainment Center.

We walk towards ‘Eating World’ Food court ( a place which I have not been to since high school…days long ago when catching a bus from the North to the City was the thing to do!) On our way, we walk pass ‘Mamak’ and the queue outside was starting to grow all the way around the newly renovated restaurant front and near to the dumpling place on the corner. (Note to self: Must come back and try Mamak again soon.)

Walking into Eating World, we immediately spot the raved-on-about place of ‘Gumshara Ramen’. It is the first thing you see as you walk through the electronic slide doors. A modest little counter with a huge cardboard sign of pictures showing the various ramen in ’100% Real Australian Pork’ stock.

( I am also informed that ‘Gumshara’ means ‘ The Chronic or ‘The Strong one’ in Japanese and the soup takes about seven days to make with 120kg of pork bones, water and miso…….Nice!)

'Essential to maintain smooth skin' I'm sold! Gimme a bowl please! :)

'Essential to maintain smooth skin' I'm sold! Gimme a bowl please! :)

Most, if not all reviews I have read about this place has been saying how ‘thick and gluttonous’ the stock is. I read a sign at the counter that saids: ‘If you prefer less salty or thick soup, please inform staff’ ‘ Okay! ….but we didn’t :)

Chef Dan Hong in action

Chef Dan Hong in action

So my mouth and lips were prepared to be ‘collagen’ and inside of my mouth ready to be ‘glued’ together…..sounds great already. Hmm.

Seasoned Egg with slighty gooey yolk - $1.50, Rice $1.50, Chilli Pickled Cabbage $1.50....however we thought this was classified as our 'Order Fail of the evening' :) Priceless.

After ordering – Hubby ordered the No.#1 and I the No.#2 – he had more pork slices in his plus a ‘seasoned egg’ for $1.50 which we would share, thinking the golden yolk looked so rich in the picture. He also orders some ‘pickled cabbage’ for $1.50 – as he is a sensible eater and likes his veggies. ( Although I think this barely counts, but was the only thing available that looked green or resembled to vegetables…) We later discover this cabbage was a an ‘order fail’  The taste wasn’t what we were expecting and was some what disappointing. Not to worry – for a $1.50 we can except the strangely pickled cabbage with chilli flakes. :) Gumshara kitchen

An array of condiments: pickled ginger, salt(?), chilli powder, seasoning sprinkles, soya etc

An array of condiments: pickled ginger, salt(?), chilli powder, seasoning sprinkles, soya etc

While waiting – I take a sneak peek behind the red curtain and see the ‘Ramen Chef – Dan Hong’  was stirring away over his huge pot of stock with a large ‘stick’. He would stir and then with a small hand held ‘shovel’ – gather more pork bones from a nearby cardboard box into his stock and stir. I gather this was a separate pot of stock, as apparently each stock takes about seven days to make to ensure it’s heartiness and flavour. I am pleased to know that no MSG is added to this stock – so I will not be needing to down liters of water tonight before bed, as I would have to at another Ramen establishment over in the north …

I watch with much interest as Chef Dan Hong cooks his noodles in the individual noodle ‘hand held strainers’ – and  gathers a handful of ramen into the strainer, then quickly hand flick the water straight onto the floor… (mind you, he is  wearing wellies and the floor is quiet wet from the water….) My husband and I both watch in amusement – although the kitchen is small and appears clean and tidy, the floor is wet – and we now see why, as with each bowl of noodle made, the water is strained onto the floor……interesting.

We also observe the busy waitress helping both to take orders, collect money and then go and help the chef ‘measure’ the right amount of thick hot broth into the black lacquer bowls with a chopstick. She stands a chopstick vertically inside the bowl to make sure the same amount of soup is poured in… ( I think to myself ‘ the writer in Time Out was not kidding when they said they can ‘stand a chopstick in the thick soup..!)

Waiting no longer than 7 minutes or so, our bowls of ramen is ready and we eagerly take our order, smile politely to the Chef as he caught my eye looking at him and give him a Japanese ‘nod’ of appreciation. I like that. I respect a chef who can cook honestly with his heart ( especially when he announces that 100% pork is used and no MSG on his sign) and that he would also take the time to smile at his customers from inside the kitchen.

Eating World Food Court on a Thursday evening.

Eating World Food Court on a Thursday evening.

My Hubby and I find a seat in the crowded food court – funny how much this place has changed and gone into renovations since the ‘dark 90′s’ when the place was slightly dodgy and had food counters that was not as pleasing as the ones on offer today. ( Note to self: Must come back and try all the other stalls as well, especially the Asian/Cantonese food stand next to Gumshara where it was lined with people who looked mostly like uni students… great prices and long queues is a sign of only good food right? Also the other Japanese place looked pretty good too for Katsu Don with rice and miso for $7.50, Indonesian food and Thai food… oh so much to sample!)

Now …. back to the ramen.

From the looks – I could already sense how THICK this soup was going to taste. I could barely see through to the noodles as the ramen looked all tangled in this deep ‘blanket’ of saucy, brown, soup/sauce! I made sure that I was prepared with some complimentary salted pickled ginger in the condiments area – as I think I will need it to break up the ‘gluggyness’ of this broth!

Hubby's bowl of ramen....

Hubby's bowl of ramen....

....With the seasoned egg.

....With the seasoned egg.

So we dig in…. and the first slurp with the steam rushing up to our faces was just delightful! Just as expected for a cold night from a big bowl of comforting noodles, broth that soothes the tummy and makes our lips stick together from the collagen. ( I am thinking how my Mum needs to have a few bowls of this to strengthen her joints instead of taking her boring Glutamate tablets!) Also for a while as we happily pull up strands of the ramen goodness – I was reminded of our ramen hunting days while in Japan, especially in Kyoto after our 2 hour bullet train ride. It was very rich and flavoursome and not as ‘manufacturered’ as some other ‘franchised’ stores.

My bowl of Pork Ramen.

My bowl of Pork Ramen.

Gumshara ramen close up 3Gumshara Ramen close up

The sign reads: ‘ Our food is made by traditional Japanese way to cook which uses fresh pork bone and water, NO MSG is used.  The richness of the soup comes from the marrow of the bone and soft bone. It contains alot of collagen which is essential to maintain a good skin’ ‘Mmmm ~ good skin I thought…. I am totally up for that!’ :)

The ramen is quite ‘al dente’ and slippery as we slurp up more ramen + soup. The soup is also scattered with freshly chopped green spring onions which is nice to break up the richness of the soup. I would recommend to eat this quick and fast – as I was starting to see the soup ‘setting’ and a ‘skin’ of it was developing on the surface already from the air. *Slurp!Slurp!*  The few slices of the ‘cha siu’ ( pork) floats on top and the taste is pretty pleasant, not too salty or tasteless but just right. It was quite ‘fatty’ in the pieces and the first piece was welcomed however the pieces to follow with the heavy soup, soon became a little too much for my palatte and I needed more ‘pickled ginger’ and ‘pickled cabbage’ to break up the fattiness. Overall, the pork slices are well balanced in their flavour and is one of the better ones I have tried. The nori that comes stuck on the inside of the bowl was soggy – and not crispy or large as the one at Ryo’s ramen – yet I did not mind it too much, as it was all about the soup here anyways and the soup definitely delivered as one of the thickest, richest and unique of its kind here in Sydney. I can see how they would have secured their place as No#1 for Noodles as voted for in ‘Time Out’ Magazine (Issue No# 60 August – $3.95 at newsagency)

Order fail: Chilli Pickled Cabbage. $1.50 You be the judge and give it a go :)

Order fail: Chilli Pickled Cabbage. $1.50 You be the judge and give it a go :)

About the end of our bowls ( well, mine half way finished) where our lips were ‘sticky’ from the gluttony soup and our mouths heavily lined with collagen and our lips had to be wiped not once or twice but with much force to clean the remains off …. we were waving our ‘invisible white flag’ as to give up and leave our bloated bellies be. We were FULL and honestly, could not bare another spoon of the thick soup that have us both grasping our tummies and craving for a cold fizzy drink to wash it all down!

Overall, the ramen was satisfying – yet this may not be something I can find myself eating more than once a month as the actual meal itself is too rich for my liking and I would have been better off sharing a bowl between the two. I see this as a treat to have once in a while – kind of  like the comfort of ‘butter’ – it is tasty and rich and delicious in small portions, as well as the ‘naughty’ larger portions…. this Gumshara broth will be best appreciated in small doses.

Feeling very ‘pregnant’ with food and with soup – we were still determined to go check out the asian desert house that I also read up about on a few food blogs sites ( sorry ~ memory slips from me at this time of night…note to self: blog earlier) and on SMH about ‘LNC’ Desert House on Dixon St.

This was the place we ‘piked’ out on last week after our dinner at ‘Chat Thai’ and Japanese photo booths…. we were all too full last time from Thai and Passionflower, that we said we would reserve LNC for another Food Safari Day/Night… and so tonight…. was the night!

I was so happy that The Hubby agreed even though we were about to explode with ramen. ( Sorry for the gross imagery! Would share with you how we REALLY felt with the soup caught in our throats… but I better not! Oh I think I just did… opps!  heheh)

LNC Desert house is at Dixon Street in Chinatown – so our short stroll over was very welcomed as anything to walk off our bulge was a good thing.

To read about our post dinner desert at LNC Desert House ~ please visit again soon, I promise the pictures will be up and looking beautiful …. and I will also throw in a special ‘Japanese boyband MTV’ Hubby and I watched while scooping at our Red Bean Slushie with Coconut gelato and Green Macha Pearl Tea. It was pretty entertaining! So come back and visit soon!

Thanks for dropping by and reading!


Eve x

Ps) We strolled past ‘Sushi Rio’ on the way to LNC – which is another place my friend has told me about and loves! It is actually one of their favourite sushi places and we can see why, with the long queues also parked outside waiting for seats. ( Note to self: Must bring the family here for a night out. Curtis would love it!)

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