Granted, it’s not mining rare earth minerals at gunpoint in the Congo for two bucks a day, but sometimes a Prick reckons there must be an easier way to make a buck. Today’s task: briefing and entertaining a delegation of dignitaries – OK, functionaries – from South-East Asia, complete with eight hours of simultaneous translation. Heavy going, with a break for lunch. I had thought about taking the crew down to La Rosa, Pendolino’s sister restaurant at the end of the Strand Arcade, but a co-worker from the same part of the world advised, play it safe, go Asian. And thus we found ourselves at Palace Chinese, a yum cha (or “dim sum”, as they say back in the US) hall upstairs in the otherwise unprepossessing Piccadilly Arcade running between Pitt and Castlereagh.
A year or so ago, this was a regular once-a-week lunchtime haunt, but for whatever reason Palace Chinese and I went our separate ways. But like old friends, we were able to pick up where we left off. Is this the most incredible yum cha in town? Probably not. But despite being more shabby than chic, it beats the very corporate Sky Phoenix nearby in the Westfield, which in its new incarnation is all play-it-safe corporate gweilo food. It’s reasonably friendly, as friendly as it can be when you all but have to resort to violence to keep more steamers and plates from hitting your table. And the food is fresh and good, with dumplings of all kind: prawn, spinach and garlic, scallop (particularly tasty) to name a few. Steamed pork buns, fried gyoza, it’s all there. It’s not pricey, either, if one doesn’t go crazy with the very yummy and more-ish barbeque dishes. The functionaries were happy, I was happy, the people paying the bill were happy, and I even managed a discrete happy snap: