A DM popped up in my Twitter client, asking if I’d like to visit Sino Chai for a blogger’s lunch.
Does it rain in the UK even in the summer? Is the Burj Khalifa the tallest building in the world? Is Jar Jar Binks annoying?
I’d heard about Sino Chai before – on fellow Fooderati blog My Nappytales
– and was definitely interested in visiting someday. I just never got the chance. I’ve been inculcated into the Cult of the Dim Sum and have been trying out many places with that fare recently.
At the end of June however, I ended up popping by and ordering their all-you-can-eat dim sum deal. Which, by the way, is insanely good value – AED 78/- per person for lunch, AED 88/- per person for dinner, and this is valid on Fridays and Saturdays. Our waiter was extremely helpful – he got a selection of everything on the menu and then we ordered more of the ones we liked.
No, that’s a lie. We ordered more of SOME of the ones we liked…we would’ve probably ordered all of the choices all over again, but we were so stuffed.
Only a week later, was the blogger’s lunch. I toddled off there expectantly, having already partaken of the excellent dim sum. Felice Liao, the general manager of the restaurant, was there to greet us. And oh, what hospitality we were shown.
After speaking to us for a bit about the restaurant (did you know it’s been open for four years now?), Liao had the Ten Lu Oolong Tea brought out, which many found slightly bitter, but I actually enjoyed. I’m not sure how many cups of these I gulped down. Having already had some tea the previous time I’d visited, I was quite happy with the quality of the drinks.
And then the feast began.
It started off with GBR Vege Tofu Soup, a clear soup, filled with vegetables and tofu. I’m not a particular tofu fan, but it was a hearty soup, and on its own would constitute a meal for some. We had to remind ourselves to contain ourselves and leave space for what was yet to come.
The garlic tofu cubes and beef tender with tasty sauce came next. I was surprised to find the beef starter was cold; it was pretty decent.
It was the dim sums next! The Oriental Beauty Tea Spring Onion Pan Cake is a consistently well-done dish – it’s nearly impossible I think, to get this one wrong, and Sino Chai does it well.
The Osmanthus Tea Vegetarian Dumpling and the Jasmine Tea Prawn with Chicken Shu mai were also good. Put dumplings in front of me and I can’t stop eating. They were great both times I’ve visited. Naturally, the carnivore in me preferred the siu mai more.
My surprise was the Chin Hsuan Tea Seafood in Tofu Skin. I’ve had tofu wrappers before (at other restaurants) and wasn’t very convinced by them, but this one I did enjoy. It was fried, yet didn’t feel heavy/greasy. Which is always a plus.
We were nowhere close to being done – the main course was about to arrive! All the while I was having my tea cup replenished.
Let me spend some time on the dish that still stands out in my mind. The Pineapple Fruity Prawn. When this beautifully presented dish arrived at the table, I’m pretty sure there were ooohs and aaahs (quite potentially all from me) at how exotic it looked.
A fresh pineapple halved, filled with chopped fruits, and prawns, all swimming in a yellow/orange sauce made from orange and mango. Upon tasting this dish, the unanimous decision was that while we would’ve never tried this item just seeing it on the menu, it was something we’d order the next time we visited. It’s a combo you wouldn’t think works, but it does. The fruity flavours merge very well with the prawn, in a way you wouldn’t have thought possible. Definitely ordering this one again.
The other main courses were equally well-done. We had (in order of pictures in the slideshow below): Prawn Garlic w/ Sweet & Hot Sauce; Mixed Mushroom; Hakka Stir Fried with Chicken; Shredded Beef Stir Fried with Kangkong in BBQ Sauce; Ginger and Spring Onion Fish; Sauteed Diced Chicken & Dried Tofu w/ Black Soy Bean Sauce; Mixed Vegetable Stir Fried with Home Made Noodle; and, Germinated Brown Rice or Mixed Brown Rice (steam).
I learned a lot during this time; Liao is passionate about the restaurant and the quality of the food served. She was so adamant about the freshness of food that some items which were on the original menu for us (like, lobster) was not served because she didn’t find fresh ones that morning. Kudos to her dedication. Another random fact I picked up: when ‘hakka’ is attached to any dish, it refers to a cooking style of the Hakka people, found in south-eastern China. And for health freaks, did you also know that cooking your food in tea seed oil is considered healthy because it contains no transfats? I didn’t!
After this, Liao ordered bubble tea, but instead of tapioca pearls, we had pearls made from sweet potato. Two types of tea were brewed over candle-heat: Jasmine tea and Black tea. I tasted both, and found the black tea’s Bubble Tea to be more to my taste.
After this, dessert! We had Snow Flower Cake, which was made primarily from coconut milk and pandan leaves. Literally melting in your mouth, it’s a dessert I’d love to have again.
The second part of dessert was homemade ice cream in four flavours: sweet potato, yellow sweet potato, black sesame and pomelo. I fell in love with all, but my favourite was the pomelo first, then the black sesame.
And just when you thought it was over…we had a tea brewing demonstration by Liao, which was extremely informative.
What I liked about the food, apart from its impeccable taste, was how healthy it felt. I was definitely stuffed at the end of this epic three-lounch lunch session (yes, really), but I didn’t feel unhealthily bloated.
There were also many Chinese people dining at the restaurant both times I’ve gone, and something that’s been pointed out me recently is that when people from a particular region are appreciative of a restaurant that claims to serve its cuisine, then it must be good, right?
Sino Chai’s got my vote – I am pretty sure you’ll love it too.
Practical tips: Sino Chai is located in Block B of Building 27 in Dubai Healthcare City. You can take the metro to the Dubai Healthcare City station (on the green line). If you’re driving, there’s paid parking outside (the RTA AED 2 per hour slots, and the private AED 10 per hour lot) and inside (AED 20 per hour). Go with an empty stomach and enjoy. Check out the official website here.
PS – Thanks to the person who’s gotten me eating seafood recently…I would’ve missed out on a lot in this meal if I’d avoided dishes with seafood in it.
Disclaimer: The first time I went to Sino Chai, it was as an anonymous reviewer; the blogger’s lunch was when I was a guest of the restaurant.