The Cantonese styled breakfast is called Yum Cha, which is very popular in Sydney because it is widely considered as an unique meal of the Chinese. For years in Hong Kong Yum Cha is the common pastime of the aged, available in the morning and afternoon. Several years ago some restaurants even offered midnight Yum Cha at discounted prices of the food items. This was truly a wonderful experience for the city never sleeps.
Unlike Aussie brekky, the food items are not as simple as egg, ham and mushroom. The meal is served in the way of a hot pot of tea with traditional hot food (called dim sum)items like steamed buns: meat balls and rice noddle rolls; or dumplings made from prawn or pork; or desserts such as egg tarts and deep fried spring rolls. Yum Cha is a direct translation of the two words spoken in Cantonese: “Yum” literally means to drink, (but more likely means to taste) and “Cha” means the tea. Yum Cha has been a Cantonese style meal popular for many years. When I was just a kid, the food were placed in a big round bamboo flat-bottom basket carried and served around tables. Since each kind of food is small in size, one can take two or three items for meal.
I am not a big fan of Yum Cha, but being in Hong Kong for a short stay with my mum, I couldn’t resist her invitation to enjoy a Yum Cha meal in the morning as a quick breakfast. Yesterday I went together with her to have Yum Cha at a Cantonese restaurant on the 12th floor of a commercial building. To my surprise, the restaurant was packed with many old folks. We had to share a table with an old couple. My mun ordered a bowl of rice with minced pork and I had three small items. It was just AU$8 for the whole meal.
At this level I could see a panoramic view of the entire region nearby. It is not uncommon in this district: new and old mingled in a special style. I only feel it is chaotic, but I know there was no perfect city planning. The place now my mum lives is undergoing big change (like the rest of China): old blocks are struggle to come to terms with the high rises. There is no place for the old humble small blocks. From learning at our early age in the school we knew land in Hong Kong is scarce. This situation is now worsened.
The city is changing, but not everyone can keep up the pace. Many aged people like my mum still keep their simple everyday life: a pot of a hot tea with one or two food items in a Yum Cha meal.