Yum cha at AKIBA

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Sometimes, there's just nothing better than having yum cha on the weekend. AKIBA, a trendy Asian fusion restaurant, opened in December last year in Civic (check out my review of their non yum cha menu). And now they are doing yum cha on the weekends. This was the third week they had been running yum cha, so Linda and I decided to check it out!

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I love being able to see food on trolleys before ordering it! That way, if something doesn't look very appealing - you don't have to get it!

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On this occasion, we were seduced by the pork dumpling (shaomai) with xo sauce, the prawn wonton and the pork belly with plum and plum dressing. All dishes we tried were $10 each.

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Out of the three dishes pictured above, my favourite would have to be the deep fried pork belly. I could taste an acidic element, which cut through the richness of the meat and paired beautifully with the sweetness of the plum slices. This was the most value-for-money dish we ordered.

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The pork dumpling tasted fairly average on its own, but the xo sauce really brought it to life. I would have loved more than half a teaspoon of that sweet, salty and slightly spicy xo sauce on each dumpling. At $2.50 per dumpling, I thought it was a very pricey dish. The prawn wonton was deep fried and I could see actual prawn when I bit into it. But again, at $2.50 per wonton, I didn't think it was good value for money. The accompanying sauce was quite unusual. From memory, I think it was black sesame and garlic but it wasn't a great combination with the prawn wonton. An yuzu mayo sauce might have been a better dipping sauce.

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I know it doesn't look like much, but inside the delicate dumpling wrapper - the shiitake mushroom dumpling filling wowed us with flavour. The chilli oil and vinegar sauce was also the appropriate dipping sauce we had been waiting for all meal.

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One of my favourite things when I go to yum cha is the green tea that accompanies the food. Yum cha food can be a bit greasy, so the tea helps to take away the greasy mouthfeel. Just so you know, at AKIBA the first pot of green tea is free, but after that, it's a steep $4 per pot.

Overall, I thought the food was good, but not the most delicious yum cha I've had in Canberra. The expensive price tags didn't help either. But I loved being able to enjoy yum cha al fresco. Most yum cha restaurants can get quite noisy as patrons tend to be jammed in close. And there is also a sense of urgency when trolleys come around to grab food before the trolley wheels away. Then you often end up with tons of food on the table that goes cold before you get to it. The yum cha experience at AKIBA is much more leisurely by comparison. And the service by the attentive staff was a refreshing change to the abrupt service often found at usual yum cha establishments.

Do you prefer cheap and cheerful traditional yum cha? Or do you like a more upmarket and leisurely yum cha experience? Comment below :)

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