[Penang, Malaysia] Dim sum breakfast at 𝗬𝗼𝗻𝗴 𝗣𝗶𝗻 (榕檳茶樓), Kimberley Street

Yong Pin is one of the “Big 5” dim sum breakfast spots located in the old commercial/retail section of George Town. The other ones are:

All things being equal, I think Yong Pin might just be the best dim sum spot among the 5 in that area.

All 5 spots are within 5-10 minutes’ walk from each other, but all the basic dim sum staples (“siu mai”, “har gow”, “lor mai gai”, “dai bao”, “pei dan chok”, etc.) have their distinct flavours and textures. So, each of these dim sum spots have their own regular set of loyal clientele who opted for the one which suits their palate.

Yong Pin, which has been operating since 1981, is a favourite among many Penangites I know. It’s run by owner-dim sum chef, Chen Seck Yin, 37. His mother, Choong Siew Mei, takes care of the front of house.

I love their “siew mai” (pork-prawn dumplings) and har gow (shrimp dumplings(, which were well-made and pretty tasty. However, their shrimp-filled “cheong fun” has thicker flat noodles than the delicate version I tried at Leong Kee last week.

Yong Pin’s “lor mai gai” also has a drier texture than I’d have liked - this is their worst item on the menu - avoid it.

The “dai bao” here was also blander, although I can see their regular clientele making a beeline for those. I prefer my “dai bao” with more assertive flavours. But Yong Pin does deliver where it counts with very fresh, tasty “siu mai” and “har gow”.

Many of the old Chinese staff have retired, and in their place are Indonesian wait-staff, working under close supervision of the older workers to ensure authenticity in the dim sum’s taste.

No menu for dim sum, as the ‘dim sum women’, bearing trays of freshly-steamed dim sum of various types will come to your table. Just pick and choose what catches your eye.

What we had:

  1. Siu Mai (pork-shrimp dumpings)

  1. Har gow (shrimp dumplings)

  1. Dai bao (large chicken-pork bun)

  2. Lor mai gai (glutinous rice with chicken, Chinese waxed sausage, pork)

  1. Pork-shrimp-dried oyster dumplings

  1. Chaozhou-style chive dumplings

  1. Shrimp-filled “cheong fun”

Our breakfast spread - everything, including a pot of refillable “Ti Kuan Yin” tea costs only US$12, more than enough for two persons.

A “yum cha” breakfast can be a noisy, raucuous affair on a Sunday morning, with family groups & all the din and chatter. But that’s all part of the fun. One of the unmissable breakfast experiences in George Town.

Address — SUPERCEDED
Yong Pin Restaurant (榕檳茶樓)
11-B & C, Jalan Sungai Ujong
10100, George Town, Penang
Tel: +604-261 1355
Operating hours: 6am-12 noon Tue-Sun for dim sum.
7pm-midnight Tue-Sun for Cantonese cooked dishes.

New Address - as of 25 Oct 2021
Yong Pin Restaurant (榕槟茶楼)
59-A, Kimberley Street, 10100 George Town, Penang, Malaysia
Tel: +6016-430 6789
Opening hours: 7am to 2.30pm daily

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Yum cha on the 8th Day of the Chinese New Year with a dim sum breakfast at Yong Pin on Sungei Ujong Road.

Penangites taking advantage of the loosening of the SOPs on Day 39 of the current pandemic lockdown: from today, more than 2 persons can share a table, subject to 1-metre distance between the diners.

We made our selection from the dim sum counters at the entrance - a change in procedures compared to pre-COVID days when waitresses bearing trays of dim sum would make their rounds to the tables.

Now, we order at the counter, and our selection would be brought straight to our table.

Some of the items we had:
"Siu mai" (pork-shrimp dumplings)

"Lor mai kai" - steamed glutinous rice with chicken, char-siu, and shitake mushroom

Pork-shrimp dumplings with ginger, century egg and carrot

Prawn-seaweed roll

"Cheung fun" - steamed rice rolls with shrimp filling

"Lou pat kou" - pan-fried radish cake

"Dai pao" - big, chicken bun - I love this: a large fluffy steamed bun with chicken, radish, Chinese sausage & mushroom filling, flavoured with Shaoxing wine, ginger juice, oyster sauce and other condiments.

Baked "cha-siu pao"

"Malai kou" - literally, “Malay cake”, though it’s a wholly HK-Cantonese creation, and has nothing to do with Malaysia. Steamed sponge cake with a caramelised sugar aroma & flavour.

The whole place exuded an old-world atmosphere, with coat-hangers on the walls - which people used for hats and motorbike helmets nowadays. :joy:

The main altar of the 3 Taoist Deities: the red-faced Guan Yu, white-faced Guan Ping and black-faced Zhou Cang, look down on the diners. Most households and businesses will have altars like this one, with the gods and deities whom the house/shop-owner choose to worship.

Sungei Ujong Road, off Prangin Road - one of the narrow streets in Chinatown, where Yong Pin is located.

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I like that there are 2 in each dish. This way I can try more things as I only need one dumpling or whatever. In HK it’s always 3 or 5 for the small things?

My palate is not so refined so dim sum everywhere tastes good to me. I would probably be happy with the least good dim sum on your list. Rather that than the frozen stuff we have here.

So you are not the only one in the group who makes photos. I notice your dining companion had a Sony. I think it’s a Sony.

I’m a Fujifilm fan, back in 2002, but have been using this one since 2013:

Since December 2017

Since a couple of years

And since last year

Spent 10K last year on photo gear alone and can’t wait to use my cameras when travel is possible again!

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We are Sony people. :joy:

Yong Pin has just moved to a new location, still within Penang’s Chinatown area: 59A Kimberley Street, the spot which used to be occupied by the legendary Teochew/Chiuchow restaurant, Goh Huat Seng.

The new set-up retains the old-world atmosphere of a yum cha spot, but no more old ladies bearing trays of dim sum for one to select table-side. Instead, we need to go up to the food counters to choose the dim sum items ourselves:

I quite missed the rustic, well-worn feel of their old place. This new premises: just 11-days-old at the moment, seemed a bit too spick-and-span for a traditional Chinatown eatery.

One thing which hasn’t changed is that their clientele remained the mainly older denizens of Chinatown, and one hears Cantonese chatter throughout - for the Cantonese people are the ones who favor having dim sum for breakfast.

The founder-owner of Yong Pin, 72-year-old Chen Wah Kit, is still pretty hands-on in running the kitchen. With him here is his eldest son, Chen Sek Yin, 40, who’s learning the ropes from his father.

We couldn’t resist ordering the Ma Lai Gou, literally translated from Cantonese as “Malay steamed cake” - a classic HK dim sum choice, oddly-named as there is nothing remotely resembling that in the Malay food world.

We surmised that this very Hong Kong creation got its moniker as Hongkongers first encountered a similar-looking dessert - with its distinctive bubbly appearance - in the Indonesian Bika Ambon or honeycomb cake, first popularized throughout Singapore and Malaya by Indonesians from Medan/Northern Sumatera. To the Hongkongers, the Malays and Indonesians are both South-east Asian people, so the Indon cake was conveniently called a Malay cake.

Texture- and taste-wise, there is no similarity at all between the sponge cake-like Ma Lai Gou (wheat flour is used in the recipe) and the moister, more pudding-like texture of the Bika Ambon, made from tapioca flour, with the addition of palm wine instead of yeast, as well as coconut milk.

Yong Pin’s Dai Bao wasn’t one of its forte back during the days at its old location. Today, the one we got was the best among all dim sum eateries on Penang Island! We need to go back again to try and make sure it wasn’t just a flash in the pan this morning!

One of Yong Pin’s claim-to-fame has been its Haw Gow/steamed prawn dumplings - certainly not pretty to look at, but the best-tasting by far among the Chinatown yum cha spots.

Har Gow - ugly-looking but tasted absolutely perfect: juicy prawns, very savory-sweet.

Siu Mai - both the standard and century egg versions were rather over-steamed and were rather dry and hard.

Lor Mai Gai - glutinous rice with chicken, Chinese waxed sausage & shitake mushroom: not Yong Pin’s strong suit. The balance of flavors was not really there.

Wu kok - flaky yam puffs: the version here is heavier and stodgier than what a good one should be.

Steamed chicken drumettes wrapped in Chinese white cabbage - blander than I expected, but very succulent chicken-meat.

Our choice of Chinese tea was the popular kuk-pou: a blend of kuk fa (chrysanthemum tea) and pou lay (pu-erh tea)

Dan taht - HK-style egg tarts: excellent rendition here, with buttery, flaky shells, and eggy, custard centres.

Conclusion: a mixture of hits-and-misses here at Yong Pin. I’d recommend their dai bao, har gow and egg tarts.

New Address - as of 25 Oct 2021
Yong Pin Restaurant (榕槟茶楼)
59-A, Kimberley Street, 10100 George Town, Penang, Malaysia
Tel: +6016-430 6789
Opening hours: 7am to 2.30pm daily

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