05 Jul Bodhi – Yum Cha
Is this the best vegan yum cha in Sydney?
It’s 11am on a Sunday morning and it seems like most of Sydney, my family and me included, is in full Yum Cha mode. At Bodhi, the queue is winding all the way back to the steps of St. Mary’s Cathedral, so I’m grateful we thought to make a booking.
Even on this wintry Sunday, the al fresco courtyard is warm and inviting. The sun is shining through the leaves of the Moreton Bay fig trees, casting a beautiful dappled light across the tables. Fairy lights lace the branches of these majestic, historic trees, reminding me of the nighttime dining options, where Yum Cha gives way to a an la carte menu, and I make a mental note to book in again for next Friday night.
Bodhi takes the guesswork out of Yum Cha for vegans. Everything on offer is 100 percent plant-based, even though you’d sometimes swear they’d snuck a prawn in that dumpling, or that the spring roll had chicken inside it. The way they substitute meat with plants is pure perfection and it means you’re spared those agonising moments trying to pick from the few vegan options often thrown on a menu as an afterthought. It also means that even the most ardent omnivore will enjoy a meal here, leaving happy, full and content.
Bodhi has been bringing smiles to the faces of vegans since 1988 (non-vegans, too for that matter!). A Sydney institution, it first opened in China Town, but moved to this beautiful location, in the park below St Mary’s Cathedral, 10years ago, and it never, ever disappoints.
‘Kitty’ Xiao Hong Huang, who is one of Sydney’s few female yum cha chefs, runs the kitchen. The Hong Kong trained cook sends out dishes in servings of three, which is perfect, as my stepdaughter has joined us for a family catch up.
Everything tastes so good, we double on a quite a few offerings. The ‘prawn har gow dumplings, steamed ‘pork’ buns and creamed corn ‘chicken’ dumplings are all so delicious and while they reference meat, you can be assured that they are totally plant-based. This makes Bodhi a truly great place to take any friends transitioning to a vegan diet who might be missing meat, as they’d never know the difference.
Like all Asian yum cha, the offerings here range between steamed and fried. I always reach for the steamed offerings first and I can’t get enough of the carrot, ginger, broccoli dumplings. My husband and stepdaughter loved the steamed buns and flaky prawn taro ball.
Be sure to save room for dessert, as it doesn’t disappoint, either! There’s much to choose from, but we settle on mango pancakes, served with soy cream. There’s more than one reason Bodhi is always buzzing. It’s consistency amazing and wherever possible, all the ingredients are seasonal and local, so aside from a taste sensation, you know you’re eating really healthily, too. As for the service, it’s efficient, friendly and gracious, and like most Yum Cha restaurants it’s affordable – you won’t leave feeling hungry, or like there’s a massive hole in your finances.
Bodhi is located at: Lower Mezzanine Level Cook and Philip Park (between St Mary’s Cathedral and the swimming pool) 2 – 4 College Street Sydney
Review by Catherine Carr