Denman Masthead

Lets Do Yum Cha this Enlighten

Calum Stenning

This weekend, the Enlighten Night Noodle Markets return once again…and aren’t we excited?!

As always, vendors will be in (friendly…?) competition as they sling their fare, but one particular corner of the culinary market is raising the bar in a major way – and not for a demographic you might expect.

Those with dietary restrictions always get stung to some degree at large scale food events – it seems inevitable – but in good news for vegans and vegetarians, veteran Yum Cha vendors Lets Do Yum Cha are bringing some very exciting offerings to Canberra for the first time.

After a successful trial run at the Melbourne Noodle Markets, Rowan Bates and his team (including a Hong Kong chef with 45 years of experience…) will be bringing a range of vege and vegan-friendly treats to Enlighten, including dumplings and spring rolls.

“At these events, there are very limited vegan offerings,” explains Rowan. “The majority of items are very meat-heavy, and people don’t normally assimilate Yum Cha with vegan.”

“For example, a lot of the vegetarian spring rolls made in the traditional Cantonese style have an oyster sauce in it – we’ve found a substitute that keeps it vegan! It’s a complete veggie fest.”

After extensive taste testing and redevelopment of their entire range, Rowan says the new vege and vegan options are incomparable with the old.

The Night Noodle Markets are back again this year.

“We’ve stepped up the ingredients as well – where they used to be a 6 or 7/10, they’re now a 10/10 – we’ve gone for the most expensive of everything across the entire range.”

Rowan admits that their profit margin might take a hit, but the product now aims to be premium – thus making the experience of Yum Cha the best it can be, no matter your food preference.

In addition to the upping the quality of ingredients, they’re also making everything by hand.

“There’s a massive difference between machine-made and handmade Yum Cha,” explains Rowan. “The machines require a constant injection of liquid to keep the skins going, and it just dilutes the tastes and the flavours. It’s expensive to have everything hand folded, but the end product is significantly different.”

A pitfall of Yum Cha, in the context of a food festival at least, is that you get a steamer of one item – and if you want to try more than just that item, you need to get another steamer. Lets Do Yum Cha have a simple workaround for this, essentially offering a pick-and-mix of Yum Cha.

“You can have all your favourites on one plate, instead of getting five plates,” says Rowan. Genius. Vegetarian and Vegan options or the traditional options like the fluffy Pork Bun or flavoursome Prawn Dumplings…take your pick!

Lets Do Yum Cha already have a growing insta-fanbase – their googly-eyed custard buns gaining fans wherever they’re served, and this go around, they’re looking out for those of us who don’t like to eat things with actual eyes.

Lets Do Yum Cha Custard Bun Photo. Photo: @scrumptious_munchies.

Lets Do Yum Cha Custard Bun Photo. Photo: @scrumptious_munchies.

Rowan stresses that they do exactly what their name says. “We are authentic, says Rowan. “We are an authentic Yum Cha shop, we are specialists in what we do.”

the essentials

What: Lets Do Yum Cha
When: Friday 3 March until Sunday March 12
Open 5pm-9pm Monday – Thursday and Sunday nights and from 5pm-midnight on Friday and Saturday nights
Where: The Enlighten Night Noodle Markets, Reconciliation Place, King Edward Terrace
More information:

Feature image: Image supplied.

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Calum Stenning

Calum Stenning is Her Canberra’s newest and most male (read: only) intern. Three years spent living overseas has given him a renewed appreciation for Canberra life. Every day starts with coffee and the Sydney Morning Herald crossword at a favourite coffee haunt, as he is wary of the perils of dementia, and thinks crosswords are a viable safeguard. If he lives to a dementia-appropriate age (evidence says he won’t), he’ll let us know. More about the Author

  • CLJF

    Wondering if stall holders also make such efforts for those who are gluten intolerant, a significant proportion of the population.

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