Friday 19 April 2013

Linx BBQ Yumcha Cafe

93, Cecil St, South Melbourne, VIC 3205

Linx Cafe on Urbanspoon
This is no frills dining with variable food tastiness based solely on how long the food has been sitting out, when you order them. This is yumcha as you might have in a corner store on the streets of Hong Kong or Kuala Lumpur with a cuppa for brekkie, with no fuss, no service and no attitude. It is not as busy or famous as the South Melbourne Dim Sim, but really - lots of people enjoy a cheap meal here especially on Saturday an Sunday mornings. So, why are there so few comments and raters on Urbanspoon? Can it be considered a hidden gem? Or is it not glamourous enough for the general Urbanspooner?

The Place
This is a basic corner shop with a small space in and outdoors. There is no deco, no ambience and nothing much to speak of - but there is the market atmosphere, and it gets a bit grotty by 2pm and like the market stalls of Hong Kong and Kuala Lumpur, it's cheap and cheerful. Child friendly? Plenty of space for prams but I doubt they have high chairs. There is also parking all around (including the free one under Woolworths).

Things to do nearby: South Melbourne Market - great eclectic mix of shops and Clarendon Street shops are not too far away either.

The Food
This is basic street hawker style dim sum with the usual suspects of dumplings, buns, BBQ and roast meats. You can even buy cold or frozen ones to takeaway and steam at home. While they do a range of basic fried rice and various dishes served from the bain-marie, the highlights are the dim sum and roast meat offerings.

The highlights here for me include; Siu Mai, Hor Yip Fun (Lo Mai Kai), Ginger Prawns. The BBQ Pork, Roast Pork and Roast Duck are also nice. Lastly, great Fried Calamari (Yow Yu Sou) here IF is it freshly cooked and hasn't been sitting in the bain-marie for more than 15 minutes. The turnover is pretty quick here, so chances are, you will probably get a fresh serve. However, there's always exception to that. It's important to pay attention to what's been sitting there and what's just been brought over from the steaming area and main kitchen (clearly visible from the cafe). If you are not a dim sum variety veteran and need some guidance - check out all my other blog entries with the Yumcha tag and they explain all the different offerings.

The Service
You order the food at the counter, pay and self-serve. If the dish is not ready, they'll bring the food to you when it is. That's the basic service there and when it is busy, it can be a bit rushed. They are seldom ever rude but there's no time for pleasantries either. You kind of have to know what you are there for and order it all at the same time. This is not your leisurely yumcha carting experience - think of it as Hungry Jacks but with Yum Cha.

This is a great place for a quick brunch if you are in the vicinity and if you are not too fussy about posh service but just want some fast food for yourself and the family with a difference. There is no call to compare this to the yum cha restaurants around town, that would be comparing Maccas to Huxtaburger - which would be just silly. That's not to say the food here is not of quality, it's just the style is different.

Cultural Moment
Hawker style yumcha are very popular in the cities of Kuala Lumpur and Hong Kong, and even in Singapore in some parts. The locals love it because you get good quality brekkie, lunch or even mid night supper without the fuss of going to a restaurant. This is how many locals do it, with a big pot of tea and no frills service, grimy floors, uncomfortable chairs and freshly steamed dim sums. Order up a serve of congee  star with the dumplins. It takes a family usually about 30 minutes to polish off a good variety of dim sums before they go off on their way to the markets or night markets. The atmosphere is vibrant and market like - nothing posh. It's probably one of the best dining experiences of SEAsia and if you have never tried it before, you should the next time you are in one of those three cities.

The food served here are arguably less flash than the ones at the restaurants, they might be served in bamboo or even stainless steel steamers, but the reality is, the quality varies from the ones which are really notable and popular to the less frequented ones. There are lots of local guides who will be able to tell you where to go.

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