When Z suggested Jin Hai Wan for a yum cha get together, I was intrigued about this new eatery. Then I realized this is the reincarnation of Dynasty Chinese Restaurant, a tired, dark place which used to serve acceptable yum cha. What a difference a spruce up makes. The new space is bright, inviting, the Platys and goldfish in the new aquarium even put a smile on the little people’s faces. Parking at the Wilson carpark across the road is subsidised at $4 a visit.
The staff are friendly, courteous, yet very persistent in hawking their tasty wares. It felt rude to refuse their offerings, and we found ourselves apologising several times. It is far too easy to go overboard with your selections, so pace yourself as the trolleys make their rounds at short intervals. Small dishes are $4, the majority are medium ($4.90) or large ($5.60), with special dishes at $6.60.
We started the session with juk, or congee (rice gruel). There is a selection of pork with century egg, mock shark fin and plain rice, which came garnished with slices of pickled ginger and spring onions, remember to ask for a dash of pepper. This was lightly flavoured and nourishing, my only concern was the use of some quite badly chipped bowls.
There is a range of steamed dumplings ($5.60 for 3); spinach and prawn, shark fin and prawn, peanut and there’s also plain prawn dumplings for the purists. The pastry skin is so translucent thin, you can admire the delicious fillings.
The deep fried prawn toast ($6.60) has chunky prawn pieces (instead of the traditional mince), totally decadent, especially when generously smeared with mayonnaise. The deep-fried calamari tentacles ($6.60) is crunchy, not too salty, chewy-soft.
The steamed bbq pork buns ($4.90 for 3) had a great soft dough, and the savoury, fatty pork pieces hit the spot, but there just wasn’t enough pork filling.
Stuffed prawns on braised mushrooms ($6.60), steamed beef balls ($4.90) and siu mai ($4.90) are the usual crowd pleasers.
Our singular nod to greens was a plate of seasoned Japanese seaweed (wakame) salad, the bright emerald colour, subtle sweet-sour taste and the crunchy texture makes this a great condiment. The generous serving of rice roll ($5.60) comes with either bbq pork or prawn, and had a nice smooth, chewy texture.
After all the savoury dishes, we barely managed to sample the desserts. There is a dessert trolley filled with various cakes, pastries and puddings, and even a tau fu fa (sweet soybean pudding) trolley. We did succumb to the dan tart (egg custard tart) which is encased in the flakiest puff pastry (yes, it will scatter crumbs all over the table) and very tasty custard buns.
Jin Hai Wan is a welcomed upgrade to the CBD dining scene. Booking is mandatory for the weekend rush. The high standard of yum char in Auckland these days means most restaurants serve comparable quality of food, with similar pricing. I consider Jin Hai Wan to be a good yum char place where I would be happy to bring my parents; which in my books is the only criteria that counts.
Jin Hai Wan Chinese Seafood Restaurant
57 – 59 Wakefield Street, Auckland
Ph: 09 – 365 1838
Mon – Fri: 11am – 5pm, 5:30pm – 10:30pm
Sat – Sun & Public holidays: 10:30am – 5pm, 5:30pm – 10:30pm