Central Park Mall
Lower Ground Floor, Shop 103-103A
Jl. Letjend S. Parman Kav. 28
+62 21 569 85422
Yum cha is not usually high on my list of things to eat when I’m in Indonesia. I don’t like to sound like a jerk but when you’re blessed with so many amazing yum cha restaurants run by Cantonese in my side of Melbourne, yum cha made by predominantly Hokkien-Chinese Indonesians pale in comparisons. I’m a Hokkien myself and while we dish out some beautiful Sino-Indonesian dishes, yum cha just ain’t one of their talents.
So when my aunty Emi, my family and myself came across an Indonesian yum cha chain, May Star, one afternoon in Central Park Mall, I had to roll my eyes. My parents were also not terribly keen and my brother was looking longingly at the Carl’s Jr stall across the mall.
But then we saw the ‘pay 1 get 2’ signs all over the place! The offer was only valid on weekdays and between 3pm – 5pm. It was 2:55pm at the time so we did what pretty much every second Chinese-Indonesian family in Jakarta were doing that afternoon: we waited outside the restaurant.
The restaurant was empty when we rocked up before 3pm. As soon as the clock struck 3pm, however, it was packed to the rafters. Ah, God bless Chinese-Indonesians.
Rather than the crappy artificial pink prawn crackers we normally get back home sometimes, we got fried anchovies. Way, way better.
At May Star, you don’t get the full yum cha treatment where trolleys full of steamed delicacies come at you. Instead, the format is pretty much order-from-the-menu, which is fine by me. We decided to order several dim sum to share.
For a place that was swimming in waitresses, our food took a while to arrive. After 45 minutes, our tummies were filled with probably litres of chrysanthemum tea but no actual food. Our plate of fried anchovies had long disappeared. When we asked a waitress why the food was taking so long, she said that heaps of kitchen hands and chefs called in to say that they couldn’t come because of the flood. That was fair enough but I did find it odd that the waitresses had no issues coming in. I also reckoned that she could have told us that earlier on.
Our food did come though. What I do like about May Star is that they use pork when a lot of Indonesian yum cha restaurants don’t. I thought their siu mai was pretty good – I especially liked that they put bits of prawn in the filling to give it that extra dimension.
The har gow were also decent, can’t fault them.
I was excited to see xiaolongbao on the menu. They weren’t the best I’ve had – I found the filling a bit too bland and the dumplings didn’t contain nearly enough soup – but they certainly weren’t horrible.
We also had wontons in chilli vinegar sauce. Called ‘sui kiaw’ in Indonesian, these wontons were similar to the ones I make at home though I would have preferred the sauce to have more bite and less vinegar.
These pork dumplings were the only ones I didn’t like at all – they were very oily and the skins were soggy. Next.
I can never remember what these called (I usually call them ‘sweet sesame… things’.) but I won’t be ordering them again if I ever see myself at May Star again. They were not only dry but that shade of yellow kinda freaked me out (and no, it’s not my lack of white balance-ing skillz!)
Better were the ham siu gok (deep fried mocha balls), though more pork inside would have made them greater.
Mum’s favourite yum cha dish is the lo mai kai (steamed sticky rice in lotus leaf) and May Star did a very good version. In fact, mum reckons that this was her favourite dish that afternoon.
My brother may have had his eye on a Carl’s Jr. burger, but not before ordering his favourite yum cha dish, the wu gok. They were okay, but my brother wasn’t satisfied (he found them too dry) so off he went to Carl’s to get their equivalent of a Whopper burger with a side of onion rings (okay fine, it was me who went there to order it because he was too much of a wuss to order in Indonesian).
The zha liang was definitely the most disappointing dish. Not only were the doughsticks small, they were also fried in reused coconut oil which meant that they gave out this nasty smell and aftertaste. I usually love eating this dish but after one little portion, I couldn’t touch it anymore. Gross.
May Star may not have anything on Puma’s new collection or Melbourne’s yum cha restaurants (and if they ever serve a zhaliang like that at Tai Pan, Dragon Boat et al, imagine the uproar) but for an Indonesian yum cha restaurant, it’s actually decent. Okay, so the whole waiting thing really sucked (but understandable given the circumstances, I guess) and there are some dishes I’m going to avoid like Suharto’s family next time. But for the most part, it’s alright.
I still haven’t told you the best bit, though. When we took into account the discount and added up the ‘compulsory service charge’ and sales taxes, we only paid AUD$24 for six people.