Review: Sum Yi Tai

Review: Sum Yi Tai

Feast on Cantonese tapas and other delectable bar bites while enjoying a drink or two with your friends

Walk into Sum Yi Tai and pause. You’ll be forgiven for thinking you got teleported into a dingy bar in Hong Kong, with the dim light emanating from the wall-mounted lanterns and Cantonese songs playing in the background.

It’s definitely an interesting atmosphere, and one that puts you in a certain mood as you look to start your evening with friends. The worst part about deciding to have Chinese food for dinner before drinks is the inevitable moment when too much food is ordered, leaving you too full to enjoy the afterparty. In comes Sum Yi Tai with the solution: Cantonese food, bar bites style.

Start off with their Crispy Roast Pork ($14/10 pieces), which is roasted in-house and served with a saucer of spicy salted egg yolk sauce that’s absolutely moreish.There’s also a swipe of mustard at the side for those who aren’t a fan of salted egg yolk.

The skin of the roast pork pieces were all beautifully golden, with the fat-to-meat ratio being perfectly divided 50-50. I have to admit that on the first time I dropped by, the skin of the roast pork actually wasn’t quite as crispy.

Some pieces still retained a bit of crunch while others seemed more like cardboard. I gave that feedback to the staff and when I returned two weeks later, it seemed that my feedback had been passed on to the chef and every single last piece of roast pork had crispy skin. Definitely a plus point in my book.

The Four Seasons French Beans ($12) ticks all the boxes for a drinking snack. Greasy with a bit of bite, this plate of legumes with minced pork bits had me scraping the plate clean. The XO sauce that the french beans are fried with lends the dish a hint of heat, one that comfortably nestles at the back of the throat and is easily washed away with a cold beer.

For something a little more sinful, try the Crispy Pork Chips, Shrimp Paste ($12). Slices of pork belly are coated with prawn paste batter before being deep fried to a crisp. It was surprisingly light with no greasy mouthfeel, and each slice remained crispy throughout. The tasteof the prawn paste was present, but subtle enough to not overwhelm. My one gripe? I felt that the portion was a bit too small for the price. If there was about 50% more chips in the serving, that would be optimal for a sharing plate. As it is right now, I feel like I could polish off the whole plate on my own in about 15 minutes.

But I think the star of the night, for me, was the King Prawn Wanton Tossed in Chilli ($15). The skin of the wanton was thin and split open easily to reveal the filling inside, which had meaty chunks of prawn. Combine that all with a sauce made of vinegar and Sum Yi Tai’s house chilli, and you get a dish that leaves you wanting for more.

Unfortunately, you do get left wanting more because there’s only four wantons in a serving. Granted, the price is justified because of the king prawns, but if you’re in a group of four, that means each person only gets one wanton. You’ll probably have to end up ordering two servings of this, because one just isn’t quite enough.

Need to fill your stomach a bit? Sum Yi Tai’s Signature XO Carrot Cake ($14) will do the job. It’s definitely on the spicy side, but that only makes you want to inhale the entire plate.

Housemade carrot cake stir-fried with beansprouts, spring onions and egg with Sum Yi Tai’s signature XO sauce and house chilli paste, you get a heaping portion of wok-heigoodness. The bits of egg are slightly crisp at the edges and alongside the crunch of the beansprouts, these two elements add excellent textural contrast against the soft chunks of carrot cake.

Sum Yi Tai spans across three floors with a bar, Mona Lounge, on the second level. If you’re tired of beers, this is the place to be for some Cantonese inspired cocktails. The top floor is probably where most people would like to be, however. An open-air rooftop bar definitely sets the mood, and the more contemporary music playing here might appeal better to the younger crowd. All in all, there’s nothing groundbreaking in terms of the food here. These are all tried and tested dishes, but that’s exactly what makes Sum Yi Tai stand out. With almost everywhere else serving french fries, buffalo wings and other Western bar bites, a bar serving sharing portions of Chinese dishes that most of us are familiar with is a breath of freshair. At the end of the night, I felt as though I had a proper dinner at a bar, instead of merely having finger food to accompany my drinks.

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