Ahhhhhh Yum Cha. I’m not sure if it’s the thrill of watching those little trolleys piled with steamer baskets race around the tables, the fact that I can enjoy dumplings drowned in soy sauce at 11am, or if it’s the bite-sized portions that allow me to taste everything on the menu, but there’s something about the Yum Cha craze that’s got me good.
But, embarrassingly, there’s an element of Yum Cha that seems to bring out the competitive side in me (one that I feel many of you might be able to relate to). As soon as I hear that first creak of a trolley’s wheel my adrenaline starts pumping and I can’t seem to pull my eyes away from the basket of my favourite golden goodness, in a move that I can only hope intimidates others for long enough for me to make my move. In most cases, my excitement is diluted as Karen on table 10 nabs the last one and I’m left with nothing but rejection as I turn a hopeful ear to the sound of the next oncoming service. It turns out this excited yet competitive feeling was one I shared with Mark Wallbank, owner of the newly rebranded The Golden Nest at Woodpecker Hill.
Coming out of lockdown, Mark and the team knew they needed to adjust to a new landscape in the hospitality business which meant it was time for a refresh. It wasn’t that Woodpecker Hill was broken, but they had to accommodate for the changing times and create a casual offering that means that locals could dine a few times a week rather than a few times a year. This ‘pivot’, for lack of a better word, included the introduction of Yum Cha Weekends. A fresh approach to the traditional premium service but with a twist. A place where we could leave our egos at the door and enjoy fresh, made-to-order dishes created with a Japanese influence and polynesian flavours. “Restorative Dumplings” as Mark calls them, cater to the hangovers, while dishes like the Cheeseburger Bao offer intrigue and the ‘fun-food’ factor, something that is integral across all of Mark’s restaurants.
Gone are the days of the pulled pork bao! The cheeseburger bao signifies their ‘fun food’ philosophy and was something that was initially created as a joke. Turned out the customers loved it (as did we) and it’s been a hit on the menu ever since!
Steamed Mushroom & Porcini Soup Dumplings
A soft, delicate dumpling of mushroom and truffle enclosed with a steaming hot broth. Tip from the top: place the dumpling in a soup spoon, punch a hole in the side with a chopstick, slurp up the soup and follow it up with the dumpling. Delish!
Wagyu Beef Brisket Pot Stickers
Dumplings for the meat lovers. These hearty wagyu dumplings are not for the faint hearted. Dunked in soy sauce and chili these are the epitome of restorative dumplings!
Salt and Pepper Cauliflower
Fluffy, chunky cauliflower rice served over a poached egg, kombu and black mayo and sprinkled with Japanese togarashi. The trick here is to break through the egg with a spoon, stirring it all together for a creamy rich dish.
A Woodpecker Hill classic and one that has thankfully remained in its rightful place as an integral member of the refreshed menu. The eggplant has also undergone a bit of transformation with a new yuzu miso caramel dressing, still crispy and even more moorish than ever.
Creamy slices of salmon served in a sharp black, garlic ponzu dressing and pickled daikon. I can’t get enough of ponzu dressing, made with rice wine vinegar, lemon and soy sauce; I was beyond thrilled with the salmon to ponzu dressing ratio on this one.
A traditional Japanese dish that could be described as a soft cabbage pancake, topped with a contrasting crunchy soft shell crab, drizzled with okonomiyaki sauce and ‘heart stopping’ japanese mayo, kimchi and bonito flakes.
Soft, lightly fried tofu served with fresh, crisp tomato, punchy shallots and shiso leaf.
Chicken and Kimchi Fried Dumplings
Another twist on the traditional, these dumplings are packed with gooey mozzarella cheese that oozes out as you bite into the crispy shell, with the added kick of spicy kimchi.
Chocolate Bubble Tea
Black tea layered with milk chocolate, tapioca pearls and vanilla milk foam.
Yum Cha Weekends at The Golden Nest at Woodpecker Hill run both Saturday and Sunday from 11am till 3pm. With an incredible menu to choose from, why not enjoy a taste of everything that this incredible Parnell haunt has to offer! With amazing service and plenty of food to go round, you won’t find yourself distracted from your weekend catch ups as your eyes are glued on the kitchen door, instead you will find yourself relaxed in a cosy booth enjoying your fresh, made to order dumplings to your heart’s content. Find out what delicacies are hidden in the woodpecker’s Golden Nest this weekend.
Yum Cha Hours: Saturday and Sunday 11am – 3pm
Address: 196 Parnell Road, Parnell, Auckland