Emperor's Garden Chinese Restaurant - Haymarket Sydney

A typical spread for a Yum Cha table.

If this is not an establishment, then what is?  The Emperor Garden brand already existed before the significant numbers of migration of Asians to Sydney and Australia in general since the 1990s and especially in the past ten years or so.   Today EG has several divisions in its business  - soya bean products, meat butchers, noodle and roast meat retail, cakes and baking - in addition to yum cha and dining.

EG truly echoed what Chinatown meant and was - southern Chinese, Cantonese culinary and a gathering hub for a minority so far from the Mother land.  Today, Chinatown here means international students, a whole host of cuisines and not just Chinese, plus a whole variety of south-east Asian demographics. There are new entrants, old compatriots and fancy business models for yum cha lunching these days.

Youngsters may these days not be over thrilled at the arrangements whereby they accompanied their parents on weekends, tables seated ten to twelve and the cooking was retro. On the other hand, parents and grand parents find the younger generation members absorbed in their smart phones, social media and game apps, even when seated beside each other.   Taiwan styled dian xin, modern versions of the food like at Tim Ho Wan and ordering without trolleys have also changed the landscape of the yum cha experience.  What may not have changed is the noisy chatter, the tables placed close to each other and those bamboo baskets....
A Siew Mai dumpling is held over a congee brewed with century old eggs, ginger and chicken slices.

Emperor's Garden may have been caught in a time warp, but that is how the older customers like it.
A rather rushed visit meant for us us meant there was no way to saviour a whole range of delights like on weekends.  So we had three symbolic tastings - we wanted representatives of slow cooked, steamed and baked dishes.   The steamed pork and prawn dumplings at EG are highly recommended - they are of plump, flavourful and traditional vibes.  Next best that day was the congee, reeking of home cooking with a certain wholesomeness, especially on a cooler day outside.

The front portion of the restaurant on the ground floor.   There is an upper level, with windows overlooking the light rail tracks, Paddys market and weekend crowds outside.

What surprised me was the quality of the pastry  of the Char Siew So.  Now, have I been spoilt by the impeccable creations of THW, not far away now in the city centre, without having to go to Burwood and Chatswood?   Baked stuff are liked by mainstream Australians, so this is an important test product.  I did find the oiliness not acceptable and the outer pastry not sufficiently of the texture I expected.  The meaty bits inside were okay, not salty and a plenty on offer.

Breaking up my baked Char Siew So

What surprised me on another count was that the trolley Dollies did  not move much when we were there, just parking themselves at certain spots and not even approaching most of the seated customers.
Maybe there was not much room on this ground floor.  No menus were given out like at THW.  IT then became a game of guessing cat and mouse - oh lady, can you please show us what you have in your closed up containers and baskets?   A mate teasingly remarked that one must be able to speak Cantonese in order to get the food going.  Or Mandarin as well?

However, once you got their attention, the staff were helpful, walking up and down to fulfil your request.

There is always a queue to this from passers-by who just want a light snack whilst walking around Sydney's Chinatown.

The Emperor's Garden Chinese Restaurant is located at 96-100 Hay Street, Haymarket Sydney.
Opening hours are from 7am to 130am every day.
Contact +61 2 9211 2268 and +61 2 9211 2135

Emperor's Garden Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato