Sunday, November 11th 2001. 9:04 AM. I am violently woken by the severe tones of my $12 clock radio. Good, I am up early and trust me, this is VERY early for me. All my brain can think of is coffee, but I must get into gear. A quick call to simonc lets me know that he is already there. He had a 3 1/2 drive to get there. Errgghh, damn him!
I am out the door into glorious sunshine within minutes and following a brief walk, I am assailed by the sights, scents and sounds of Sydney's wonderful Chinatown. simonc and a friendly potential noder, anjum are waiting outside Kam Fook's. I plead with them, coffee!; things can get ugly in the absence of caffeine I assure them. After consuming perhaps the worst coffee available in Sydney, hungry noders start to arrive. First suspects are Freaek and roommate Colin, followed in quick fashion by alex.tan and Kalon, whose suit added an air of sophistication to an otherwise casual bunch. Greetings are exchanged, feet shuffle, stomachs rumble. A table must be secured. We are given 2 tables of eight, which turns out to be a little ambitious. Inoshiro_K and lignocaine soon arrive swelling our numbers to an acceptable level.
Food, food, let's get down to business. This is Sydney's best yum cha after all. 3 different guises of rice noodles, har gua dumplings, braised chicken feet, crisp shallot dumplings, jiaozi and simonc procured for us our very own char siew (BBQ pork) lady, bringing us copious quantities of the stuff.
Amidst flying chopsticks, steaming tea and rapid fire conversations, a lost looking VirtualWolf shows up with his mum. She politely asks me if we can arrange to see him safely home. I assure her VW's safety as images of subterranean bars and decadent drinks pass through my synapses. VW grabs a bowl and chopsticks and is soon in the swing of things. Just as we are holding our bellies and screaming "no more", Kalon's phone rings. It is mellamaphone, jt and arkaem who got a little lost.
No time to waste, we decamp, pile into cars and head to Sydney's historic Rocks area. The Glenmore Hotel is one of Sydney's better-kept secrets. Just an average working pub at street level, the rooftop is awash with million dollar vistas of the Bridge, harbour and Opera House. A few drinks, and it is off to Kalon's employer's rooftop around the corner. Well, the views here are even better, so good in fact that they have a remotely controlled streaming web cam, www.viewsydney.com.au Now it's a long story, but Freaek was in possession of a stuffed monkey, which soon replaced the harbour views for some unfortunate web surfer who was controlling the cam at the time.
Three rooftops were hit that day, the final being my place of employ, where noders understandably grew tired of the constant stair climbing. We stretched out and roasted in the sun for a while as Freaek and I tried to phone Ling Ling, the headless dog.
6PM. Things came full circle with a trip back to Chinatown and an early dinner at the infamous BBQ King. Peking Duck, everyday soup and gasp, more char siew. simonc, I have only one thing to say, "squeala come un miale".
At this stage we lost the company of simonc, alex.tan, lignocaine, and VirtualWolf, who wisely saw that things could get unruly from here on. How right they were. I dragged the poor bunch up to Frigid at the Hopetoun Hotel, which I falsely declared to be just 'round the corner. Half an hour later, we arrived. How far did we walk that day? Anyone's guess, but we did need to work off the BBQ pork.
Pool was played, Chilled live beats were provided by Sub Bass Snarl and yet more alcohol was taken. At this point Inosiro_K performed one of the more amazing feats of the day by consuming a schooner (425 ml) of Guinness in a little less than 9 seconds. I felt dizzy just watching it.
8PM. Some are a little crossed eyed and unsure of foot by this stage, not the least myself. Polite goodbyes are exchanged and happy noders go of into the night.
Kudos go out to simonc, mellamaphone, jt, arkaem and lignocaine who all undertook long journeys to attend. To alex.tan and lignocaine for ordering the ma po dofu. To Kalon for allowing some superlative views and risking his job. To Inoshiro_K for just drinking that black beer so damn fast. To Freaek for brining the monkey and to VirtualWolf for bringing your mum. Thanks to all of you for making it a great day.
"It's huge. There are more people waiting outside this 800-seater restaurant for a weekend lunchtime table than would fit inside your average Sydney bistro. And its good. Yum cha here is terrific - madly noisy, tenemently crowded and unashamedly chaotic."
SMH Good Food Guide review of Kam Fook's.
Man, how could I miss out on Yum cha at a restaurant where the waiters sport walkie talkies.
Missions to be accomplished this time around
Turn up on time. Ok, so I work late Saturday nights and usually go out partying with the restaurant crew. I can miss that for one week, I guess.
Get more gweilo's to eat the exotica. Freaek ate congee last time around. This was a good start. This time you are all gonna try steamed duck feet, blood jelly and braised intestine. I assure you; you will....
Try not to upset the staff so much. Aww stuff it... Maybe this can't be accomplished, it IS an E2 gathering after all.
Weather permitting, I suggest a jaunt down to The Rocks afterwards for some considered chit chat and polite imbibing at the Glenmore Hotel, 96 Cumberland St, The Rocks (see above for the URL), roof top views of the Harbour Bridge and Opera house and extremely surly bar staff.