Get here early if you want a parking spot. To enter from the parking lot, you walk down a covered walkway that hugs the building, which reminds me of a serene Buddhist temple.
The atmosphere inside is far from serene, though. It's warm and full of life, and the low ceiling bristles with chandeliers. The trolleys duck and weave through the narrow aisles between the tables, dodging the constant flow of patrons in and out as the tables turn over as fast as you can say...
Duck tongues with jellyfish
... quack? Dad loves these. Eating the placenta of an embryonic duckling recently was enough duck for me, though.
These prawn dumplings are supposed to have very delicate, translucent wrappers, but these were too thick and mushy.
The thing I love about Gold Leaf Sunshine is that they have a lot of interesting thing that are unique to them. I had never seen these before - it was a kind of prawn dumpling mince wrapped around the tail, and enveloped in a won ton wrapper. I didn't think they worked, but Mr Baklover loved them.
Speaking of which, his hangover breakfast this morning was a duck tongue followed by a big piece of tripe. Now I remember why I married him!
Many of my Sundays as a child were spent nibbling at a shu mai dumpling, impaled on a chopstick. My girls have recently woken up to the delights of yum cha and they are now continuing in the tradition. I've had much better shu mai than these, though, and in fact, Gold Leaf Sunshine really let itself down with the calibre of its dumplings today.
This was a gentle dish of braised mushrooms atop balls of minced prawn. It was OK; nothing memorable.
Prawns in fried beancurd skin
I hang out for these deep-fried beauties. They are hard to stuff up, but again, I've had better.
This sticky rice was, again, pretty good but not amazing.
Crispy pork and jellyfish
But oh, the crispy pork! Glazed and bubbled skin that shattered like candy in your mouth. The meat underneath was succulent, and the hoi sin dipping sauce entirely superfluous. This was served with more jellyfish, which is mild, chewy, and sweet.
The squid was fantastic, crisp yet tender. I love the way the batter adheres to the suckers and provides textural variation to the smoother top side of the legs. Whitebait is often done in the same way.
This was eggplant stuffed with the same nondescript prawn mince that kept featuring in this meal. The sauce it was in was glutinous and bland, and the eggplant was oily and unsalted.
Another of Dad's favourites, and a must if you are bringing a baby to yum cha - they love to gnaw on the big bone. They all eventually develop a "gross factor" though, it seems, and refuse to eat chicken's feet any more. I know - I was that baby once!
I know, you want to know what it tasted like, right? Erm, I was full, just had NO room to fit a piece of wobbly, grey blood jelly in. I mean, I totally would have eaten it otherwise.
Ham sui gok
Oh, so I guess you don't have any room for ham sui gok? A crispy torpedo of sweet dough, enclosing delectable, savoury pork and mushroom?
The troops were growing restless, but the dessert cart kept hovering around the outer edges of the restaurant, like a mirage. Thankfully our waiter was kind enough to see us looking at it yearningly and brought us over a bowl of jelly. See the wooden "bucket" on the left? That is silken tofu, which is served with a sweet ginger syrup. Do try it, it's absolutely delicious.
I've had far better dumplings here - it must have been an off day. So far, I still think Gold Leaf Sunshine is your best option in the west.
And the rest of the day? Nothing says "I love you" like an uninterrupted afternoon of study and a mango pudding.
Gold Leaf Sunshine
491 Ballarat Rd, Sunshine (map)
Phone: 9311 1863
Yum cha prices: $5, $6, $7, $8.50, $10.50