Yum Cha at The Scholar, Dickson

30 Mar

Twitter tells me that if you’re looking for good yum cha in Canberra, you can’t go past the Dumpling Inn at Jamison, or The Scholar in Dickson (with the Hellenic Club a close third). While I’m partial to anything in Belconnen, I also don’t get to visit Dickson too often, so The Scholar won out (this time). We call a few days before and book four of us in for 11am on Sunday (sittings start at 10.30am).


The first thing to know about The Scholar is that there are stairs. Lots of stairs. The big, tiled staircase leads to an glass wall of fish and crustaceans, together with a line to get in. Groups are seated quickly and we’re led to our table in the middle of the restaurant – even though it’s overcast, the room’s brightly lit thanks to the floor to ceiling windows overlooking Dickson.

Drink orders are taken, and then it happens – what we’ve been waiting for: the trolleys. It’s hard not to be overwhelmed with choice even with the very first trolley, and we’re faced with the usual quandary: do we stock up on what’s available and risk getting full too early, or do we wait for future trolleys which a) might not come or b) might not be very good.



We decide to stock up. But plenty other trolleys do come by – even though there’s a bit of a flood and famine feel, with stretches of too many trolleys and platters, and stretches of none.

Pork buns, calamari, sesame prawns and (chive?) dumplings

Pork buns, calamari, sesame prawns and (chive?) dumplings

Delicious pork bun

Delicious pork bun

I’m a sucker for pork buns, and these don’t disappoint: fluffy bun with sweet, salty, sticky pork filling.

Siu mai and pork buns

Siu mai and pork buns

The siu mai is delicious. In fact, I can’t fault most of the dishes.

(Prawn?) dumplings and radish cake

(Prawn?) dumplings and radish cake

Even the radish cake is good – deceptively light while being incredibly filling (and still tasting good!).


Fried lobster dumpling with mayo

The one dish which disappoints us comes from the first trolley. It’s calamari, and it’s overcooked. Because we don’t gobble it up like the other dishes, it lingers in the middle of the table, growing cold.

Chinese tea and calamari

Chinese tea and calamari

Apart from the there-and-not trolleys, the service is mostly efficient, with requests met quickly. Even though the tables fill up quickly, it’s never too loud (a big plus).

Chive dumplings with egg tarts in the background

Chive dumplings with egg tarts in the background

We miss out on two of my faves – steamed chinese broccoli and whitebait fritters – because we’re too full, but on appearances they look good. Next time!

Egg tart

Egg tart

To finish, the egg tart’s pastry is light and falls away, but there’s a touch too much of it compared with the filling.

Ultimately, though? The Scholar comes highly recommended for good reason. But to enjoy it fully you’ve got to bring along a bit of patience and some good company.

Date: Sunday, 30 March 2014

Where: 23 Woolley Street, Dickson

Cost: $112 for four, including a few rounds of drinks, tea and plenty of dishes (all mostly under $10)

Worthwhile factor: Worthwhile

Want more? If you’re keen for a weekend yum cha session, I’d suggest going no later than 11 or 11.30am.
The Scholar on Urbanspoon


3 Responses to “Yum Cha at The Scholar, Dickson”

  1. whisperinggums March 31, 2014 at 12:51 am #

    Did this restaurant used to be – hmmm – the New Shanghai? (I think that was its name). Upstairs down the road a bit but on the same street as Sub-Urban? If it is – and it sounds like it from your description – the old one used to be our go-to Yum Cha place back in the 80s and 90s. We don’t do Yum Cha much now, but have been to Ginseng (the one in the Hellenic Club) a couple of times and have liked it. Anyhow, enjoyed your review …. “even the radish cakes”! I rather like them, but particularly so if they are light as you say. Hmmm … I think it’s time for more Yum Cha but you do need more than two. Must find some willing participants.

  2. Gary Lum March 31, 2014 at 6:07 am #

    Great write up Tara. When I’m happy and stable with my weight loss, I’ll be visiting for Yum Cha as a special treat.

  3. cbrfoodie April 2, 2014 at 12:45 pm #

    There is such a large choice of great Asian restaurants in Canberra we are truly blessed. Some are on the expensive side but there are also a lot of affordable options and new ones pop up regularly (or revamped ones with new owners). Terrific write-up and photos Tara, as usual 🙂

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