What better way to escape the winter cold than with some comforting, delicious chinese food.
Situated in Cecil Street, Prahran, just off Chapel Street, frankly, a spot of Melbourne that is truly desperate for more top restaurants, lies David’s. Awarded multiple chef hats for most of the past decade by the highly prestigious Age Good Food Guide, David’s is a well established Melbourne favourite. Owned and operated by the talented David (obv) Zhou, who also operates the widely popular Oriental Tea House chain. As soon as The Chommery found out that a relaunch after a renovation of this family favourite was taking place, it was a matter of the utmost urgency to inspect and decide if my love and respect for this eatery still held true.
Upon walking into the brightly lit, white and open dining space I could immediately tell this was no small change. The walls are now white wood, almost like the ones you would see in a boat shed. Also white round and rectangular tables. Let’s just say there is a lot of white going on. No more traditional A4 book menu, rather a hyrbid placemat/menu that is divided into sections labelled ‘from the water’, ‘…garden’, ‘… paddock’ and ‘…pen’. Zhou has certainly attempted to create a more relaxed and chilled environment than it was previously, which I am all for. Time to chom!
To the left we have the steamed pork dumplings ($8.00). My pick of the bunch. These had some broth goodness floating around within the wrapping that seeped out as you bit into them. I am a number one sucker for juicy dim sum. The steamed veggie dumplings are on the right ($8.00). The translucent, sticky wrapping on these is fun. I do prefer meat any day of the week, but chommed these down very easily.
A little bit of pan fried beef action with two serves of these Shangahi beef parcels ($8.00). A timeless dim sim that rarely disappoints.
Mama Zhou’s chicken san choi bao ($6.00 each). An entree that has been the backbone of our ordering at Chinese restaurants for as long as I remember. David’s version passes our expectation with flying colours.
Why is it always the case when ever you read ‘salt and pepper’ something on a menu, it automatically means that the dish will always be more delicious? The salt and pepper bean curd with a touch of chilli and garlic ($9.00) was a delightful mouthful of yum.
The DIY Peking duck wrap ($30.00 for 6 pieces) + extra piece ($5.00). Soft, moist duck with crispy skin and fluffy wraps. An excellent take on the classic Chinese speciality. My only qualm was that my hands were quite messy and oily after I constructed 7 beautiful tightly packed Peking pockets (perhaps you can request the waiters to form the parcels for you). God plum sauce is good.
Shredded lamb with garlic, chilli spring onion and garlic ($12.00). A pleasant appetiser.
Slippery, sweet chunky eggplant , sliced chilli, spring onion with black sweet vinegar ($13.00). A nice way to include the presence of vegetables on the table. Who doesn’t love eggplant? On the right, Buddha’s fried rice with bok choy and egg ($14.00). I strategically used bowl after bowl of the fried rice to mop up the ranges of sauces left from each delicious dish.
Village pork ribs ($22.00). Slightly larger than two standard playing dice, these cubes of pork were very addictive. A sickly sweet honey glaze had been used that I am still dreaming about. The meat was soft and fleshy, but the bones on the bottom were hard. I noshed into these little things too quickly and forgot that ribs had bones. Lesson for me – Slow down!
Left is the sizzling Mongolian lamb with leek and onion ($23.00). A traditional Chinese offering and one you can expect at many Oriental restaurants in Melbourne. A large portion size with tender lamb pieces and fried onions that we were very satisfied with. To the right is Grandma’s 8 – Shanghai medley of scallop, shrimp, pork, chicken, chestnut, bamboo, shitake mushrooms and cashew nuts. A sweet and delicious dish for the middle of the table. To be perfectly honest, when I was chomming big mouthfuls/chopstick-fuls of this, it all tasted like chicken.
The consensus on the night was that the lightly battered salt and pepper calamari ($21.00) was the favourite. Let me just say that the portion was extremely generous – already gets the first tick. I also would be careful naming these as ‘lightly’ fried – that certainly is not a complaint but rather it is a lighter textured batter. The freshness with which it was served ensured moist and heavenly pieces of calamari which were thoroughly enjoyed. The almost tempura-like shavings added that extra bit of jazz that left me drooling,
Some may ask how dumplings managed to be involved in both the opening and closing ceremony for our lovely meal at David’s. When I am in charge of ordering, anything is possible. These were soft centered, white chocolate dumplings with coconut and peanut praline and ice cream ($9.00). A great thick, gooey textured shell on the outside, hiding the sweet magnificent praline concoction inside. Believe it – we split these between 6 people and one taste is all you need. Brilliant conclusion.
It was a relief for me that David’s had not changed for the worse after their menu and fit out enhancements. Too often, many will say that a working formula for success should not be changed. That proof is evident in some of Melbourne’s iconic eateries eg. France Soir and Pellegrinis. Neverthless, David Zhou went against this principle to adapt his restaurant to be in line with current eating standards. Resulting in a relaxed, friendly, sharing, focused eating experience that is suitable for all creatures great and small in the heart of Prahran, and ticks all The Chommery’s boxes. Go forth and enjoy.
The Important Details…
Noise: Gentle hum
Bookings: Yes – Snap!
Suitable for: Chinese lovers
Price: $35 per head
My View: Delicious and affordable
Address: 4 Cecil Place, Prahran
Phone: (03) 9529 5199