It’s a Saturday or a Sunday – you’re hung over or just really hanging for a massive meal? I present to you, all you can eat yum cha at the recently updated David’s Chinese in Prahran. Two sittings are available at 11:00am and 1:30pm and they last for a full two hours of constant chomming.
While there are no trolleys, which I will be honest with you is very disappointing, you can take comfort in the set-in-stone price tag of $35.00 for as much food as you desire. While this isn’t as cheap as Minh Tan II on Victoria Street ($15-$20 per head) in Richmond, it is cheaper than the opulent Red Emperor feast in Southbank ($55 per head). I do think that a David’s yum cha experience is worth your while for that stupidly big feed that you indulge in once every blue moon.
You are more than welcome to check out my full scoop on David’s offerings for dinner here. But without further adieu, I will let you in on the vast range of snacks that helped me get to bursting point last Sunday afternoon.
We can start the meal on the false pretence that we will be healthy. Some steamed Chinese greens never go astray.
BBQ pork buns were a must chom. Might as well try it all.
One-bite soft shell river prawns. Eat ‘em with their heads on or off – I don’t mind.
Very deep fried sesame prawn toast. Unhealthy, but loads of oil must help the hangover.
Steamed pork dumplings.
Pork and prawn shu mai.
Shanghai village pork ribs with a remarkable sweet sauce.
Ginger prawn dumplings.
Deep fried prawn rice paper rolls.
Shredded lamb with chilli, garlic and spring onion.
Chicken San Choi Bao, classic springers and spring onion pancakes.
Seafood dumplings with scallop crown.
Battered salt and pepper calamari. Freaken delicious, but ask for some plum sauce for perfection.
Banana leaf encasing sticky rice with pork inside.
Roast pork dumplings.
A pile of Peking duck pancakes. They weren’t the best in Melbourne, but am I going to sit here and complain about a plate load of these wraps?
Something about green prawn dumplings that attract me… a lot.
Banana street fritter pieces. If you can fit in one or two by this stage, I salute you.
Pulling cake and almond pudding with sesame powder.
Finally, soft-centred chocolate dumplings. These are really something special. Even if you have no room left maybe put one in your pocket and save it for later.
While most of these choices are more of a Westernized adaptation of yum-cha, the taste is very pleasing. My only advice is pace yourself.. or actually scrap that. Do whatever you feel is best. Don’t forget, once you have sat down, you might as well have a little nibble on everything that comes your way because you have already paid for it.
Hope you enjoy folks.
Do let me know other yum-cha experiences that you come across in Melbourne and beyond!
The Important Details…
Cuisine: Yum Cha
Bookings: Yes – best in advance via telephone services
Suitable for: Big Chommers
Dress: As you like
Price: $35.00 – all you can stomach
My View: One of Prahran’s better choices for a feed
Address: 4 Cecil Place, Prahran
Phone: (03) 9529 5199
A visit to the small take-away outlet down A’Beckett lane left me in two very interesting states. First and foremost admiring the deliciousness of all the bao we just sampled and secondly, wondering why the hell these guys are not open at night or on the weekend. These two senses of wonder will surely be felt after you visit Melbourne’s new hot-spot Wonderbao.
This place caters perfectly for the corporate and RMIT uni-types that roam Melbourne’s city for the best grub going around. Wonderbao offers a cheap, quick and delicious snack on the go. Take note of what the space looks like, with limited signage (just as the Melbournians like it) and a camouflaged black finish you can easily miss.
Seating space is very limited – 5 stools to be precise. So don’t come here expecting to have a proper sit-down breakfast or lunch experience. Take-away is my best advice or gently perch yourself outside on a milk crate and catch some vitamin D while chomming down your bao. Just be careful not to spill the Siracha down your top – like I did.
Two of us dined and we ordered a grand total of 6 buns to share. After some complex mathematics, this resulted in 3 per person – this would be the Chommery Approved (CA) suggestion of ordering.
To begin with bao festivities, we had the classic Char siu bao – BBQ pork bun ($2.00). The famous bun that we all have grown to love so much over our eating years. Wonder’s version was great – a thin but substantial layer of juicy, sweet chunks of pork wrapped in regular soft encasing. A good start to the chom.
While not visually appealing ‘da pork’ bao was an interesting choice. This was an absolutely enormous bun filled with shitake mushroom, egg and Chinese sausage ($3.20). The size and weight of this bun was truly special but it was far from my favourite of the day.
I am certain you will agree that the next three baos look too good to eat. Each one a piece of artwork with it’s distinct finishing touches. The braised pork belly gua bao with pickled mustard, coriander and crushed peanuts ($3.80) was divine. A generously thick, fatty layer of pork belly stole the show, doused exquisitely with the peanuts to create a truly special bao.
Could I be as bold to say that I preferred the roast pork belly gua bao with cucumber, pickled carrots, daikon and hoisin sauce ($3.80) to the braised? I think I like the consistency of the roast pig slightly more, combined with the fact that the meat and the fat blend in more easily with this method. Extra points given for the use of the vegetables – this must be heart foundation approved. A must order bao!
The fried silky tofu gua bao ($3.80) won the gold medal for me on this occasion. Hands down, this was the best bao and believe it or not, it was vegetarian! The gentle piece of tofu was lightly fried, then surrounded by pickled mustard, coriander, crushed peanuts and sweet soy and finally encased in the soft bun. This is a brilliant food dish and is a tribute to the bao lords.
The nai wong bao filed with egg custard ($1.70). How could this chom end on any different note than with a custard filled treat? The nai wong was also huge and split perfectly to share with your amigo.
And there you have it – I have done it again – waffled along way longer than necessary to convey my contention for today’s piece. I will re-enforce it now in case you haven’t yet been able to decipher it – if the above photos appeal to you – get your ass to Wonderbao!
The Important Details…
Cuisine: Asian / Chinese / Buns
Suitable for: Cheap-eat fans
Price: $10 per head
My View: Beautifal Bao!
Address: Shop 4/19-37 A’Beckett St, Melbourne
Phone: (03) 9654 7887
Hand’s down, Maxim’s Palace at City Hall (HK island) was the most memorable yum-cha experience of my life. A bold statement, even if I say so myself. Never the less one that I feel describes my time perfectly. A combination of excellent dim-sum, attentive service, thriving atmosphere and a very reasonable bill at the end, all helped to create an amazing lunch and a perfect ending to my holiday.
When lunch service begins sharply at 11:00am & concludes promptly at 3:00pm, you would be a straight out fool not to expect heavy traffic ahead of you when you arrive. A diverse range of locals, tourists and ex-pats fill this monster 7 days per week. Not to worry, the staff are highly capable of managing the masses, as you will quickly see, when you dine in this massive eating hall. This venue seats 100′s of people and the space is delightfully palatial (new word for me). White table cloths, chandeliers, fine china and view of the harbour. What an environment?
Did I mention trolley service too? You must be sold! We began with the steamed beef dumplings ($40 HKD – $5 AUD). Moist, plush and delicious. Only problem is I had to keep asking for soy sauce throughout the meal. Must be a very Western addition to dim-sum.
The only vegetarian dish of the lunch. Am I a bad person for eating animals? (probably). Steamed dumplings with assorted vegetables ($35 HKD – $4 AUD). These were fabulous and the skin did not fall to pieces either!
Steamed prawn mince dumpling ($40 HKD – $5 AUD). This dumpling wins my vote for the unique wrapping style. The only remainders of this round were the soy stains in the table cloth.
Shrimp rice noodle roll ($40HKD – $5 AUD). Must order. There were three optional fillings of prawn, beef or pork. Note: these easily cut in halves – wise to do so to avoid (more) mess.
Char Siu – baked barbecue pork buns ($40 HKD – $5 AUD). These were very similar to the ones found at Tim Ho Wan. Sweet pastry on the outside complemented with sweet BBQ pork. Hard to go wrong here…
Steamed pork dumplings with crab roe ($40 HKD – $5 AUD). A standard choice – above standard quality.
We could not help but order more rolls of this type. Mainly so because I rarely find these in Melbourne. Barbeque pork rice noodle roll ($40 HKD – $5 AUD). Drool drool drool.
Barbeque pork bun ($35 HKD – $4 AUD). Although we already had pork buns, we could not go past the original, the first, the champion of all pork buns.
Steamed shrimp dumpling ($40 HKD – $5 AUD). I sometimes dream about these little pillows of heaven. One bite of delight!
9 courses for two people at approximately AU$25 per person. A very affordable experience and a TOTAL must go! All-in-all my yum-cha research paid off big time! Maxim’s, along with Tim Ho Wan, are both incredible experiences for any die hard yum cha fan. Besides the high standard of food, they are two totally different adventures.
Travel well, order well, chom hard.
The Important Details…
Cuisine: Yum-Cha, Chinese
Noise: Not quiet by a long shot – them trolleys are noisy but easily maintained conversation
Bookings: Rock up, take a number and start drooling
Suitable for: Chommers of all ages
Dress: Smarter than usual – I looked like a bogan Aussie
Price: Approximately $200 HKD or alternatively $25 AUD (don’t forget we ate a sh*t load)
My View: Amazing experience, not to be missed – Did you see the chandelier?
Address: City Hall, Hong Kong Island – 5 Minutes from the Star Ferry by foot
Situated very unassumingly in the middle of the Mongkok area in Kowloon, Hong Kong, lies Tim Ho Wan. An internationally famous restaurant which carries the prestigious title as the ‘cheapest Michelin starred restaurant in the world’. After finding out this piece of information, it was with the utmost haste that I located an internet access point, obtained the address and recent reviews, which included the average cost of a meal, and headed in that direction.
My readings on Trip Advisor and other forums concluded that your total spend would be within a range of $5.00 – $10.00 AUD (60-160 HK) for a full meal of Yum Cha delicacies. My initial thought was, “That had to be total bullsh*t – no way Michelin would award a restaurant that cheap”. Turns out the reviews were spot on and the bill at my first Michelin experience was $20.00 for two.
Now, Tim Ho is no secret and by this I mean that plenty of people flock here. You would be wise to double-check, but I believe the opening hours are 10am – 10pm 7 days a week. From what I hear, the queues for brunch/lunch can be up to a two hour wait. On the fateful night I went, we arrived at 6:30pm and were seated instantly. To avoid the crowds it may be best for dinner (don’t quote me though).
This is an IN and OUT experience – the staff seem to hate people (or maybe just me). You come, stay for the food, certainly not for the service and leave feeling somewhat scarred emotionally, but very satisfied physically (in the tummy). You are provided with the menu (above) and order accordingly – only once! It was like pulling teeth with the agressive staff to allow us to order a second helping of pork buns.
The feast began with vermicelli roll stuffed with beef ($18 HKD – $2.20 AUD). The wrapping was gentle and thin but strong enough to hold the beef and vegetable pieces inside. Doused with a sweet soy sauce, I loved this dish. Awesome start. Only issue, all the food arrives as soon as it is ready – which is within minutes. Be prepared to chom quickly if you want to eat hot food.
The steamed fresh shrimp dumplings ($24 HKD – $3 AUD) were exceptional. No explanation necessary, but a must order.
These tasted tremendous, but unfortunately the wrapping exploded mid-chom process. The steamed dumpling in chiu chow style ($11 HKD – $1.5 AUD) are best to eat over your bowl. If you are like me, you can ask for soy sauce too – the staff may respond, they may not!
I was over the moon after I sampled a plate of pan fried turnip cakes ($14 HKD – $1.80 AUD). Call me pathetic, but I hadn’t tried these before. They were slightly crispy and lightly oiled, filled with nice shmooshy bites as you ploughed through each cake.
Unquestionably a high-light of the evening were the pan fried green pepper filled with mixed fish ($14 HKD – $1.80 AUD). Thin, fresh pieces of pepper hugged the tightly packed fish. Not only scrumptious, but also a unique offering that I had not come into contact with before. Thumbs up.
The steamed beef ball with bean curd skin ($16 HKD – $2 AUD) were not my favourite dish of the night, not because they weren’t delicious, simply that the other courses stood out more. I was not the biggest fan of the wet bean curd wrapping.
Steamed pork dumpling with shrimp ($24 HKD – $3 AUD) were another stock-standard favourite. Just as good as you will find in fine-dining establishments. Only difference, is that they wouldn’t be stuck together.
The baked buns with BBQ pork ($17 HKD – $2 AUD) were another new dish for me. I am well versed in the standard steamed BBQ buns but not with this alternate element of the frying/baking method. Boy were we happy to try these new treats, and happy enough to order a second helping
The wrapping was sweeter than usual pork buns and crumbled as you bit into the bun. Meanwhile the inside was filled with the typical BBQ goodness. Overall, these made for beautiful parcels of happiness and three each did the trick too.
All in all, Tim Ho Wan is a must go for any foodie looking for a delicious and very cheap yum-cha experience. I mean, seriously $10 AUD per person for 9 courses of exceptional grub? You may be asked to wait in line for hours (but I am told you can put your name down, browse the Ladies Market, and return later to a table) and perhaps be treated with a little dignity. But I believe the pros far outweigh the cons. With 4 locations (or more) dispersed over Hong Kong island and Kowloon, the Tim Ho people have made Michelin standard dining all that more available. Enough typing, more chomming. Enjoy.
The Important Details…
Cuisine: Yum Cha /Chinese
Price: $80 HKD / $10 AUD per head
Address: Click here
A range of different Chinese restaurants, take-away outlets and other oriental cuisine line the extended walkways that make up Chinatown in Melbourne. Often you find yourself bewildered by the choice as you make your way down Little Bourke Street. Some of the premises are presumably serving totally inedible MSG, while others may delight your taste-buds all night long. With the external facades and menus all of a similar nature, it could prove to be a game of luck landing one of the better choices.
Either way, as a good-food navigator, I have a duty of care to my readers to send them in the direction of where I believe they will enjoy themselves. Today’s chom spot is Bamboo House, located at 47 Little Bourke Street, which is about half way between Exhibition and Spring Streets. This house began operations in 1984, offering a large variety of northern Chinese dishes in a comfortable setting. Trading successfully for over 25 years, there is much to love about Bamboo House and it’s excellent choice of Chinese fare. Most importantly, in all those years, the prices have remained reasonable.
There is nothing quite like the typical ‘Aussie-Chinese’ look that can be found at Bamboo House. Waiters are dressed in slacks, white shirts and black vests. The tables are completed with white cloths and the floor is non-other than classic dark red carpet. Some may say ‘out dated, where is the exposed brick’? For me, I can’t stress how much I love it when venues keep their original look eg Pellegrini’s and France Soir.
To begin the feast we had the chicken san choy bau. How can I resist? The cool and crunchy lettuce leaf compliments the chopped chook+veg+ nut mix so perfectly portioned inside. A favourite entree that I would recommend to all. Note: ask for extra plum sauce and drizzle all over, not because it needs extra flavour – it just tastes so damn good.
What an army of dumplings above? Soft, plush, juicy pan-fried beef and steamed pork dumpling. Excellent dumplings – no further elaboration required.
You almost need sunglasses to shade the shiny red glow that is glistening off this Peking duck. We requested the full duck and this is exactly what arrived. It’s so delicious I could demolish this little beauty all on my lonesome.
We were lucky enough that a duck master came out from the kitchen in order to prepare the individual parcels for my troops. This bloke was a lovely chap, cooked some ridiculous duck and likes playing tennis in his spare time.
The photo does not do justice to these two constructed Peking duck wraps. Deep inside, the delicate, warm wrap holds a thin, sweet layer of plum sauce and two strips of spring onion – not to forget a generous portion of duck! Eating perfection.
To help balance the stampede of main courses to follow we ate a plate of steamed Chinese greens with mushrooms. Nothing amazing here, just an attempt to try be slightly healthy.
The steamed Mongolian chicken with capsicum is a crowd pleaser. An above average version of a stock-standard Chinese dish. The chicken pieces are tender, the vegetables are fresh while the sauce is not too overpowering.
I have come to know and love this dish in my more recent chomming years. Sichuan dry fried beef has all too quickly become one of my favourite courses on an oriental night out. Ultra-thin pieces of beef, fried in the boiling hot depths of cooking oil and then drenched in a sickly-sweet dressing. Maybe the description does not sound the best – take it from me this is eating bliss. Each croft (crunchy + soft) bite into these mouthfuls is just ‘top-notch’.
Important to offer something for the fish eating vegetarians and the Omega 3 crowd. The steamed barramundi with ginger and spring onion is an excellent choice. The pre-cut, fluffy pieces of Barra are bathing so eloquently in a very light soy dressing. This dish is light and certainly Chommery approved.
As I am sitting here jibber-jabbering I can’t help but salivate. The Cantonese beef with snow peas was exactly what I was hoping for. Generously sized pillows of beef, meaty goodness, each one more lathered in the sweet Cantonese sauce than the next. The snow peas are only visually appealing, while the whole dish is worth it simply for the succulence of the beef.
We dined here as a group of 11 to celebrate a family members day of birth and the Bamboo staff looked after us considerately by perfectly portioning each dish to suit the numbers. Bamboo House is also great if you are a smaller group looking to get a quality Chinese fix when floating around the CBD. I will say that this is not the most economical option on Little Bourke and neither is my equal favourite venue of Longrain (diagonally opposite). Now, you have seen the photos and maybe read some of my dribble so you can make a more informed choice. Bamboo House is not a house, it’s a home and one worth living in even if only for one night (or day).
The Important Details…
Noise: Mid-level chit chat
Suitable for: All
Dress: More upmarket than usual
Price: $50 per person
My View: Tip top Chinese Fare
Address: 47 Little Bourke Street, Melbourne
Phone: (03) 9662 1565
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
As Melbourne fast approaches Winter, with a deep chill in the air, leaving the house becomes a task in itself. My desires to travel to uncharted and unfamiliar restaurant territory is quashed precisely for this reason. You may have found yourself in this recent situation, deciding on a particular spot for dinner, coming to the conclusion to go with an old favourite after a lengthy discussion. Further, a place that allows bookings can prevent one from potentially catching pneumonia while standing in a queue for hours on end. Thus, we decided on Hu Tong Dumpling Bar in Prahran. Local – Check. Booking – check. Reliable – check.
This, my friends, is no ordinary door. This is both the entrance to the Hu Tong eatery and a gym work out all in one. If I was you, I would consider a few bicep curls before attempting to push your way through the heavy metal displayed above. Once we entered the restaurant we were glad to have a reservation. Even though we dined on a weeknight, Hu Tong attracts a variety of locals and families looking for a reasonably priced - it was very busy. Undoubtedly, you will notice a ‘dumpling-preparation viewing station’ as you enter the main dining room. Take a minute to watch the cooks prepare excellent dim sum, in a multitude of varieties, which you will surely be chomming minutes later.
You will notice some of the most elegant restaurateurs in Melbourne sipping Chinese tea and chatting the night away, in the friendly spacious environment. While our numbers weren’t large enough to constitute a round table (my personal favourite), we did notice the unfortunate lack of the ‘lazy susan’ that saddened me ever so slightly. You will love the menu, which, in Japanese fashion, has many photos next to the available dishes. Usually, this does not bode well for a restaurant but in this instance I let it slide.
To begin warming our engines, we dined on vegetable dumplings (12 pieces for $16.80). The interesting green wrappers, with its chewy texture provide a casing for the insides, which formed a piece of vegetable mash. Vinegar, soy and chilli dipping sauce varieties all available for your coating pleasures.
Now we really start to get into the good stuff. The wontons with hot chilli sauce (8 pieces for $12.80) – a must order. These are very soft dumplings and the oil/soy/chilli sauce in which they are bathed matched perfectly with each parcel. Make sure to try to use a soup spoon to get some of the sauce with the wonton when eating. Amazing! Note: these were not very spicy, I would say more on the mild side of hotness.
The staff will always recommend Hu Tong’s signature dumpling dish of Shao-long Bao (8 pieces for $12.80). Often staff will talk up a dish that often does not match expectations. This is not the case here. I have had these every time I’ve visited Hu’s and you will not regret ordering these. To break it down, these are pork dumplings with captured broth inside the wrapping. Not only are they delicious, but fun to eat as well. A must order. On the back of the menu is an in depth depiction of how to eat these dumplings. A good read, to ensure no spillage of the broth and full eating pleasure.
Peking Duck (Half a duck – 8 pieces for $33.00). Another great appetizer, Hu Tong excel in preparing this dish. Soft duck, crispy skin, warm pancake and a dash of plum sauce. Two pieces each really hit the spot, (especially because they were slightly on the smaller side). Once piece is never enough. There is a funny guide on the back of the menu with steps on how to eat the duck too. Bloody obvious though – chom it in the mouth in one go. Obviously!
Diced chicken in chilli sauce with peanuts ($22.80). This was an appealing and inexpensive large sharing dish. No unique chomming experience here, just a reliable Chinese plate that pleased all. Note: I had to remove the plethora of dried chilli skins from my helping – good practice of chop sticks. The waiter informed us that no vegetables would arrive with our main course but from the photo above it looks like either we got lucky or he gave us wrong information. Either way, it’s always good to have some vegetables – right?
The shredded beef with home made BBQ sauce ($28.80) can be viewed above. These beefs strips were heavily glazed and fried but totally addictive. Without question, the small amount of beef within the batter was of a poor standard. Nevertheless, myself and fellow chommers did not leave any left overs. The photo is quite deceiving in that it looks like a small serve, when in truth the mound of beef was built tall rather than wide.
I’m a little confused as to why Hu Tong is ranked as the third best Melbourne restaurant on Urbanspoon. Don’t get me wrong I have enjoyed all my visits to this spot, but number three – I don’t think so. Here we have a solid mid-range Chinese restaurant, that is family friendly and open seven days a week for lunch and dinner. It is a reliable spot to hit up some classic Chinese food out of the city- just off Chapel Street. Take it from The Chommery; do not hesitate to order more dumplings – that’s where the money’s at!. It’s called a ‘dumpling bar’ for a reason.
The Important Details…
Noise: Loads of
Suitable for: All
Dress: Smart casual
Price: $40 a head (not including alcohol)
My View: Superb dumplings found here
Address: 161 Commercial Road, Prahran (The Cullen Hotel)
Phone: (03) 9098 1188
Chinese food for me is all about about predictable and reliable dishes that bring people together. Before going, you know what you love, you know what you want to order, and the menu becomes an obsolete guide that is rarely used. Once the family has sat around the Lazy Susan, each will nominate their beloved dish to add to the order so everyone feels like they have contributed. When I am bestowed with the responsibility of ordering, I’ll filter the crap suggestions, naturally.
Choi’s, in Riversdale Road, Hawthorn has always been a pillar in my Chinese restaurant repertoire. Besides the renovations, a few more awards added to their wall and the occasional price increase, Choi’s has remained a quality eating house for over 20 years. According to the staff, Choi’s holds roughly 6000 climate controlled bottles of wine on hand at any given time. Although if you don’t want to pay double or triple the cost price, they allow BYO for a relatively minor fee. Interesting use of the spaceship-like glass/metal sliding door entrance; admire the fluoro lit name running vertically down.
It is a more elegant and sophisticated dining room than what you may expect in your average Chinese. David Yap (owner and head chef) has completed several refurbishments over the years to transform the dining space to what it has become. Personally, I think it makes for a pleasant eating space, the patterned light shades are very cool.
Chicken San choi bao ($10.00 for 2 pieces). Make sure you request a serving of plum sauce, and be sure to generously coat the insides of the lettuce leaf with the plum goodness. San choi bao’s are very good here, it is possible they are slightly smaller than usual but are a delicious entree.
Mixed steamed dim sim basket ($9.00). I could eat dim sim’s all day and night! Two of these moist parcels of goodness per person is just not enough – the Chommer needs more. These are an excellent appetizer and for any dumpling fan are a must order. I like to dip in soya sauce before the consumption process begins. You may eat they way you like.
Could Peking duck possibly be the best dish in the world? To answer my own question, I’m not really sure. To say that it is safely within my top ten favourite courses, would be a more correct statement. Choi’s do a great Peking duck ($30.00 for 6 pieces), always have, hopefully always will. The ultra soft thin pancakes gently hug the juicy fat piece of duck inside. The duck’s skin is slightly crunchy, combined with a plum sauce coating and the hint of vegetable with the spring onion, cucumber and other pickled vegetables, makes for an extremely delicious entree. Till not long ago you would have only seen one piece of this delicacy on the plate above. I wised up as of late – two is always better than one.
The must order main course is the Cantonese beef ($28.00). Large, tender pieces of beef completed by the amazingly rich, thick Cantonese sauce resting peacefully on a bed of fresh broccoli. You can tell I love this dish. It is executed as good as anywhere here. Note: When all the solids have been consumed tip that sauce onto a bowl of rice. Then breathe in deep and chom.
The chilli chicken with cashews ($23.00) was a generous serving. A stock standard classic Chinese dish that rarely faults and Choi’s present it beautifully. To be pedantic, I couldn’t taste a strong chilli flavour which I was hoping for. Although, this is good thing for the mild spice orientated out there.
Tom yam prawns ($30.00). You barely get any prawns in a serve, be it the Chadstone food court, a fancy shmancy Chinese or anywhere that a dish involves prawns. I really should expect it by now, that is the way it goes in Melbourne. It still frustrates me though. Another one, or prawns per person, shouldn’t break the bank, should it? Back on track! This was an enjoyable dish in which they use very fresh prawns and a light sauce that all will be delighted with (especially those in favour of chilli).
The softest buttery, almond cookies arrive at your table after the meal concludes. Not only are these complimentary (very rare these days), but they are mighty delicious. Just a warning, they are stupidly addictive, once you start, you will find it a challenge to stop. On several occasions I have asked for seconds, the staff always oblige. Yum.
Choi’s is open for dinners seven nights a week from 5pm, and lunches Monday to Friday form 12pm-3pm. I haven’t lunched here yet, although I am under the impression they don’t have yum-cha (damn!) and the dinner menu is utilised. Choi’s is a step up from the mid range Chinese options about town. Here they offer superb service, premium Chinese fare in a more elegant atmosphere. You can expect to pay slightly more for these aspects, but to celebrate a birthday or just to have an enjoyable night out it is easy to justify the coin.
Share your thoughts if you have had an equally enjoyable experience at Choi’s.
The Important Details…
Noise: Friendly chit chat
Bookings: Yes, via phone
Suitable for: All people
Dress: Smart casual
Price: $40-$50 per head (with BYO)
My View: Excellent and very consistent
Address: 186 Riversdale Road, Hawthorn
Phone: (03) 9818 2299