The Age Epicure recently ran an article about the best places for yum cha in Melbourne and they named one-hat David’s Restaurant as one of the best in town (unbelievably my personal favourite Shark Fin House didn’t make the cut).
Eager to try it with my other dim sum expert friends, we battled the weekend traffic jam in Chapel Street to cross town for lunch. For a place that received rave reviews only a week before, the stylish Chinese restaurant was surprisingly quiet.
David’s Restaurant provides a refined yum cha experience. The menu offers many dishes which you’ll not find in a general yum cha menu, and you place your orders with a waiter rather than wait for trolleys to come crashing into your table. Here’s a selection of pictures from our sixteen-plate dumpling parade.
Shanghai juicy pork dumpling ($5.90 for 3), a little pastry pouch holding juicy meat inside.
Green prawn dumplings/har gau ($6.90 for 3) were pretty much as described – prawn meat encased in a thin spinach crystal pastry skin. A highlight.
Chives and seafood dumpling ($6.90 for 3) with the most deliciously delicate crystal pastry.
Chilli pork dumplings ($5.90 for 3). We’re guessing that given the low turnover of steamers (relative to somewhere like Shark Fin House) some of the egg-based pastry skin dumplings may not have been made fresh to order, and the chilli pork dumplings suffered from a drying skin.
An excellent example of a yum cha classic, pork siu mai ($4.90 for 3).
One of David’s specialty dishes, a beautifully presented cup of chicken san choi bao ($5.90).
Another highlight, beautifully smooth rounds of silken tofu (we think mixed with egg) deep fried with spicy salt with a hint of chilli ($5.90). I would return just for these morsels.
For dessert, lightly pan fried almond pudding ($4.90) and deep fried banana wontons ($6.90 for 3), both liberally showered with black sesame sugar.
Would we rate it as one of the best yum cha restaurants in Melbourne? Some of the dishes were absolutely fantastic and the crystal pastry was particularly praise-worthy, while some of dumpling wrappers seemed as if they’d been sitting around for a while and failed to excite us. Our bill came to just under $35 a head, which is about $10 more than I’d generally expect to spend at yum cha. The genteel atmosphere also perhaps lacked some of the hectic, social aspect of yum cha that we’re used to, but I understand that some people just want to eat their dumplings calmly and quietly.
I say go try it at least once (especially some of the more unusual dishes), but I feel that it’s more of a ‘special occasion’ yum cha restaurant and I think overall I will stick with Shark Fin House.