Today was yum cha day again, our first for the year. This time we visited a Chinese restaurant in the south east suburbs, Fountain Gate. We have been here before but a long time ago so thought we would revisit it. They seem to have a big emphasis on pork dishes here. We have noticed over the years that yum cha restaurants tend to have a main meat or seafood ingredient. Service was pretty good although after a few times of not taking anything from the trolleys, one lady just walked straight past us without offering us a dish. They offered us a lot at the start so needed a break to get through what we had chosen. All the dishes were really nice although the spring rolls had a lot of mushrooms so I didn’t eat those.
November is Good Food Month in Melbourne and this is the 2nd time the Night Noodle Market has been run. It’s one of the feature events on the calendar. Held at Birrarung Marr, on the banks of the Yarra River, there are around 50 stalls run by well-known restaurants. You can wait an hour or more to get a table at some of these restaurants so just being able to walk up to a stall and try a few sample dishes is great. We got there quite late so some of the restaurants had sold out.
Last weekend was yum cha weekend again. A few weeks before it’s due we scour the food book, magazines and newspapers for somewhere to go. My friend had read about The Treasure in the Melbourne edition of The Good Food Guide. It received a rating of 14/20 in this years book so sounded promising.
Normally it’s hard to park near a yum cha restaurant but there were only a few cars in the carpark. That worried us because we had never seen this phenomenon before. The restaurant was almost empty apart from one table that had patrons eating. We asked the lady serving us and she said it’s not normally busy for Sunday yum cha.
We settled in and were promptly served with a pot of white tea. Yum. This is my favourite tea and although I drink it at home and work, I really associate it with yum cha. The lady returned with the trolley full of yummy yum cha goodness. The first things we chose were prawn toasts and chicken in pastry (I don’t remember the proper name). That was a very tasty start. We followed with a range of dumplings and other goodies. We skipped dessert because we were full and I’m not a big fan of dessert at yum cha. Sometimes they serve fruit salad but they didn’t have any there.
This is Yum Cha with a difference. Not only is it a Chinese restaurant but it’s also an antique shop. Sounds weird? Well it would if it wasn’t just off Chapel St, Windsor in Melbourne. When the owner was living in northern China he decided he wanted to bring a combined cultural and eating experience to Melbourne.
They have a menu full of delicious dumplings and we tried quite a few of them. Another thing that stood out was that customers order from a menu. There was not a trolley in sight.
This Chinese restaurant in Templestowe is right up the top of the list of Yum Cha venues I’ve been to. The restaurant has a very cosy feeling with dark wood and ‘rooms’ created by dividers. The food was excellent and very reasonably priced. We heard about it from a review in The Age where they listed the top Yum Cha restaurants in Melbourne. Most of the restaurants were located in the CBD but this is out in the ‘burbs.
This was the crowd when we were leaving. You can tell how popular a restaurant is when there are dozens of people waiting to get in.
Those of you who have been following my blog for a while will know how much I look forward to my bi-annual Yum Cha lunch. This time we decided to revisit one we’d been to before and really enjoyed. We have a policy of not revisiting because there are so many restaurants in Melbourne. However we weren’t happy with the prices we have been paying at inner-city restaurants so broke the rule. I don’t think I will do that again. I was disappointed in the service and food.
The restaurant was Shark Fin at Keysborough. The original Shark Fin is located in Chinatown in Melbourne’s CBD and is one of Melbourne’s most popular Chinese restaurants. This time the Keysborough one disappointed us right from the start with the service. The plates, cups and cutlery were dirty so we asked for them to be exchanged. That wasn’t a popular request. We were seated in the corner which was fine but when the ladies came around with their trolleys they went around the corner and served the next table with their backs to us. We had to get their attention and ask them what food they were offering.
The food was quite nice but there wasn’t a great selection which really surprised me. Below is a photo of all the food we ate. We certainly ate enough food and the best part is that the whole meal only cost us $23 each. Eating in the city was getting very expensive.
Red Door is just off Chapel St in Windsor and is typically Chapel Street;quirky and slightly eccentric. The owners have combined an antique shop with yum cha to provide a yum cha experience like I’ve never experienced before. They advertise that their dumplings are made by a Guangdong yum cha master.
To begin with they don’t do the traditional cart yum cha. They have a menu which is divided into price points which was great because we knew straight away how much each dish would cost. One of the most annoying things for me with most other yum cha restaurants is that you don’t know how much each section on the docket costs. That has lead to some expensive bills at the end of the meal which can sour your experience. You are also surrounded by antique Chinese furniture from the Ming and Qing dynasties. That creates a really friendly, cosy atmosphere. It was like dining in someone’s house.
And of course, being so close to Chapel St, who can resist a bit of retail therapy afterwards?
These chicken patties were strange and didn’t really fit in with the menu. I don’t like chicken mince so I don’t even know why I tried them.
and last but not least – the Chinese (jasmine) tea served in these cute little cups. I love this tea and although I do drink it at home sometimes, it’s one of the things I look forward to when eating at yum cha restaurants. I drink a whole pot myself.