David’s – yum cha
4 Cecil Pl
03 9529 5199
This institute of a yum cha joint has won its 9th hat from The Age Good Food Guide, as clearly depicted on the front door. I am rather sceptical when any one place receives too much hype, as often it brings with it a lot of expectation, which let’s be honest is not always met. So rule of thumb: be sceptical, and don’t expect to be ‘wow’ed’, and you might actually be surprised sometimes.
David’s is located on a quiet laneway off the choc-a-block Chapel street, and I say that with much displeasure given how long it takes to move down that damn road. My irritation aside, the interior is bestowed a soaring ceiling and light filled front section, and a much darker and cosier ambience in the posterior partition – a tad TOO dark for photography I must say. And say what, 2 out of 4 guests are 1 hour late to this lunch… oh-MY-GOSH!
As pretty as this glass teapot of dragon well tea (long jing) looks, I was horrified to find this tea-house served water that was boiling hot with a ratio of tea leaves to water too little. But to be fair, they to have a reasonable variety, it’s better than most teas served elsewhere in Melbourne, and they are only charging a small price, so I should probably be less critical. Ok, so I must admit I’m a bit of a Chinese tea fanatic / freak, but the art of tea has been fine-tuned for more than a 1000 years and it is with good reason to follow these traditions…
Green teas must not be steeped in boiling water, preferably should be around 70 degrees celsius. If you don’t have a high-tech-temperature-specific-kettle, letting boiled water sit for a good few minutes to cool should suffice. Tea leaves should be used fairly generously and steeped for around 1-2 minutes only. And in traditon, the cup should be opaque and white in colour to best appreciate the subtle colours and beautiful leaves dancing in the brew.
… luckily this negative-internal-ranting doesn’t extend into what begins when we devour the contents of bamboo trays.
Left – Vegetarian dumpling.
Right – Stir fried year cake (nian gao) with the most succulent bamboo shoots, in a not-so-oily reduced chicken broth – making this one of the better versions I’ve had. I looooove bamboo shoots. Too bad it’s so damn difficult to find fresh ones here in Melbourne.
Chive and seafood dumpling.
Scallop seafood dumpling – plump morsel of juicy prawn, scallop and pork. The skin however I find was just a tad too thick for my liking.
Spinach dumpling – glistening skin that is soft and supple, with a delicate morsel of pork and spinach.
Just a close-up look… =)
Tempura soft shell crab – surprisingly large soft shell crab, with a generous meaty interior and crispy cartilaginous shell.
Green prawn dumplings – similar to har gao (seafood dumpling) with a subtle spinach flavoured skin.
Left – Shark fin dumplings – this was the only unforgivable item, with a dry thick skin – please avoid!
Right – Chilli pork dumplings with a dribble of chilli oil heat.
Pork shu mai (siu mai) – delicate eggy skin with a juicy bite of prawn and pork.
Left – Shanghai sticky rice shu mai (siu mai)
Right – BBQ pork buns had a light-fluffy exterior with a, albeit small, pork and thick BBQ sauce middle, which was delightful.
Fried almond pudding – piping hot cubes of deep fried almond. Felt like tofu on the teeth, tasted like almond and sesame on the tongue and looked strangely orange-hued but no evident taste of pumpkin or carrot. A delicious dessert, with some similarity to deep fried red bean pancake.
Steamed white chocolate – a warm ball of coconut covered white chocolate. Given I’m not the biggest enthusiast of white chocolate (I find it too sweet), I’m probably not the best person to make judgement on this dessert =P. (P.S. ironically only hours later I palated an extroadinary white chocolate ball filled with ice cream… but that will be for another post.)
Rating: Yummy+1 ~ I was pleasantly surprised at the good number of top notch items for Melbourne yum cha standards, though tarnished by a small number of not-so-memorable dishes. Definitely a place that I’d return for yum cha.
Next stop… Ganache Chocolate.