Tao Tao House – yum cha
815 Glenferrie Road
03 9818 0968
After a fairly soft opening just short of two months ago, this recent addition to the quiet end of Hawthorn has been touted as a rising suburban gem. I was gleefully delighted when I found out that ex-Flower Drum dim sum chef Jason Au would be bringing his vast experiences to the table. Again I gave myself an excuse to try out a new place, by shouting my family for brunch… sad I know.
We were somewhat sceptically surprised when we arrived at a fairly quiet yum cha session on a Sunday morning (11am). Nonetheless we were happily greeted and escorted to our tables by the window. The deep-mahogany-look with splashes of oriental flavour remains largely unchanged from previous extensive renovations by Confucius Court back in 2009-2010. Though I had high expectations coming to Tao Tao House, I was also expecting to leave satisfied but not choc-full of food – well that was what I thought…
Char-siu-sou (crispy BBQ pork bun) – had a lovely mild sweet & savoury pork filling, encased in a light-crumbly pastry.
Ji-bao-har (paper-wrapped crispy prawn) – golden fried rolls filled with a light prawn-pork middle.
Sok-mai-har-gao (corn & prawn dumplings) – typical har gao with the addition of juicy bursts of corn. The skin was a little thick though.
Fung-zao (braised chicken feet) – the trend of subtler flavours continues here, with a mellow balance of savoury sweetness, mild kick of heat and soft gelatinous goodness.
Left: Gao-choi-gao (garlic chives & pork dumplings) – had a fragrant morsel of pork and fresh-young garlic chives with a translucently thin skin. Again the glitch lies in the skin, which although perfectly thin, they were a tad on the soft side without that bouncy bite.
Right: Yu-chi-gao (shark fin dumpling) – familiar scrumptious notes on the palate.
Left: Har-cheung (prawn rice noodle rolls) – though the skin was adequately thin, they were a little too fragile lacking in that essential elasticity and firmness to bite. Crisp curls of prawn and a light soy sauce were however, on par.
Right: Gum-gu-gnao-cheung (mushroom & beef rice noodle rolls) – had a sweet note of enoki and stock infused beef mince.
Scallop siu-mai (scallop & pork dimpling) – were incredibly juicy morsels wrapped in a silky soft skin, with a delicately sweet scallop and pork umami with each bite. One of the best I’ve had in Melbourne.
Left: Har-gao – this staple yum cha item is generally a good gauge of a yum-cha’s quality. Small nibbles of prawn interspersed in a succulent filling, and delicately wrapped in a translucent skin that has a slight bouncy bite.
Right: Japanese tofu – lightly fried Japanese tofu, which is predictably silky soft and eggy. I could eat this all day.
Loh-bak-bao (Chinese turnip bun) – a light flaky pastry shell conceals within thin noodles of sweet-earthy turnip, dried-baby-prawns which add a hint of salt, and meat juices of chicken mince to bring it all together.
Nai-wong-bao (custard egg bun) – had a vibrant yolky-yellow filling with a mouth watering aroma of custard when you break them in half. It has a smooth, buttery texture that is not too sweet but lusciously eggy. The bun is soft and fluffy – just the way it is meant to be.
Dao-sar-tou-zhai (rabbits filled with a sweet bean paste) – The exterior is an extremely soft and bouncy glutinous rice shell, lightly rolled in a layer of coconut. The inside is meticulously spread (even into the ears, unlike many I’ve had before) with a not-too-sweet but divine white bean paste.
Mango pancake – although the egg-crepe was beautifully golden, the cream based filling is pretty standard- very much similar to that available at other yum cha joints. Although I do have a serious bias towards ice cream based ones.
Red bean flower – each petal of the buttery pastry is mouth-wateringly golden brown, and filled with a earthy red bean sweetness and rich, floral notes from lotus paste. If my stomach was not so incredibly engorged, I could have ordered another plate.
Left: the final pieces of the red bean flower…
Right: Egg tarts – These cute little custard tarts had the thinnest (almost flimsy) pastry base and sweet-gooey custard middle. Piping hot, deliciously creamy and somewhat richer than what I would normally like.
Rating: nigh on Yummy+1 – a noteworthy yum cha place with a lot of potential, which I’d rank amongst the likes of other yum cha powerhouses if not for the disappointing variability with the ensheathing skins. The desserts are impeccable and especially memorable; the dim sum fillings are scrumptious with flavours slanting towards milder and subtler nuances; and prices are reasonable. Though newly opened, the staff were warm and attentive; and the floor manager showed courteous interest and concern with our dining experience.
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[Tea and some dessert items were on the house, courtesy of the Manager]