Tao Tao House – yum cha

815 Glenferrie Road
Hawthorn
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.

You may also like these other Yum Cha places:

Taipan
Davids
Golden Dragon Palace
 Tim Ho Wun, Hong Kong

 

[Tea and some dessert items were on the house, courtesy of the Manager]

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Almost Always Ravenous.

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Comments
24 Responses to “Tao Tao House – yum cha”
  1. The sweet items are very creative, I have to say. 🙂 How did the bill turn out?

  2. those rabbits looks scary.

    I hate reading yum cha posts… always makes me feel like yum cha!

  3. Katty-Kat says:

    Hey, thats very close to where I live! And I have a weakness for custard buns. Yummy! 🙂

  4. Chiu says:

    Better than Taipan or no?

  5. shelli – scary??? no way, cute and edible =P.

    kat – hahaha, me TOO! which is why i ordered them even when i was so full, among other things

    chiu – if not for the huge flaws with “skin” issues, i would have put it higher than taipan. But until they sort that out, it will have to be ranked below taipan overall.

  6. I haven’t seen the Gum-gu-gnao-cheung before — I often get the one with just beef (Cantonese name escapes me right now). Sounds delish. Great pic of the chicken feet at their best:)

  7. Celeste says:

    Oh! I must visit this place, I’m always on the look out for good yumcha places!

  8. duncan – thanks =). too bad the rice noodle skin was too soft.

    celeste – with ex-flower drum chefs =)

  9. OOOH! This is so close to my work. I have no reason not to visit.

  10. movingbeast says:

    I just went to Tao Tao today after seeing your post (as a side note, I first heard about Tao Tao after being spammed by someone on my blog who was keen to promote this place!). The food was very tasty, but the service was slooooooow (albeit friendly, which was a plus!). They were at full capacity today and the food was pretty slow coming out (one of our dishes took 45 minutes). I’m also not a fan of their ‘ordering off the menu’ system and prefer the traditional, yum cha trolleys. Their scallop siu mai was awesome and you’re right about the dumpling skins being too soft – they were definitely a bit too soggy for my liking.

    • i presume u went on a weekend. slow service without added waiters can be an issue, until they can find more weekend staff. one would think that an acclaimed dim-sum chef would make better “skins”, but still definitely worth re-visiting.

  11. Tian says:

    after two visits, i can officially declare this place is just bla. not to mention the lack of variability and food is slow to churn out.

    seriously the only good things are the char siew and the fresh prawns.

  12. libishski says:

    Damn, the skins on them har gows look a little too thick…

    That said, I reckon it’s good to see more new and exciting places open up on Glenferrie Road. I remember 10 years ago, you didn’t get the variety of eateries you get now and having to resort to Maccas :p

  13. eliza says:

    Thanks for the review! I am taking my family for yumcha this Sunday, and I am so glad to stumble upon your blog. Amazing photos.

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  2. […] Hawthorn… Really? Is that possible? That’s what crossed my mind when I heard Agnes and Allan talk (and blog) positively about this place. Hah! But I’m much more likely to trust a […]



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  • Food RATING scale

    Unpleasant: damn upset my desire to eat

    Average: palatable but many shortcomings

    Yummy: a pleasant experience

    Yummy +1: mouth-watering like rain

    Yummy +2: exquisite flavours that hit all the right notes

    Divine: sheer culinary perfection!

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