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Following a delicious brunch for thehouseofem’s birthday, there was still more food to come! We were chatting when the conversation suddenly took a turn at the mention of yum cha. Which triggered a chorus of “yum cha?”, “did someone say yum cha?”, “oooooh yum cha…”, “I can do with yum cha…”, “mmmmmmmmm…” and finally, “let’s go to yum cha.” However at 6pm, yum cha becomes virtually non-existent, with all the usual go-to yum cha places in Chinatown switching to a banquet-style menu for dinner. Fortunately, there was Oriental Tea House, which serves yum cha at all hours of the day until closing time.
Oriental Tea House @ Melbourne Central.
Oriental Tea House, as the name suggests, is a teahouse that sells a large assortment of teas and tea merchandise (teapots etc.) It’s also a restaurant that serves up quite an extensive yum cha menu and a few other dishes here and there. Think T2 meets yum cha, rolled into one, and you get Oriental Tea House.
So many teas. Complimentary tastings.
Illusion “Pot tail” (cocktail in a teapot) - Bicardi, Malibu, Midori, Triple sec and Pineapple juice.
I thought it was a very interesting and funky take on cocktails. Taste-wise, it was no different to an actual Midori Illusion drink.
Our yum cha and non-yum cha selections.
Peking Duck - roast duck served in a pancake with cucumber and plum sauce.
Not the best Peking duck I’ve tried but it will certainly hit the spot if you’re sporting some serious duck and pancake cravings.
Spring rolls - Rolled with minced pork and shredded vegetables.
The skin was quite fluffy and crisp. The filling was decent and definitely better than the western take on spring rolls but it tasted as though there was something mixing. As for the sauce that accompanied the spring rolls? Asian mayonnaise = delicious. It can’t be good for you…
BBQ pork buns - slightly sweet white flour bun filled with marinated pork
I did some serious bun overdosing during my childhood so nowadays I will rarely eat them. And even when I do, they usually are ones that have come from our kitchen at home. No complaints were heard from the others so I’m guessing they weren’t bad.
Prawn dumplings - prawn mixed with bamboo strips in a translucent wrapper.
Same as usual.
Chive dumplings - chopped chives and prawn in a translucent flour wrapper.
Surprisingly tasty. The amount of prawns used was quite generous and was proportionally complimentary to the amount of chives used. The dumpling skin possessed the right amount of thickness and doughy consistency.
Pork Shu Mai - minced pork and prawn wrapped dumplings.
Ginger prawn dumplings - pork and prawn dumplings deep fried then steamed with ginger sauce.
I’m not the biggest fan of ginger but the inclusion of ginger in this dish was actually quite tasty. Given that we had ordered so many dishes, I had no idea what was in this dumpling and only realised there was ginger in it when I had tasted it. The deep fried and steamed combination resulted in a damp sort of crispy and chewy texture. The tender meats used for the filling further accentuated the outside texture.
Chilli Wagyu beef dumplings - Wagyu beef, finely chopped and marinated with kaffir lime leaves, wrapped and steamed in a thin wonton wrap and served with specially prepared chilli sauce.
I’ve only tried the beef and dumpling combination once before and I have steered clear of it since. With chilli and Wagyu beef used in this dish, I decided to give it a second go. Perhaps lost in the dumpling, the taste of the Wagyu was no different to normal beef. Additionally, the beef stench was quite overpowering and could hardly be masked by the chilli sauce.
Custard buns - bread bun with sweet custard filling
While Oriental Tea House serves up much of the classic dishes you find at yum cha, it also provides a different take on yum cha dining through its modern and spacious interior. Not to mention the tea merchandise surrounding the tables. With the tables more spaced out then say, a yum cha venue in Chinatown, conversing during meal times can be achieved without shouting and straining your ears. In regards to taste, with the exception of a few dishes, most were a bit of a miss. As for the prices? Practically robbery. BUT when it’s 6pm at night and you’re craving yum cha… you’re craving yum cha. When you gotta go, you gotta go and Oriental Tea House will go as far as providing that much-needed, albeit fleeting, dose of satisfaction.
Oriental Tea House
GD 068/69 Melbourne Central Shopping Centre
(Closest to the Elizabeth St. entrance)
Melbourne, Victoria, 3000.
(03) 9066 0208