I like Doncaster. And I say this not just because it’s probably the only place in Melbourne I’ve really stayed at. It’s a quiet little place that isn’t too close to the city, or is it? I can’t be sure, I don’t have my bearings and I was never very good with directions anyway. But where my geography is lacking, I more than make up for a huge appreciation for Taipan restaurant’s exquisite yum cha
We dine here for lunch on the afternoon of Owen’s birthday. It is a convenience choice if anything as its about a three minute walk from home. We saunter in, starving from an entire morning dedicated to parks and playgrounds to be greeted by well, a lack thereof. I had already prepared myself based on my Dad’s comments and that of Urbanspoon for the extremely poor customer service. But as much as I hate bad service, I was really too hungry to bother too much about it. And being yum cha, the food landed on our table pretty quickly and that’s all I was really concerned with.
Tofu and Prawn Wrapped in Nori is an excellent combination of three things I really love. Crunchy fresh prawns, silky tofu and just a smidgen of seaweed like a ribbon around a present was the perfect start to lunch. Did you know prior to my first trip to Australia I didn’t know that a good prawn was a crunchy prawn? That says quite a lot about the kind of prawns we usually get back in Malaysia.
Prawns Wrapped in Bean Curd Wrapping, I didn’t have this because I have issues with deep-fried food. But there are six pieces there and Stepmom and Dad didn’t seem to have a problem finishing it which must be a testament to how delicious it was.
Chinese Meatballs with Peas was a fight between baby Owen and I for the last one. I absolutely adore meatballs even though chinese meatballs seem to have that weird aftertaste from I can’t figure out what.
Sticky Rice OWEN FINISHED A WHOLE PACKET ON HIS OWN. It was quite standard for me, I don’t think I’ve ever really had bad sticky rice but at the same time it’s not something I usually order so I can’t think of memorable times to compare it to.
Roasted Duck was pretty good duck. I crave duck on an almost daily basis. By far one of my favourite meats, the closest place for me to ever get my fix is the Market City food court which has a fat to meat ratio high enough that I basically end up leaving half the duck on the plate. I don’t like fat. This duck was good. I like my meat tender but not fatty, firm but not tough, it’s a difficult balancing act but Taipan doth make me content with this. Originally ordered with rice for Owen’s main meal, Stepmom and I simply cannot resist.
Chinese BBQ Pork Wrapped in Rice Noodle was the only thing I would not have ordered if I was given a do over. The rice noodle was thick and gluey and with minimal pieces of unsatisfactory BBQ pork, it really felt like they were scrimping out on this dish. Clearing up our used plates the waitress would probably find my bowl filled up with rice noodle skin after having extracted the pork bits from it.
Vegetable Dumplings is where my true area of expertise lies. There’s something about the challenge of making a dumpling full of veggies not just tolerable but tasty in the absence of minimal or no meat whatsoever. Then of course there’s the thickness of the dumpling skin to contest further before you can really judge on whether a dumpling is a good dumpling. I’m putting these on an average level in terms of all the veggie dumplings I’ve had. I love the translucent skin but I felt they could get a lesson from Chef’s Gallery in getting the perfect thickness right. The innards were decent-ish but I am left wondering if this was that much better than the cheap-outs I usually get along Kingsford
Deep Fried Calamari was Dad’s order. Again not a fan of deep fried-ness, I had a piece or two and it was a pretty standard dish. Golden batter has always been embedded in my head as too oily and garish and again my mind wanders to a previous meal where a similar dish left my tummy wanting more. It was nice, don’t get me wrong. But it was overshadowed by the other dishes we ordered that Dad was hard pressed to get Stepmom and I to help him (and his arteries) finish this.
Har Gow/ Prawn Dumplings. Prawns were good, skin was okay, size was average. I don’t think I’ve ever had a bad har gow but for that same reason it’s a hard dish to impress people with unless you’re going to invest in some pretty stellar sized prawns.
Chinese Egg Tart , regrettably I was too full to finish this one. Flaky pastry, tick. Light but creamy custard, tick. I wish we did dessert first.
Tau Foo Fah/Sweet Bean Curd in Ginger Syrup was Stepmom’s. I can’t remember what she said about it but it was finished as well so it must have been decent. Marigold does a pretty good rendition of it while Meet Fresh failed miserably to impress me. I think I will get my next proper fix when I am back home from the man who drives a white van around the place Mother used to work.
I love, love, love yum cha. While there weren’t too many misses at all, I’d say the same in terms of the number of hits. I would definitely frequent this place if I lived in Doncaster for its close proximity but it isn’t the most memorable yum cha I’ve had.