Looking at the calendar, I was disheartened... when could we possibly have yum cha? Admittedly, this happens when trying to organise most of our outings - everyone is just so busy - but I was determined. Dan and I had booked appointments at the Red Cross Blood bank on a Sunday morning. "Perfect!" I thought. "Yum cha can be a post-giving blood treat."
We arrived at Dragon Boat Palace just before noon and it was fairly quiet. Definitely not the hustle and bustle I usually associate with a Sunday yum cha session.
Relieved to be sitting down, I ordered some Chinese tea to get us going and checked out how many carts were floating around - enough.
We started with a mixture of pan fried pork, chicken and prawn dumplings. I was very impressed by the prawn dumplings - you could taste fresh prawns. And on closer inspection it was clear to see that the filling was indeed roughly chopped, decent sized prawns. Such great ingredients! I was impressed. The pork dumplings were also delicious and Dan was practically jumping up and down to have the third one. (Deciding what to do with the third dumpling when there was just the two of us was a bit of dilemma.)
Next up, prawn wontons. Now Dan isn't the biggest fan of prawns (criminal!), but I thought he should try these, especially given they came with a sweet and sour sauce (which he loves). Unfortunately, he wasn't swayed, but I thought they were lovely and once again were filled with fresh, tasty prawns.
A few carts rolled by and offered things that our slightly drained bodies and minds weren't quite ready to handle. But I vow to be more adventurous in my next yum cha/dim sum expedition.
Then my eyes light up... Char Siu Bow. Oh fluffy BBQ pork filled bun, how I worship thee. Being my favourite yum cha dish as a kid, I still have quite a soft spot for these beauties. The Char Siu Pau at Dragon Boat Palace was nice, but definitely not the best I've tried. The bun was perfect. Light, soft, heavenly. But the pork-filling was a little disappointing. It was lacking the punchy BBQ flavour I was expecting. Ah well.
Dan was not thrilled about the number of prawn dishes I'd grabbed so far, so I felt it necessary to grab the next non-prawn plate I saw - pork pies. Ok, I'm not sure if they're actually called pork pies, but that is what I call them. But this dish didn't impress Dan either. And I'll admit, it was ok, nothing great.
I was beginning to think that my efforts to get Dan enthusiastic about yum cha might have been wasted. He hadn't really liked anything yet. His favourite thing was probably the pan fried pork dumpling, which I already knew he'd like after our Shanghai Village outing.
So I reached for one more plate. Now if only I knew what it is called. Basically it was pork in large, flat, rice noodles with a soy sauce reduction drizzled over the top. And done well, it is a dish that members of my family love. Here, however, it was disappointing.
Being the sweet-tooth that his is, Dan also ate an egg custard tart, which once again was nice but not outstanding. I knew my "yum cha project" had failed.
The prawn dishes were fantastic but the pork dishes were inconsistent and this ultimately let us down. I'm not saying I will never go back to Dragon Boat Palace, it does cater to a huge number of patrons and you're unlikely to ever have to wait for a table, but I will definitely be travelling out to the suburban yum cha restaurants next time.
Name: Dragon Boat Palace
Cuisine: Yum Cha
Location: 149 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne VIC 3000