Springvale 3171, VIC
Ph: (03) 9540 3933
Gold Leaf yum chas are now everywhere. But once upon a time, the only Gold Leaf restaurant was in Springvale. It was a fresh alternative to the Mary Hoa (now King Whale) yum cha that started off really great but quickly declined to terrible. Gold Leaf was equally cheap but had a larger variety of dim sums that were of a higher quality. They've recently gone through a renovation so that the interior is much nicer, but I'm happy to report that the food is still good and at good prices.
The dim sums are pretty standard fare, without any real "special" items. I use special in quotation marks because to me, items like the Steamed Eels are quite standard in my books. I adore steamed eels with the firm meat and slightly gelatinous quality to it. The Paper Wrapped Prawns have a good crunch and sweet prawns, while the Taro Dumplings have a crispy skin that hides a gravy covered meaty interior inside a layer of taro. I just can't imagine making all these dumplings at home. Firstly I wouldn't know where to start as it's such a specialised cooking skill and you wouldn't be able to create half as many varieties. Yum cha is definitely one of those things to eat out for, and there are so many options in Melbourne that we're spoilt for choice.
The Sugar Cane Prawn were a tad soggy, but again had good flavour with or without the sweet plum sauce. My favourite dumplings, and usually everyone's favourite as well, is the good old Prawn Dumpling, or "har gow". Translucent thin skins glisten, showcasing a peek at the internal fillings. I once watched a Japanese cartoon about cooking and the old man in the show used to only eat the prawn dumpling skin. He claimed that the skin was where all the flavours of the filling had leeched into and hence was the best part. I don't know if I agree with that, but a perfect translucent thin skin is definitely a great carriage for the filling. The har gow skin totally contrasts to the slightly slimey skin that is on a Chicken Feet. If you are going to claim yum cha street cred, you have to eat chicken feet. I love it, with the various spices melding with the skin on the feet and those unctuous tendons around the feet.
Some Prawn Rolls in a sweet soy sauce help complete the meal. The rolls are silky smooth when you dress them with the oil/soy sauce and slide down the throat without any trouble. I always like to finish my meal with dessert. This usually means one of three options for me, mango pudding, donuts balls covered in sugar (only some restaurants have this) or Silky Tofu with a ginger syrup. A nice way to cleanse the palate at the end of the meal, along with the quintessential part of yum cha, drinking Chinese tea. Jasmine or Oolong are my preferred choices.
And that wraps up the usual family yum cha sessions. Yum cha are definitely things that you should go with a few people so you can sample a range of dim sums while drinking tea and chatting. The Springvale Gold Leaf is a good place to consume your dim sums, and afterwards you can go downstairs and buy a million strange food items to sample later. I suggest the Durian Puffs from the corner bakery next to the IGA supermarket, utterly delicious.
For more reviews of other Gold Leafs, check out the following blogs.
Gold Leaf Burwood
Gold Leaf Docklands
Gold Leaf Springvale
Gold Leaf Sunshine