Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Cupcake Central Workshop - Masterclass

First, stare at my foodporn cupcake for 30 seconds.

Have you done that? Did you look for a full 30 seconds?

Is your mouth salivating?

No? You're crazy, get outta here.
Yes? I can tell you the cupcake tastes as good as it looks.

It looks damn fine I can hear you saying. Well yes it is, and I made it.

But you can't frost Thanh? Well that was the old me, who could only bake nice cupcakes but whose frosting looks like someone dropped it onto the cupcake. The new me can frost...a bit.

*** Adjunct: See the cupcake photo, that was shot on my iPhone 4S. Amazing quality isn't it. Love the camera on my 4S. ***

So where I have picked up my newly acquired frosting skill? It was from the Cupcake Central Workshop Masterclass. Thanks to the wonderful Sheryl at Cupcake Central Workshop, no home baker need ever hang their head in shame with their woeful frosting efforts again.

At the masterclass, you get to see how they make the cupcakes at the shop, with helpful tips to give you the best results. All ingredients are on show as Sheryl believes in her products and only uses the best quality ingredients and has nothing to hide. Her recipe, as she will tell you, is adapted from the Magnolia Bakery's and all baked fresh that day. Magnolia Bakery cupcakes are my favourite and default recipe for cupcakes. Their vanilla, chocolate and red velvet cupcake recipes produce divine light fluffy cupcakes. Cupcake Central's cupcakes are just as divine and light, with the red velvet my clear favourite and the best I've had anywhere (I've yet to taste the Magnolia Bakery red velvet made from the actual shop).

While the cupcakes are baking, Sheryl will show you how to frost them and mould icing. She will show you a variety of frosting styles and does it so expertly that you fall into the false assumption that it's easy. Her shops signature frosting is the "blob" as I like to call it. I'm sure there's a nicer name for it. It's a very elegant frosting style, but you can also do small spikes, flat swirls, ridged swirls or as Sheryl says, if all else fails you get out a knife and spread the frosting on. You will also get to knead icing in various colours and make your own shapes. Then you decorate your own cupcakes, which you get to take home. The cupcakes below are done by Sheryl and her team.

These.....are my cupcakes that I decorated. So I did a few classy ones with single spikes and elegant sprinkles. But I also went fun, fun, fun with a massive big rose and three XXXs.

When you leave, besides taking your own frosted cupcakes home, you get to take a Devil's Food Cupcake mix too. That's what I used to make the cupcake above. The mix is so easy to use, a child could do it. Everything is clearly written and you're given all the tools and ingredients. You just need to supply your own milk, butter and eggs. How easy is that. The results of the devil's cupcake are stunning. The cupcake itself is super moist and light, and the frosting, oh man, you'll be licking that off your fingers. Just one tip, the small bag really is the cupcake mix and the big bag is the frosting. The labels are correct.

The workshops are ideal for any amateur bakers. It's heaps of fun and you also learn something along the way. They can also make great gifts for friends and family as gifts.

Thanks to Sheryl and the Cupcake Central Workshop team for inviting me to the class.

Cupcake Central Workshop on Urbanspoon

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Point - Exceptional Degustation Lunch with Executive Chef Justin Wise

If you have been reading this blog for a while or know me in real life, you would have heard me raving constantly about The Point restaurant in Albert Park. It is one of my favourite restaurants in Melbourne, delivering exceptional food, service and one of the best views in a city restaurant. Chef Scott Pickett was also one of my favourite chefs, for his food and personality. I even got to see another side of the funster when he got serious in the kitchen on a Saturday dinner service. Hence I was both excited to hear that Scott was leaving The Point to start his own small restaurant, The Estelle, but also disappointed that I would to no longer taste his food at The Point. When I was invited by The Point to speak to, and try the food, of new Executive Chef Justin Wise, I must say that I worried. I was worried about what I would have to say to Justin if the food wasn't as good.

However, all my fears did not surface. I feel almost like I'm cheating on Scott when I say, *whispers* "the food is even better at The Point with Justin in charge". There, I said it. The food, in my opinion anyway, is even better now at The Point. That's a tough call considering The Point is already a two hatted restaurant, but yes, that's my opinion. Let me explain my thinking a bit later.

First, let me introduce you a bit to new Executive Chef Justin Wise. With the rise of the new "celebrity" chef, a lot of people, including myself, choose to go to a restaurant based on the name of a chef alone and his previous work. I must admit that I have never *gasp* (how can I call myself a chef groupie) heard of Justin before. But speaking to Justin during lunch I found out that he has been head chef of The Press Club for a number of years. So hence I felt rather silly asking him how he felt about the pressure of heading a two hatted restaurant. However, Justin just answered the question genuinely and said that since his name is now behind the restaurant, it was still more added pressure.

Having the privilege to speak to Justin for about 4 hours was a real luxury. I think through those four hours, I got a small glimpse into Justin's motivation, work ethics and creativity. Asked to define his style, Justin believes his skill lies in using classical techniques, but interpreting the food in modern ways that appeal to a large audience, and above all else, always using the best quality produce in season. Justin has already made immediate changes to the menu and insisting on using the best produce. This though, does not mean he is so focused on the food such that he loses sight of the business side. In fact, he is one of the most business savvy chefs I've spoken to. He has grand plans for The Point and has already put them into action. He is trying to appeal to more females in the main restaurant with his change in menu, shedding The Point's "blokey" reputation. He has also redone the decking in the cafe, changed the menu and working on drawing crowds to an exceptional space in what is currently a mostly unoccupied cafe on weekends. With the lake as a backdrop and traffic everywhere, for the cafe to be empty is a crime. With the functions areas, he's also insisted on updating the interiors, while also improving the food by directing for all function food to be created in the main kitchen. That was always one of my gripes, that the reputation of The Point was soiled when people said they didn't enjoy the food, when what they tasted was the function room food prepared by the B team. Justin fully agreed and said the brand as whole needed to be consistent.

The kitchen and chefs, have also been whipped into further good shape. The kitchen, and restaurant, is spotlessly clean, with Justin insisting that all equipment and surfaces be thoroughly clean in his first few weeks at The Point. The chefs have also been cut into a lean mean machine, with only those chefs who could perform still there; Justin bringing in a lot of his own team. I think the new discipline was most apparent when my favourite apprentice chef, Johnno, used his finger to taste a sauce and Justin pointed out a spoon to him for food hygiene purposes. I'm not saying that Justin is a humourless drill sergeant who is barking at everyone. Instead, at least out of the kitchen, he seems like an easy going fun guy. He does admit, and very few chefs do until you see them in action, that in the kitchen, he is a tough task master. He said he will help out chefs and teach them, but if they haven't learnt it after 4-5 times, they do need to be talked to.

I could cover a further 5 pages about Justin about his childhood ambition to always be a chef, about learning to cook from his Ukrainian mum, but you would be bored by then. Let me say that, despite not having a resume studded with stints all over Europe in Michelin restaurants, Justin has had very sound working experiences as head chef at The Press Club and Maze. He seems to have a very level head and balances both the food, but more importantly, the business side very well. He has long term plans to stay at The Point, so you know he's putting all his efforts into turning the restaurant into the best it can be. It's early days still, but from the food that I sampled and the discipline and enthusiasm I saw, I think he's well on his way to making it even more successful.

Let me now start on the food. I sat down to an assortment of dishes which feature on the degustation and a la carte menus.
The first three entrees I had were

Roasted quail, braised leek, black garlic and truffle dressing
Hiramassa kingfish tataki, finger lime and nuoc nam dressing
Spanner crab, grapes, fennel pollen, horseradish and walnuts

The quail was my favourite dish of the day and that's saying something. I'm not much of a fan of quail, eating deep fried quail but cooked to nonrecognition, but this dish still tasted like quail and was simply sublime. The quail was crispy on the outside, but so smooth and tender on the inside still retaining wonderful flavour. The pairings with the acidic leeks, soft potatoes was great, with the black garlic and truffle peaking through. The other two entrees of kingfish and crab were again light and bright. I was worried the nuoc nam would be too heavy for the kingfish and dominate the dish and told Justin this when he talked about the dish earlier in the day. But luckily, Justin only used small drops to help lift the super sweet kingfish. Crab salads can be totally destroyed when chefs slap far too much mayonnaise in it such that you drown the crab flavour but again, the light touch by Justin ensured the highlight was definitely the super sweet Queensland crab.

As you can read in my previous posts, Scott's Lamb Assiette was my favourite dish at The Point. Justin has also done a lamb dish

Murraylands grain fed spring lamb, charred baby leeks and vincotto dressing

This lamb dish was excellent, of equal deliciousness to Scott's. Three cuts of lamb, loin, saddle and rump I think, were cooked in different ways to highlight each of their flavours. Justin has also included sweetbread and peas. A very light vincotto sauce lets the meat shine through. Whereas Scott was more into heavy sauces, which were nice, I prefer this lighter touch with a softer sauce. Even the addition of a bloody mary wafer added to the lightness of what is a heavy meat dish.

Kangaroo. Uuggghhh I hear you say. That was my thoughts too. I can't say I've eaten any good kangaroo meat before, all super tough charred lumps of protein. I was very skeptical but Justin assured me customers were liking it. I was served the

Kangaroo loin, Tasmanian native pepper, bush tomato, cardamom and carrot terrine

The kangaroo was so tender and had good flavour. Obviously it is gamer than beef. I liked it, but would still prefer a steak. I found the kangaroo a tad on the salty side when eaten alone, but when I ate it with the carrots, was perfect as that was sweet. Bush tomatoes are excellent and people should use it more.

My first dessert (I do love dessert so two is better than one) was the

Candied and pickled beetroot, blueberries, coffee, sheep's milk yoghurt

Oh. My. Goodness. This dessert blew my mind in the same way as Attica's Terroir did. The mix of sweet and sour and texture was sensational. Using red and yellow beetroot and cooked in two manner provided an amazing contrast. The beetroot were the foundation and then built upon layer by layer. There were frozen blueberries, mint granita & frozen mint leaves giving a cold and fresh element. There was a hard pistachio cake giving crunch and nuttiness. There was a raspberry sorbet and sheeps milk yoghurt giving an acidic and sour element. There were soft chocolate squiggles, chocolate dirt and popping candy for a rich taste. Amazing. I would rate it one tiny bit under the Terroir because I wanted more acidity to further cut through the sweetness. But that's being extremely nit picking. It is an amazing dessert and a must try. It's like art on a plate as well.

So while the previous dessert was complex in taste, texture and styling, this dessert was equally brilliant in its simplicity executed perfectly. I had a

Banana souffle, caramel fudge and condensed milk ice cream

So I'm not the biggest fan of sweet souffles. I rarely find them appealing as they seem to be thin airs of nothingness, a bit like eating a Krispy Kreme donut, and I hate those. Now I finally know why I haven't loved souffles before. Restaurants were making it wrong! Justin explained most restaurants made their souffles by just using egg whites, as it was a more stable mixture and easier to make. Instead, the correct method was to use a cream patisserie. So Justin insists his team make their souffles with a cream patisserie base. And what a difference it makes. While still light, there was a bite to the souffle. Lashings of banana is swirled through the souffle and tastes so good. Then to my surprise, there was a centre of oozing caramel right at the base of the souffle. Woweeeee, I felt like a little kid finding a surprise. Coincidentally, that's exactly what Justin said he wanted to do, to remind people of their childhood days when they ate lollies and were surprised with the centres. A condensed milk ice cream on a chocolate dirt accompanies the souffle. While great, I think the souffle alone is all that is needed, such is it's simplistic brilliance.

That wraps up a sensational chat with Justin Wise and an equally sensational meal at The Point. I give full marks to the food and the direction it's going. I believe it's better than the previous menu even. So if it's a two hatted restaurant before, where does it put it now? 2.5 hats is my opinion. It still needs some extra oomph in other departments (service, table setting, interior design) to lift it into the three hat realm, but that can definitely be done. I will continue to go to The Point and spend my money to have a wonderful dining experience. I highly recommend you try out the new menu as well.

I thank Justin and The Point for giving up their time to host me and feed me. I ate complimentary of The Point.

The Point Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Giveaway - Bodum Glass Teapot and Glass Cups

As I wrote in my post for Dahon Tea Lounge, there's a severe lack of tea lounges in Melbourne. While Melbourne is well known for it's coffee culture and you could visit a different cafe each day for a year and drink a great coffee, you would be hard pressed to say the same for tea for a one week duration. As I'm Asian, I really love my tea. And by tea, I'm not talking about Vanilla Creme Brulee flavoured tea. I like my tea to be from actual tea leaves that I put into a teapot or cup and taste of the real leaves. I love Asian teas the most. Give me green, red, black, white and flower teas any day. I drink 2-3 big glasses of tea every day without fail.

When I was asked by Kitchenware Direct if I wanted to road test any Bodum kitchenware, I gladly accepted. I picked a super funky glass teapot and double walled glass tea cups.

Let me start with the teapot. It's a really fine glass teapot, so looks amazing. It holds 4 cups of tea (about a litre I think) and has a stainless steel strainer with a plunger, like a coffee infuser. The strainer forms a seal with the pot, and the plunger forms a seal inside the strainer. What this means is that you can put the tea leaves into your pot, and when it has gotten to the concentration you want, you push the plunger down and it seals around the tea and stops it brewing. Genius. I don't like super thick tea so I really love this feature. But you know what the best feature of this pot is, IT DOESN'T FREAKING DRIP. Seriously, I've lost count of the number of times I've cursed at teapots because they dribble more than a 6 month old baby. How hard is it to design a spout that doesn't drip. I mean, I've seen it in some pots so it's definitely possible.

To drink the tea, you can use the double walled glasses. They are all hand blown so there's a unique look and feel to every glass. I love how they look and the double walls really do work in keeping them cool enough to hold when there's hot tea in it. I also use them to eat yoghurt and ice cream. I guess if you really must, you can use them for coffee too.



Thank you for your wonderful entries. I've learnt the following from everyone

* I don't want to be near Vivian when there are animals around
* A lot of you seem to have fears based on bad childhood experiences
* I now know the word "scandalicious"
* I think Georgia and Karen are even more accident prone than I am
* Kim can spell her way through a tap dance
* I don't ever want to be stepped over by a cow

After all of those fun stories, the random lucky winner is....Agnes.

So here's the deal. You see the teapot and two glasses in the photos, well, you can win them.


How do you enter I hear you asking loudly? As I love finding out more about people and their weird ways, just post a comment below and tell me anything about yourself. One random winner will be drawn.

For example, you can tell me how you hate traffic light car windshield washers, or tell me about how you placed 1st in your grade 4 chess tournament, or that you were once on Deal or No Deal. Oh wait, that's all me. Tell me something about you.

Make sure there is a way for me to contact you, either via Twitter, a blog or an email. If you don't want to publish your email in the comments, please email me at and let me know which comment was yours. If I do not hear back from you after 2 days upon contacting you, I will redraw the prize.

Conditions of Entry
- One entry per person.
- Australian readers only.
- Competition closes Wednesday November 23rd 9pm AEST. The winners will be announced on Thursday 24th and published on this same post.
- I will contact the winner directly to inform if you have won.

Thanks to Kitchenware Direct for providing the prizes.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Passionfruit Melting Moments - Bill Granger Recipe

Having flicked through Bill Granger's books before, I knew that his recipes were quite simple. I used to think that equated to not being tasty, but when we did the Bill Granger Holiday cooking the books, I found some of the dishes quite good. I gave the Holiday book a more thorough read and when I saw the Passionfruit Melting Moments, I knew I had to try making them.

I have made melting moments before when I first started to bake. The results were awful. Dry, tasteless pieces of pastry. However, fast forward 4 years and my baking skills have improved immensely. I found this recipe to be super easy to make. And the results, magnificent. I've made these over 10 times now and always get people asking me what the "secret" is. I tell them there's no secret, just butter, flour, icing sugar and cornflour. Bill writes that he doesn't use custard powder in his recipe as the flavour and texture is compromised for the sake of the colour. I haven't tried adding custard powder to see what it tastes like, but definitely the colour is more muted rather than the fluorescent yellow you see in cafes. Taste wise, these melting moments are sensational. They're very short and crumbly and go perfectly with the passionfruit cream. I've made them as Christmas gifts and other gifts and people love them.

Tips wise, I recommend a few things:
- Do not overbake them. They will continue to cook when you take them out of the oven. So when they have the slightest hint of colour, take them out immediately. They taste far nicer without that slight burnt flavour.
- Try to divide the batter evenly into small balls otherwise some will burn while others are not yet cooked. I find it easiest to place all the balls on the tray and then with my fork continuously being dipped in flour, squash them all in one go.
- They're extremely fragile once baked so handle them carefully. Get them off the tray immediately and onto a rack to cool down.
- A little bit of passionfruit cream goes a long way. Don't try to put too much icing in. Just the smallest teaspoon of icing is enough.
- I used canned passionfruit so it's a bit sweeter but that seems to work perfectly. Strain the seeds out of the passionfruit pulp and just use the flesh as you don't want chunky bits in the biscuits.
- I find the biscuits keep well in an air tight container for about a week, if they last that long. I usually make 3 batches at once rather than just one batch.

I hope you enjoy these as much as my friends and I do. They are so easy to make and I'm sure you will have most of the ingredients in your pantry already. I always keep two cans of passionfruit handy in the pantry at all times when I'm in need of an "emergency" hit of sugar.

Passionfruit Melting Moments
From Bill Granger Holiday book.
Makes about 15.


250g unsalted butter, softened
60g icing sugar
225g plain flour
80g cornflour

Passionfruit Cream

60g unsalted butter, softened
125g icing sugar
1 tablespoon passionfruit pulp, strained to remove seeds


1. Preheat oven to 170 deg C and line 2 large baking trays with baking paper.
2. Cream the butter and sugar until pale and creamy.
3. Sift together flour and cornflour, add to butter mixture and beat well.
4. With floured hands, take a small tablespoon of mixture and roll into balls. Put balls onto tray and flatter slightly with the back of a fork dipped in flour.
5. Bake for 15-18 minutes until golden, then cool on a rack.

To make the passionfruit cream

1. Beat the butter until completely smooth.
2. Gradually add sifted icing sugar and continue beating until smooth and creamy.
3. Add the passionfruit pulp and beat well.

Assemble the melting moments by sandwiching the passionfruit cream between two biscuits.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Cooking The Books - David Chang's Momofuku

In the continuing Cooking The Books (CTB) meetups, someone, let's call her Penny for arguments sake, suggested that we try David Chang's Momofuku. While a challenge sounded like a good idea before looking at the book, once we all saw the recipes, we were cursing like mad. All the recipes took numerous days to make and lots of ingredients, some hard to find. Anyway, we soldiered along and did our best.

You can check out previous Cooking The Books meetups below:
Cooking The Books - Jamie's America
Cooking The Books - Bill Granger's Holiday
Cooking The Books - David Thompson's Thai Street Food
Cooking The Books - Nigella's Kitchen

The cast for this meetup were:
Michele, Cherrie, Agnes, Kat, April, I-Hua, April and Penny.

Here is what David Chang's Momofuku book looks like. A simple cover masks the complexity that lies beneath it.

I chose the easiest recipe I could find in the book, the Pan Roasted Rib Eye steak. As it was, the flavours of the steak were good but I overcooked it so that it was a tad dry. In contrast to my dry steak, Kat made a delicious Hanger Steak with red kimchi puree. The hanger steak was so tender and moist and had a wonderful flavour. I must try to get my hand on hangar steak from the butcher and cook it in future. Kat also made some brussels sprouts with bacon, which weren't too bad. Penny went for a high difficulty task and made Brick Chicken. This required boning out a whole chicken, not easy. It tasted good, but I didn't think it was worth the effort. For me personally, I'd rather just roast a chicken on the bones and get a similar result.

Pork featured a lot. Agnes made the Pork Buns, roasted pork belly sandwiched inside mantous with pickled cucumber and hoi sin sauce. It was indeed good, but I think the buns themselves were more a highlight for me rather than the pork. The way the pork was cooked is inferior to simply roasting it with an oven and getting that crispy crackling.

April also made a pork dish, Pork Sausage with fish sauce vinaigrette. The pork is like Vietnamese nam, minced pork mixed with herbs and spices. The dish was quite good, but inferior to Vietnamese nam which is grilled on a BBQ to give a wonderful smokey flavour and eaten in the same way wrapped in lettuce and with a fish sauce vinaigrette.

I-Hua outdid herself and contributed with three dishes. A Roasted Rice Cake was good, but it was the Pork Belly with mustard seed sauce and Momofuku Ramen that stole the day for me. The pork belly was pickled I believe, so had a sour note to it. Eaten with the pickled vegetable, it was a slow burning dish that got more and more addictive. The ramen on the other hand, was sublime and sensational from the outset. The broth was extremely rich, the way I like it.

We finally get to desserts, my favourite part of every meal. There was much anticipation as Michele and Cherrie had spent two days to make Cereal Milk and Fried Apple Pie. On paper these things had me drooling. However, the final results were a case of trying to reinvent a classic that failed for me. The cereal milk was a funny sour tasting thing and the caramelised corn flakes and avocado puree didn't really make it any better.

With the Fried Apple Pie with Cinnamon Dust, Miso Butterscotch and Sour Cream, again I was underwhelmed. The frying really didn't add anything to the dish. The traditional method of baking a pie means the apples are much softer and the pastry equally crisp. You can't go wrong with cinnamon and apple pie, but the miso butterscotch sauce was a weird thing that didn't work. Sour cream is not nearly as good as vanilla ice cream.

Finally, when you're out in the wild, beware of bloggers that attack....with their cameras.

So that wraps up another meetup. While there was much anticipation regarding the Momofuku recipes, I found that quite a few of them paled in comparison to similar dishes cooked in more traditional methods for less effort. Maybe our execution wasn't up to scratch and I'll only know if I get a chance to dine at the restaurant. But for now, I'm happy to bake my apple pie and eat it with ice cream.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Christmas In July

Christmas. What does it mean for most people? Celebration of Christ, reconnecting with family, exchanges of presents, a time to review the year that's passed. Well for me, Christmas definitely means food, and lots of it. So imagine the wonderful idea of Christmas in July. A perfect excuse to eat indulgent food and drink lots of alcohol.

So when Agnes and Kat decided to have a Christmas in July party, I was there. Others to come along were Kat, I-Hua, Adrian and Celeste. My post on this wonderful gathering is so late that it's now relevant to use a guide for food ideas for the real Christmas. See, I knew what I was doing.

Our wonderful Christmas in July hosts, Agnes "Nigella" Sporkette and Kat "I don't want my photo on any blog so take MiniKat instead" Spatula.

We decided to go all traditional food for this event. That was fine with me, as it meant wonderful meaty items like Roast Pork with Crackling, Turkey Drumsticks and succulent Roast Chickens. Look at the beautiful butt on that chick.....en hehe. I'm available for hire as a comedian for any parties or corporate events.

If you must, you can have some vegetables too. Red Cabbage with Apples, Carrots in White Sauce, Minted Peas and "the Devil's vegetable" Brussels Sprouts disguised in bacon bits. Lastly, maybe you can try some Roast Potatoes baked in duck fat. Technically that's still a vegetable right? Yummmm.

If you're a talented cook like Agnes, you can also make a wonderfully delicious chestnut stuffing that you can serve as well. Look how enticing all the food looks. Wash downs all the amazing food with some egg nogg and mulled wine, or any alcoholic beverage of your choice really.

If all your efforts don't go so well, just douse it all in alcohol and set the food on fire. It's sure to make it delicious.

Huge thanks to the wonderful hosts Agnes and Kat. I hope the real Christmas meals are as good as this one.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Tai Pan - Yum Cha

239 Blackburn Rd Map
Doncaster, VIC 3109
Ph: 9841 9977
Tai Pan

I had been to Tai Pan for yum cha ages ago. I remembered that it was quite good but the huge crowds really put me off it. However, I'm glad that I got to go back and try the yum cha again as it is good and not too expensive. Tai Pan is located in Doncaster and the majority of the clientele is Asian, which is a good sign for me. Asians are the most critical when it comes to Asian food as well as price. Being mainly occupied by Asians also means the weirdly structured two tiered restaurant can get really noisy during yum cha service. We arrived for the second sitting at 1pm and there was a mad crush in the foyer where people from the first sitting were leaving, and those from the second sitting were waiting to get on.

Ten minutes wait later and we were seated at a large table in the far back end of the second tier. This semi-sectioned off area is probably as quiet as it'll get in the restaurant. It's also got lots of great natural light streaming through the windows and affords a view of the surrounding houses below it. While everyone else was already seated, the special guests of honour, Kevin and Krystal, made their entrance in grand style. They were returning from holiday and looked really nicely tanned and happy. Look at their staggered celebrity entrance, brilliant.

Food wise, we managed to cram a lot of food really quickly onto the table in a short space of time. I've only posted photos a small portion of the food that we ate. I have to say that nothing was bad and everything was either good or really good. Their fried items like the Scallop Basket and Prawn Wontons were crispy and delicious. Steamed items in the form of various dumplings were all very flavoursome and had big chunks of springy seafood still in them.

You have to love a place (well I love a place) that does great eels and chicken feet. These are probably the "weirder" items that hardcore yum cha-ers like myself adore. The eels were gelatinous steamed in a beautiful XO sauce. The chicken feet were soft and the sauce had great flavour.

I'm also impressed with yum cha places that help you cut up items, as shown below with the Harm Su Gok (gelatinous rice mince dumpling). It means that many people can share one dish without the usual trouble of trying to cut things up.

To end the meal, we had the obligatory BBQ Pork Buns, which while I could taste were better than most places, still didn't love. I have a hatred of Char Siu *gasp* and until recently at my trip to Hong Kong, had not tasted any good char siu or BBQ Pork buns before. Everyone else thought the BBQ Pork buns here were good, with a soft exterior and good meat inside. The egg tarts finished off a good meal, with flaky warm custardy goodness filling our bellies.

Service here is marginally better than other yum cha places. Don't come here expecting Michelin service, or if you are easily offended. If the waiter looks away from you while taking your order, that's normal. At least they're quick on replacing the tea here and to clean things up. The food, as mentioned, was nice, with nothing outstanding in my opinion. The fried items stood out for me as they were all very crispy without that oily feeling. Price wise, I remembered the meal cost about $20 each, which is quite good.

Overall Rating: 14/20, Good yum cha dishes but can be very noisy and crowded.

Scores: 1-9: Unacceptable, don't bother. 10-11: Just OK,some shortcomings. 12: Fair. 13: Getting there. 14: Recommended. 15: Good. 16: Really good. 17: Truly excellent. 18: An outstanding experience. 19-20:Approaching perfection, Victoria's best.

Tai Pan on Urbanspoon