Doncaster, VIC 3109
Ph: 9841 9977
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.