First published on 1 Mar 2012. Updated on 13 Feb 2013.
Neil Perry is doing yum cha, and in his own words "it's a sophisticated yum cha experience where you can get a glass of wine and still only spend $35 to $50 a head". Damn right. Head for the supplest har gao in town, and take advantage of the non-traditional gear like little sandwiches of braised eggplant filled with sweet minced crab and, of course, spicy-sweet pork sliders with a crunch of salty crackling. Crown Complex, Southbank. 03 8679 1888. Daily noon-3pm. $7-$16. Tray service.
Tai Pan has an atmosphere that is part street market and part riot. Seating 250 at a time in three packed sittings it’s loud and fast and while every flavour of fried rice noodle, jellyfish salad and dumpling is on the trolleys, we recommend eavesdropping, or hell, just pointing to the much larger range of off-menu dishes being ordered by the Cantonese locals. 239 Blackburn Road, Doncaster East 3109. 03 9841 9977. $4.90-$11. Mon-Fri 12 noon-3pm; Sat, Sun 11-12.30; 12.20-1.30; 1.30-3pm. Trolleys.
David’s does doing polite, refined yum cha in a room decked out with satin banquettes and plus size ornaments that make you feel like an ant. Try the juicy prawn and scallop siu mai, and neat beef dumplings made fatty, rich and zippy with wagyu and a lick of chilli. There’s a solid wine list and great service, making this more of a special occasion option rather than your hangover go-to. 4 Cecil Pl, Prahran. 03 9529 5199. Daily noon-3pm. $4.90-$11. Tray Service.
We’d go anywhere for a good mango pancake. Even Templestowe. Carved dragons, a piano and man sized urns surround pristine linen covered tables, and the 100-odd dishes on the carts all have a little somethin’ somethin’ extra. Siu mai dumplings come with a spicy XO sauce, sweet suckling pig is all crisp skin and melting meat, while little mushrooms stuffed with scallop meat provide dumpling reprieve. 363 Manningham Rd, Lower Templestowe. 03 9852 4086. Daily 11.30am-3pm. $4.80-$10.50. Trolleys.
At OTH it’s all about the cha (tea). The food selection is moderate, and except on weekends it’s tray service, but the har gao (prawn dumplings) are sweet, the Peking duck is on the money, and the tea offering is the second to none. Try the rich duck dumplings countered by a fat-busting Irn Buddha oolong brew. Teas are served unfurling in glass pots with little insulated cups, and they beat the hell out the typical hot jasmine water. 378 Little Collins St, Melbourne. 03 9600 4230. Daily 11.30am-3pm. $5-$13. Trolleys weekends only.