Level 1, Star Circus Harbour Town, Docklands, VIC 3008
This place has a healthy score on 85% on Urbanspoon and the various negative reviews come from the ocassional lapse in service, harried staff, and carts not being wheeled through the space efficiently enough. Overall, Gold Leaf is one of the only reasons I would pay a visit to Harbour Town. It's a relative good place to take 'newbies' to a yumcha session and to take 'veterans' for a bit of yumcha with relatively good service.
Well appointed space and tastefully decorated. Really comfortable space and not as squishy as many other yumcha places in town. Prams pose the usual challenge in this sort of places but Gold Leaf Docklands is able to manage it quite well (not as well as their Preston branch - but still ok).
Yes, it is pricier than your average yumcha cafe/shop joint say in Springfield, but this is not meant to be food court style yumcha - so of course it's more expensive.
Other things to do close by: Once you are here, you might as well explore Harbour Town and its shops, the incomplete embarassment that is the Melbourne Star. I will update this when the Star is complete.
This place serves the usual yumcha fare. Most of the dim sum, the congee, and dessert are of a good standard and usually fresh. The temparature of each of the dishes is appropriate (some places have lukewarm dishes). My favourite here are the Ginger Prawn Dumplings (which is braised) and the Spare Ribs. (See below for a listing of the usual variety of dimsums)
Fair to say, full vegetarians will struggle at this place (and most yumcha places) while vegequarians who don't mind seafood will do just fine.
Like most places, a yumcha joint is as good as how fast they can bring out the variety of food to satisfy the diversity of customers. The challenge of balancing the steamed staples, with the fried ones, enough 'westernised' dishes, the big dishes (such as salt and pepper calamari, and roast pork), and the congees and beef brisket, and desserts at the opportune time, is not easy. They also have to make sure that all the carts don't just keep going in one circle so that the few tables at the beginning get all the choices and the ones at the end of the cart cycle gets the 'leftovers'.
This place does it relatively well with ocassional lapses. The great thing about this place though is that when those lapses occur - you just have to call over a wait person and order the dish that you one, and it'll come. This is not hard as they speak Mandarin, Cantonese and English all rather fluently.
I think it's above average service here for a yumcha, and they can explain what the various dimsums are, unlike one place which shall be reviewed at a future date where every single dimsum is "seafood dumpling".
I'd book in advance and keep doing so. It's a place I tend to show to interstate and international visitors because the food is good, the service is fine, and the setting (inside is great) and to regal them with stories of how Harbour Town is a joke. Another plus is that parking (paid) has never been a problem.
Dimsum is a Cantonese word that indicates the variety of small dishes served at Yumcha (drinking tea) session. Therefore, the greatest Yumcha experiences are of Cantonese origins and most of the dimsums served derived from the Cantonese Style Cuisine, outlined in another entry. I will be reviewing other Yumcha places in the future and so, in each of these entries, I will introduce you to a small range of dimsums (each will contain the Cantonese name / Mandarin Name / English Description);
Siu Mai / Shao Mai / Pork Dumpling - is the most common dim sum, which has evolved in Australia into your dimsim (dimmy) in your fish and chip shops. This is a common brekkie dimsum throughout southeast China, Singapore and Hong Kong. Both Robbie and I love this LOTS.
Har Gao / Shia Jiao / Prawn Dumpling - is just that, prawns wrapped in pleated translucent flour based skin, that should not stick to each other when you try to pick one up.
Yee Chee Gao / Yu Chi Jiao / Shark Fin Dumpling - is not Shark's Fin Dumpling. It does not contain shark's fin and is so named because it is shaped like a shark fin. That's all - and it is basically and pork and seafood dumpling.
Char Siew Bao / Cha Shao Bao / Steamed Pork Bun - Bao (refers to the particular style of bun) and is a staple in most places. Filled with steaming barbequed pork (Char Siew), the bun should be light and fluffy (watch out for the piece of paper at the bottom). My friend, Deb loves this.
Fung Chao / Feng Jiao / Phoenic Claws (Chicken Feet) - is what it is. Different places might serve it a bit differently from black bean based to spicy sauce. You either like it or you don't. I like it and I believe my friend Jeremy likes it too!
Chee Cheong Fun / Zhu Chang Fen / Rice Noodles - needs a bit of explanation. A literal translation of Chee Cheong Fun is Pig Intestine Noodles. Don't be alarmed, it's not made from any part of a pig. It just looks like a pig's small instestines, hence, the name. With these rice noodles, a coffee shop might sell it with just the noodles, some chives, sesame seeds and a sweet soy sauce. However, most yumcha places will serve a variety, with Char Siew (called Char Siew Cheong), Prawns (Har Cheong), Fried Dough (Cha Leong which translates to fried double, with the fried dough and the noodles making the double). Ev and Nathan do like these :)
Pei Tan (Shao Yuk) Chok / Pi Daan (Shao Rou) Zhou / Century Egg (Roast Pork) Congee - most yum cha places, one would just ask for congee and this would be the variety served (some places with, and others without the roast pork in the congee). What is century egg? It's preseved egg (that's black in colour and a yellowish gray yolk). I have to have this at every yum cha and the other person I know who loves this is Caroline.
Tan Taht / Dan Ta / Egg Custard Tart - When I was young, I used to think that Tan/Dan means Egg and Taht/Ta was just Tart. I recently found the chinese character for Taht/Ta and it actually means 'Flog' - presuming referring to the flogging to the egg into a custard. I have never been a fan though it is one of the most popular dishes. Deb LOVES this.
I hope you have enjoyed getting to know these dimsims, and if you have a request for some unknown dumpling you'd like me to write about - please comment and I'll see what I can do, in a future entry.