Saturday 2 March 2013

Plume Chinese Restaurant

200, Rosamond Rd, Maribyrnong, VIC 3032

Plume on Urbanspoon

A relative low scorer on Urbanspoon, this restaurant is perhaps the more understated of the chains of mid range Chinese Restaurants in Melbourne. While dinner is reasonably priced compared to the other chains, their yumcha is rather expensive, for what it is. There is a good mix of Chinese and Western clientale at the restaurant, reflected in the balance of traditional and westernised Cantonese dishes on the menu.

The Place
This is a huge space and parking is unlikely to be a problem, given that it's next to the Highpoint Shopping Centre parking. This is a child friendly environment with all its space and you won't feel cramped. The contemporary space is tastefully decorated and pleasant, with great noise insulation for a restaurant its size. The great big glass panels lets in ample light during the day.

Things to do nearby: Highpoint Shopping Centre if you are looking for a bit of shopping.

The Food
The food here is not bad. The ala carte menu has a good range of dishes you'd expect from a Cantonese restaurant. It does cater to a more westernised tastebud though and the dishes can be a bit sweeter rather than savoury and 'garlicy'. The dinners I have had here have been satisfactory but not really something to rave about. It's not better or worse than most place.

Now, for the yumcha. How does it compare, given how pricey it is? Well, when I pay above average price, I expect above average food and I don't really think this is the case here - it's average, and therefore, the value for money factor is questionable. Don't get me wrong, it's not bad food here by any stretch of the imagination but the greatness of this place is characterised by it's above average service, not its above average food.

Firstly, the trolley of fried/dry dishes, while plentyful is usually cold by the time it gets to the table. I am sure you would agree that room temperature or cooler fried food is never good. This was the disappointment with today with the Squid Tentacles and BBQ Pork Pastry Puff. So, while there were tasty - it was still a letdown.

The steamed dumplings were generally acceptable and not overly salty or greasy like some other places. The taste is all there and honestly, yumcha dishes can be quite hard to review because different people like different things about their dimsums. I'd say that usual suspects are all passable for most people and the temparature is right, unlike their fried dishes. Their Century Egg and Roast Pork Congee comes with very generous servings of both ingredients.

The Service
The service, I'd say is good. They are never understaffed which means, it's easy to get attention. Even for yumcha when things can get a bit disoragnised, they always have people around to attend to your table. The carts and trolleys come around very quickly and there's usually a lot of food. They are also happy to explain the dishes to you - you just have to be patient.

I was particularly impressed with the waitperson who was responsible for the one dessert cart. She was attentive, knew when to approach tables to ask if they wanted dessert (not like many other places). Then she instinctively figures out if you are having one each or intending to share or swap and work out who wants what, and provides extra spoons without being asked. That's service.

Like I said earlier - this is an expensive place to have yumcha. So, unless if I am in the area to have yumcha desperately and am going with a big group and haven't booked, there are other options not too far from here. For dinner, I prefer more authentic offerings personally.

Cultural Moment
In light of previous two postings on various types of dimsums, I thought I'd do a final range of different types of dimsums here - focusing on desserts. Besides, the lovely lady pushing the dessert cart very willingly let me take a picture of her cart.

Beginning with one that was introduced in an earlier entry;
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.

Mango Pudding - don't need much explanation there but you have to decide whether to have it with condensed (really sweet milk) or not.

Sago Pudding - a rich concoction to tempt custard, coconut and sago lovers. This is usually warm and the best ones are slightly caramalised.

Almond Jelly - which is an acquired taste that is quite refreshing, usually served with canned fruits as if it's not sweet enough. Really smooth consistency.

Green Tea Jelly (with Red Bean) - inspired by the Japanese obviously and the bits of red beans in them are yummy.

Coconut Jelly - If you like fresh coconut, you'd probably like this but please remember to share - probably too much for one person.

Mixed Fruit Jelly - The last in the quadrilogy of jellies - this is the one the kids love because it's full of food colouring and comes in different flavours all jumbled up.

Do Fu Fa / Dou Hua / Sweet Beancurd - Definitely an acquired taste this one, and the silky smooth delicate beancurd is not for everyone, served sometimes with a sweetend ginger soup or jasmine scented sugar mixture.

Ling Yong Puff Pastry / Lotus Paste Puff Pastry - Lotus paste can be an acquired taste for those who have nver had it before but encased in yummy puff pastry, this is really quite nice (assuming you haven't just eaten 5 boxes of Mooncakes during the harvest festival in the middle of the year). There's also Ling Yong Bao (which is in a bun instead of puff pastry)

Crepes - Many yumcha places have started to innovate with crepes. These can be filled with anything from custards, to ice cream, to mangoes, to durian.

Snow Pastry - On rare ocassions, they might serve up a range of snow pastry (glutinuous rice cakes) that might be filled with read bean or even with ice cream. This is similar to mochi.

For a really interesting read and some historical information on dessert yumcha, I recommend another blog here; momoandcoco desert correspondents. Fabulous blog for dessert lovers.

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