Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Tea House on Burke

911 Burke Rd, Hawthorn, Melbourne, Australia
Visited 30th December 2008

Back in Australia and literally the first thing I do is head to a Cantonese restaurant. With most of my family still in the UK my 'welcome home' dinner was a small scale affair involving a feisty nana and a couple of dodgy mates. Tea House on Burke seems something of a cross between old-school Aussie Chinese takeaway and a fine dining Cantonese restaurant. Its owners spent time working at Melbourne's prestigious Flower Drum and this more casual place has established a reputation for excellent food.

There's an obvious Cantonese foundation to the cuisine at the Tea House on Burke, though sprinkling the menu are dishes from all over China. I was particularly interested to see if the food was tempered for the Australian palate and was genuinely impressed with its authenticity. We ordered chicken san choi bao, pan fried dumplings, fried calamari with spicy salt, roast duck, Sichuan eye-fillet and vegetables. The dishes were presented individually rather than all at once and the quality and freshness of the ingredients was obvious. The tender squid was perfectly cooked, as was the delicious beef and crunchy choy. My favourite however was the rich, tea scented roast duck; I'd love to have a taste off with Tai Wing Wah in Yuen Long. To drink we had a couple of beers and I took advantage of the reasonable A$9.50 corkage to crack a bottle of The Story Grampians Shiraz.

Tea House on Burke is good; really good. The food is exquisite and service professional and courteous. I'm kind of out of touch with restaurant prices in Australian; is A$45 (HK$300-350) a head expensive? It doesn't seem particularly cheap, but quality was high and the option to BYO wine brings the bill back in line with Hong Kong where wine (along with cruel and pointless shark fin) is the most overpriced thing on the menu. The lovely food was just part of what made this such a memorable meal, the banter as two of my best mates and my grandmother was a poignant reminder of the joys of home.

Visit restaurant website.

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