Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Oriental Tea House, Melbourne CBD by Big Fil

A new arrival in Melbourne Central but part of an established chain of small shops around Melbourne, Oriental Tea House offers a slightly different take on the average yum cha.

Generally yum cha means a slap up feed of lots of small morsels taken with a small inexpensive pot of tea. Oriental Tea House reverses this, offering a variety of more expensive teas with a selection of dumplings to complement the tea.

Inside is light and bright, almost clinical in feel. Given its modern feel it's almost a surprise that food is not ordered off a list but brought around by staff. The tea however is ordered from the tea menu, which offers a variety of different types of tea. By co-incidence three of us went for the ginger and barley tea, and two for the pu'er and gunpowder teas. The ginger and barley tea was relaxing, with mild ginger flavours and hints of barley. The Gunpowder tea was a strong tea and much to Ruby Grapefruit's taste.

The Pu-er tea was a cave aged tea which came in a bamboo wrapper. It tasted earthy and light without any bitterness even with the tea leaves soaking in the cup.

The dumplings were generally very good, with nice fillings and thin, almost translucent skins. While small and delicate, this accentuates that the dumplings complement the tea rather than the other way around.

However, a dumpling we didn't particularly like was the steamed duck dumpling. I've never actually had a steamed duck dumpling I have liked, as I don't find that the texture of the duck matches that of the dumpling skin very well. While it looked interesting with its purple colouring I'd make a beeline towards the steamed prawn dumplings next time.

There are a small variety of desserts available as well, including egg tarts, mango puddings and some unusual chocolate dumplings. The dark chocolate dumplings were made up into sesame seed balls (we didn't try them), but the white chocolate came enclosed in a gelatinous rice ball. I quite liked this, as much for its novelty value as anything I suspect that Mmmm was not a fan, finding the chocolate filling a bit powdery.

It's generated mixed reviews from work colleagues but I quite liked it here. It's not really a place for a large work lunch but more for a mid-shopping respite or catching up with a small group of friends. It is a little pricey though, maybe 10-20% more than most places in town for quite small dim sum. Also, because the focus is on the tea the dumpling range is on the limited side and service seemed a little slow if very polite. Stick with the steamed dumplings which were better than the fried items we tried, pick a nice tea and it's a pleasant place to spend an hour or two.

Food (and tea) - 7.5
Service - 7
Ambience - 7.5
Price - 6

Ground floor, 68-69 Melbourne Central
Melbourne CBD VIC 3000
Tel: (03) 9066 0207


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