|Vegetarian San Choi Bao|
For all the number of Chinese restaurants in Melbourne, it’s amazing how hard it is to find a consistently good one…that ticks all our boxes. This year’s search for great Chinese was for my lovely mother-in-law’s birthday. You might be wondering why I called it a “search”…well, just so you know, there’s a specific set of criteria which had to be met in order for our entire birthday party to be happy…
|Steamed Dim Sims|
Firstly, this elusive Chinese restaurant needs to have a presentable & clean dining area…with comfy chairs. Next it has to have friendly staff, who are attentive but not pushy or rushing you to finish your meal. Of course, it must offer relatively well priced and delicious meals on the menu (including a short soup, prawn or veg omelet, and at least one decent vegetarian dish). Oh and lastly, it needs to be in the northern suburbs to keep the travel time down for the inlaws. Easy.
|Fried Dim Sims|
Don’t get me wrong, there are heaps of good Chinese restaurants in Melbourne, but they don’t usually tick all our boxes. Yes, Flower Drum was amazing (and we will go back!), but dropping $600+ just isn’t going to fly right now. Plus, it’s in the City. Sure, that cute little Red Lounge Cafe place in Ivanhoe was yummy, but being a…well, cafe…it’s not going to pass the ‘comfy’ requirement.
“What about Crystal Dragon in Templestowe?” asks the hubby, recalling the place from when we went many years ago for his mum’s birthday. Ahhh…there we go. Boxes ticked. Sorted! 🙂
Apologies for my slackness, but I didn’t grab the receipt on this night, so I’m not sure what the individual prices were. But I’m assured by the hubby that the total bill for our party of four was reasonable. He says it worked out to be about $50 head (FYI, we brought our own wine).
|Salt & Pepper Prawn|
So, onto the food. I got the Vegetarian San Choi Bao; it was one big lettuce leaf filled with morsels of tofu, peas, and corn bound together with a semi-sweet and savory concoction. Pretty yum I must admit, and a nice nod to the chef for putting it on the menu! Shawn ordered the Fried Dim Sims and his father ordered the Steamed Dim Sims. Both men assured me they were delicious and definitely not of that ‘frozen’ variety. My mother-in-law ordered the Short Soup and said it was good – plus it had a heap of vegies in it, too. Okay, so all starters get their boxes ticked…now onto the mains!
|Scallops & Mushrooms|
For the life of me, I can’t remember the name of the dish Shawn ordered, and subsequently mine too (as I ordered the vegetarian version of his). But what Shawn had was like a Salt & Pepper Prawn dish in light tempura-style batter with fresh chili and fried rice noodles. That would then make mine a Salt & Pepper Tofu…or something like that. We both loved the light and spicy flavours – definitely a winner that we’d both order again!
|Salt & Pepper Tofu|
Shawn’s father ordered a Scallop & Mushroom main and his mother (yes, you guessed it) ordered the Vegetable Omelet with the infamous ‘gravy’! They both fully enjoyed their meals, the scallops were large and cooked just right, and Shawn’s mum ended up cutting up her big omelet to share! I had a small order of the Vegetarian Fried Rice and the rest of the table shared a large Special Fried Rice.
Sweet, next year is going to be soooo much easier when my mother-in-law’s birthday rolls around again!