Happy Palace / Melbourne
Happy Palace was an old and typical Chinese restaurant that was dying a slow death. That was until Jerome Borazio – the guy that brought us 1000£Bend, Workers Club, etc. got his hands on this place, or shall we say ‘palace’ it was brought back to life with refuelled happiness.
They nailed the brand refreshment – keeping the authentic Chinese decor minus the tackier embellishments. Replaced with installations of trendy and exciting artworks such as bicycle seats, glowing scorpions and jellyfish.
Dining tables made from mah-jong tablets and chopsticks, jade dragons, Chinese lanterns, fire crackers and Buddha’s. This place captured the essence of Chinese in the 80’s perfectly.
The glowing scorpion was so… cute? Well, entertaining at least.
These bicycle seats looked super cool but after riding my bike all day I was looking for a more comfortable seat.
The bar style was adapted with upbeat music, a DJ, fully stocked bar and cool bartenders.
It was a shame they don’t do table service anymore. But luckily they have a great bar-snack menu with an excellent range of dishes at good prices too.
San Choi Bao lettuce cups, or as they like to call it San Choy Pow! A fresh and healthy option if you don’t put too much soy sauce on it.
We got a couple of dumpling dishes, chicken+prawn and pork+vegetable. Delicious boiled dumplings, cheap and highly addictive. Like the ones we get in Chinatown.
Deep fried chicken ribs with dark soy sauce. This was my favourite dish, every piece was crunchy and flavoursome.
Pulled pork burger with Chinese 5 spice dressing and asian slaw served with prawn crackers. An awesome Chinese adaption to the classic pulled pork burger and chips.
I was pretty happy with this palace and i’ll definitely be back soon! Definitely a place to check out, especially if you’re hip and Chinese Like I am.
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87 Bourke Street
Man Tong Kitchen / Crown
Man Tong Kitchen, the name might sound familiar because it’s owned by the same guy that brought us the iconic HuTong dumpling bar. Man Tong Kitchen is known as the ‘sister’ restaurant, although it sounds more like the manly brother.
The restaurant is located next to the Casino in the Crown Entertainment Complex. It’s not the most romantic of places but once you enter, it feels like you have entered a restaurant in China… that is full of Australians. We were the only Asians there, apart from the staff.
They have an extensive wine list, amongst other beverages. Watch out for the Chinese tea, as they charge a ridiculous $5 per person.
Spacious high ceiling decorated with a mixture of modern and vintage Chinese furniture, wooden floors and marble. The tables and seats looked like old rosewood while the room had the lucky Chinese colors going on. The restaurant seats around 200 people, and even have a couple of private rooms for functions or meetings. It is a good but temporary get-away from the pokie machines (Dad.)
Our table was set up nicely, although I feel the white mug isn’t as cute as traditional Chinese tea cups. Everything was clean and there was no need to double-check, unlike other asian restaurants.
Luxuries like hot towels, and particular attention is not something I am accustomed to when dining in a Chinese restaurant, as i’m often seeking a cheap dumpling bar or lunch specials. It was a pleasant change. Although the service isn’t extraordinary here, it’s a lot better than anything you will get down Chinatown.
They have a huge selection of great authentic Chinese dishes on the menu, and of course we ordered way too much food. Whenever i’m eating with dad it seems like we order enough food for Africa or at least enough for leftovers for the whole week.
Shredded Chicken with Chilli Oil in Szechuan Style - We started with this cold dish, it had a very strong sesame flavour but it was delicious. The cucumber gave a nice crunch and refreshed the palate.
Spring Onion Pancake. - Hate to say it, but these are much better than the ones my dad make. Sorry Dad! These were puffy, crispy, and had a nice simple flavour.
Sesame Prawn Rolls - These were also delicious and crispy. A balanced savoury sweetness with a delicate crunch.
Scallop Siu Mai - I was disappointed with the presentation, they looked sloppy and were falling over. Pete and Manu from MKR said to never judge a dish by their cover, they were right. This un-impressing dish turned out to be soft, juicy and very flavoursome. To my surprise they also contained delicious scallops! Dad ordered in Chinese so I didn’t see these coming, I was very pleased and so were my tastebuds.
Signature’s Xiao Long Bao - The oh so famous and glorified Xiao Long Bao. Back in my hometown, only asians would know what these are. Since i’ve moved to Melbourne it seems like Xiao Long Bao is in everybody’s vocabulary. I even found out there is an abbreviation for them: “XLB!”
HuTong set a good benchmark for these dumplings but I feel Man Tong might have outdone them this round. Soft moist skin, hot juicy soup and tender flavoursome meat. They even had a little hole in the top so you could suck the soup out, not sure if that was intentional, but it worked a treat. These XLB’s were very well crafted and tasted superb, dad was equally impressed and ordered a few too many.
Pan-Fried Pork Dumplings - Simple and tasted pretty much exactly like the ones from HuTong. I was expecting a bit more crunch from the dumplings. The pastry tasted like the ones that come with steamed dumplings, apart from the base that seemed like it was fried on a hot pan for maybe 10 seconds. It was very juicy and full of soup like the XLB’s. Delicious, but not cooked to the style I was expecting, and not as good as the XLB’s.
Braised Fish Head Soup in Hot Pot - Sounds appetising doesn’t it? The Chinese believe that if you eat fish head, it will make you more brainy. Now, i’m not sure if scientists have tested this yet, but I had a couple of bowls and feel a lot brainier. My tastebuds however, were not really fathomed. If it really did make me brainier, I would be drinking a lot more.
Lobster Meat San Choi Bao - Biggest san choi bao I’ve seen in a while. I was hoping for something maybe half this size. The filling tasted great, delicious lobster meat. It had quite a strong garlic flavour, the filling and sauce was good.
Duck Meat San Choi Bao - Another mammoth san choi bao, this time it was duck. Flavoursome meat, nice subtle sweetness and not too dry, but once again I felt it was a bit heavy for an appetiser. Giant san choi bao’s were a little overwhelming, considering the amount of food we ordered. Perhaps that was our fault!
Silky Bean Curd with Preserved Egg - Lusciously soft silken tofu, delicious century egg and spring onion. I love this dish because the tofu is so light and flavourless but has an excellent texture, while the century egg and soy sauce is very rich and flavoursome. When I combined the two, it’s like they were meant to be. Meant to be in my mouth.
Stir Fried String Bean with Szechuan Chilli Sauce - A nice vegetable dish to convince us that we are being healthy, although this dish was also pretty oily. Hard to escape in a Chinese restaurant.
Deep Fried Boneless Chicken with Dry Chilli - Delicious fragrant and spicy. The menu had three different versions of this dish, from three different parts of China. Szechuan, ChongQing and Normal China. Ok I admit, there is no such thing as “Normal” China but they just didn’t list a place on the menu. This was deliciously tantilizing.
Pork Spare Rib with Sweet and Vinegar Sauce - My favorite dish of the evening. Crunchy battered peices of soft pork meat in a beautiful rich sauce. The sauce was spot on, the perfect amount of sweetness and sourness from the vinegar.
Hot Spicy Couple (Beef Tripe & Ox Tongue) - My dad likes this, I do not know why. I had a couple of bites and decided not to have any more. It wasn’t horrible, but the texture was just not for me. Maybe when i’m 40, just maybe.
Stir Fried Scallop & Eggplant with Szechuan Chilli Sauce in Clay Pot - This dish was oily, but delectable. The sauce was delicious, it had a spicy kick that was absorbed by the eggplant and scallops.
Steamed fresh fish - Delicious fresh fish in a ginger and light soy sauce. My dad use to force me to eat fish when I was younger so I would have ’soft’ skin, I hated it. Now I love it and feel super healthy when eating it. I left the head and the tail for Dad.
Final say - A little overpriced, as expected with the majority of things at Crown, however the food quality here was up to a great standard. If you don’t mind paying a little extra, Man Tong Kitchen has some great authentic dishes from all over China, and you’re less likley to get food poisoning. Dad might have thought he was leaving with a few extra brain cells and softer skin from the fish heads; but I was happily satisfied with a full stomach.
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Man Tong Kitchen
Level 1 - West End
Crown Entertainment Complex
Sichuan Dining Room / Melbourne
Sichuan Dining Room, a casual chinese restaurant we visited for dumplings.
As noted, casual ambiance. Beware of plastic table cloths. Fairly cheap menu, fairly average service, as expected in Chinatown.
Justine thought it was a bit ambitious ordering 30 dumplings between 3 of us for a late “afternoon snack.” No regrets. Crispy, tasty dumplings. Lined my stomach perfectly just before dinner.
Craig insisted we have a healthier option as well, so we got these boiled dumplings. They were flavorsome and juicy with a simple broth. Pan fried dumplings were definitely more popular.
We ordered dumplings, a fairly fail-safe dish, achieved satisfaction. The other food looked good too, but not as good as other Sichuan restaurants in Chinatown.
Sichuan Dining Room
03 9663 5472
Mid City Arcade - 194-200 Bourke St
Melbourne, VIC 3000
Shanghai Noodle House / Melbourne
Shanghai Noodle House is one of many little chinese restaurants in Chinatown. It’s a pretty cool place to go for a quick lunch. “Nothing fancy” - in the good cheap asian-nothing-fancy way.
Cheap ambiance, like most things from China but I like it. It means they are real/authentic, as long as the food tastes good, who cares about the cheap furniture, the hello kitty aprons and mis-spelt menus.
These pan fried pork dumplings were standardly good, but maybe try the steamed prawn ones, I heard they are amazing.
Roast duck on udon noodles and bok choi, interesting presentation. Flavorsome dish, fairly cheap, and satisfying.
Shanghai Noodle House
03 9662 9380
242 Little Bourke St
Melbourne, VIC 3000
Pancake Dessert House / Melbourne
Pancake Dessert House. A place where no-one orders pancakes or dessert, nor is it a house. At least the bi-line was a bit more accurate, but it’s not like you’re suppose to take that seriously either, as it’s set in Comic Sans. Typical confusing chinese branding.
Not a single Caucasian in sight, the ambiance is very “contemporary asian fast food,” so I guess they nailed that one right. A very young asian vibe, and a comfortable spot for an express lunch, if you’re asian. (White people will stand out.) A lot of delicious chinese dishes on the menu for a very cheap price, I forgot to check if they did pancakes or desserts.
I was tossing up between the lemongrass chicken on rice or this house special pork chop on rice. The lemongrass chicken was served with a little bit of green to the side, and a pan fried egg on top of rice. The pork chop was served with sauce and rice. It was so boring compared to the chicken dish the customer next to me had! #foodenvy. The pork chop was nice and crispy, flavorsome too. The sauce was like sweet and sour sauce combined with black bean sauce and onions. I enjoyed it but I wish I had ordered the other dish instead!
Pancake Dessert House Eatery
03 9663 1400
18/200 Bourke St
Sichuan House / Melbourne
Sichuan House in China Town Melbourne is a chinese restaurant that serves traditional “Sichuan” style food. Generally very spicy, pungent, and sometimes delicious.
White people also enjoy this kind of food. However, they probably don’t like randoms taking photos of them and putting it online. Come at me bro! The service is fairly standard for asian. The door was annoying, it kept slamming every time someone walked in.
Pork mince with beans. Tasty salty goodness. Order dishes to share, because if you just had this your meal would be very boring.
The house favourite. Double cooked cumin chilli pork ribs. Delicately soft and explosively flavoursome. Delicious enough to make you go for more until your tongue is on fire, or all your taste-buds are burnt out.
The kung pao prawn dish was also spicy, and flavoursome. It contained a lot of nuts, onions, rice cake, garlic, coriander, miscellaneous and oil. The only enjoyable food in the pot were the prawns, but all the other ingredients gave great flavour. (I’m not huge on nuts… well, these kind of nuts anyway.)
Definitely a place to visit if you love spicy food or chinese food, even better if you love both. Just a warning, don’t expect any sympathy or easy way out if the food is too spicy, as this restaurant does not serve ice.
Dumpling World / Melbourne
Dumpling World is a dumpling house/chinese restaurant on Collins street near Southern Cross Train Station.
This casual eatery is a simplistic, but a bit bland. Appropriately prepared with soy sauce, vinegar and chilli oil condiments on every table for dumplings. The service was mediocre, much like any other casual asian restaurant.
Amy and I got beef dumplings, we were disappointed to see that these were steamed and not pan fried. The flavour was overpoweringly meaty and the gluggy texture made them sickly and difficult to eat.
We also got kung pao chicken, a classic chinese dish. This was also very average. The chicken was of low quality and all the elements looked rushed/sloppy.
Disappointed to be served bad dumplings at a restaurant that calls themselves “Dumpling World.” Best to go somewhere in Chinatown for better dumplings.
Taiwan cafe is cute little asian restaurant on Swanston street. The place reminded me of 2003, when I was in Taiwan. Back then I described the food as Japanese style Chinese. I was young and naive, but I was also kinda right.
The restaurant has a bit of seating, but it’s tight and squashy. To eat here you will have to squeeze, although that’s pretty standard in the streets of Melbourne. One customer leaned back on his chair and knocked the noodle soup out of another customers table sitting beside him, and that is not standard in Melbourne. (Although it was pretty funny.)
Last time I was here I ordered the wasabi prawns, I highly recommend them. Today I was peckish and felt like entree’s more than a main, so for lunch I had the Oyster Omelette and 6 Dumplings. The omelette was a little bit slimy for my liking, great oyster flavour in the omelette though. Dumplings had sufficient flavour, crispiness and standard size. I had some chilli with mine to spice it up a bit. I love dumplings!
I kind of like this place, they have a lot on their menu that I am still yet to try! How about you try it for me?
03 9663 6663
273 Swanston St
Melbourne, VIC 3000