A not so typical Chinese restaurant in the heart of Melbourne’s Chinatown.
When you think Chinese restaurant, your first thought would be non-existent service, cheap decor and bargain food.
WARNING: Flower Drum will blow this stereotype out of the water.
As we entered the building, we found ourselves in what seemed like your stereotypical Chinatown eatery in Melbourne. The room was plain and unrefined, however we were swiftly greeted by a young man ( looking completely out of place in his smart attire) who guided us to a dreary looking, underwhelming lift. We were feeling quite unsure by this point, considering Flower Drum is regarded as the best Chinese restaurant in Melbourne…
But alas, these doubts did not last long at all! It was as if we had taken an elevator all the way to China!
As the lift doors opened, we were in awe of the intricate Chinese decor – deep red carpets and walls lined with oriental paintings; smartly presented waiters – decked out in suits and ties; and tables beautifully dressed with fresh floral bouquets. Now we were definitely beginning to understand where Flower Drum got their reputation from!
Again, as we stepped out of the lift, we were immediately welcomed and shown promptly to our table.They were so attentive throughout the meal – food, smiles, photo taking and even the drinks – it was as if the water was just magically refilling itself every time!
Flower Drum is definitely one of a kind for its service. They offered a pleasant and theatrical experience for all of their diners. For most dishes you order the waiters will come out and prepare the plate right in front of you, which is particularly good when they are serving their specialty dish – the Peking duck (only if the food is being made for you, not so good if you’re watching them make it for other people!).
There are three options you can decide from for a lunch service, the a la carte menu, the 2/3/4 course spring set lunch, and the chefs selection menu.
We went for the 4 course spring set menu and between us we had:
- Steamed dim sum – consisting of their own steamed scallop siu mai, prawn har gao and pork siu mai
- Quail Sang Choi Bao – minced quail meat cooked together with Chinese Sausage, shiitake mushrooms, bamboo shoots and spring onion, served with a lettuce leaf.
- 2 lots of the Peking duck
- Crispy skinned chicken – served with fresh lemon juice and salt
- Stir fried barramundi noodles
- Almond pudding with fresh spring fruit
- Peking toffee apple w/cinnamon ice cream – lightly battered apple covered in molten toffee and dipped in ice and served with Rickert’s Point organic cinnamon ice-cream.
The dim sum and the quail were the first dishes to arrive as they left the Peking duck to be served separately. The dim sum was some of the nicest we have had. The seafood was incredibly fresh and each of the three dim sums was flavoursome and juicy. We would recommend this dish as they were some of the best dim sum we have tried.
The quail sang choi bao was very tasty too and slightly messy. It was like biting into a taco filled with meaty goodness and a volcanic eruption out the other end…there was no way we could eat it while looking like royalty!
Now, Flower Drum is best known for the Peking Duck. In fact there are food blogs out there that say the Peking Duck here is one of the 50 dishes you must try in all of Melbourne. As Peking duck is one of our favourite dishes we couldn’t wait! We watched in hidden excitement as the waiters brought all the elements out and made a show of plating the pancakes up in front of us and it allowed other tables to see this too, enticing everyone to want some of “whatever they’re having”. It certainly has a right to be considered the best Peking Duck. The duck is tender and the plum sauce is just right. The only downside is there wasn’t enough of it, this was when the standard quantity of Chinese food would have been fantastic!
For the mains, they knew we were sharing and plated it up for us in this manner, halving the dishes and prawn crackers into one plate each, this was a very nice touch.
The barramundi noodles were exceptional, it was a classic twist on the typical Chinese stir fry noodle dishes out there except without the oiliness (MSG filled) that is often associated with it. As for the crispy skinned chicken, it was just right. Being able to dip the chicken in the lemon juice and salt added more flavours to the palate too which we liked.
By this point we we extremely happy and this was before the desserts! The toffee apple dish is just devilishly seductive and hands down the standout dessert here. They do everything in front of you and cool the toffee with ice before twirling it into thin bits of toffee to go with the apple and the ice cream. It is a mouth watering dish and we would recommend this wholeheartedly.
The other dessert we ordered, the almond pudding, was probably on the opposite end of the scale in terms of healthiness. The fruit was fresh and the pudding light, it was a nice compliment to the sugar paradise which was the toffee apple.
Flower Drum really is Chinese fine dining at its best. It was a fantastic meal and we enjoyed every minute of being there. Overly friendly service, being welcomed twice; amazing food and a beautifully decorated interior. If you want to have a change from the stereotypical Chinese restaurant you are used to and are prepared to pay a little more for your lunch or dinner, Flower Drum in Chinatown is the place to go!!