Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Restaurant Review: David's

Location: 4 Cecil Pl, Prahran
Phone: 03 9529 5199
Cuisine: Chinese
Overall Impression: 8.5/10

Awarded a total of ten Chef's Hats by The Age Good Food Guide over the past fifteen years, David’s has become a Melbourne culinary institution. This degree of success would leave most restaurant owners content, but David Zhou (the man behind David's) closed the doors to customers for a gastronomic intermission whilst he worked to refresh and reinvent his pride and joy. And on the 5th of July 2012, the reinvigorated David's reopened its doors.
To Start:
Drunk Chick: soft, boneless chicken marinated in chinese wine with green soy beans
Green n' red: green soy beans, bok choy and chilli
Spicy beef with white radish and cucumber
Spiced oolong tea quail eggs with bean curd and wolf berries
'One bite' soft shell river prawns
Pan-fried spring onion pancake

The design of David's is clean, simple and honest, with white dominating the refreshed colour scheme. In the centre of the split level dining room sits a wooden "station" that holds, amongst other things, extra bowls, napkins and cutlery that diners are free to help themselves to. David Zhou explained that this station is designed to make patrons feel like they are at home by having the option to help themselves, or their fellow dining companions, to anything extra they might require.

When speaking with David Zhou, it is clear that he is passionate about authentic countryside Shanghainese cuisine. The menu is inspired by the cuisine from Zhouzhang, a riverside rural town in Shanghai. Whilst the dishes retain their authentic flavour, many of the recipes have been tweaked and modernised. As expected for a Chinese restaurant, the menu encourages sharing.
DIY shredded duck and vegie wrap

A memorable entree was the Drunk Chick which had been marinated in Chinese wine. The flavour of the rice wine permeated the tender chicken pieces and the dish was seasoned to perfection.
David Zhou (the man behind David's)
Various teas
Tofu and field mushrooms
Country comfort: sticky pork belly and chat potatoes
Soy peppered beef with radish and whole chillies
Grandma's 8's: Shanghai medley of scallop, shrimp, pork, chicken, chestnut, cashew, bamboo and shitake

Our favourite dish was Grandma's 8's (a shanghai medley of scallop, shrimp, pork, chicken, chestnut, cashew, bamboo and shitake). In Shanghainese culture, every family has their own rendition of this dish. David's version is a deliciously well balanced concoction with depth and complexity. The untraditional inclusion of ingredients such as scallops and chestnuts highlight David's fearlessness in breaking with tradition.
Peasant's crab: diced scallops, fish and egg white tossed in the wok
Auntie's fried rice with chinese sausage and egg

David's started as a small tea store on Chapel Street and has grown to become the restaurant it is today. It has not forgotten its roots, however, as David's boasts a generous variety of gourmet teas. We sampled two and they were both wonderfully soothing and beautiful.
Osmanthus and red bean black sticky rice pudding
Traditional Chinese Almond Pudding
Whilst very traditional, the desserts at David's are very well executed and delicious. The Osmanthus and red bean black sticky rice pudding had the perfect level of sweetness. Any greater and the complexity and depth of the dessert would have been masked; any less and it would have ceased to be a dessert. The proportion of red bean to the sticky rice was expertly judged. The Traditional Chinese Almond Pudding was refreshing. It had been pan fried, granting it a deliciously gooey texture on the inside and a delightfully crisp outside. There was also a slight smokiness that added to the complexity of flavour.
Overall, David's restaurant is wonderful for Chinese cuisine and it is no wonder that this eatery is so highly regarded. David Zhou's pursuit of constant improvement and reinvention will ensure that David's remains one of Melbourne's premier Chinese restaurants for many years to come.

David's on Urbanspoon

Gastrology bloggers dined courtesy of David's.

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