A Melbourne based writer who is a travel junkie, dedicated foodie and emerging photographer.
Published May 30th 2019
30 new dishes as David's enters its third decade
One of the difficulties of being a Melbourne institution in the restaurant industry is that your regular customers come to rely on their favourite dishes continuing to be available. Therefore, it is a brave restaurateur who dares to overhaul the menu in a restaurant that is about to enter its third decade in operation.
But that is the situation for David's, billed as the 'best Chinese restaurant in Melbourne'. Owner David Zhou has introduced 30 new dishes. He has, however, retained crowd pleasers including the delightfully soft and gelatinous slow cooked sticky pork belly, which I tried on my previous visit.
The sticky port belly - a favourite that endures
Along with the menu changes, the venue has undergone an interior refresh, and a major kitchen overhaul.
Speaking at the launch of the new menu, Zhou told of a recent occasion where he'd been having lunch at David's, and a diner at the next table had asked him what had changed. While Zhou appeared to see this as a measure of success around the subtle introduction of the changes, he also had a wry smile as he talked about the challenges and efforts that went on behind the scenes - the extensive consultation with his chefs, major alterations to work flows etc - to achieve the changes.
David Zhou speaking at the recent launch of his new menu
In an amusing insight, Zhou also talked of one of the new dishes - drunken oysters (Shaoxing "drunken" granita, pickled goji berry) ($5 each), as being inspired both from his childhood roots in downtown Shanghai, and from walking along nearby Chapel Street in the early hours of the morning and seeing people who had clearly over-imbibed!
The hero of David's is of course the food, and I was fortunate enough to try some of the new dishes.
Dim Sum feel like they must be part of David's DNA - they are always spot-on in their presentation and taste. A new dish on offer is the Wagyu beef pot stickers, which are served with a house made chilli sauce ($14 for four pieces). The dumplings were succulent and tasty, but the chilli sauce was a knock out! When the staff tried to clear the plate away, my partner Dave wouldn't let them take it because he wanted to keep dipping into the sauce! The staff ended up bringing him a small jug of the chilli sauce, which he reluctantly shared with others at the table.
Wagyu beef pot stickers, with the knock out house made chilli sauce
Probably my favourite dish of the night was the chicken and chestnuts (ragout of red cooked free range chicken, chestnut, shallot, wild mushroom) ($32). This dish had wonderfully complex flavours, and I also loved the texture and nuttiness of the chestnut.
Chicken and chestnuts
Another winner for me was the Hawker style lamb, cooked with cumin, onion and tomato, and served with shaobing flatbread ($20). The dish looked so inviting when it hit the table, and it didn't disappoint, its beautiful rich flavours suggesting a long, slow cook for maxiumum impact.
Hawker style lamb
David's has also added to the dessert menu. We tried a lovely fusion sweet - jasmine tea infused chocolate fudge cake (with green tea cake, strawberries and tofu-oolong "cream") ($16), the jasmine infusion helping to balance out the sweetness of the fudge. Served along with one of David's signature teas, this was a great way to round out the meal.
Jasmine tea infused chocolate fudge
David's is located at 4 Cecil Place, Prahran. You can view the full menu here. David's is also fully licensed (and you can BYO wine only except Friday, Saturday dinner and Sunday lunch).
It is open seven days, from 6 - 10pm Monday and Tuesday, 12 - 3pm and 6 - 10pm on Wednesday and Thursday, 12 - 3pm and 6 - 11pm on Friday, 11.30am - 3pm and 6 - 11pm on Saturday, and 11.30am - 3pm and 6 - 10pm on Sunday.
Click here to book a table, or call David's on (03) 9529 5199.
The images in this article were taken by the writer.