Friday, May 7, 2010

Gold Leaf Docklands

Matt Preston once wrote a wonderful article in Epicure, in which he spoke of the search for the best yum cha as some kind of existential crisis.

As each soul rolls down the great conveyor belt in the sky it's stamped with Dragon Boat, Lucky Chan's, Silky Apple or any number of different Shark Fin variations. Sadly, this divine brand is not visible in the mirror, which means you can spend a month of Sundays driving from Box Hill to Brighton and from Little Bourke to beyond searching for your own perfect treasure. I am still looking.

I love it!  Wandering through the wilderness, parched with MSG thirst, scratched on dented, maniacal trolleys...  A dark night of the soul of Dragon Boat proportions, in which claggy har cheong and overcooked gai larn threaten to derail my spiritual quest for my own "perfect treasure".  A week or so ago, Mum and I took the kids to see if any of us were destined to attain dumpling nirvana in the shade of a Gold Leaf.

This is the fifth in Gold Leaf's chain of eateries.  The restaurant looks over the stumps of that white elephant, the Southern Star wheel.

Shanghai dumplings

Correct me if I am wrong, but are these supposed to be xiao long bao, the dumplings that have the famous soupy interior?  These were good - peppery and porky - but NO SOUP FOR YOU!  I am still yet to try proper xiao long bao.  These did come with yummy red vinegar dipping sauce, however.

Sesame prawn toasts

Something to distract the kids (or that's my excuse).  These are wrong, but oh, so right.  Prawns squished onto white bread, covered in sesame seeds, and deep fried.

Har cheong

Big points here for delicate, non-mushy har cheong - wide rice noodles enclosing juicy prawns, with a sweet soy sauce.  Yum!

BBQ pork pastries

Hmm...  These were nowhere near as good as Master Restaurant's.  The pastry was flaky, but I suspect vegetable-shortening based rather than that lovely lardy goodness it should be.  The filling was somewhat dry.

Har gow

Gold Leaf aced the har gow test.  These pretty, pleated, prawn dumplings are notorious for sticking to one another or to the steamer, so that the delicate wrapper is torn off and the har gow is unceremoniously denuded.  These kept their petticoats on and were very good.

Siu mai

It's not yum cha without siu mai.  These are sweet, springy morsels of pork and prawn.  Delicious!

Bean curd roll (I think)

Boy, we really are typical gweilo yum cha eaters.  Nothing interesting here - no chicken's feet, tripe, or even sticky rice.  I was kind of embarrassed so I ordered these, which, to be honest, I can't remember much about except they were not that amazing.

Cha siu bao

I've said it before, but these pillowy, ethereally white buns are the food of my childhood.  I know these had split in the steamer, but the filling was seriously good.  The pork was soft, juicy, fragrant with five spice, and a much more natural shade of red than the normal violent crimson.

Prawns in (I think) fried bean curd

I know people bag fried yum cha items, but I love these, particularly for the outrageous pink sauce that comes with them.  These were so good.

Taro cake

Finally, Mum wanted to try the taro cake for old times' sake, but this one had a strange, grainy texture.  Bummer.

So does my divine brand read Gold Leaf Docklands?  I'm not sure.  Their dishes are more refined than, say, Master Restaurant (and a little more expensive), and it was a very pleasant, easy dining experience.  What if my dumpling true love is nestled in the outer eastern suburbs, and not in the west at all?  I suppose I have much yum cha purgatory to endure then.  Best get on the hunt next weekend - hey, it beats going to church.

Gold Leaf Docklands
Level 1, Harbour Town shopping centre, overlooking the Southern Star Wheel (map)
Phone: 9670 1128
Yum cha hours: Mon - Fri 12.00pm - 3.00pm, Sat - Sun 11.30am - 4.30pm (also open for dinner)
Per plate: $4.80, $5.90, $7.00 and up
Fully licensed 

Gold Leaf on Urbanspoon


  1. Gold Leaf isn't my calling either, though I've only been to the Sunshine and Preston ones for yum cha. I find it's passable, but not stellar. I think my favourite is still Plume in Doncaster, but it's such a long way away... so I usually settle on Shark Fin Inn.

  2. Hello kind sir. Ooh, do Shark Fin Inn do yum cha? Is it the same as House, or different? Must check out. I quite like SF House. I have had Plume only at Highpoint and liked it, but that was a long time ago. The exciting thing is Yummie opening up a new dumpling shop and adjacent yum cha restaurant, in Barkly St!

  3. Ah. Xiao Long Bao... There is a place in Shanghai which is really famous for them - they only make the little dumplings and there is always a queue around the block to get in (I think it took us 2hours to get a spot)

    They come out in trays of 16 and frankly, crap all over anything I've had in Melbourne. I ate 42 in one sitting.

    So much pain... but so worth it.

  4. Oh my god! XLB love. You beat my record - 18 Shanghai dumplings and a spring onion pancake. :)

  5. This Gold Leaf is actually my favourite yum cha place of the moment, similar quality but hugely better service than the CBD offerings like Shark Fin! Prawns in fried bean curd are to die for, let no one tell you any different! :)

  6. Shark Fin Inn is the one closest to Spring St. Not to be confused with Shark Fin House, which is closer to Russell, and has an elevator as you walk in.

    I generally tend to find Shark Fin Inn is better, as it's not as crowded, and the service is more attentive. Also, Shark Fin House tends to run out of some items if you go to the second sitting on weekends, which can sometimes be devastating if you've been hanging out for a particular (fried taro) dumpling.

  7. Hi Vee! Glad you have found your dumpling love :)

    Hi cloudcontrol - I must check it out. I know Shark Fin House well - sounds like I would love Inn. Oh, I know about hanging out for a certain dumpling! Although I have recently been made aware that Yummie sell individual, freshly cooked ham sui gok. Guess those skinny jeans can go to Savers once and for all!

  8. If you want soupy xiao long bao, try them at HuTong Dumpling Bar down market lane, delicate soupy little things.

  9. I reckon the Best Gold leaf restaurant is either the Sunshine or Springvale ones. And for great soupy xiao long bao is probably at Tempura & Dumpling House in Box Hill market.

  10. Hi salina - sorry to have not replied sooner - I just had the legendary HuTong XLB last week! XLB OMG!!

    Hi Anon - I have been to the Sunners Gold Leaf and like it a lot. Thanks for the XLB rec in Box Hill, too! I love it there, even though I don't go much any more.

  11. i do love gold leaf! Burwood one is superior:)


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