Red Emperor Restaurant

3 Southgate Ave

Southbank, VIC 3006

03 9699 4170

Sunday is the perfect day for yum cha brunch! Social, vibrant, pleasant and relaxed. And we do all that in front of a delightful degustation of “Asian tapas”.

I first ate here 2 years ago, at an all-you-can-eat Christmas yum cha function held for my workplace. My colleagues watched with open-mouthed wonderment as I unabashedly devoured everything in sight. Ahhh… good memories. I had a very contented belly.

I thought cousin Nick would like this place. They have floor to ceiling windows and you can see the Yarra river and some of the city while you eat. I made a booking and got Langy to come along. Yum cha is good in threes since a lot of the dishes comes three-in-a-basket. They sat us upstairs and the trolleys started rolling in.

We adhered to the standard fare. Many of the baskets came out on the dry and cool side. Maybe it’s because we arrived in the middle of a session and the food have been sitting out for awhile. I must confess I have forgotten exactly how the dishes tasted, it was a few days before I started on this post. And yum cha is hard to review because there are so many items involved. So I suppose this post will be more pictorial than critical.

Siu mai – pork and mushroom dumpling

Tasted dense, dry and unexciting

I’m not that fond of siu mai anyway. Most of the time, it tastes too porky.

Gow Choi – prawn and chive dumpling

No complaints. I like prawns, I like chives! It’s win-win.

I also like the translucency of these types of dumplings. You get to see what you’re eating!

For awhile, I mistook this for Har Gao (prawn dumplings). Lol, I’m so farang sometimes.

Combination Seafood Dumpling

So said the trolley girl.

Love the anglicised name. It makes the dish feel almost unauthentic.

I could taste prawn, chives and water chestnut in this one. Maybe scallops too?

Quite liked it.

Gai Keok – braised chicken feet

Tasted good. Tender braised flesh that falls off the bone easily. The seasoning had a nice balance of spices

…I feel guilty about deriving so much pleasure from dismembering toes.

The feet are also not too large. Dad always jokes how chicken feet served in Australia can be almost as big as his hand, haha!

Pai Kuat – steamed spare ribs with black beans

Epic fail.

They were squares of boring, tough pork meat that didn’t really soak up the marinade.

I didn’t even see a rib!

Luo Bo Gao – white radish cake

Mediocre. Served at room temperature. This dish should be served warm to taste good.

This cake is quite often mistakenly called “turnip cake”

Ha Cheong – steamed rice noodle roll with shrimp

I use this dish as a yum cha benchmark.

I loove ha cheong! The prawns were acceptably fresh and big here. However, it wasn’t served hot and freshly steamed.

Char Siu Pau – BBQ pork bun

Small, steaming hot, fluffy and dainty. Thumbs up.

I prefer these smaller versions to the big firmer buns you get at other joints

Mango pudding

Found it overly sweet and I’d prefer if there was more mango-ey zing in it.

At least we broke this heart into three pieces instead of two when sharing. Somehow, that feels less wrong.

Dan Ta – egg custard tart

More daintiness. Served at room temperature.

The custard wasn’t eggy enough for my liking. The pastry would’ve tasted good if it was served hot.

The above 10 dishes cost us $60 for 3 persons. I left the place feeling satisfied but not full. In a bigger group, I’d probably have stuffed myself a lot more.

The service was very attentive, they changed plates and worried whether we had clean spoons for our dessert. But i’m not sure whether I’ll come back again. Prices are stiff and I think I can find yummier yum cha at other places in the city

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