Yum-Cha Navy Sinks Shark Fin Inn

50 Little Bourke St
Melbourne, VIC 3000
03 9662 2681

Danni and Sylwyn came to visit Melbourne for a week. As part of their tour, Sunday yum cha was in order. We decided to lay siege to Shark Fin Inn. With international gastronomic aid from Singapore, we couldn’t possibly lose. So we formed a Sunday flotilla of 6 hungry stomachs and set sail for the CBD.

It became evident that my petite Singaporean visitors were more like veteran Vikings. They had eager eyes and very robust stomachs. I swear their little bellies could plunge into depths far deeper than mine! I was nearly speechless when the whole table filled up with dishes within 5 minutes of session commencement. I tried suggesting that we hold our fire for a bit and pace things, but the international fleet kept targetting the passing trolleys with precise fingers. Dishes kept coming until we ran out of table space and even had to stack baskets on top of each other!

I have invaded this territory in the past. Had a memorably good dinner here, and a reasonably good yum cha session with a large armada of friends. Unfortunately, this particular session turned out more disappointing than before despite our amazing firepower. I’ll now list the naval units that we have defeated and comment on how they were sunk.

Char Siu Sou – BBQ pork in pastry
Served warm, no complaints.
Fung Zhao – Braised Chicken Feet
Nicely braised, soft succulent flesh.
Pai Kuat – Steamed Spare Ribs in Black Bean
Nicely marinated and tender pork. Good dish. We liked it.
Steamed Meatball – Is there a Canto name for this?
It looked dry and unappetising on the outside. On the inside it was actually not too bad. There was a slight pink blush inside, suggesting it wasn’t overcooked. I don’t like meatballs in general so can’t comment if this was good or not. But my comrades didn’t think much of it.
Steamed Prawn on Tofu
Yu Tou Gao – Yam Cake
Not warm. Ingredients in it were okay, had dried prawns. I normally have Luo Bo Gao, so have not developed a taste for yam cake. We didn’t finish this dish.
Siu Mai – Pork and Mushroom Dumpling
I didn’t eat this. No one said it was good. At least it doesn’t look dry.
Spring Roll
LOL who ordered this? Nothing special but it was served hot. They squirted on a sweet chilli sauce type that i didn’t like.
Har Gao – Prawn Dumpling
I thought this tasted okay. But half of my fleet members didn’t like it.
Pei Dan Chok – Century Egg Porridge
Most of us liked this dish, tasty and lovely textured congee. It had a good quantity of ‘fresh’ tasting century egg and salted egg.
Char Siew Cheong Fun – BBQ Pork Wrapped in Rice Noodle Roll
Utterly disappointing. The rice roll was too thick, and the sauce used was on the overly sweet side that none of us liked.
Ha Cheong Fun – Prawn Wrapped in Rice Noodle Roll
Same story. So unappetising. You can’t even see the orange of the prawn inside the roll. I use this dish as a benchmark for the quality of yum cha at a joint. So in essence, this place has failed in my books.
Siew Ngap – Chinese Roast Duck
Skin wasn’t crisp, dry tasteless flesh. Bad bad. We didn’t finish this.
Gow Choi – Prawn and Chive Dumpling
I quite liked this dish. Served hot and reasonably good filling. Other members said it tasted ordinary.
Fried Scallop
I didn’t like the filling underneath the ordinary tasting scallop, it was one dense hard clump of ingredients.
Disproving my dad’s theory that chicken feet in Australia is as large as your hand. Also note the naughty kitten scratches. lol
Wu Gok – Taro Dumpling
Tasted okay, but there was too little filling in the dumpling.
Haam Sui Gok – Glutinous Rice Dumpling
Again, not enough filling. It’s a little alarming that even the deep fried dishes could disappoint.
Dan Ta – Egg Custard Tart
Served hot. Nice fluffy pastry and delightful custard.
Tofu Fa – Beancurd in Syrup
Flavourless tofu in a watery syrup that wasn’t sweet enough. Terrible!

Some dishes were quite good here, but the dishes that disappointed us bordered on being unacceptably disappointing. One good thing is the reasonable prices at this joint. After ordering tons, the bill still ended up at less than $25 per person. At other joints it’d be $35-40 I’m sure. I might hold off revisiting this place for now, but I’ve heard that the nearby branch (Shark Fin House) is considerably better. I might give that a try.

Yum cha remains a hit and miss expedition in Melbourne. I will end my 2010 campaign for now and head home to regroup for next year. Once I’ve got operation yum-cha 2011 set into motion, rest assured that you’ll continue to receive further accounts.

Your venerable leader,

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