Tao Tao House

815 Glenferrie Rd
Hawthorn, VIC 3122
03 9818 0968

I confess I can be a skeptical person sometimes. Good yum cha in Hawthorn… Really? Is that possible? That’s what crossed my mind when I heard Agnes and Allan talk (and blog) positively about this place. Hah! But I’m much more likely to trust a blogger’s taste over a critic’s review in the newspaper. So I finally organised a session here with friends on Boxing Day last year.

Never had yum cha inside such a serene and tranquil setting before. Maybe it’s a public holiday that’s why, but that session was really quiet, civilised and pleasant. Very nice to me, but for some of my companions, they found it unsettling because yum cha is supposed to be noisy and raucous. I’d take this quieter version any day when in Melbourne, and maybe opt for the noisy edition when visiting Hong Kong.

Scallop dumplings, Har Gao (Prawn Dumpling)
Chive & Prawn Dumplings, Xiao Long Bao (Shanghai Pork Dumpling)
I’ve grouped what we had into semi-sensible lots. Starting with the dumplings, the offerings at Tao Tao were not too bad. The skins could be a little more delicate, but we generally liked what we had.  Damo and Bri enjoyed the chive & prawn dumplings, and Damo noted that the xiao long bao still had some juice in it. I personally found all the dumplings okay, liked how petite they were and I think they’re slightly better than what I’ve had at other places. Using the har gao as a general indicator of quality, I thought the prawns were okay-fresh but on the salty side.

We did not get carried away with the deep fried offerings. I like groups like that. The char siu sou (BBQ pork in pastry bun) had a yummy, buttery pastry but the char siu inside was again typically too sweet for my taste buds. I did, however, really enjoy the deep fried eggplant w fish paste. Eyeing the sticky sauce, I was almost certain it was going to be a hoi-sin fail, but that wasn’t the case! Ashley loved this dish.

In the background above, the pai kuat (steamed spare ribs with black beans) were nice that they were on-the-bone ribs with a lovely delicate taste. The braised ox tripe had good texture and consistency with a mild flavour, quite nice. And I was very smitten with the fung zhao (below right), nice marinade even if it was on the sweet side. I nearly fell off my chair when Damo stoically commented that the fung zhao was quite bony, I mean… it is the feet of a bird afterall! Hahaha!

Ox tripe, Fung Zhao (braised chicken feet)
Char Siew Bao, Lo Buo Gao
The char siew bao (steamed BBQ pork buns) were, once again, too sweet inside for me. I think I will stop ordering this in Melbourne. On the bright side, the luo bo gao (white radish cake) here was the best I’ve had in a long long time. Big chunks of daikon inside and a good amount of ingredients with nicely charred outsides. Very yummy! The ha cheong (steamed rice noodle rolls with prawns) was also very good. The rice roll was thin, soft and delicate, and the prawns inside were reasonably fresh, albeit salty. Also liked that they the drizzled sauce had a hint of Chinese vinegar in it. 

Our final savoury dish was the lo mai gai (steamed glutinous rice w chicken wrapped w lotus leaf). Again, a delight to eat! I liked how the rice wasn’t cooked until it was too sticky. One interesting thing about Tao Tao House was, when we asked for Wu Gok (taro dumpling), the waiter sort of indicated that they don’t do taro dishes here. Is that true? Is it a cultural thing specific to this place?

For sweets, the mango pudding befuddled me a little as I was expecting evaporated milk around it instead of more mango sauce. But it was actually quite good, not too sweet with chunks of fresh mango inside. The dan ta (egg custard tart) needed a 20 minute wait as they specially baked it for us. Loved the fresh-off-the-oven pastry, but wished the custard was less sweet and more eggy.

While some of the dishes could be a touch less sweet, I still agree with my blogger compatriots, Tao Tao House actually does offer good yum cha! Even Damo, who can be quite fussy with food, did declare that he thought the food was really good (although he added that it lacked that noisy ambience). Prices remained friendly despite the plusher atmosphere, the five of us spent $26 each.

I’m now less disillusioned about yum cha in Melbourne. Had a great feed here. And stay tuned, I will be blogging about another good yum cha place in the near future!

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14 Responses

  1. Hannah
    Hannah at · Reply

    Amen to trusting bloggers more than newspaper restaurant reviewers! Also, there's generally more photos in blogs to look at :P

    Yum cha always means dan tarts in my family :)
    My recent post Komeyui Japanese Restaurant: Melbourne Day Two Concludes

  2. Agnes
    Agnes at · Reply

    Phew, I'm relieved you thought it was okay. Hehee. I've been back to Tao Tao House and I still like it. Sometimes it's nice not to deal with surly staff and frantically busy places. Sigh, so unAsian. ;)
    My recent post Loam, Drysdale

  3. Lauren (Ms Baklover)
    Lauren (Ms Baklover) at · Reply

    Wow, great price! Everything looks carefully made and is well presented. I'm actually impressed Hawthorn has such a lovely-looking yum cha house.
    My recent post Elceed

  4. Fatbooo
    Fatbooo at · Reply

    Yes! Apparently it's slightly pricier than other places, but we must've ordered conservatively that day. Try eating w Billy and myself as a combo and see how much gets ordered by comparison, aahaha!!

  5. Fatbooo
    Fatbooo at · Reply

    That's great, they love egg custard tarts. My fave too. :)

  6. Cara @ Gourmet Chick
    Cara @ Gourmet Chick at · Reply

    Those XLB and custard tarts look great. Strange that they don't do taro?

  7. Fatbooo
    Fatbooo at · Reply

    Hehe, in this situation, nothing wrong with that! I really liked the quiet ambience. And remember, I don't like karaoke either… *ducks*

  8. Fatbooo
    Fatbooo at · Reply

    Maybe it was just a Boxing Day situation. :)

  9. msihua
    msihua at · Reply

    Yayy to awesome bloggers :) I still haven't posted mine from October… #fail
    My recent post Patricia Coffee Brewers @ Melbourne CBD – Strictly Coffee

  10. Fatbooo
    Fatbooo at · Reply

    Guess what? I've edited all my pics up till today! Now it's d writing part, aaaaa…. :D

  11. flower127
    flower127 at · Reply

    I never would've thought they would have good yum cha in Hawthorne, maybe because I'm so use to going to places in Doncaster :) but this place looks great and I like how the atmosphere's nicer than the usual yum cha places.
    I get a headache at those places…people are talking so loudly…the food looks fantastic too especially the cheong fun!
    My recent post Sugar High – Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory

  12. Fatbooo
    Fatbooo at · Reply

    Yes! The atmosphere was a standout here. Although maybe it was so quiet because we went on Boxing Day.

  13. yummy
    yummy at · Reply

    the chef came from Golden Dragon Palace and Flower Drum, they have moved the good food from doncaster to Hawthorn, loving it. :D

  14. Fatbooo
    Fatbooo at · Reply

    That's great insider information, thank you! :)

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