Shop 6003, Highpoint Shopping Centre
200 Rosamond Rd, Maribyrnong
(03) 9318 6833
Yum Cha; Mon-Fri 12 noon – 3pm, Sat-Sun 11am-3pm
Located within the busy Knifepoint Highpoint Shopping Complex, Plume has been serving yum cha for many years, and appears to be doing fairly steady trade (though nowhere near as busy as they used to be when we first started going). The family go on a regular basis, but mostly due to its proximity to our grandpa rather than because of the quality or value (which are lacking, or certainly have diminished over the years).
Here are some of the dishes we had;
In order; sticky rice, sesame fried prawns, fried white bait, fried squid tentacles, shark fin dumplings, prawn stuffed tofu, sui mai (pork and prawn dumplings), har gow (prawn dumplings), tripe, har cheung (rice paper roll stuffed with prawns), jar leung (rice paper roll stuffed with fried chinese dough stick, also with vegetables), and gai lan.
The sticky rice was pretty good, as were the fried sesame prawns. The whitebait was ok, but cold by the time we got them, the squid was ok but a little rubbery and oily. The pastry on the shark fin dumplings were too thick and dried, the fillings were so-so. I really enjoyed the silken tofu stuffed with prawn meat, the only downfall to this dish is it says that despite us Chinese people having successfully used chopsticks for eons, maybe it’s time to let go. The silky soft tofu is very difficult to pick up, and a spoon would have been lovely at the time.
The sui mai and har gow, which are two of my favourite yum cha dishes were disappointing. I judge a yum cha restaurant on their ability to produce these two stalwart (and essential) dishes. The sui mai flavour was not quite there, whereas the har gow pastry was too thick and the flavouring on the prawn only just average. So, big fail in my books.
The tripe was pretty tasty, however was chewy from overcooking, the har cheung was tasty covered in the sweet soy sauce that I love, though took far too long to come. The dough stick wrapped in rice paper is another one of my favourite yum cha dishes and was again a disappointment. This dish is cooked to order (i.e. not available on the carts which roll past), yet it somehow managed to be luke-warm at best by the time it came to our table. This dish is usually served with a peanut sauce and a sticky hoisin sauce, however just came with soy. Though, this dish is not one that is offered at most yum cha’s so I guess points to Plume for having it on their menu despite not doing it well.
I’m not sure how much each costs as when dining with the family it’s always a massive battle to pick up the bill. So much so, we have (and still have) a family feud over who was to pick up a bill (I shit you not!). I do know that Plume’s yum cha is priced on the higher side of normal despite their food being on the lesser side of average.
So it’s no surprise that the following of Plume seems to be dwindling. Years ago, we used to have to fight for a table only to be turned away. Now, and we dined on Chinese New Year, we waltz straight in and there are empty tables. It appears that most in the west are shifting to the much better Gold Leaf in Sunshine.
One gripe I have about yum cha in Australia is the carts. Whilst I love being able to see my food before I eat it, I much prefer the yum cha in Hong Kong; where dishes are made to order. You get a sheet of paper, and tick the dishes you want, which are steamed or fried fresh to order. I hate the fried yum cha food here in Australia, as it is often cold by the time it arrives to your table.
I dream of the days of yum cha a la carte in Melbourne. What ever happened to Duck Duck Goose, which was rumoured to be serving yum cha a la carte? Still waiting…
Taste: 5/10. It’s ok. It’s doable. Just not great.
Authenticity: 5/10. Well, all the correct dishes were served. Just not served great. What’s authentic? Authentic for Melbourne yum cha? or for Yum cha in Asia? Because correct me if I’m wrong, there isn’t anyone that does yum cha a la carte in Melbourne. So, if little Cantonese women bashing their carts into your chairs yelling out the dishes they have on offer in said cart whilst trying to offload dishes onto your table, and young waiters ignoring you whilst you desperately try to get their attention for more tea is your idea of yum cha in Melbourne, then Plume is authentic as can be.
Value: 4/10. Expensive for average yum cha.
Ambiance: 5/10. Busy.
Service: 4/10. Chinese people are not about the service.
Overall: 5/10. Average. Only if you’re in the area and can’t get into anywhere else.