Chadstone Shopping Centre
Ph: (03) 9949 2072 (retail)
Ph: (03) 9949 2071 (restaurant)
Oriental Tea House is a mixture between a tea shop and a yum cha place. It tries to do a bit of both, and on the whole works quite well, as yum cha literally means to drink tea. The particularly restaurant/shop I visited was the newly opened one in Chadstone. The space isn't particularly large but is inviting and colourful.
The shop component is decorated quite nicely, with lots of teas on display and for trying. I'm not sure how the prices are for the tea as I didn't really pay close attention, but the variety is large and varied.
The restaurant component is separated into two areas each flanking the main tea displays in the centre of the room. The ordering system is reminiscent of a normal restaurant and some yum cha places in Hong Kong. You literally tell the waiters your order and they bring them out when it's ready. I have to say that I'm not a real fan of this style of yum cha. The fun of yum cha is the unexpected arrival of various interesting dim sums being wheeled out at a steady pace. The constant waiting for your favourite dim sums is also part of the tradition of yum cha. Finally, you can gauge how full you are and continue to order or stop.
Anyway, we made our best guess at how much we think we wanted to eat. With a large table of 8, it was actually quite hard to decide what to order. We settled on a variety of classic dishes like har gow, siu mai, roast pork, scallop dumplings and shark fin dumpling. There were a few unique dumplings such as potato dumpling and some combination type dumpling.
I have to say that the majority of the dumplings were really good. Probably the most disappointing dish was the roast pork, which was rather flavourless and had chewy skin.
Ok, so with the good, there's quite a bit of bad, which would make me not go back. As I mentioned, I'm just not a fan of ordering all the dumplings at once. This type of system can work in places like Hong Kong because the service is ultra fast. The dumplings are basically ready and they just bring it to you. However, in our case, they must have actually steamed the dumplings on order because it took an eternity to arrive. A semi-ordering style can work with more exotic dishes that not many people order.
Another problem is the price. In fact, this is a massive problem. The dumplings were extremely expensive, with prices starting from $6.80 for what is usually deemed as a "small" order in a typical yum cha place. And in those places, a "small" is usually ranges from $2.80-$3.80. These dumplings were good, but by no means two times as good as other ones. Hence, this price issue combined with the ordering system and the amount of time it takes for the food to arrive will mean that I will have to rule this out as a yum cha option in future. And just a final note, which crazy yum cha place charges each person $3.50-$4.50 for tea. Tea, in my opinion, should be complimentary at yum cha.