I think sometimes the Jetsetting Parents can be pretty cool for middle-aged retirees – they were one of the early adopters of Facebook and have just recently entered the world of Twitter. Now they’ve decided to venture into the blogosphere – welcome Jetsetting Mum, my parental guest-blogger! Here’s her review of New Kum Den Restaurant on their recent trip to Melbourne.

As a result of numerous bad experiences, I tend to walk into an ‘unexplored’ Chinese restaurant anywhere in the Western world with trepidation. Will I be offered chop suey (a completely fabricated ‘Chinese’ dish by the way) or suffer from a MSG overdose?

Fortunately, nothing like that happened when Jetsetting Dad and I dined at New Kum Den. The restaurant is situated on a side street in Chinatown and we nearly missed it. The floor area was relatively small so the tables were pretty crammed together. Only a few tables were occupied when we walked in at 7pm but the place was filling up fast and by 7.30pm, it was almost a full-house, with a queue forming outside.

The menu is quite standard Cantonese food and the hardest part was to decide on three dishes to ‘test’ the kitchen. In the end we chose a congee with salted pork and thousand year egg, a seafood and tofu claypot and a steamed fresh barramundi with ginger, spring onions and soy sauce.

The steaming hot congee was thick, smooth and flavoursome and its generous size (enough for four people) at $8.90 got a bonus point. The claypot ($22) was just ordinary and a bit overpriced for the the quality of the (frozen) seafood we received.  The steamed barra was the real winner – cooked to a point of just-done and drizzled, not drowned, in a well balanced sauce of sharp tangy ginger and hot soy. The price of this dish is seasonal and we paid $27 for 1½ lbs (yes, they still use lbs.).

All in all, New Kum Den offers well-priced, authentic Chinese cooking with brisk and friendly service. From what we could tell, the Asian and Western guests were all enjoying themselves and we’ll certainly return the next time we’re in Melbourne.