The Jetsetting Parents were in town and as usual, I’d planned an eating itinerary for their stay. While I was contemplating where to take them, I remembered Lau’s Family Kitchen, a Cantonese restaurant in St Kilda that I’d always meant to try but being south of the river, had never really made the effort.
It was the perfect location for the Jetsetting Parents as they would be able to tell me whether the Chinese food was up to scratch. Jetsetting Mum also blogs occasionally for BNE: HOT OR NOT and this has sharpened her already finely-honed eating standards.
We rocked up at 630pm on a Sunday night and the relatively small restaurant was jumping. It seemed to be popular with large family groups, although we noticed that there were very few Asian patrons, a worrying signal for the authencity of the food. However, Lau’s Family Kitchen comes with an excellent pedigree – with his sons working the floor and the kitchen, I doubted that any venture that was remotely connected to ex-Flower Drum owner Gilbert Lau would be bad.
And I shouldn’t have doubted. The food was uniformly excellent. I think that the only reason there were so few Asian patrons because Asian families don’t tend to congregate in St Kilda and the prices are a little higher and setting a little more glamorous than the clamorous mega-restaurants of Box Hill, Doncaster and Springvale.
To start, deep-fried salt and pepper squid ($15). So tender, so light!
I had gone to Lau’s Family Kitchen with the sole intention of trying their Western Plains roast pork belly. However, I was disappointed to discover that they’d sold out when we arrived. The staff must have pitied the forlorn look in my eyes as they managed to rustle up a half serving, which was actually the right size for the four of us.
A selection of siu mai ($8 for steamer of 4) – one with prawns and one with scallops for each of us. Silken little pops of subtle seafood flavours. Probably some of the best siu mai I’ve ever had. It’s a shame they don’t serve yum cha.
An old family favourite, ma po tofu ($18). I make mine with semi-firm tofu and Szechuan pepper, Jetsetting Mum makes hers with lots of dou ban jiang (chilli paste) and silken tofu, and Lau’s version involves finely diced shittake mushrooms and red capsicum. Very moreish.
A traditional Cantonese steamed barramundi with soy, ginger, coriander, shallots ($30). With such simple presentation, it is impossible to hide bad fish and this barramundi was as fresh as could be, flaking off the fork easily. Like most Asians, the Jetsetting Parents are particularly fussy about their fish and they nodded in approval.
To end, a lovely twist on the complementary sliced oranges tradition – plump strawberries sweetened with sugar and with a hint of something alcoholic/acidic?
Even though I love to eat, I don’t often suggest eating Cantonese food for some reason – maybe it’s just too much like day-in day-out home food for me. However, if I was to eat Cantonese in Melbourne, I would cross the river to eat again at Lau’s Family Kitchen.
Lau’s Family Kitchen, 4 Acland St, St Kilda +61 3 8598 9880