I haven’t had dim sum in Melbourne other than at Shark Fin House for years.
However, I was sufficiently intrigued by Red Door Antiques and Yum Cha Cafe to stray from my faithful yum cha restaurant and cycle across town to check it out.
Red Door offers a small selection of dim sum in rather grand surroundings amongst antique Chinese furniture and gifts, all of which are for sale. That means while you’re waiting for your food you can wander around inspecting the figurines, chest of drawers, gongs and Mao memorabilia on display, and when your har gao arrives you can eat it lounging on a Qing dynasty carved wooden bed.
It’s a relaxing space and far removed from the usual shoutyness and trolley jams of most yum cha restaurants.
I’m told the owner Sandra lived in China in the 60s and it’s obvious that she’s a complete Sinophile, while I’m not sure who is making the delicious dumplings inside the kitchen. For the food really is very good – we tried fluffy pork buns without the flourescent red food colouring, fat and juicy prawn dumplings with lovely translucent wrappers and delicate vegetarian bean curd wraps.
The only problem is that the food took ages to arrive and it comes out in dribs and drabs. The place was pretty packed on the weekend (we had to book) and I’m not sure the kitchen or the staff are able to cope with those numbers. I also think that the prices are higher than the yum cha standard. For instance, pork buns are $3.20 each and a steamer of dumplings costs between $5-$7. After 1.5 hours I left $17 poorer and still a little hungry (though I do have an enormous appetite for dim sum).
Nevertheless, overall I give Red Door Antiques and Yum Cha Cafe a HOT. Based on the unusual setting and the excellent food, I recommend it as an experience worth trying. Just don’t go when you’re starving.