07 Jun Oriental Teahouse, South Yarra
Dumplings have a long association with tea, but as the popularity of dumplings has increased, the ‘tea’ part has sometimes gotten left behind. Oriental Teahouse brings some balance back to the dumpling experience, with an extensive range of teas to order, and a retail section dedicated to the tasting and purchase of their own tea blends, as well as tea making accessories.
The South Yarra store is just over 14 years old, and has recently undergone a renovation. The combination of pale woods and a polished concrete look presents a soft, clean and understated, almost calming environment.
Football Dumplings contain pork, dried shrimp, shiitake and bamboo. Crispy bacon and sesame topping. The glutinous rice flour is ever so slightly sweet, and the combination of inner ingredients together with the soft and chewy texture of the outside is quite addictive.
Chilli Pork, Beetroot and Sesame Dumplings are matched with a tangy sauce. XO Scallop Dumplings have a very flavoursome, translucent skin, and as a surprise, also have pork and prawn inside. The Chilli Wagyu Beef Dumplings have quite a firm and packed filling. Nuances of kaffir lime linger at back of palate as an after-taste, and there seems to be some extra Szechuan pepper kick in the chilli sauce.
The Flame Thrower Pulled Pork Dumplings are actually the result of a dumpling designing competition, and they’ve proved to be quite the success. It’s a relatively substantial dish once you account for the slices of pork belly inserted between each meaty dumpling. They have a touch of sweetness, but we don’t find them to be super spicy.
Roast Duck Dumplings are an eye-catcher. The pink, translucent and chewy skin makes way for the duck filling, paired with a sweet hoisin-based Peking Sauce.
At Oriental Teahouse, tea isn’t just for drinking; it’s used in the dishes too. They have an Oolong Tea Smoked Chicken Fillet with raspberry tea mayo. Interestingly shaped round bao, come sliced through the middle, ready to fill. The chicken skin is nice and crispy, and has a subtle smokey fragrance and taste, but we don’t find a lot of flavour in the chicken itself. For those unsure about the raspberry tea-infused mayo, it’s not distractingly obvious.
Pepper Chicken is marinated with Szechuan peppers and stir-fried with pepper sauce, and finished with crispy kale for texture. It might sound like a whole lot of pepper, but it’s enough to get a good kick without being overwhelming.
Salt and Pepper Tofu is lightly battered then coated in garlic salt, and sprinkled with chilli, onion and sesame. I love the contrasting textures in fried tofu – the crispy exterior and luscious silken tofu inside. The texture of this dish was spot on, though it could have had more garlic flavour, and less salt.
Finally, dessert. Some of these dishes have been around for years. Such is their popularity. The Chinese Wonka Dumplings are fried sesame rice balls filled with melted milk chocolate. They’re piping hot, so don’t burn your mouth on the molten chocolate within. They’re not completely packed with chocolate, but that also means there’s a better balance with the rice shell. Their signature steamed White Chocolate Dumplings are filled with white chocolate and topped with coconut and crunchy peanut. They remind me of Raffaelo, and are a good dessert option for those wanting something less rich.
It actually takes a lot for me to get excited over dumplings, but the great range of delicious and unique dishes at Oriental Teahouse makes me very open for a revisit.
Disclaimer: I was invited to Oriental Teahouse as a guest, however, opinions expressed here are purely my own, and are based on my experience at the time
455 Chapel St
South Yarra, VIC, 3141
(03) 9826 0168