Wednesday, March 3, 2010

A diversion - Yum Cha at Plume

My sister invited us to yum cha in Doncaster with mum and dad. We went; how could we not?

One of those... you know.. ummm....

We go a few times a year and I suspect I enjoy it more than others. For me it's a particular heaven - lots of new flavours, textures and tea. Regrettably, as my love of the conversation has grown my hearing has declined. Welcome to "being old".

Eggplant. Succulent and wonderful...

Late Sunday morning at Plume in Doncaster is usually a loud, rambunctious affair. The floor captains (there must be a real name for them) with their Secret Service earpieces shout instructions to a team of crack waiting staff, gesturing like semaphore across the floor, or as though they are guiding a helicopter to land behind the kitchen. The tables are full and the conversation is loud; family groups are everywhere and children tumble across the floor. The trolley traffic is chaotic but inevitably seems to work without roadkill, road rage and with a minimum of swearing. It's absolutely fantastic.

But this Sunday was different. Things were quiet; maybe too quiet. The wind gently whistled between the tables and tumbleweeds blew across the floor. The listless bang of a saloon door. A tall, silent stranger looked at me from across the table before finally speaking. "It's very quiet today. Everyone must be recovering from Chinese New Year," said my brother-in-law, before picking up some gai lan with his chopsticks and dipping it in oyster sauce.

Roger and the Urbane parent

Very clever that man, and he was right. There were a few empty tables in a room where I had never seen tables empty for more than a few minutes as crockery was cleaned away for the next sitting. Nevertheless, it was busy enough to be lightly manic with a side order of screaming from the kitchen.

I used to be pretty indiscriminate about yum cha, but now I know what I like and can tell it from "meh, yum cha..." yum cha. A mix of the familiar and unfamiliar; a few fried dishes but mostly not; a catholic mix of flavours and textures; chaos, conversation and chili. Plume hits the mark perfectly for me - the dishes are either warmly familiar or charmingly unexpected. The food is just fantastic.

Tofu with prawn stuffing. Whoa....

Plume is often rated among the best of Melbourne's yum cha venues and the food and the crazymad atmosphere make it irresistible. Doncaster's not too far from High Street and once you experience the indoor street theatre that is Plume, you'll know it's well worth getting out of bed early on a Sunday morning. Oh, and by "early", I mean 11.00....

Dumple, now!

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