Tao Tao House

815 Glenferrie Rd, Hawthorn, VIC

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The prawn dumplings.
The prawn dumplings. Photo: Eddie Jim

Larissa Dubecki

WHERE AND WHAT

It really couldn't be anything but a Chinese restaurant. It's all there in the 1980s rusty-red brick decorated with faux ''old kingdom'' roof tiles, the gold leaf decorating the wooden window frames, the bamboo plantation and the stone lions out front. No, the identity of this Glenferrie Road business is impossible to misconstrue. A succession of Chinese dynasties has ruled this spot over the past decade; almost two years ago it was taken over yet again and turned into Tao Tao House (it translates roughly as ''house of happiness''), a worthy recipient of your yum cha dollar.

WHERE TO SIT

The dark and elegant dining room at Tao Tao House.
The dark and elegant dining room at Tao Tao House. Photo: Eddie Jim

No need to sit close to the kitchen as the waiters take a democratic approach to serving the room. No yum cha barn, it's dark and elegant with the requisite oversize Chinese vases, varnished wood and ornate ceiling scrolls.

WHEN TO GO

Monday to Friday, noon-3pm. At weekends yum cha has two sittings, 11am-12.45pm, and 1-3pm. Bookings are necessary. Dinner is seven nights a week from 5.15pm.

DRINK

The wine list is a mostly Australian affair, well priced with a number of choices in the sub-$40 bracket. BYO wine only - corkage is $7.50 a bottle.

EAT

By day, Tao Tao House is a yum cha restaurant free from the clang and haste of many of its competitors - a blessing, given yum cha can often be over in 15 minutes thanks to greedy gobbling from rushing trolleys (and it's order from the menu on weekdays). Chef Jason Au (who owns the joint with son Eric, the maitre d') is a dim sum specialist whose har gau - the ubiquitous little pleated prawn dumplings - are a mark of his skill. Ditto the scallop sui mai, the fragrant ginger and chive prawn dumplings in opalescent wrappers, and chilli-fired chicken dumplings. Fried stuff is definitely worth a guilty look - salt and pepper calamari and the house specialty, chilli quail. The evening a la carte menu, a trip down Canto memory lane, packs a few surprises, such as the baked scallop with minced chicken and cheese.

WHO'S THERE

By day children are made to feel welcome by staff, who expertly deal with spillages without recriminations. At night the early shift is dominated by families from the private-school belt; the later shift moves the axis of power to couples.

WHY BOTHER?

Refined yum cha minus the feeding frenzy.

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815 Glenferrie Rd, Hawthorn, VIC

  • (03) 9818 0968
  • Cuisine - Chinese
  • Author - Larissa Dubecki
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4 comments so far

  • LOL this place is NOT the most refined in Melbourne for Yum Cha, an up market suburb does not mean an up market eatery all the time.

    Commenter
    eat it up
    Location
    Date and time
    December 20, 2012, 11:46AM
  • $7.50 for corkage???!!!

    Ta ta, Tao Tao!

    Commenter
    GreedIsBad
    Location
    The Real World
    Date and time
    December 20, 2012, 12:56PM
  • Totally agree. My family have been regulars at this terrific restaurant since it opened and have never been disappointed. Great chilled out atmosphere and the Yum Cha is tops. Service is very professional but friendly.
    Truly a neighbourhood gem.

    Commenter
    Sally Steele
    Location
    Canterbury
    Date and time
    December 20, 2012, 3:33PM
  • A worthy Yum Cha restaurant that does most things right. Weekdays is more relaxed than weekends. Miss the trolley service though (only on weekends) but excellent steamed Dim Sum and classic choices. Off the menu ordering is also quick. $$7.50 corkage sounds steep but for 4 is less than $2 a person. We go for the Tea as Yum Cha means 'drink tea'.
    A classic, classy small restaurant at a slightly higher price but worth it.

    Commenter
    Quantum of Solace
    Location
    Date and time
    December 22, 2012, 10:12AM

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