A rare combination of store, teahouse and Chinese restaurant, David Zhou's Oriental Teahouse is an interesting experience. Everyone knows that tea goes wonderfully well with a Chinese meal (and cancels out ALL the fats and oils at the same time, right?), but what would you say if we offered you a choice of 38 different varieties, including seven different flavours of iced tea?
Of course, not all are meant for accompanying your dumplings. This is somewhere you could come simply for a tea-filled experience during the day, or as a pre-dinner treat. More complicated than a wine list, the tea menu is divided into eight categories — white, green, black, oolong, herbal, fruit, signature and iced — with tasting notes for each variety so you can try something new, and perhaps learn a few things about tea. Try them all if you are so inclined. Prices range from $3-$5.50 a pot and, if you find one you like, you can purchase a pack from the store to take with you.
Despite walking into what largely feels like just a tea shop with tasting area at the Little Collins Street outpost, this is a full-blown Chinese restaurant, with an extensive dumpling menu including surprising additions like chilli wagyu beef ($7.90 for four), ginger prawn ($6.90 for three) and roast duck ($6.90 for three). Banquet options range from $15.90 to $48.90 per person and a largely Australian wine list gets a look in too. There are even steamed white chocolate dumplings ($5.90 for three) for dessert.
With his string of teahouses, 'Dumpling and Tea Master' Zhou has managed to provide a new experience of dim sum to be consumed at any time of the day, with tea drawing just as much of the focus as the food. Just like meat and wine or tacos and cocktails, dumplings and tea is a fabulous combination.
Still pondering whether to put this on the list? Fair enough. I just have six little words for you: Friday. Night. $30. Unlimited. Yum. Cha.