Sunday, April 29, 2012

翠竹閣 Bamboo House (Melbourne) - ♕♕♕♕♕

  Bamboo House is a great restaurant,  it has been good for the last 25 years I have been visiting.   I actually rate it above Flower Drum in Melbourne in terms of regional Chinese cuisine.    One could interpret it as gradually falling behind it’s time but I have my reservations on thinking that way,  since Chinese food history spans across thousands of years in history,  and in its macro window across the globe, has probably remained stagnant for a few decades, except for the very few pioneers who carry vision..    But that is where I think Bamboo House excels.   It is sturdy,  and in comparison young apprentice chefs in China can’t always keep up with the old tested chefs’ skills,  the masters are often quite conservative to share their years of accumulated technical knowledge to just any apprentice chef.  It doesn’t really trickle down to the next generation.   The kitchen at Bamboo House however has maintained a certain standard for so many years,  it’s still predominantly run by the same kitchen team who have arrived in from Hong Kong since decades ago & well trained.    On the executional side of things  the food has been so consistently impressive I still use here as a benchmark to pick up on flaws in  Shanghainese and Northern Chinese cuisines when I dine in Hong Kong and China itself.    That often involves comparing it directly against Michelin 1 or 2 star awarded restaurants such as 夜上海 Ye Shanghai in HK or Shanghai Gardern 紫玉蘭, and to this day it is proving its worth     The Tea & Sugar Smoked Duck (樟茶鴨) is  gorgeously prepared and has set a standard so high,  thus far I have been unable to find a replacement in Hong Kong.   The same applies with their Fried Beef Pot Sticker Dumplings (牛肉鍋貼),  which has been so perfect every time with flowing juices inside and are always fried evenly crispy,  it is just amazing food and reminds you not to fix what is never broken.   


   The No.1 rule when ordering at Bamboo House is that one must always order the most Authentic dishes via a la carte selection.   The tasting menu is there to cater for Western diners’ palates.    Which means no duck feet,  no smoked fishes,  but always including a Peking Duck and Asparagus with scallops and X.O. Sauce!     These are stereotyped Chinese food which are more Cantonese than Northern cuisine,  why bother coming here to dine instead of Plume?    Tell the staff you want the best of the best and the most authentic dishes NOT set up for Westerners.   You have to come here with an opened mind and venture out to explore. 




Appetizer Platter of Goose Webs, 
Smoked Beancurd Skin Roll, 
Marinated Jelly Fish  & Deep Fried Smoked Fish -
The goose web is the only weakest link here as it seemed a little thin and bleached than crunchy enough.  The smoked fish has always been of very very high quality,  even better than 80% of the ones I eat in Asia,  a mean feat.   The Smoked Beancurd Skin roll is another must order,   right up there with the best of international standards.  The jellyfish is nicely supported by a subtle sesame oil.   Half great and half mediocre on this particular night.  It’s usually better ~  7.5/10



Spring Onion Cakes -
The one here is good,  and once again I really struggle to find such high executional quality here in HK.  And don’t forget I have been dining in hundreds of times to know its consistency.   There is little wonder why Bamboo House is the only Chinese restaurant in Melbourne that I always miss a lot.   The spring onions are abundant and the flaky pastry is fried well but not oily,  and overall well seasoned.  ~  9/10



This is a decent Basket Pressed Shiraz.  B.Y.O.  -
Seemed a little muted from the past vintages,  but the characters are still there.




Beef Pot Stickers -
This has always been the best pot stickers I’ve eaten in my life for the last 20+ years and even today remains to be so.
  The bottom is crispy,  the skin is thin,  and that juice flowing inside is subtly herbed is simply amazing stuff.   This standard can’t even be found in China or Hong Kong   ~   12/10  


Minced Pork with Pickles,  served in Sesame Pastry -
Another Signature dish here but not found on the banquet menus,  and a typical Shanghainese and surrounding regional dish.   The meat is thickly grounded and well seasoned in a viscous sauce,  which is the true essence of Shanghainese cuisine with it’s lavishly thick coating of sweetened soy base sauce.   The pastry pockets were nicely done and aromatic.  Nothing to be faulted and again one of the best versions I have eaten.  Perfectly balanced.  ~  9/10


Sweet and Sour Grouper Fish -  *Off Menu Item
This is of a typical dish although usually made with different DNA fishes in China,  and Shanghai 1930 also serves a similar version which was slightly better.   We ordered this Grouper version, previously refrigerated since we forgot to pre-advance order just to cater for an older family member’s needs,  and the kitchen did not fail this test at all.   The end result was still satisfactory and done as good as you could find it anywhere else.   ~  9/10




Tea Smoked Duck with White Buns 
(By Default comes boneless,  but insist on the Bone-In version.) -
Their Peking duck might be famous,  but this other version is the real Piece de Resistance here and which the Bamboo House kitchen is very proud of.  Here I made a blooper as over the years my aunties have been ordering the menu,  and I never realised the Smoked Duck is boneless unless otherwise requested.   I don’t like bones that much but I think they have a reason to be there on this occasion.  If you want the bones left intact you have to ask in advance,  and the kitchen knows this is the best way.   The Skin is smoky and crispy,  the duck is cooked perfectly right but the bones and crevice is where all the flavours got slightly lost.   Always order this Bone-In is my only advice.  There is no other way,  as you will be into your true experience of your life,  I bet even the French didn’t see this coming.  Trust me for once, order this duck.  ~  8/10



Mermaid’s Tresses (干燒二鬆桃仁),  with added Honeyed Walnuts -
The fried green leaves with conpoy is another signature dish here and only recommended to revisiting Chinese customers for some reason.    The added honey coated walnuts costs another AUD $10 additional dollars but is well worth it and is the only way to go,  but surprisingly not recommended by the staff by default.   I think they should.  It is in these minor details where they become too hesitant to be persistent in recommending the right dishes, knowing the customers might not understand.  Too polite.   They are not doing their kitchen team inside enough justice as to what they are capable of cooking!    In fact this particular dish used to be much more popular in HK, but has gradually becoming phrased out as well except 1-2 restaurants still selling old Pekinese style cuisine.  Which makes it another reason to treasure Bamboo House, before the staff and kitchen end up in retirement.   ~    9/10




Price: AUD $40 – $50 per person
Food: ♕♕♕♕♕  (Execution and adherence to proven formulas is the key here.  If some of the 1-2 Michelin Starred restaurants in HK are being awarded as such,   my recent revisit suggests this Melbourne Institute is just waiting to be upgraded to 1 or 2 hatted status in The Good Food Guide.  You need to know what exactly to order as a regular customer however,  the staff are too polite to point it out usually.)

Opening Hours:

Mon – Fri   Lunch and Dinner
Sat – Sun  Dinner only

Address:  47 Little Bourke Street, Melbourne 3000, Victoria, Australia

Ph: (03) 9662 1565


  1. Since you highly recommend it, i shall bring my sister here when we are craving for chinese food. :)

    i trust you kk!

  2. Thanks Michelle!

    If you do go, please let me know the number of persons attending and may I suggest an organised menu : D I have been here so many times over the 20+ years I think I ought to know precisely what I am talking about.

    The sad fact is that the Bamboo House isn't aggressive enough to push their strong points but tries to cater for the usual Western Diners. I have tried a lot of dishes here before and know which are great or authentic or which are compromised dishes. Wish I could come here again sigh... Truly a great restaurant. Flower Drum is also good too, and equally they are compromised and one needs to know how to order precisely. On or off the menu.

  3. Platinum is one of Southbank’s tallest buildings and Salvo Property Group’s most ambitious project to date. For more information, visit the business website of the Salvo Property Group here: Salvo Property Group.



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...