When in Melbourne, Wise Man Chooses Flower Drum Restaurant
By Madelyn Miller
How can one restaurant get on absolutely everyone�s list of favorites? How can one restaurant please so many different people and win so many awards? How can one restaurant be restaurant of the year so many years in a city with wonderful restaurants?
Wise man say: Eat one meal at Flower Drum and you will know the answer to this riddle. You will be delighted by the impossibly high food standards, expert service and brilliant wine list with a focus on Australian wines.
Wise man will also book way ahead. Flower Drums impeccable reputation means the reservation list is filled weeks ahead. This will also give you time to save up for this expensive (but not overpriced) experience.
Gilbert Lau is the wise man behind this and the wise man behind him is long-time partner Norman Wong. The cuisine is high Cantonese, adapted to exquisite ingredients such as Murray cod and baby abalone.
The best dishes aren�t always on the menu. Engage the waiters who are eager to tell you the day�s specials. Listen as they tell you about flapping fresh seafood, say King George whiting just landed from South Australia. Quiz the waiters about another of the kitchen�s specialties, delicate soups such as clear pork broth with boxthorn leaves and salted egg. Discuss the dumplings, the test of the dim-sum master.
No matter what else you order, you must try the Peking Duck, the benchmark of any Chinese restaurant. As these treasures leave the kitchen, they are presented ceremoniously with much steaming of pancakes, smearing of plum-hoisin sauce, placing of sliced duck breast and sprinklings of green onions. Such performance art produces a union of delicate wrapping, piquant sauce, crisply lacquered skin, still-moist meat and the faintest suggestion of fat. This is the taste that that has built legends and created endlessly loyal followers who return frequently to play homage.
Norman offered to create our menu and we nodded in gracious appreciation. One remarkable dish was not on the menu and I must write about it here to ever remember to request on each return visit (Many, I hope as I love both Melbourne and the Flower Drum). It was a Mongolian lamb dish spooned into Mediterranean pockets, a flavor fusion inspired by one of Gilbert�s many travels.
The only dilemma for me at Flower Drum will be wanting to reorder everything I tasted and yet knowing I should try new, and other exciting dishes. A dilemma I hope to deal with when very hungry.
A loyal legion of helpers, most with Gilbert for many years, fetches dishes, refills teapots, tops up glasses with something from the mighty wine list. Even my simple drink of sparkling water with lime juice, arrived a the exact moment I finished the last one. Magical timing and discreet service makes for a wonderful meal and the widely spaced tables make this a popular place for businessmen and romantics alike.
What could be better?
Only the next meal at Flower Drum.
17 Market Lane
open Monday to Saturday noon to 3pm
fax number is (03) 9663 5199
BEST WAY TO GET TO AUSTRALIA
Lonely Planet Australia
Independent Traveler�s Australia 2001
Budget Travel Guide
Globe Pequot Press
Aboriginal Australia & the Torres Strait Islands
Guide to Indigenous Australia
Thomas Cook Publishing
By Marael Johnson and Andrew Hempstead
Moon Travel Handbooks
Maverick Guide to Australia
Edited by Len Rutledge
Australia Signpost Guides
Driving guide for the independent traveler
Globe Pequot Press
Traveler's Tales Australia
Edited by Larry Habegger
Lonely Planet Melbourne
Out to Eat Melbourne
Shopping Secrets Melbourne
by Michelle Matthews
WHERE TO STAY
The Hatton Hotel
65 Park St
Between Toorak & Domain Road
South Yarra, 3141
Tel: 61 3 98684800
Fax: 61 3 98684899
Email: [email protected]
Crown Casino Spa
Prince Hotel Spa