Flower Drum

5/21/2009 09:00:00 PM

Flower Drum
17 Market Lane
Melbourne 3000
(03) 9662-3655

The Flower Drum needs no introduction, and we were all very excited to be going there for my Dad's birthday last week.

Before this visit, I'd been to Flower Drum once in my life - my family was very graciously taken there by my school friend's Mum (thanks Mrs D!) back in year 8. I was only 13, but I knew it was a Big Deal. Unlike most Chinese restaurants I'd been to before, it was quiet and spacious, you had to take a lift to get to the dining room, and every time you moved there was a waiter to fold your napkin, change your plate, refill your tea and so on. Doesn't seem like too much has changed since then - the decor is still (very) old-school, and all the staff were lovely and very professional. (Unlike certain *ahem* other places we've been to recently).

The food is pretty much what you could order at any suburban Chinese restaurant, just done much better and fresher. (Think - classic, not cliché.) Even the tea seemed more fragrant.

We eschewed the banquets in favour of ordering a la carte (yes, it was a birthday, but we didn't want to totally blow the budget), and our waiter was very knowledgeable and helpful in his recommendations. We also ordered a bottle of Wynn's Coonawarra cabernet sauvignon (I forget the year), which is one of my dad's favourite reds. Just one bottle of wine was enough for the 6 of us - we're Asian, we don't drink that much, hehe.

I was hoping we'd get suckling pig, but we learnt that you have to order a day in advance. Ah wells, we had to satisfy ourselves with Peking duck.

Wonderful! The pancakes were easily the best I've ever had, and the duck was moist and tender, albeit a bit meatier than what I'm used to.

The waiters then cleared away the centrepiece (see above) and replaced it with a lazy Susan... and our food.

E-Fu Noodles - Pan Tossed Fresh Egg Noodles - $25

Noodles are de rigeur for any Chinese birthday dinner. Normally, (shh, don't tell anyone), I hate E-Fu noodles, finding them bland and soggy. But these noodles were amazing - they had a great texture and were so fresh and full of flavour.

Eye Fillet with Szechuan Sauce (2 pcs) - $53

My bro loves Cantonese beef, and on the recommendation of our waiter tried a different, slightly spicier, sauce. The beef itself was great, but cooked a bit too rare for some at our table. For my tastes, however, it was perfect. (It's no secret how I love a bloody steak).

Fresh King Prawns Pan Tossed with Salt and Pepper - $53

Yummm! These prawns were scaldingly hot, fresh out of the oil. Impressively, the prawns were the big meaty type, not the smaller rubbery type I'm used to getting at Chinese restaurants.

We also ordered a couple of vegetarian dishes, and were very impressed...

Deep-fried Bean Curd with Mushroom - $35

Stuffed Eggplant with Spicy Salt - $12

When we ordered this one, our waiter informed us that it would be similar in flavour to the prawns. As one of our group doesn't eat seafood, and we all love spicy salt, we ordered it anyway. It's good to get thoughtful service like that.

Golden Fried Crispy Skin Chicken - $38

When the chicken arrived, we were surprised that it didn't come with the usual little bowl of spicy salt for dipping. However, once we started eating the chicken, we realised we didn't need it, as the meat itself was infused with the flavour.

So crispy... so juicy...

We don't normally order dessert at Chinese restaurants, but seeing as it was a special occasion...

Fresh Fruit Platter - $12.50

The next dessert looks so wrong, yet tastes so right...
Banana Fritters with Ice-Cream - $15

Deep-Fried Ice-cream - $16

Came with fresh strawberry purée, a nice touch.

They also gave us some almond cookies for the end of the meal. They were less sweet than I expected, and had a short, flaky texture. Lovely!

When they brought the biscuits, my dad said, "Wow, this is even better than dessert!" (We are big biscuit eaters). A little bit later, our waiter returned with a small container of more the same yummy biscuits in a cute little Flower Drum paper bag for my dad, saying he noticed he liked them, that they're good with tea and he hoped we'd enjoy them. How sweet! (I still have the bag at home, and am tempted to use it to carry my lunch to work, heheh).

Considering its pricy reputation, it wasn't too expensive overall - for the 6 of us, the bill came to about $500. However, it'd be very easy to blow the budget if you went nuts with wine, seafood, shark-fin soup etc. Service is excellent, food is great. Nothing else to say. Love it.

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  1. Sandra9:57 PM

    The wine was from 2006, I remember your dad commenting on the year.

    I'm gonna make myself very unpopular now, but I think Flower Drum is overrated. The food was fresh and of course very yummy, but in general it's nothing you can't get at a decent, normal priced, Chinese restaurant. Don't get me wrong, there is no doubt about the quality of the food, the quantity or the service, everything was excellent. I just think that if I'm after good Chinese food, I would never consider going to Flower Drum, even if I had the money for it. I wouldn't even go there for a special occasion. It is "just" Chinese food after all and there are so many places that I love that make that type of food. If I'm spending big bucks on a meal I'd prefer to go to a non-Asian (French, for example) restaurant.

  2. Sandra, is right about the FD.
    I'm very fond of Lau's Family Kitchen which is original FD owner Gilbert Lau and family with the same food, less service and better prices.

  3. I agree with Sandra and Ed too. Although Flower Drum food and service were excellent, I too would only go there for special occasions. The food isn't pushing the boundaries as much as other restaurants and playing it very safe.

    If you like the pancakes for the Peking Duck at Flower Drum, wait till you try the pancakes for the Peking Duck at Quan Jude. That is another step up.

  4. Lol am I the only one who still likes Flower Drum? I think the service is great, dammit! And I like the old-fashioned food. I feel very uncool now, haha.

    But if it's cheaper and has the same food, then I def want to go to Lau's family kitchen.

    Thanh - I soooo want to go to Quan Jude!! As soon as my throat gets better and I can eat oily food again. :D

    xox Sarah

  5. daisydesouza6:22 PM

    Hi Sarah

    Love your blog. Andy told me about it. The last time we went to FD was about 2 years ago as somebody's dinner guests. The service was memorable, the food wasn't. Gosh, has it been that long ago, 1997? How's the family?

    Mrs D

  6. Anonymous1:13 PM

    For the same quality of food, I would go to Tao Tao house. cheaper and nicer. :)



My email address is sarahcooks [at] hotmail [dot] com.