The World Loves Flower Drum: Lux Chinese Dining
Flower Drum is one of the few Melbourne restaurants that can be spoken of as an icon over decades. It's one of the best restaurants in Chinatown and Melbourne, even Australia. This year Flower Drum, founded by Gilbert Lau, celebrates the fine achievement of 40 years as a world class restaurant (30th at current Market Lane address). We've had some icons come and go over the years, and only a few are at that level today. But 40 years and at the top! Check out our Best Restaurants in Melbourne.
Consider it takes enormous effort and skill to stay at the top for so long. Impeccable service day after day, no matter the circumstances. Extraordinary skill in the kitchen when there may be a temptation to cut corners. The World Loves Melbourne was blessed to dine at Flower Drum with another icon - CEO of Mofilm and global foodiehub.tv, Jeffrey Merrihue and wife Maria. Jeffrey had dined at Flower Drum many years ago and was keen to see if the magic was still there.
Enter off charming Market Lane in Chinatown by stairs or life into an elegant restaurant; an ambience of finery with flowers and artwork, white tablecloths, and partitions that provide subtlety for this spacious restaurant. Impeccable waiters greet you and service is ultra professional and engaging throughout. Flower Drum has basically had the same team over the decades. Many a business deal has been done here; many a social occasion has been enjoyed here. Almost timeless.
In terms of Chinese cooking, this is Cantonese cuisine at its finest. Original Chef Anthony Lui still leads the kitchen maintaining high standards year after year.
The Cantonese classics are here; Duck wontons, Steamed dim sum, Pork ribs, Peking duck and Quail Sang Choi Bao. Or try spectacular Grain fed eye fillet with Sichuan sauce or the luxurious Abalone. We elected to tune in to the Neil Perry recommended menu we had read in an article in the Qantas magazine.
Amazing White Pearl Meat served in its own shell signalled the lux elegant Cantonese cuisine in store for us. This is a delicate dish with fine strips of pearl meat, stir fried in chives, and full of flavour. Dip in the sauce (oyster and shrimp), but not in both sauces at once said the waiter quietly in my ear. An alluring sweetness of the pearl meat becomes addictive and sets you on course for your meal. Even the crisp asparagus, shallot and zucchini cuts were outstanding and a perfect accompaniment.
Service is first class; among the best in the city with Jason Lui leading the team as front of house. Table settings are elegant, with thick white tablecloths and classic decor and cutlery. Note the floral arrangements and the elegant chairs.
As a fine dining restaurant even the simple resonates with class; Cucumber side was crispy and nuanced.
Shallot cakes are also lux; there's a lightness to them. No stodgy pastry but light short pastry; with shallots softened in sesame oil. We added chilli sauce for extra kick.
The World Loves Melbourne's favourite dish is the Mud crab with ginger and shallots; a compelling elegant dish featuring mud crab from Queensland. Silky and nuanced food. We savoured every morsel of this rich and rewarding dish. (See the photo above of us opening up the surface of the crab dish to reveal a soft lux interior).
The crab is held together with a light mousse and dipped in red vinegar; no ugly large chunks but perfectly balanced dish in terms of taste and texture. Served with ginger this is a hero dish.
A stunning dish is the Drunken baby pigeon, steamed then infused with stunning Chinese shaoxing wine. Juicy tender pigeon with amazing flavour of the wine throughout. The waiter recommends eating off the bone with your fingers; and they provide a wet towel to wash your fingers (regularly replacing the towel). What an example of imaginative Cantonese cooking. As Neil Perry recommends, "Chew the bird to the bone."
Peking Duck is the signature here and the presentation is first class. Perfectly cooked duck with crispy skin and slight pink, and the decoration of the sauce on each plate is a different animal character. Pictured here with Jeffrey Merrihue CEO of foodiehub.tv. The skilled waiters bring a portion of duck out and assemble the dish on a tray next to your table; with the glistening duck arranged inside translucent pancakes.
We finished with these Almond cakes, also elegant and a joy to eat. As we left, the waiters escort you to the lift and bid you a warm farewell, so that you want to return.
Jeffrey Merrihue was high in his praise for Flower Drum, on his social media writing, "Flower Drum continues to shine as the finest Chinese restaurant in Melbourne and the world with sophisticated and refined Cantonese delicacies like their signature Peking Duck served with old school style and old money prices - celebration worthy!" The World Loves Melbourne was enamoured with Flower Drum; its consistency, its nuanced delicious lux cuisine, its ceremony, and it's finery. After 40 years Flower Drum continues to shine and is world class.