As each soul rolls down the great conveyor belt in the sky it's stamped with Dragon Boat, Lucky Chan's, Silky Apple or any number of different Shark Fin variations. Sadly, this divine brand is not visible in the mirror, which means you can spend a month of Sundays driving from Box Hill to Brighton and from Little Bourke to beyond searching for your own perfect treasure. I am still looking.
I love it! Wandering through the wilderness, parched with MSG thirst, scratched on dented, maniacal trolleys... A dark night of the soul of Dragon Boat proportions, in which claggy har cheong and overcooked gai larn threaten to derail my spiritual quest for my own "perfect treasure". A week or so ago, Mum and I took the kids to see if any of us were destined to attain dumpling nirvana in the shade of a Gold Leaf.
This is the fifth in Gold Leaf's chain of eateries. The restaurant looks over the stumps of that white elephant, the Southern Star wheel.
Correct me if I am wrong, but are these supposed to be xiao long bao, the dumplings that have the famous soupy interior? These were good - peppery and porky - but NO SOUP FOR YOU! I am still yet to try proper xiao long bao. These did come with yummy red vinegar dipping sauce, however.
Sesame prawn toasts
Something to distract the kids (or that's my excuse). These are wrong, but oh, so right. Prawns squished onto white bread, covered in sesame seeds, and deep fried.
Big points here for delicate, non-mushy har cheong - wide rice noodles enclosing juicy prawns, with a sweet soy sauce. Yum!
BBQ pork pastries
Hmm... These were nowhere near as good as Master Restaurant's. The pastry was flaky, but I suspect vegetable-shortening based rather than that lovely lardy goodness it should be. The filling was somewhat dry.
Gold Leaf aced the har gow test. These pretty, pleated, prawn dumplings are notorious for sticking to one another or to the steamer, so that the delicate wrapper is torn off and the har gow is unceremoniously denuded. These kept their petticoats on and were very good.
It's not yum cha without siu mai. These are sweet, springy morsels of pork and prawn. Delicious!
Bean curd roll (I think)
Boy, we really are typical gweilo yum cha eaters. Nothing interesting here - no chicken's feet, tripe, or even sticky rice. I was kind of embarrassed so I ordered these, which, to be honest, I can't remember much about except they were not that amazing.
Cha siu bao
I've said it before, but these pillowy, ethereally white buns are the food of my childhood. I know these had split in the steamer, but the filling was seriously good. The pork was soft, juicy, fragrant with five spice, and a much more natural shade of red than the normal violent crimson.
Prawns in (I think) fried bean curd
I know people bag fried yum cha items, but I love these, particularly for the outrageous pink sauce that comes with them. These were so good.
Finally, Mum wanted to try the taro cake for old times' sake, but this one had a strange, grainy texture. Bummer.
So does my divine brand read Gold Leaf Docklands? I'm not sure. Their dishes are more refined than, say, Master Restaurant (and a little more expensive), and it was a very pleasant, easy dining experience. What if my dumpling true love is nestled in the outer eastern suburbs, and not in the west at all? I suppose I have much yum cha purgatory to endure then. Best get on the hunt next weekend - hey, it beats going to church.Gold Leaf Docklands
Level 1, Harbour Town shopping centre, overlooking the Southern Star Wheel (map)
Phone: 9670 1128
Yum cha hours: Mon - Fri 12.00pm - 3.00pm, Sat - Sun 11.30am - 4.30pm (also open for dinner)
Per plate: $4.80, $5.90, $7.00 and up