Review: Chapel Street’s Oriental Teahouse presents modern twists to authentic Chinese dining (Melbourne)

Celebrated tea master and restaurateur, David Zhou is the man behind the iconic Oriental Teahouse and has reopened the doors to Chapel Street’s venue after undergoing a modern renovation.

Designed by Melbourne design studio Hecker Guthrie, the new interior has brought an authentic Chinese teahouse into the modern world, with its brushed concrete walls, home to neon art and traditional blue and white China. Seating 100, the space remains an intimate layout with its closely spaced wooden tables and dim lighting to set the tone, with soft furnishings to tie the room together.

Like any other contemporary restaurant in Melbourne, a cosy, intimate drinking den also sits just upstairs. Zhou Zhou is a 1930’s Shanghai theme cocktail bar, scattered with Asian relics and trinkets atop of shelves for you to observe. Holding a 3am license, Zhou Zhou has an extensive range of beverages that’ll keep you going with their variety of Asian craft beers and an enticing Japanese Whisky list. What truly stands out, however, is their innovative cocktail list, with gems such as Hello Vera with Bombay Sapphire, peach schnapps, aloe vera mint, lime and topped with soda, or their Juicy as a Plum, with umeshu, Bombay Sapphire, triple sec, lemon and mint.

As expected from a teahouse, flavour and precision is key to enriching a cup tea – and the same goes with food at Oriental Teahouse. Every dish on their extensive menu has a perfect balance of flavour and spices that can only be achieved by true professionals. Dishes such as their Oolong Tea Smoked Chicken Fillet ($15.8) with raspberry tea mayo, pleasantly paired with fried apple slices is more of a delicately sweeter option on their list of mains to share, and their Steamed Chilli & Garlic Fish, in a lotus leaf ($10.8), is an exciting dish with the perfect hit of chilli to complement the tender steamed fish.

A wide array of dumplings are also available for you to choose from, but not without their contemporary twist. Take your pick from their bright pink Roast Duck Dumplings ($8.8) with peking sauce, the pink colour taken from beetroot, their Ginger Prawn Dumplings ($8.8) or perhaps their customer-crafted Flame Thrower pulled pork Dumplings ($15) with slices of pork belly in between. A fiery and tender dish created by a winner of one of Oriental Teahouses’ competition, allowing him to create his own dumpling recipe.

End your meal the right way, with a plate of dessert and a cup of tea to match. Their Raindrop cake ($9.8) with a fresh fruit tea syrup and served with roasted soybean powder is less of a sweet option if you’re looking for something light. Highly recommended and loved is their signature White Chocolate Dumplings ($8.8), resembling a revolutionised Rafaello. Steamed and topped with coconut, this little ball is warm and soft, complemented with the textured crunch of the coconut.

On display is also a variety of teas available for retail purchase, alongside related items including various pots, strainers and copper tea tins.

Oriental Teahouse (Chapel Street)

Address: 455 Chapel St, South Yarra 3141
Website: http://orientalteahouse.com.au/
Contact: (03) 9826 0168
Hours: Mon-Thurs 10:30am – 10pm; Friday-Sun 10:30am-11pm