by James Ridenour
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Yum Cha at Spice Temple

I recently had the pleasure of enjoying Yum Cha at Spice Temple.  To describe it in a word it was exemplary.

Spice Temple is Neil Perry’s 3rd Melbourne restaurant and bar (with Rosetta Neil’s 4th restaurant soon to open).  The restaurant is located in Melbourne’s Crown Complex and is situated right next to Rockpool Bar and Grill along the banks of the Yarra River.   The restaurant has been recommended to me by several friends who have all raved about how wonderful their experiences were.  All of Neil Perry’s Melbourne restaurants are managed by Vanessa Chrichton who is one of Melbourne’s best and busiest hospitality professionals.  Vanessa was as usual the consummate host and her team did not disappoint.  Once again I had another wonderful experience in a Rockpool group restaurant.

Yum Cha at Spice Temple is a modern Cantonese feast of traditional items mixed with Neil Perry’s unique and exuberant Australian flair.  Perry is really a culinary national treasure and has been a leader in the Austalian dining scene for years.  As with all Neil Perry’s restaurants only the freshest ingredients are used to create the menu .  If you ask the team about their producers they are always too happy to oblige with intriguing stories about the origins of the ingredients.  A wonderful touch is the thank you on the menu for the suppliers, often the unsung heroes of fine restaurants.

Neil Perry has chosen a few words which he has placed at the top of his menu – balance, harmony, fire, strength and beauty.  A fitting prelude to your culinary adventure.  As you are ushered into the downstairs restaurant and bar you can not help but remark on the calmness of the venue which is a lovely reprieve from the often uber busy Crown complex.  While you do not get the views of the upstairs dining room you do get the tranquility and zen of this ingenious use of space.  Upon entering it takes a moment for your eyes to adjust especially on a bright and sunny day, but once you do you are treated to a very modern and neutral coloured dining room.  The fit out has just enough accents to remain interesting without being distracting and for good reason, the meals are worth all of your attention.

We started with cabbage and pickled radish and Nanjing salt water duck.  Next crispy Guangxi pork slider, chive dumplings, BBQ pork buns, crystal leek dumplings, lions head meat balls and my absolute favourite eggplant braised with prawn and flathead.

Each dish was fresh and fragrant with a delightful combination of flavours and textures.  I was pleasantly surprised how light the dishes were which showcases that the menu is of the highest quality.

The full Yum Cha menu offers over 75 selections allowing you to visit repeatedly in order to work your way through this extensive menu.  I often recommend for those who are not familiar with this type of dining to trust your waiter who will take note of your likes and dislikes and then recommend the best of the menu for you.  I often end up having my best dining experiences this way and I highly recommend you give it a try yourself.

Yum Cha at Spice Temple is served 7 days a week from 12pm to 3pm.  For reservations call (03) 8679 1888.

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