David’s, Prahran

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MELBOURNE | David’s is a Chinese restaurant in Prahran that’s been a consistent favourite with locals since opening in 1999. While many restaurants in the area have come and gone, David’s has survived by focusing on what it does best – casual cuisine inspired by Zhouzhuang in Shangai’s countryside. We were recently invited to check out David’s to help celebrate their 20th anniversary.

The restaurant was started by Shanghai-born David Zhou (Oriental Teahouse, Zhou Zhou) somewhat by chance, when he began to sell tea to consume in house from his previously wholesale only tea warehouse. Zhou discovered that he needed a license to sell tea for consumption on the site, got himself a restaurant license, and transformed the space into David’s.

Walk inside the space and its warehouse bones are apparent as you look up to the high ceiling. The space features lots of natural materials like timber and paper, and is very white and bright, giving it a country cottage feel. If you haven’t been here since 2012, it’s very different to what it used to look like. The space is well insulated against excessive noise which can sometimes be an issue in warehouse conversions. When we visited there were several large groups and the restaurant was quite full, but we never felt like we couldn’t hold a conversation.

While remaining true to its origins, the food at David’s hasn’t remained stagnant, with the menu constantly being tweaked. The current menu features a mixture of signature dishes that have always been there, old favourites from years gone by, new creations, and a few things inspired from Asian cuisines beyond China. Everything is designed to share, and food comes out as its ready to order, prepared using fresh, locally sourced ingredients.

We sampled a cross-section of dishes from the menu in order to get a feel for the variety on offer here and, long story short, were impressed with everything that we ate. To start it was a selection of three steamed half-shell Hervey Bay Scallops, served atop a bed of thin noodles with three different sauces – ginger, garlic, and chilli. All three are full of flavour and balance well with the freshness of the scallops. Next was an assortment of small bites. Some very moreish crispy prawn wontons were the highlight, with the fresh, sweet, perfectly textured prawn playing off the crisp but not oily wonton skin. Siu mai and steamed juicy pork dumplings were also great bites.

You could easily have an enjoyable meal ordering only from the starters and dumplings section of the menu, and David’s actually offer a weekend yum cha menu where you get unlimited small bites for 90 minutes. We’ve been told that it’s very popular. There are, however, many more dishes on the menu that are worth trying.

The Shanghainese sticky pork belly & chat potatoes is one of David’s signature dishes, and when you take a bite of the pork and then the potatoes it’s easy to see why. The pork is full of sweet and savoury flavour, and the meat and fat melt in your mouth. The potatoes meanwhile, soak up the sauce and juices in the bottom of the dish wonderfully and are soft, creamy delights. In contrast, the Shanghainese bamboo shoots & king oyster mushroom wok tossed in oyster sauce provide a very light, tasty option. We also enjoyed one of the daily specials – fresh QLD king prawns with a garlic and tomato sauce. It ended up being one of our favourite dishes with a fantastic balance of sweet, sour and salty flavours.

There is, of course, fried rice too. David’s version contains crab, Chinese sausage, wood ear mushrooms, asparagus & egg and is light and tasty. There was a lot of food left over at the end of our meal, and the staff happily packed the leftovers away for us to enjoy for lunch the following day.

For drinks there is an extensive selection of tea on offer, which is one of the specialties here. We opted for the most popular option, a light and fragrant Jasmine Pearl Tea. For those looking for something alcoholic, there’s an extensive selection of wine, spirits, beer and cocktails. Try the Hello Vera, a delicious concoction containing Bombay Sapphire Gin, Peach Schnapps, Aloe Vera, Lime, Mint & Soda.

It’s easy to see why David’s is still very popular today. The laneway gem might be 20 years old, but it feels just as fresh as any of Melbourne’s newer restaurants and, most importantly, the food is great.

David’s

4 Cecil Place
Prahran
Victoria 3181
Australia

Telephone: (03) 9529 5199
E-mail: [email protected]
Website

Open
Mon – Tue: 6:00pm to 10:00pm
Wed – Thu: 12:00pm to 3:00pm; 6:00pm to 10:00pm
Fri: 12:00pm to 3:00pm; 6:00pm to 11:00pm
Sat: 11:30pm to 3:00pm; 6:00pm to 11:00pm
Sun: 11:30pm to 3:00pm; 6:00pm to 10:00pm

David's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Paul
Paul
Paul founded The City Lane back in 2009 as a place to share photos of his travels around Europe with friends and family. The City Lane might have changed quite a lot since those early days but one thing that’s remained constant is Paul’s passion for food, travel and culture, and a desire to photograph and write about his experiences. Paul has a strong inquisitive nature that drives him to look beneath the surface in order to discover what really makes a city and its people tick, and what better way to do this than over a good meal or drink, with a city’s locals, at places that people who live in that city actually frequent. Paul is also a co-host of The Brunswick Beer Collective, a podcast that may or may not actually be about beer.

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