Chapel Street in Prahran isn’t a place I frequent these days – maybe six or seven years ago, when I was drawn to the array of (largely uninspiring and overrated) boutiques contained within the long stretch of road. Angela and I both commented on the way to David’s that neither of us had visited this area for years, so we wondered what David Zhou and his staff had in store for us, and hoped it wouldn’t turn out like the local boutiques I used to shop at.

Situated just off Chapel Street on Cecil Place, David’s could not be more like the hurly-burly of the nearby main road, nor the décor usually associated with Chinese restaurants – it was bright, light and airy, with whitewashed panelled ceiling and walls, cheerful pots of greenery and twinkling fairy lights. The staff were welcoming, efficient and knowledgeable, giving us much-needed prompts when we couldn’t choose between dishes on the rural Shanghai-inspired menu.

David's understated and refreshing decor.

David’s understated and refreshing decor.

We made a not-so-authentic start with a cocktail each, Angela opting for the refreshing Bunda Glam (strawberries, liqueur and vodka) as I choose something a little more boozy in Pacific Isle (white rum, plum wine and yuzu liqueur), both $15. Then came the Shanghai Snacks and Parcels in the form of DIY Shredded Duck and Vegie Wraps, $14, Steamed Pork Dumplings, $9, and Prawn and Bamboo Dumplings, $10. The duck and vegie wraps were a social but slightly messy starter, allowing us to pile (read: overfill) slithers of rich, roasted duck into thin, pancake-like wraps. The prawn and bamboo dumplings glowed green thanks to the addition of bok choy juice in the skin, which also added an earthiness to the juicy prawns, while the pork dumplings were arguably some of the best I’ve ever eaten – I’d return for these alone.

The DIY shredded duck and vegie wraps.

The DIY shredded duck and vegie wraps.

Already feeling content from the starters, we were presented with two generous mains and some quality fried rice. We welcomed the clean, fresh taste of the Coriander Fish Fillet and Snowpeas, $25, which would make a perfect, light dish for the health-conscious. Unlike the gooey decadence of the aptly-named Country Comfort: Sticky Pork Belly with Chat Potatoes, $23 – two-bite portions of gloriously fatty pork belly smothered in sweet, moreish sauce with lumps of fluffy potatoes.

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Even though we struggled through the mains, we couldn’t bypass the temptation of dessert – especially when it involved dumplings with chocolate. And so it was we stuffed in some Soft-Centred White Chocolate Dumplings with Peanut and Coconut Praline and Icecream, $9. Being allergic to nuts, Angela was thrilled when our host Yunan said it wouldn’t be a problem to serve the dish without the praline, allowing us both to indulge in the little sticky parcels of white chocolate goodness. We washed them down with a “soothing digestive” Jasmine Pearl Tea, $10, which provided a cleansing end to a somewhat gluttonous evening.

Given its close proximity to many popular post-races hangouts, David’s is a great location for a gourmet pit-stop on raceday evenings, providing deliciously satisfying fare in a social and relaxing environment. Bookings are advised, especially during Melbourne Cup week (and it must be noted David’s is closed on Melbourne Cup Day).

Angela says: Dining at David’s was a thoroughly enjoyable experience. My highlights of the evening were the pork dumplings and the dumpling dessert. As a lover of dumplings I have to go with Lisa say these are definitely some of the best I’ve ever eaten. I also wish to note how pleasantly my allergy to nuts was dealt with. I felt very comfortable with how it was handled- which as anyone with a nut allergy knows isn’t always the case when dining out.   

David’s Restaurant, 4 Cecil Place, Prahran, VIC. Open for lunch Monday – Friday 12-3pm, Saturday and Sunday 11:30am-3pm, and dinner Monday – Wednesday 6pm-10pm, Thursday and Sunday 6pm-10:30pm, Friday and Saturday 6pm-11pm. Book online or call (03) 9529 5199 for a reservation.

OTOT dined as guests of David Zhou.

By Lisa Tan and Angela Menz