There’s Adam. You can’t really see it in the photo but the decor has not changed since it opened in the 80s. Like I said, Flower Drum don’t do innovation and modern cool. They’re are all about high-quality and reliability.
All the tables were filled for the night, half Asians and half white folk. Half were your every day commoners (ie us) while the other half were the rich, A-list type folk in pretty dresses that I would KILL for (and given that I’m not really into fashion, that says something about how HOT those dresses were. Phwoar). I could’ve sworn I saw some underworld figures sitting on the tables behind the wooden screen towards the back of the room but I wasn’t so sure…
Stuffed Crab Shell. This is similar to those baked oysters that you’d see at yum cha restaurants, only nicer. Given that it was cheesy, I was worried that I’d be full after this one course (my mum certainly was when we were here last!) but the waiters were very good with their timing and allowed us to sit and relax for a bit before bringing out the next courses.
Quail San Choy Bao. I’m not really a big fan of san choy bao. This one was alright but nothing special. Moving along…Fried Salt + Pepper King George Whiting with lemon sauce and 5-spice salt (on top in separate container). Haha, way better than bloody Rex Hunt’s Fish and Chip joint! This was one of the changes they made to the banquet (last time they had steamed trout, which was fantastic) and although I was like when I saw it being presented to me, I was actually surprised at how good it tasted. Crispy batter, plump pieces of fresh fish. Dip it in lemon sauce and a very very tiny amount of 5-spice salt and …. ooooh yum!Peking Duck. One of Flower Drum‘s most popular dishes. The waiters actually bring out trolleys with gas burners and steamers on them and prepare the little morsels for you. It’s definitely the best peking duck I’ve had in Melbourne. Old Kingdom on Smith St serve great Peking duck too (probably second to Flower Drum) and while OK is great value, their Peking ducks ain’t as moist, not-fatty and delicious as the ones I’ve had at FD…
Noodles with crayfish in ginger and shallot sauce. This is a lot like the mud crab and egg noodle dish that many families like to order at Chinese places, the only difference being the crustacean used. I liked that the chefs cleared out most of the shells which made it easier for us to eat the crayfish using chopsticks. After all, I didn’t want to eat this with my hands at Flower Drum!
Grain-fed eye fillet steak with lotus fried rice (Sichuan style). You can barely see the bowl of rice which is just slightly to the left of the photo. Last time, they had Cantonese-style steak which, I thought, tasted better than the steak we had tonight but then again, it could be my Cantonese-pwns-over-all-the-other-Chinese-cuisines bias talking. I’m not a big fan of Sichuan food so I struggled with this steak (aarrghhh the spice! *sips tea frantically*). Next time I think I’ll ask them if I could have the Cantonese peppered steak instead of this one.
Dessert! We got a really nice looking fruit platter. None of this plates-of-oranges or red-bean-soup business! And they even gave us mangoes, rambutans, starfruits amongst all sorts of other goodies.Almond cookies. Damn, these are so addictive. I wasn’t sure if they actually made them in the kitchen or if they bought them elsewhere but I certainly haven’t had almond cookies as nice as these. They gave us a plate of 6 cookies to share but when they gave us the bill, they gave us another plate of 6 which I wasn’t sure we were supposed to have. Either they really did not know that we already had our cookies or they were graced by our awesome presence so they decided to reward us with extra cookies. Ain’t complaining though.
All in all, a great meal but like I said, Flower Drum isn’t as good as it used to be. Still great but stops short of being super-dooper fantastic. Nevertheless, that did not stop the masses of people who came here for the night and given by how they’re still booked for three months on weekends, you can be sure that this place still remains a Melbourne institute despite all the funky modern eateries popping up every bloody five seconds. I guess the one thing that hasn’t changed (apart from the decor) is the service. You would NOT find better service elsewhere. Seriously. And definitely NOT at another Chinese restaurant. The waiter we had actually spoke ENGLISH and was smiling the entire time, plus he cracked a few jokes here and there. They were very attentive without being annoying and obtrusive; they constantly came to pour your tea/water and re-arrange your cutlery and would wait away from your table while you were talking so as to not interupt your conversation before they came in with your food. And yes, we were quite full by the end of the meal. In fact, I struggled to finish my steak! So yes, well worth your money… hell, my stomach still aches at present!