I tweeted about my woes (thank God for twitter and all my fab, helpful tweetpeeps) and the lovely Mei Yen Chua who is the author of Brisbane Budget Bites (guide to cheap eats in Brisbane) tweeted back- Try 'The Manor' in Eight Mile Plains. So I did.
I headed out to the restaurant, getting hopelessly lost on the way. Moral to the story, check it on a map first and don't try to follow the 'blue dot' on your iphone, because the blue dot takes you the most ridiculous way ever. I'd also suggest leaving at least 20-25 minutes if you are coming from the city area because Eight Mile Plains is a fair way out. Be warned that there is really limited parking!
The restaurant is situated in an unassuming suburban block of shops. We headed there one Sunday morning, and the outside area was so quiet, I was not even sure that they were even open. After a little walking around and peering in the window, a lady finally came out and we were ushered into the dining area. There are two dining areas a nice one with linen table cloths and a more casual dining area with no table cloths and tiled floor. Out of the three times I have visited The Manor, I have been in the 'nice' side two times and the 'less nice' side another time. I'm not exactly sure what the selection criteria is and what determines which side you get taken to, but I definitely prefer the 'nice' side as it seems to have more atmosphere and be less noisy.
When we walked in, we were issued with an order form. I have only had yum cha a couple of times using an order form and had some mixed feelings. Traditionally, yum-cha restaurants operate on the trolley system where all the dishes are stacked in steamer baskets or plates on trolleys and wait staff come around and offer you the dishes they have available. I really like this system, its sort of like a lucky dip, and I tend to try more new things when they are offered. Sometimes though, it seems like endless trolleys go by, without offering you any of your favourites and by the time the food gets to you, it is devastatingly cold. Not to mention the feelings of frustration and anger when you are seated in a bad position at the end of the circuit and end up getting all the least popular, old dishes! Boo! At least this problem was solved with the order forms!
I went down the list and ticked my choices, whilst getting chimed in from I.P who was happy to eat 'anything' and C who wanted a couple more deep friend choices than I was willing to commit to! The staff promptly took our order and within 5 minutes had returned . The food has always been superquick at The Manor but the service has varied greatly. Actually, I would say on one occasion, the service was quite rude, but the other two times (and on this visit) was pretty standard.
Dishes are priced
small = $4.20
large = $4.80
Special = $5.80
The first dish to arrive was the calamari rings. These are usually calamari tentacles but they had run out, so the rings were the replacement. This is possibly the best calamari (asian styled) that I have ever eaten. The batter was light, salt, chillish and crispy and the squid was tender and very bite-through-able. These had obviously come straight from being fried but not a drop of excess oil was to be seen or tasted.
Next came the prawn dumplings which were snapped up before I managed to take a photo of all three. I usually feel that prawn dumplings should be sacrificed in favour of something more interesting. C likes them though, so I reluctantly ordered these, but secretly (don't want to give him too much food kudos) I was thanking my lucky stars. These beautiful, usually average, little balls were filled with gorgeous fresh prawn and silkenly soft and steamy pastry. In fact, the pastry on all the dumplings was noteworthy. Obviously straight from the steamer means the pastry is still soft and beautiful, like it is meant to be - not rubbery as it tends to become when cold.
My tea of choice at yum cha is usually Bo Lei or Pu -Erh. I'm not a real fan of the Jasmine tea... a little bit too fragrant and makes me feel unsettled. Bo Lei helps to aid digestion and is really calming. I feel like I can eat more once I have had a cup or two- which is always a bonus when yum-charring.
The next lot of dumplings (yes, I love dumplings!) was the prawn and bok choy with garlic chive (from memory). This was the most oustanding dumpling of the day, and is generally my favourite ever. Once again, the pastry was perfect and the filling was hot, and packed with corianderish flavour. The filling burst into my mouth and caused some serious taste sensation. Food fireworks a.k.a similar to those seen on Ratatouille!
The pan friend pork dumplings didn't disappoint. They were crispy on the outside, yeh perfectly cooked on the inside. I welcomed the addition of a gingery kick. Sadly, they were a little oily and no vinegar was served with them, which to me, is an integral acidic part of the pan fried pork experience.
Ok Ok...more prawn dumplings.. pretty sure you don't need to hear again, just how awesome they were, but just a little reminder- they were G.R.E.A.T.
At times I have wondered if pork buns were frozen prior to being served. These weren't. The dough was incredibly light and fluffy and the luscious bbq pork filling was perfect and rich. I know, I'm running out of adjectives- just go and try them yourself!
Last and probably least was the turnip puddings. I love turnip puddings but these were not particularly turnipy and were a little too rice floury. I laboured getting through two (which I usually wouldn't) They were also a little oily.
Aside from the turnip puddings, I loved everything I was served. Although it's not the authentic hectic atmostphere, I was really pleased with the standard of food, and eating here made me feel less longing for Dixon Street. I'm so glad that Mei Yen told me about the Manor because I have been missing a great yum-cha restaurant in Brizzy- and now I have finally found it.
I've actually been putting off writing this blog post, because I think The Manor is so good, I don't want to tell anyone about it! I certainly don't want to turn up next weekend and have to wait in line for an hour or two.So, if you have a hankering for awesome yum-cha, and you decide to visit The Manor, keep it on the down low and don't go bragging to all your friends ok.!?!..... P.S The Manor also do late night Yum Cha so I will be visiting soon for that!
Tell me... Where is your favourite Yum Cha restaurant in Aus? Do you have a secret restaurant you want to 'keep quiet' for fear of it becoming too popular?
The Manor Chinese Restaurant
6 Angel St
Eight Mile Plains QLD 4113
(07) 3341 9506