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Tai Pan is a Melbourne classic, one of those big Eastern suburbs Chinese restaurants where they seem to do everything right. What’s more, they have been for a long time. It’s big in every way – big spaces, big tables, generous servings, lots of waiters moving quickly. There are two levels, and for yum cha every spot is taken. At the front of the restaurant there’s a barbecue counter that does a specialised take-away with about a dozen different items. Locals pick up roast duck, the special chicken or roast pork.
Eating in can be a challenge because the menu is so big. The waiters can’t always advise, so if you’re in doubt and don’t like the look of what the neighbouring table is eating, go for one of the banquet menus which are available for even two people. The seafood is always good here, and so are the vegetarian dishes. Try the king prawns with Chinese broccoli, or pan-fried scallops with seasonal vegetables. Weekend yum cha is so popular there are three sittings. A note of caution: you can get a table for two, but the best way to eat here is with family or a group of friends. Two quiet people can feel a bit lost among riotous large tables.