After settling in to this converted warehouse in the late 1990's, owner David Zhou, who's name is also tied to Oriental Tea House, has renovated David's to create a more home-style feel in a creative atmosphere. White walls and glass dividers provide the backdrop for an eclectic mix of decorative glass-jar vases and china pots used as utensil holders. The result is new, fresh and very Melbourne.
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Tucked inside a converted warehouse on the cool-side of Melbourne's tracks, David's has undergone a facelift – shaking off its fine-dining façade, and embracing a fresh and youthful new look. The linen covered tables have been stripped and replaced with exposed wooden tables, while place mats now serve as menus. On first glance, David's appears to be capitalising on what every other modern Asian restaurant in Melbourne is offering, until, of course, we remember that David's has been winning Chef Hat's for long before most restaurateurs' even left school.
Owner and former Chinese herbalist David Zhou has adopted a "back-to-basics" philosophy that is a far cry from your typical pan-Asian restaurant. David has created a unique menu of regional Shanghai home-style dishes. We start with David's signature one bite soft shell prawns. Light, meaty and slightly sweet, these soft shell prawns are a vast juxtaposition to the often heavily fried and dry versions that we have all experienced before. For those who like it hot, the 50/50 fried chicken with stir-fried chillies and Szechuan peppercorns will satisfy but just make sure you're within reach of the water station. The highlight of the meal, however, is the whole braised barramundi, wrapped in a blanket of spring onion and filleted tableside. The crispy outer skin, combined with the fish's soft flesh is perfect with a side of Buddha's fried rice that soaks up all the sticky juices from the plate. End on a sweet note with soft centred white chocolate dumplings sprinkled with coconut, a signature dish, available from all of David Zhou's restaurants.
In keeping with David's humble philosophy, a grab-it-yourself communal cutlery station features in the centre of the restaurant and each dish is large enough to share with a group. Diners eat off the same plates that David has at home, and although there is table service, guests happily help themselves to whatever they need, just like they would at home.
To be voted as one of the top 50 best Chinese restaurants outside of China is no easy feat but David's has hit the mark – offering Melbournians an authentic Shanghai dining experience.