Disclaimer: I was invited to dine at David's complimentary. My views and opinions written here are my own.
I don't know about you guys, but food has always been, even if unwittingly, a family thing for me. It's only really just hit me recently, exactly how much of an impact, my parents in particular, have had on me.
Although my current preferences at home do tend to steer away from family tradition, on this current trip to Malaysia, and even during my previous trip earlier this year with Brad, I feel like the food my parents have grown up with and love dearly has started to really resonate with me.
And I think because of this love of family influences, I really enjoyed my most recent visit to David's, to check out some of their new additions to the menu, some ala carte and some yum cha goodies!
I had visited David's quite a lot as a kid, as my parents liked the food, before the most recent renovations which happened about 4 months ago. My memories of David's, before these renovations, are walls that were all red and black, a space that was quite dark and my cousin from Canada eating a lot of rice.
But now, David's is the complete opposite of that, with it's bright, white, rustic and refreshing makeover. I adore the front room with skylights that flood the room with sunshine on a lovely day, such as the one I visited on.
And even though it is so bright and clean, it is totally unpretentious, with lots of intimate and homely touches, which is the new direction David's wanted to take. I personally love the small round tables, perfect for a group of girls to cosy up over and gossip, which is simply key to any Chinese restaurant and the 'home' stations they had in the middle of the restaurant, where you could just go up to get more bowls, cutlery, sauces…whatever you need, kinda like home huh? The food reflects this homeliness, with a menu inspired by a country town in Shanghai, keeping away from the ever popular fusion trend and keeping truer to comfort Chinese home cooking roots.
I think David Zhou has managed to create such a homely environment…because the restaurant really is his home. With his wife and daughter also being involved with the business, it was wonderful to have all of them there on hand to talk us through the food, explain what benefits the different teas have (nice to know the tea I was drinking was good for overall skin and beauty!) and just ensure we were well fed. It reminded me a lot of my parents as they kept encouraging us to eat more…and more…and more!
We first got a sample of their new bao's, which seem to be the next banh mi/gourmet hot dog/food trend at the moment.
Whilst I'm not very well versed in bao's, the one I had, with green soy beans, bok choy, walnuts and chilli, was absolutely divine. I was astounded at the different levels of flavours, and also how clean and fresh it tasted. The nuttiness, with a nice solid kick of chilli was just the thing to start the tastebuds off. And even though the bun looks pretty thin, it's surprisingly light and fluffy. Reviews of the other flavours all seemed to be positive across the table as well…and at 2 for $10…? Not too bad I say…
After our bao's, we were given a sampling of some of the items from the regular menu and also the yum cha, which runs on weekends. For $35 per person, you get unlimited food…um yes?!
A couple of my favourite items include the cold spicy beef and the oolong tea quail eggs, which made great starters as they were so cool and (god I'm using this word a lot) refreshing.
The duck wings also proved to be an interesting dish, a lot leaner than chicken wings, but still completely delicious…and again, with a healthy chilli kick. They're certainly not light handed at David's with the stuff!
There was really so much food it's hard to cover all of it! But for the amount of food there was, it was all very cohesive, with a lot of recipes coming from the family, such as 'Grandma's 8' with, as the name suggests, 8 ingredients (scallop, shrimp, pork, chicken, chestnut, cashew, bamboo and shitake), it's something I could easily see my own grandma making.
And not to forget the sticky pork belly dish…now whilst I know crunchy skins are all the trend, I had a very similar dish to this in Shanghai a year or two back and sorry to say (or not), but this totally wins my heart over instead…it's so shiny….
On a whole, I was incredibly impressed with David's food. Although I am easily excitable, Chinese food on a whole doesn't get my juices going. However, I could not stop gushing the whole time I was eating…and those of you know how I gush…well yeah. I get carried away if I love something.
I think I was just so impressed with how, for Chinese food, it was so remarkably clean and crisp. None of the dishes felt oily or fatty, I felt like I really tasted the flavours of the ingredients. This, now this, is how Chinese food should be. And even though the menu is quite extensive, all the dishes were consistent in this manner. From the skins on the dim sum, to the fried 'one bite' soft shell river prawns, to the sweet chunky eggplant dish, a vegetable and dish which normally soaks up oil like a sponge, at David's it was quite refined and elegant in flavour and texture.
Although homely and honest food is the agenda of the menu, for dessert, David's allows itself to take that, but twist it a little and have a bit of fun, with chocolate sesame seed balls, white chocolate dumplings with peanut and coconut praline and ice cream, and for something a little more traditional, an osmanthus and red bean black sticky rice pudding.
Whilst I honestly thought that the chocolate would be my favourite, I was surprised that I managed to keep finding room for the black rice. It was rich, without being overly so, and again, just layered with flavours. That and I just generally love the nuttiness of black rice.
To recap, I can see why my parents loved this restaurant before and, following in their steps, find myself smitten…with a Chinese restaurant. This never happens. But with food that is comforting, of great quality, flavoursome and at excellent value in my opinion, in an environment that is comforting and relaxed, it's not hard to be caught up in the delicious overall.
I now kind of want to move to Chapel Street just so that this can become a regular!
4 Cecil Place
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