Benyue Kitchen Review Aberfeldie Review 2022
365 Buckley Street
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|Opening hours||Wed-Mon noon-10:30 p.m.|
|Characteristics||Licensed, Accepts reservations|
|Prices||Moderate (dishes $20 to $40)|
|Payments||eftpos, Visa, Mastercard|
|Call||03 9337 1991|
There is no business like show business, but a family business is better. Melbourne has dozens of must-visit restaurants to prove my adage: Grossi Florentino, Abla’s, Flower Drum and Warung Agus, to name a few. There’s something about transferring skills, passion and knowledge, about being genuinely invested in a business from birth.
But in hospitality, family does not mean blood. Those who work together in the trenches and the diners who come to the table become a family by default.
That connection existed at the now-closed Lau’s Family Kitchen in St Kilda, and caused widespread heartache when founder Gilbert Lau and his children decided to wind down the business last year. Cue the excitement then, that with the Laus’ blessing, a core team of crew from the old restaurant carried the torch to a new restaurant in Melbourne’s west.
The whispers from Benyue Kitchen, whose owner-operators include longtime Lau chefs Yip Wu, Tang Au-Yueng, Xing You He and Qiang Wu, ignited social media like a match in a gas tank.
They tactically chose a local 20 kilometers northwest of St Kilda beach in Aberfeldie, a suburb lined with families and parking lots but not a strong representation of Chinese cuisine. The reappearance of Lau lamb spring rolls and ethereal crab omelettes have turned Buckley Street into a pilgrimage route for the faithful.
And praise it, the trip is worth it. These Cantonese classics, a study in the refined elegance of southern Chinese cuisine, are as good as you remember and maybe even sweeter for coming back from the dead.
A year without those spring rolls makes the encounter with golden cigars land hard again. It’s all in the thickness and juiciness of that lamb stuffing infused with just a whisper of cumin, and that sweet and sour exclamation point of the fresh plum sauce.
Likewise, the impossibly thin batter of fresh, tender squid is a high-performance take on salt and pepper squid, a dish that’s always delicious but rarely so delicate, allowing you to add lime and the seasoning mix to will.
As is the case with Flower Drum, where regulars seem to order entirely by their own rules, some of Benyue’s greatest joys require you to ask a few questions or arrive by a certain time.
The soy chick is on the menu, but in limited portions and requires 30 minutes to prepare. Take note then, to call and order ahead or catch an early session for the best shot at what is arguably one of the greatest poultry prices in town.
The young bird is dipped and poached so gently in its soy liquor that it has the texture of being caught. It has a heady punch of what could be Shaoxing wine and is so incredibly shiny and tanned it could have had seven Instagram filters applied.
There’s plenty of glory on the main menu, from silky dumplings of siu mai to a plate of seasonal greens that land at the sweet spot of crunch and sweetness, requiring nothing more than a slightly thickened broth to shine. .
Yes, there’s the signature fried rice, sprinkled with sticky bits of grilled pork and turned into a deluxe feast with truffle paste.
But if you’re smart, you’ll ask about the vermicelli clay pot (not listed). These jelly-like noodles, lightly spiced and covered in fat, sweet scallops, tender barbecued pork and finely shredded omelette, are a must-try.
If the right cut is available, lightly braised beef tendons can be yours too. (This dinner is not to be).
It’s not just the dishes. It’s the return of a personal, relaxed and inviting family restaurant energy.
The bright framed drawings that line several walls are the work of a very promising artist, Chef Yip’s nephew Wilson, who is five. In the service, we see the influence of Gilbert Lau, a titan of hospitality who commanded a floor like a choreographer, where the waiters each played an essential role, from taking orders to pouring water or perhaps serving more complicated dishes at the table.
It’s a system as complex and rigorous as that of a beehive and experiencing the dance is always a buzz. Right now, with Omicron leaving most hospitality teams hobbled, the smooth delivery of dinner to Benyue is almost a miracle.
What unbridled relief and joy that certain members of this great family of hospitality carry the torch. Let those tangy golden circles of beaten pineapple and ice cream live to take another spin around the sun.
Tell your friends. Gather your family. Lau’s legacy lives on.
Drinks : Value driven local wine list, teas and soft drinks.
Pro Tip: Call ahead to order specials.
Essential dish: Soy chick.