The growing Asian community in Australia has led to a much wider variety of quality restaurants, especially when it comes to Chinese cuisine.
Australia has received Chinese immigrant for over 150 years, but until about 30 years ago, most came from southern China, so “Chinese restaurant” usually meant “Cantonese restaurant”.
There is nothing to criticise in Cantonese cooking, of course, but as the third largest country in the world, we would be surprised to think that it is the only acceptable Chinese cuisine. Every region has its own specialty dishes and unique preparations. Now we see many Chinese restaurants devoted to their own regional flavour, and our dining experience is richer for it.
Montclair Kitchen, at 52 Montclair Avenue, Glen Waverley, is a proud promoter of the northern Chinese cuisine of Hebei Province. Proprietor Lu Tengyu says their menu is prepared from recipes handed down in her family for years. Although secret, she is willing to share some of the general points with us.
Montclair Kitchen's main signature dish is the Gan Guo Ya Tou, or “Duck's Head Dry Pot”. The dry pot method of cooking is sometimes called hot pot, and by tradition includes chilli and peppercorns. The dish is a classic combination, including not only the duck heads, but also the necks, wings, giblets, hearts, and tongues.
There is a strict series of procedures to finalise the cooking. First, the duck parts are cleaned with running water, to make the meat more tasty and fresh. Then they are boiled up. In the third step, the parts are marinated in a “special sauce”, probably part of the secret recipe, before they are stir-fried.
A second signature dish, Tiger Prawn Dry Pot, uses fresh Australian grown Tiger Prawns. The prawn skin is crispy, and the meat is tender and fresh. Hot spices are used to stimulate the appetite. The restaurant also serves the traditional northern dumplings, or shui jiao.
Unique to Montclair Kitchen is their homemade plum juice beverage. This is not a simple home-made blend, but a fully professional job. Plums and hawthorns are boiled on very high heat for over 3 hours, to concentrate the essence of herbs. It is the best drink to combine with the dry pot dishes, to balance the flavour and relieve the summer heat.
The dining area is a modern design with an urban rustic feeling, and there is also outdoor seating and a smoking area if you wish. Montclair has a full bar, and provides takeaways.
Montclair Kitchen is open 7 days from 11.30am to 3pm, and from 5.30pm to 10pm. Please phone 9545 3992 or 0420 217 077 to make bookings.