Tucked unassumingly into the leafy exterior of Winston Hills Mall, Winston Gardens is a tastefully decorated and friendly Chinese restaurant with a great range of yum cha staples.
A warm selection of culturally traditional décor invites patrons inside.
The restaurant provides ample room for large groups with an appealing menu of tried and true favourites.
My better half and I are swiftly attended to upon entry and assigned a pristine table without fuss. A double-sided menu outlining the available yum cha selection is visible both in the window of the restaurant and on each table, giving us some idea of what to look out for. Some advice worth heeding; it becomes increasingly difficult to listen to your wallet when presented with an assortment of so many dishes, so we ordered Chinese tea ($2.50) and made a plan of attack.
Quite an enticing selection of yum cha for the peckish passer-by.
Newly rennovated, Winston Gardens boasts impeccable dining surrounds and attention to detail.
The waitress is generous, offering an assortment of beef rice noodles ($7.50), fried scallop dumplings ($7.50) and steamed pork and prawn dim sims ($7.00) upon her first round, the latter of which we check off our personal list. Noticing the chicken feet in black-bean sauce ($7.00), we request a serving of this too. Having never tried chicken feet before, I am intrigued by the gelatinous texture and combination of skin, sinew and bone. A little chewier than the skin of your standard chicken wing, the way these have been prepared (steamed, then coated in a thick, rich black-bean sauce) makes them palatable - they're even on an incline towards pleasant. Though the little knuckles and lack of flesh do make for a meticulous dining experience.
Generous condiments and steaming baskets made a trial of photographing the food prior to consumption.
The meals here are priced according to size, though many fall into the large ($7.00) or extra-large ($7.50) category and charges tend to collate quickly. It is also possible to order larger servings of fried rice and selected dishes through the main kitchen to accompany your yum cha spread.
A little gem of the land and sea.
Our bowls are cleared and replaced efficiently with our next course, a serving of steamed Shanghai-style pork dumplings ($7.00). Also known widely as xiao long bao, these heavenly soup-filled mouthfuls are a personal favourite of mine and warm from the inside out. While flavoursome, I find these to be lacking a little in the broth department. It would be dishonourable however, not to mention that they cooled somewhat in the time it took to disassemble my chicken feet, potentially losing the sweltering intensity they arrived with.
If only these had swelled a little more with that delicious broth.
The xiao long bao are accompanied by a fascinatingly crisp plateful of yam dumplings ($6.20) and prawn dim sims. The dim sims are meaty and well-cooked, though don't really shine. The dumplings however are light and moreish. These have a starchy combination centre and take well to a slathering of chilli - a real treat without being too cloying. These dumplings are a key reason for our return visits.
The crunchy exterior of this yam dumpling keeps the soft filling a delightful secret.
Our last savoury dish is a new one for us, a basket of steamed bean curd rolls ($7.00). Usually we are hugely partial to any dish that makes a star of bean curd or tofu, with the waitress even noting that these are a personal favourite of hers. Unfortunately the rolls don’t do much for either of us, my partner putting it down to the texture and taste of the bean curd itself, while I feel more off-put by the meaty aftertaste of the chicken, prawn and bamboo filling.
Regrettably, this bean curd was a bit off the mark.
We complete the meal with our long-standing affection for freshly baked egg-tarts ($4.80). Flakey, buttery pastry and a viscous yellow centre that tastes of sweet custard; memorable encounters in Hong Kong of this kind have disclosed to us that these tarts are indeed genuine and worth coming back for.
Service is always quick and attentive here at Winston Gardens, and while our overall verdict coming away from here was mixed, there are certainly a couple of indulgences worthy of a bite.
Where: Winston Hill Mall, 1/180 Caroline Chisholm Drive, Winston Hills, 2153
Cost: Approx. $50.00 for two (yum cha).
When: Monday-Sunday: 11am-3pm (yum cha), 5pm-10pm (dinner)
Good for kids: Yes, little ones will love the animal-shaped steamed custard buns, while the more courageous will enjoy being able to choose from a range of kid-sized 'adult' dishes.
Take away: Yes.