Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Me Wah Marque II

I really had to give this some thought. And why the rush? Me Wah's own website (http://www.mewah.com.au/) doesn't have their Hobart restaurant listed and even their Hobart online Yellow Pages ad shows an interior of the Launceston flagship.

It took me three visits to come to write anything, and then I'm still not sure. Here are the main things to consider:

1. This is a classy joint. More staff than you can poke a chopstick at. Crisp linen on the tables. Gorgeous silver rests for spoons and chopsticks. A wine list (and after dinner drinks trolley) to get rather excited about (even if your wallet chokes).

2. The service is very attentive. Shared dishes are not just plonked in the middle of the table, but served out to each diner. White wine is stored in a grand ice "bucket" (more a ceremonial-style bowl) in the centre of the room once opened.

3. Enclosed banquet rooms are just asking for trouble. Delightful (on the whole) decorations indicate money has been well and truly spent. Even the toilets are a treat.
4. Food? That's where I get stuck. Have been for dinner twice and lunch once (no yum cha ... sorry gang). On each occasion the meal averaged $100 per head (including wine). Not cheap. But that's silver service, isn't it?
Here's what I've sampled:
Soups - Have tried the Shark Fin Soup and the Duck Soup - both awesome
Wild Harvest Scallops - Average (better at Golden Harbour)
Jumbo Oysters - Over the top, should be experienced at least once
Seafood Medallions - Best avoided
Crab Dumplings - Beautiful the first time, subsequent samplings good but didn't repeat that standard
Duck Sang Choy Bao - Great (if somewhat OTT)
Vegetable Curry - Terrible, very "maggi"
Salt & Pepper Prawns - Not great (better at Golden Harbour)
Whole Fish - Snapper? Who knows? Disappointing regardless
Peking Duck - Delicious even if serving size disappoints
Dessert sampler - Amazing. Fantastic bird-shaped pastry thing stuffed with red bean paste (not to everyone's taste), and other delights
And more ...
To be brutally honest, I think you will get much better food (on my experience, others beg to differ) at Golden Harbour. For about half the price or less. Naturally you will not get the same experience though.
Me Wah is a "special occasion" restaurant. It plays this card for all it's worth. Lions at the door, wait-staff saturation, gorgeous decoration, and so on. Go for a treat. But unfortunately this won't become your Friday night regular (or your Sunday lunch hangover cure). Will I go back? Shit yeah, but it will be for a cashed-up banquet. None of this dicking around with the al a carte menu. Banquet options start at $65 per head.
To be fair, this place is based on the reputation of an outstanding Launceston Me Wah tradition. It is a grand enterprise in its infancy. There are enough elements to give a hint of Little Bourke St. I say, let's give it a chance to find its feet. Be patient.