he man whose Chapel Street Oriental Teahouse made Yum Cha an everyday staple rather than a Sunday treat has always loved a challenge, and the newly revamped David’s in Cecil Street, Prahran is no exception.
In its original incarnation, David’s was loved by many, so there are sure to be a few furrowed brows from those with the ‘if it ain’t broke’ mentality. But just as it inspired diners when it first launched some 15 years ago, it will do so again.
The restaurant’s original interior has made way for a more lighter, more casual, country feel that maintains its Shanghai authenticity. Transformed by the team at Hecker Guthrie, the walls are whitewashed, with an eclectic array of wooden chairs surrounding the tables and Chinoiserie-style lamps residing on the walls.
Using quality, fresh, local ingredients, the food itself is designed to be non-fussy and can be shared amongst the table in an effortless fashion. The menu offers treats from the garden to the sea, including a number of offerings unlikely to be found anywhere else, all designed to be shared and all made to sit cleanly on the palate. From the ‘One Bite’ soft shell river prawns to the DIY pork belly buns, Zhou “loves to let the food do the talking”.
David’s is so relaxed in fact, that while table service is of course on offer, should you feel uncomfortable hassling waiters, you can simply help yourself to extra sauce and the like at the self serve stand in the centre of the restaurant.
Zhou wanted to offer an alternative to a dining scene in which prices continue to climb whilst, in many cases, quality remains the same. “It’s all about keeping the simplicity and executing it perfectly,” he says.
It would be remiss however to speak of David’s, without acknowledging the man himself. The enigmatic storyteller so clearly loves what he does and thoroughly enjoys chatting to customers whilst ensuring they are all having a good time. He is often the first to come in and is always the last to leave, choosing to eat at random hours and often ducking out to make sure his staff doesn’t feel stifled by the big bad boss. Not that there is anything big or bad about Zhou, who is readily available to recommend the perfect beverage from the extensive tea and wine list.
All in all, David’s look may be new, but it will always retain its much-loved charm.
4 Cecil Place, Prahran
(03) 9529 5199
Mon - Wed 12pm-3pm & 6pm-10pm
Thur 12pm-3pm & 6pm-10.30pm