Melbourne is a city where the restaurant rules, a place where there is almost a never ending supply of fantastic dining spots to enjoy. You could literally eat at a new restaurant every night and never need to revisit any. But it's refreshing to know that in the hotbed of Melbourne eating, there are some stalwarts that almost transcend the dining scene and enter legendary status. There is a restaurant that has most certainly reached legendary status in Melbourne that I've had on my list for such a long time, one that I've just never been able to get into.... The Flower Drum.
'Flower Drum' is known in China as a traditional dance, famous for its beauty and elegance and it's these traits that have been incorporated in philosophy of the restaurant. One of only three The Age Good Food Guide three hatted restaurants at the moment, The Flower Drum has pretty much been the major constant in fine dining in Melbourne. You only have to look at it's history to understand the scale of it's magnificence. Not only accredited as restaurant of the year by the Good Food Guide from 1999 to 2002 and again in 2004, it topped the Gourmet Traveller restaurant of the year in 2002. Flower Drum also made the world's top 50 list by Restaurant Magazine in England from 2002 to 2005. And of course its kept either two or three chef's hats for as long as anyone can remember!
The magic of the Flower Drum started when in 1975, Gilbert Lau opened his soon-to-be-famous restaurant in Chinatown on Little Burke Street. Setting high standards for himself and his team, Gilbert brought Cantonese food to the people of Melbourne and was able to compete with the more established European fine dining establishments. Looking to capitalise on its popularity, Gilbert moved the Flower Drum to larger premises in Market Lane and appointed Chef Anthony Lui as the restaurant's executive chef. It was in 2003 that Gilbert sold his beloved restaurant to his three employees, including Chef Anthony Lui, and they have continued to provide Melbourne with the finest of Cantonese cuisine.