Tuan Tuan – The Overview…
High ceilings and chandeliers greet you at Tuan Tuan. Already popular in Manilla, this Philippines based company has embarked on its first Melbourne store bringing their take on Hong Kong comfort food to the streets of Carlton.
Food: Crispy Barbeque Pork Snow Buns, Salted Egg Custard Snow Buns, Chicken Fillet Curry, House Special Trio on Rice, Malay Laska Fish Soup Combo
The pastel shaded cutesy seating dotted throughout Tuan Tuan creates a sharp contrast to the darker, more grand and industrial feel of the rest of the restaurant, but it works. It feels unique and memorable – a little bit like the food. It’s a popular joint and is ideal both for its ability to accommodate larger groups and its affordability. Staff are helpful and efficient, managing to maintain a relaxed air within Tuan Tuan even when it does get busy, and it feels a million miles away from similarly priced inner city noodle bars. While the price point is the same, for the most part the experience is more restaurant and more spacious.
The menu is vast, with most main dishes coming in under $20, often including sides and drinks. Specialising in Hong Kong comfort food there’s snow buns, congee, curries and noodle bowls to choose from, alongside a range of a la carte and house specials. We started out with the signature crispy BBQ pork and salted egg snow buns – our first time trying snow buns. The sweet savoury combo is delicious and they’re actually quite filling for their size – particularly the pork buns. We loved the slight crisp of the outside before it gave way to the super soft centre – very enjoyable.
Next we tried a specialty noodle soup combo – a richly coloured soup that comes with a side of chicken wings (or spring rolls) and a drink. We tried a variation on the Malay Laksa Fish Soup Comb – replacing the prawns with crab. If you don’t fancy one of the combos though, you can be as creative as you like with their make your own noodle bowl and choose from a wide range of bases and toppings to create over 100 different combos. The soup had quite a kick to it (in case you didn’t guess from the colour).
From the depth of flavour of the fish you can just tell this soup has been lovingly tended to for hours. The real hero of this dish is the broth – the noodles, fish balls etc while all tasty merely act as an accessory to the beautiful broth which is the only thing I want to be hugging a bowl of next time I’m sick or sad (sorry Lee)! As for the chicken wings, they were lovely and juicy. I couldn’t quite put my finger on the flavours that made them just so tasty, but let’s just say their secret blend of herbs and spices is a little better than another well known eatery.
We followed this with the rice trio and the chicken curry (now just to be clear – this is way too much food for two people but we were keen to try a variety of dishes on offer). The chicken curry for anyone British is like chip shop curry sauce – for anyone not British – it’s a mild, simple, please anyone kind of chicken curry. The kind of dish you’d never be disappointed ordering. There’s plenty of chicken thigh and it comes with a side of rice. 2 for 2 on the comfort food score.
We really enjoyed the house special rice trio with baked seafood, mushroom and pesto and pork chop. It was unlike anything we’d ever tried and we loved how there are dishes like this on the menu alongside more mainstream options. The three different flavours keep things interesting and while it looks large at first glance it’s not overwhelming. Our favourite was the pork chop in the tomato based sauce but we’d recommend saving this until last and enjoying the dish from right to left (seafood, mushrooms, pork) to make the most of each of the flavours.
Address: R1/139 Queensberry St, Carlton
Mon 3pm to 10pm
Tue 12pm to 3pm and 5pm to 10pm
Wed 12pm to 3pm and 5pm to 10pm
Thu 12pm to 3pm and 5pm to 10pm
Fri 12pm to 3pm and 5pm to 10pm
Sat 12pm to 3pm and 5pm to 10pm
Sun 12pm to 3pm and 5pm to 10pm
Parking: Being so close to the city and the universities is always going to make parking tricky. In the evenings there are numerous free parking places on the street but do allow time for a bit of a walk just in case you can’t get a space nearby.
Getting here on PT: We walked from the CBD which is actually quite do-able and is a pleasant lively walk up Swanston Street. Alternatively from the city take any Swanston Street tram and alight at Queensberry Street.
Disclaimer: We dined as guests of Tuan Tuan Chinese Brasserie, Carlton. Reviews are honest and based on our own personal experiences. We cannot guarantee things at a restaurant won’t change including, but not limited to, menu items and opening hours, so please confirm any details with the venue before visiting.