In 2007, Joe and I brought our two young sons from Hong Kong to the Castlemaine Steiner School for a short visit. We wanted our boys to have an alternative educational experience. The wonder of fresh air, clear skies, and wide-open spaces gave birth to a strong desire to move to Australia. Warm welcome and support from the community influenced our family to stay.
Needing a way to financially survive in Australia, we were inspired by some food stallholders. In February 2008 Taste of The Orient was born as a small trial stall at Wesley Hill Market selling Hong Kong-style waffles, marinated eggs, sesame balls, sweet pumpkin dumplings, and Chinese savory pancakes.
At this early stage, although there was no yum cha, it became obvious that the community was excited about this attempt at sharing Hong Kong food and culture. This one-month trial demonstrated to me and Joe that the venture would be viable.
Joe and I realized there was a demand for good quality Chinese yum cha in Central Victoria. Joe returned to Hong Kong and quit his construction job in order to enable prepare himself to move to Australia and study the finer points of making authentic Cantonese yum cha.
Between 2008 and 2010, we took over an existing take-away food outlet to start the yum cha business. In addition to selling fish and chips at our first store and roast chicken at the next, we began to sell take-away homemade dim sum.
Although Joe is a qualified and very talented chef, neither Joe or I had any prior experience in running a restaurant, we made numerous mistakes whilst initially managing the business. With patience, tolerance and forgiveness from both customers and staff, we were encouraged to persist and improve the range and quality of our products.
To broaden the customer base and wishing to share the cultural experience, we then expanded into the surrounding regional farmers markets and festivals with great success, largely due to the commitment to quality ingredients.
By April 2010 we were confident there was a market for good quality Chinese yum cha. In consultation with our friend Debbie Taylor (Visual stylist), and with lots of sopport from her, our family, other friends and our loyal customers, the old chicken shop was transformed into a Chinese yum cha house. A completely new menu, with more variety was launched. Apart from dine-in and take-away service, catering was also provided.
With the continuous support of our loyal customers, we have improved the quality of our products a lot and we have more confidence that our efforts were being appreciated.
In early 2011, we discovered we’d been selected for inclusion in The Age Cheap Eats Guide. Soon afterwards, in April, we were very favorably reviewed in a feature article about Castlemaine in The Saturday Age’s Life & Style supplement. Furthermore in July 2011, Taste of The Orient was interviewed by the 5.30 pm channel 9 Post cards, to share the topic of cultural treasure in central Victoria. The show will be board on 21st August 2011. The above mentioned articles encouraged us to continue with our effort, and were a great achievement.
The mission of Taste of The Orient is to bring the best local, organic, and free-range ingredients to a traditional Cantonese Yum Cha with a contemporary twist. We would certainly like to share our culture with you. Our friendly staffs will provide you with customer satisfaction, and a genuine yum cha dining experience. We’re optimistic that you will want to return for another delicious meal with us here at Taste of The Orient.
We would like to show our gratitude towards our local community, customers and to all those people who gave us the chance to share our culture with you over the years!
With kind regards,
Rebecca Ma & Joe Lam
Taste of The Orient