Our visit to Chat for Tea was a few months after we settled in Ballarat. Being a restaurant that served vegetarian only meals, it was a good choice for a group with a couple of vegetarians amongst us. This was the first Asian (Chinese) restaurant I visted in Ballarat, and we were surprised that it was a stylish and lovely place.
Location: 25 Armstrong Street North (Ballarat, Victoria) - see on map
Website: Chat for Tea's facebook group, urbanspoon reviews, a blog review with lots of pictures, and a vegan's review
Price: ~$7 for entree, $10 to $20 for mains, $5 for bubble tea
Gyoza (Japanese style dumplings) - I was surprised to find that these vegetarian dumplings were quite comparable to regular pork dumplings (the type of dumplings I'm used to eating). Lightly pan fried in the proper Chinese way. There was a good balance of flavours in the filling, and there was a reasonable amount on the plate.
Fried noodles - some of my friends had this. The sauce was sweetish and soy based, quite similar to the teppanyaki noodles below. With a lot of vegetables.
Teppanyaki noodles - this was one of the more expensive mains (near $20), which was thick noodles fried with the sweet soy sauce, vegetables, and fake "meat" served on a sizzling hot plate. Liked the idea of the hot plate, noodles had good texture but the sauce it self was a tad strong.
Fish soup - I can't remember the name of this dish on the menu but basically it had fish shaped mock meat complete with a dark layer of fish "skin". Again, dish ordered by a friend, not sure about the taste.
Bubble tea - I had the milk bubble tea which is the one shown in the photo. Whilst I was disappointed that none of their bubble teas had tapioca pearls (it's so fun to chew on the pearls!) I was surprised by the quality of the bubble tea here. A milky drink with a mild green tea base, with just the right sweetness. So, it's not your normal milk tea but it's a great milk tea! This was definitely the best part of my meal.
Other: there were old tea sets and various Chinese calligraphy set up around the restaurant. The seats at the back were in comfortable rows. And the restaurant, whilst cosy, easily seated about 20 of us that night.
Rating: 4.5/5 great place to visit, or stop for a drink of tea. But 5/5 if you're a vegetarian! My only reserve is that the taste of the flavours weren't 100%, probably partly because we're used to those dishes having the meat taste, which obviously wasn't going to be there when you don't use meat haha. Great concept, good value for money, great variety of unique dishes, and I didn't expect to find mock meat in Ballarat, or quite good quality Asian food. Relaxed and pleasant setting. Definitely much better than many of the pseudo Chinese food places around town.