Category Archives: Chinese

Queen Chow, Enmore

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The Merivale winds, having blown North, South and East, have found their way to the Inner West, this time transforming Enmore’s Queen Victoria Hotel. Gone are the Indiana Jones pinball machine, the pool table and the pokies.  Instead you’ll find a variety of taxidermy (!), a baby elephant figure,  a Roman statue, and some mighty fine Chinese.

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Downstairs, while flanked by a long bar, is a bit more sombre and restaurant-y. Upstairs is The Smelly Goat bar, with some cool and cosy little nooks, and a lovely light filled enclosed outdoor dining verandah.  The staff are on top of it all and very welcoming.

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We start of course with dumplings (Eric Koh is in da house) which are all delicious. The Marito and Small People particularly rate the prawn har gau, and the casing is definitely more delicate than elsewhere.   I had my eye on the lobster and asparagus dumplings for my second visit but they had disappeared from the menu!

The duck spring rolls remind me very much of Mr Wong, which is not a bad thing at all.  There’s a reason why Mr Wong is still packing them in every night 5 years on.

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There’s a twist on the classic cheung fun – here the cuttlefish is wrapped it a fried bread crumb then the rice noodle.   The Marito gives this a big thumbs up.

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I love the salt and pepper squid, silken tofu and prawns with chilli bean mayo.  Done with such a light hand.

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I also really like the “slightly fires the emperor” of cuttlefish, macadamia and garlic chive (though there isn’t much cuttlefish). Its fresh and the macadamia and crunch of baby corn add some good texture.

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But I’m a little disappointed with the angus beef, served with baby king oyster mushrooms and potato.  Its a little dry, the beef is chewy and the potatoes are bland.

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The barbecue duck though, is juicy and tasty

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Back onto seafood, we’re winning.  The steamed market fish (that day barramundi) with ginger, shallot, and white soy, is a deftly executed Chinese classic.

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The Moreton Bay bugs with kombu butter and asparagus are dressed to impress.

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And make sure you leave room for the fried rice.

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There are desserts on the menu, but its pretty hard to resist the lure of Cow and Moon right next door, where we bump into fellow diners.  However you will get fortune cookies with your bill.

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On behalf of Italian Mammas, I do have a bone to pick with you Queen Chow – shall we take it outside?

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Queen Chow, 167 Enmore Road, Enmore
Ph 02 9240 3000
http://merivale.com.au/queenchow

Queen Chow Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Ho Lee Fook, Hong Kong

I found myself in Hong Kong for work recently and a bunch of us headed over to Ho Lee Fook in the lively Soho district.  I’d heard good things about the creations of Taiwanese chef Jowett Yu, who spent some time at Sydney at Tetsuya and Mr Wongs, among others. Head down the stairs past the peacocks and waving cats and the basement dining space awaits – dark but with some bright wall lights.

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There is plenty on the menu that looks inviting and it is hard to decide what to order.   Our friendly server tells us that night they have the crispy skin chicken as a special – usually it needs to be ordered in advance – and tells us there is only one serve left.  When we say we’ll take it, she does an Olympic worthy sprint to notify the kitchen so someone else doesn’t grab it. That’s what you call service. Once back, we give her our other choices and ask what she thinks.  “How hungry are you”, she says, “because you really should add the beef short rib”.  It is their signature dish she tells us, so it needs to be done.

There’s also a pretty impressive whiskey menu if you’re in for a big night.

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We start with Mom’s “mostly cabbage, a little bit of pork” dumplings with a sacha soy dressing.  These are plain yum with a nice chunky texture inside.

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Then onto a unusual dish of grilled calamari, with a very clever touch of delicious quid ink onion jam, XO sauce, shishito peppers, and some spiced pumpkin seeds giving some texture. I did find it a little dry though, a drizzle of something over the octopus would have helped.

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Simply done stir-fried greens – asparagus, broccoli, sugar snap peas – ensured that we felt sufficiently virtuous. So too did the twice-cooked green beans with pickled turnips, five-spiced tofu, Chinese olive; the beans had nice freshness and crunch.

Next came the Kurobuta pork char-siu.  When we ordered this we were asked “lean or fat” – we opted for the lean but it was still juicy and very very tasty.

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The shell fish oil was very distinct in the prawn lo mein, so a good dish for those who like robust flavours.

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The special crispy skin chicken arrives. It has this slightly sour crumb sprinkled over it, I am not sure what it was but I loved it and the texture it added.

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Then came the signature roast Wagyu short ribs.  Knock out dish, adored the jalapeño purée and the green shallot kimchi it came with.

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The deserts coming out looked great, but alas there was no capacity after that feast!

Ho Lee Fook,  1 Elgin St,  Hong Kong, Ph +852 2810 0860
http://holeefookhk.tumblr.com/

 

 

 

 

 

Billy Kwong, Potts Point

You get a prize at Billy Kwong if you can read Kylie’s specials menu. Actually no you don’t, but you should get a free dessert or something if you can decipher it all. I almost made it, our friendly waitress intervened and helped out, but my main concern was checking that Kylie’s signature duck with blood plums was on there somewhere.billykwong (1)

If you haven’t heard, Billy Kwong has moved to Macleay Street in Potts Point, seating triple or so what the Crown Street site did – and – woohoo – it now takes bookings, no more queuing or waiting at any nearby dodgy drinking establishments to get a call after you put your name down on the list. Those uncomfortable stools are gone as well (they seem to have been donated to Hamish at Bar H?).

There is a long long long bar counter that spans the large kitchen, which is great if you want to eat solo or as a pair, and I reckon the staff easily clock up their required daily FitBit miles walking the length of that counter a few times.

There were six of us and we opted for a la’ carte, but there is a “Kylie’s banquet” for $75 where they choose the dishes. I didn’t realise till I went through the photos just how much we ate – we gave that menu a good nudge!  I know that some people will say that you pay overs for Chinese here, but remember that everything in the restaurant is organic where possible, and all the seafood sustainably sourced.

Steamed mini steamed pork buns with Rooftop Honey. Mmmmmm. The Rooftop Honey comes from the beehives on the roof of the Wayside Chapel made by the homeless – Kylie has always been generous about helping those in need.billykwong (3)

Steamed Sydney Rock Oysters – simple and deliciousbillykwong (4)

Sung Choi Bao of Pork, Ginger and Mushrooms. This was probably the only slightly disappointing dish, it just didn’t have the zing and flavour of the others.billykwong (12)

Rice Noodle Rolls with Braised Beef Brisket, Black Bean and Chilli. These were a table fave, I was secretly hoping that someone would temporarily turn vegetarian so I could have two.billykwong (5)

Steamed Fish Fillet with Ginger, Spring Onions and Shiro Soyu – a classic Chinese dish well executed.billykwong (10)

Dry-fried Green Beans with Miso, Chilli and Sesame Seeds. I ordered these because I felt we should have some green vegetables, and they were really good!billykwong (9)

Crispy Skin Duck with Orange and Davidsons plum. This dish has been on the menu since the beginning I think.billykwong (8)

Deep Fried Fish Wings in Young Henry’s Pearl Ale. Something a little different and good flavour and texturebillykwong (6)

Cantonese style Fried Rice. A good pepper hit in here or some other spice?billykwong (7)

Ginger soy pannacotta. Everyone claimed to be too full for dessert so only two of us ordered one. However once everyone tried a spoon full there was almost some fighting at the table. Really smooth and a subtle ginger flavour. The Chinese may have claimed they were the first ones to invent noodles and pasta, but the Italians have one up on the pannacotta stakes!billykwong (11)

billykwong (2)Billy Kwong, 28 Macleay St, Potts Point, Ph (02) 9332 3300
http://www.billykwong.com.au/

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Yum Cha @ Spice Temple, Sydney

Spice Temple recently introduced yum cha style options for lunch – which is great because down that end of town there is very little of it other than Mr Wong. And yes I know people will say ‘you could get that for half the price in China Town blah blah blah’ but this isn’t mass-produced-sitting-around-in-a-trolley type yum cha – it is Neil Perry yum cha, made to order and using some great ingredients.  I’ve been to Spice Temple a la carte several times, so was keen to try the dumplings.  The optimal group size though, seems to be 3 people, as that is the serving size of most of the dumplings. They won’t up it to four, so if everyone wants to try one and you’re a foursome, you’ll need to order two serves.  Tasting it, it is obvious that this is premium stuff, you just need to get your head around the association of yum cha = cheap.

The standouts for me were: Gua bao with roast pork belly and chilli paste ($9 each), which you order individually (spice, texture and flavour), the lobster siu mai – $12 for two – (such luxury! And just devine), the Wagyu beef and chestnut siu mai (not too often you get beef in dumplings, and these were delicious), and the Pork balls with XO sauce (oh that sauce! Give me a bowl of it with some steamed rice). Excuse the pics – Spice Temple lighting is not conducive to good photos!

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We also tried the Har Gow steamed prawn dumplings (these were probably the only ones we tried which didn’t stand out in particularly versus say Palace or other yum cha), the Prawn and scallop spring roll, and the Lamb and cumin pancake

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To finish, we had the three milk cake (normal, condensed and cream I think) with raspberry, pistachio and almond, with meringue on top. It had a slightly Middle Eastern bent with the rosewater and pistachio, and the milk was just delicious. I could happily skip the meringue and just have that gorgeous cake with lashings of the milk mixture. Any chance of a recipe, Neil?

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Spice Temple, 10 Bligh Street, Sydney ph (02) 8078 1888
http://www.rockpool.com/spicetemplesydney/

Palace Chinese – CBD Yum Cha, Sydney

It was Friday. We’d been working hard. It was time for some team yum cha. If you don’t want to go all the way to Chinatown, in the city you go to Palace (no, I don’t like Sky Phoenix, my experiences there have been average,  it’s only advantage is that you can book, and skip the inevitable queue you’ll encounter at Palace).

A small space compared to the Chinatown behemoths, I’m a big fan of its dumplings, salt and pepper squid, and also the rice noodle dishes, especially the rice noodle with barbecue pork (top picture). Plus there’s the added advantage of it being quick when your famished, and cheap when you’re not flush with funds. I do think its always best to go to yum cha early, at 11.30-12.00pm, when the food is the freshest (and if you go later you will undoubtedly have to queue). It also has to end with an obligatory serve of mango pancakes, though I’m a big fan of their mango sago.

Chi fan!

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034036039Palace Chinese, Level 1, 133-145 Castlereagh St, Sydney, Ph (02) 9283 6288
http://www.palacechinese.com.au/

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Lotus Dumpling Bar, Walsh Bay

002The distressed brick wall look is clearly in this decade. But I like it.  It’s what I notice first when I walk into this new dumpling bar at Walsh Bay across from the theatre, and I look around and there are other nice touches – the huge pots hanging from the ceiling, the quality tableware, a well stocked bar.  Don’t come here expecting cheap and cheerful, superior and sleek are the order of the day at Lotus.  It’s a relatively intimate setting, long and narrow, but the very high ceilings give it a good sense of space.

Definitely bring a few friends, because there will be a lot on the menu you want to try.   The dumplings are dearer than what you’ll find at Mr Wong or New Shanghai, but they are quality. What we ordered:

Prawn dumplings.  These are just fantastic and probably my favourite dumpling of the night, big chunks of prawn and a bit of snow pea.

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Xiao Long Bao – super fine dough and great flavour, though not as soupy as Din Tai Fung.

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Scallop and Pork shumai.  Delicate and like the prawns, great quality seafood.

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Duck Pancakes.  I can never resist these.  Great duck, and bigger than you would expect, but the cucumber slice was probably a little thick.

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Pan Fried Pork Buns – a thicker dough, as you would expect from a pork bun as opposed to a dumpling.  Good flavour and a little soup inside.

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Crispy eggplant with honey and chilli.  This was a surprise to all of us and a great dish, I really liked it.  Extremely crunchy coating, and tender eggplant inside.  If it had some kind of dipping sauce to go with it would take it to whole new level.

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Braised pork in Shanghai style sauce –  a little on the sweet side for me, would have preferred a bit more spice.

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Wok fried green beans with minced pork, very easy to eat.

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While the dumplings are not on the cheap side, if you take out the cocktail we had (each $18) and the dessert (gelato from Gelato Messina), the food was under $35 per person and we were very satisfied (we couldn’t finish our gelato), so overall it is quite good value for an attractive dining environment with friendly service. And if you’re going to the theatre across the road, you could have a quick pre-theatre drink and meal at the bar.

Lotus is a great little addition to the blossoming Sydney dumpling scene, I just wish it was in walking distance from my office!

Lotus Dumpling Bar, 16 Hickson Rd, Dawes Point, Ph (02) 9251 8328
http://www.lotusdumplingbar.com.au

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Spice Temple, Sydney

I’ve always thought that Spice Temple would be a great place to go if you are having an affair. Dark, moody, plenty of hidden corners, it would be the ideal place to meet an illicit lover. If, of course, you are that way inclined. If you aren’t, and you can manage to find the door, duck in for some of Mr Perry’s upmarket regional-but-modern Chinese.

The menu is partially colour coded (so if you’re colour blind you may need help) with the red dishes those that fall into the ‘super hot’ category. I’ve had a few of these on previous visits, and I find that the amount of chilli is sometimes so much that its difficult to decipher the actual underlying ingredients and they all mesh into dishes that taste essentially the same – i.e. hot. So this time we (being a royal we, as I ordered for us all) went for the ‘plain dishes’ – but these are still packed full of flavour.  Spice Temple is some very clever, tasty, food.

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The steamed eggplant with pork, always a great start, flavour and texture. They also use these beautifullly patterned bowls. Our other pork dish, the Guanxi roast pork belly with coriander and peanuts was unremarkable.

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I generally find chicken rather dull – but bring in quail, duck and other birds and I’m in. The crisp fried quail marinated in fermented red bean curd and five spice was indeed beautifully crisp and flavoursome.

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Shredded duck, dried chestnuts and black fungi with Pixian chilli paste and fried tofu. I haven’t had this before and I loved it, great textures going on and great flavour.
On the other hand tea smoked duck with mandarin pancakes was a little disappointing, and nothing special.

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Whole steamed snapper with black bean and salted chilli was not a red highlighted dish but had plenty of heat, and the accompanying steamed Chinese broccoli with house made oyster sauce was a winner.

For five of us, and we were comfortably full, the food came in at just shy of $60 a head. They  have banquets that start at $75 which have a couple more courses than what we ordered and include desert. There’s also a hidden private room. Service on this particular day was a little absent minded rather than poor, with them slow to take drink and wine orders and the wine arriving after our food.

Spice Temple, 10 Bligh St  Sydney,  Ph (02) 8078 1888
http://www.rockpool.com/sydney/spice-temple/

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