Tag 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

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/

Three Michelin Star Chinese? Lung King Heen, Hong Kong

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I’m thinking that if a restauarant is Three Michelin star, then, as we’d expect from a Three Hatter in Sydney, it has to be the whole package – unbelievable service, a beautiful room, and sublime food.  Can a Chinese restaurant, often associated with a casual and cheap meal, deliver the package? For Australian readers, I suppose the benchmark has to be Melbourne’s Flower Drum.

The view is indeed beautiful looking out across the river, but the restaurant space itself is nothing memorable. There is a good amount of space between tables so you don’t have to hear your neighbour’s conversation (in Hong Kong this is probably priceless given the tiny apartments they live in!) As I sit down the waiters provide a little stand for my handbag, so it doesn’t have to sit on the floor, which is a nice touch. And the service, while pleasant, does not have the finesse and extravagance of Flower Drum.

On the menu that night:

Amuse bouche (not sure what the Chinese equivalent of that is so going with French!) of fried bean curd – surprisingly delicious

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Wok-Fried Prawns with Fresh Crab Meat in Spicy Sauce.  This is a fantastic dish – flavoursome rather than knock-you-out heat, tender crab, large prawns; I wanted to sabotage the lazy Susan so it couldn’t reach anyone else. Also, see the little condiments tray in the background – they contain sauces which are certainly Michelin-worthy, especially the XO sauce (in fact it has received its own award!).

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Roasted Eggplant and Scallops in Spicy Plum Sauce. The eggplant was slightly undercooked making it chewy, and the sauce was a little on the sweet side.

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Sautéed Duck with Hazelnut and Ginger.  I was looking forward to this, and it was really disappointing.  The duck was tough and the flavour was nothing special.

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But the Wok-Fried Lamb Shin with chilli was fantastic, well flavoured and tender.

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Next, Stir-Fried Minced Vegetables with Nuts in Lettuce Wraps, which was also delicious and came with a great seafood sauce to put on top.

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Then Lung King Heen Lobster Fried Rice with Seafood – awesome fried rice.

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Then a noodle type dish – wok-Fried Rice Rolls in X.O. Chilli Sauce.  We reach another high in this dish, reminds me of top notch hawker style noodles with a great hit of chilli.

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For dessert, its Chilled Mango and Sago Cream with Pomelo.  All this really tasted like was pureed mango.  That didn’t stop it from being delicious, but if you’re after sago texture and flavour there’s not much of it.

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So was this what I would perceive as a Three Michelin Star – probably not (maybe two!!), but it is still damn good Chinese with a spectacular harbour view.

Lung King Heen, Four Seasons Hong Kong, Ph (852) 3196-8888

http://www.fourseasons.com/hongkong/dining/restaurants/lung_king_heen/

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

Lotus Dumpling Bar on Urbanspoon

Din Tai Fung, Westfield Sydney

I was always happy to traipse to the other side of town to get to DTF at World Square, after all these are the best Xiao Long Bao in town. The World Square restaurant was such a raging success that the DTF headquarters in Taiwan thought they’d try a Down Under experiment – a little ‘express’ version in a food court with a smaller menu, that even offered takeaway (There is also one at Star City). Right in the centre of town in the Westfield food court, this means I can just go more often and get my favourites. The best thing to do is go with a couple of friends then you can order a handful of dishes to try and still eat quite cheaply.

The queue is generally huge but the crowd of XLB worker bees churn them out quickly and there is never a long wait. Tick what you want on your order form and hand it over, or order with the cashier. When your buzzer goes off, grab your tray and find a table. Easy!

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Ah the XLBs. One of the things Din Tai Fung rests its cap on is consistency – and these are consistently good. The dumpling dough is super fine, and the hot soup explodes when you bite in.

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Shrimp and pork jiao ze – a close second.

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I also hardly ever go past their green beans and mince pork.

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And for a bit of spice, shrimp and pork wonton noodle with spicy sauce.

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A great and quick relatively cheap eat!

Din Tai Fung, Westfield, Level 5, Pitt St, open 7 days

Din Tai Fung Dumpling Bar on Urbanspoon

Din Tai Fung on Urbanspoon