Tag Archives: Chinese

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/

Palace Chinese on Urbanspoon

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

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/

Spice Temple on Urbanspoon

Mr Wong, Bridge Lane, Sydney

When I first heard the name of Justin Hemmes’ new restaurant, I’m sure I’m not the only one who remembered this…..

Female tourist: Mr Wong! Mr Wong!
Mr Wong: What is it?
Female tourist: I’ve lost all my traveller’s cheques!
Mr Wong: Ohhh. What kind were they?
Female tourist: American Express…

mrwongs nraThat ad was shot somewhere in Hong Kong (or at least it looked like it was, might well have been a back street in Sydney) and here in the old Tankstream site the Merivale crew have re-created the whole British-Colonial-post war-Hong Kong thing, with the tuxedoed waiters and a truly amazing fit out. This is actually my third visit, and the food has been solid both times but the service a little mixed.

 

It starts off well, we are welcomed by some eye candy and taken to our table. The menu is extensive but not overwhelming like it can be at some Chinese eateries. You’ll find plenty to order. We begin with the scallop and prawn shumai. There’s some clever maths at play here, there are only 3 per serve. I’d hazard a bet that most tables are two or four. Can they add another one to the serve for our party of four? No, they can’t, you’ll have to order two lots if everyone wants one, we are told. We don’t mind the extras as they are juicy and flavoursome.

We follow on with a cold dish, the drunken pork hock with the marinated jelly fish. If the thought of jelly fish alarms you, you’d never know if you weren’t told, and the lovely marinade with the tender pork make a great combination. The roasted duck, on the other hand, is a little average, good crispy skin but nothing special and I’m sure you’ll find better in Chinatown.

Then onto the dish which was the winner of the day – steamed scallops with ginger, shallots, XO sauce and silken tofu. These are scallops on steroids, fat, and delicious, with an excellent XO. We then have the twice cooked green beans with pork mince, which have a little more punch than the last time I was here, though I still think I prefer Din Tai Fung’s version. And then Mr Wong’s special fried rice, which is a staple order on each visit – its great fried rice. We order a large which is too much for four of us.

But like my last visit, they leave the empty plates on the table far too long though, and it can be hard to get waitstaff’s attention. But its a fairly minor negative in the great scheme of things.

I’ve heard people say this is overpriced Chinese. And sure, its more than a whole-in-the-wall you might find in Chinatown, but its not really any more expensive than say Golden Century. Our six dishes came to less than $40 a head, which I think is pretty good when you’re sitting in a place that looks like this one (there are also various banquets starting at $68). Its also the only decent Chinese at this end of the CBD. The no bookings policy for a 240 seater is annoying, but lunch bookings are usually not an issue, its evenings that often mean you’re in for a long wait. The wait in my view worth it – I’m sure my third visit won’t be my last.

Mr Wong, 3 Bridge Lane, Sydney Ph (02) 9240 3000
http://merivale.com.au/mrwong

Mr Wong on Urbanspoon

East Ocean Yum Cha, Haymarket

East Ocean took the brave step a while ago of dispensing with the trolleys and giving you the option of ticking what you want on a form, though there are some wait staff carrying around other dishes on trays.  It makes for a much more sedate yum cha experience, and takes away the bustling and some of the fun.  Its not quite the same if you can’t wave away a pushy trolly dolly, or peer eagerly into the steaming baskets to unearth the contents.

Overall it was a bit hit and miss – some dishes worked well others didn’t – it seems to be about knowing what to order here. I doubt I’ll be back –  I’ll stick to my old favourites, Marigold and Palace.

On the menu:

Yum cha isn’t yum cha without a bit of salt and pepper. We started with salt and pepper calamari, the stalwart, and some salt and pepper whitebait.  The first was as it should be – bit of punch and tender calamari.  The whitebait was cold and we had to send it back, but even the replacement was lukewarm –  it was very average and could have been fabulous if cooked well (and served hot!).

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Next was the beans with mince pork.  Dish of the day. I’ve had the Din Tai Fung version (excellent), the Mr Wong version, and the Lynn Shanghai Cuisine version (both a bit bland).  This was flavoursome and with a nice hit of chilli.

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The dumplings overall where a little ho hum – we had a scallop and seafood, the snow pea and seafood and the Shanghai style pork dumplings.

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The fried rice also average, but the soy marinated chicken and bbq pork combo was tender and well flavoured. The bbq pork puffs had nice flaky pastry but needed more filling.

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It is however a great Cheap Eat, you can do it for under $20 a person – but there are other better choices.

East Ocean, 421 – 429 Sussex St, Haymarket Ph (02) 9212 4918

East Ocean Restaurant on Urbanspoon