I’ve wanted to try this restaurant for ages, but it’s not the type of place to just go with your partner. Finally, with my pal’s rent-a-crowd of 8, a great number for a Chinese meal, we got to head down on the night of the Chinese New Year parade.
Before we went, I looked at various reviews, including Terry Durack’s, and was a little confused. Expect bad service, I knew. Durack recommended having the hotpot downstairs instead (a suggestion we’ll take up another time). And I got the overall impression that it was pretty good but you might not know how to order the right dishes.
Guided only by one dinner guest who said “No offal” which eliminated a surprising number of dishes, I was allowed to take charge of the menu and swept through the Menu-on-an-ipad, placing checkmarks on whatever looked good.
Indeed, it was very good. The lamb ribs in cumin had so much flavour, juicy, fatty and unusual. A chili chicken had the interesting addition of cubed lotus roots. A beef in cumin was not bad. The whole table loved their version of Mapo Tofu, as well as the slightly sweet eggplant hotpot, and the crispy shelled prawns. The steamed vegetables were the same as anywhere as was the fried rice. The craziest dish was a large glass baking dish filled with pieces of tofu, fish, chilis and pepper, served with two candles underneath to keep it bubbling. It had a numbing rather than spicy chili (the sichuan peppercorns, I believe), with a taste, earthy and slightly charred, that I don’t remember ever trying before. All up, we found the food really tasty and interesting, not a dud among any of the dishes.
The service was sweet but par for the course in a Chinese restaurant, inattentive, to the point of having to wave arms wildly or just go up to ask them for things. But we didn’t mind. A rather lot of bottles of white wine went well with the food and put us all in a jolly mood and I think all of us agreed that the restaurant would be well worth trying again. All for $35 a head, without tip!