Posts Categorized: Chinese

A Temple that needs more spice

It’s very hip. It’s dark like a nightclub with individual lamps over each table illuminating the food. Not so dark that you could get away with the kind of nefarious under table hand shuffling that was reported in the defunct Bistro Guillaume bar that previously occupied the basement space. But dark enough to make any food photography futile. I could be anywhere in the world, but I’m in Melbourne in the basement dining room in Crown Casino insulated from the gaming floor and crowds. The concept of Spice Temple, Neil Perry’s spin on spicy Chinese food, which avoids the Cantonese clichés and draws inspiration from the regions, equally works in Sydney. Or anywhere else that Perry plans to open one. The spice which in my book is a little subtle in both Sydney and Melbourne. But that probably suits the international and high-end business crowd who will like the pastle-coloured cocktails, highly refined versions of Asian dishes, a decent but pricy wine list and excellent service. We started with Fried squid with whole five spice and dark chilli paste at $26 and a half-sized bamboo prawn, also costing $26. Both were fine. There’s nothing more or less to say. Hunan style Blue Eye The Steamed Blue Eye fillet, Hunan style Salted red chilli and pickled green chilli was a different matter. Soft and moist, the cooking was a precision job and the presentation is stunning, half green, half red. Our favourite dish, and one half doesn’t eat desserts, was the beautifully textural elegant Rose granita with fresh lychees and strawberries and almond milk jelly ($14). I liked the contrasts of warm and the icy crunch with the soft. Rose granita

Ear to toe eating

Pig’s ear salad. Spicy chicken feet. I was just looking for somewhere to eat on a Tuesday night. Somewhere interesting where I hadn’t been before. Ping from an RSS feed on a comment thread at Cin’s A Few of My Favourite Things comes through from Marina: “There is a divine restaurant that sells the lamb on charcoal with the Arabic influence. Beware for it is VERY addictive! ….They also have THE BEST pig ear salad (sliced so thinly).” Who am I to resist? We find ourselves at 1+1 Dumpling Noodles (84 Hopkins St. Footscray +61 3 9687 8988). The large brightly lit room is full of what I presume are students. Cups and cutlery are self service. The service is friendly and the food is cheap and comes in huge, and I mean HUGE, portions. Put it this way, we were the only table not serving ourselves from plates the size of dustbin lids. And we still couldn’t eat all we ordered. Usually, we feed dried pig’s ears to our dogs. But tonight it is my turn to be fed them. The pig’s ears were marinated to soften the white cartilage you can see above. They had a bit of chew but were delicious sliced thin mixed into a refreshing spicy cucumber salad. The cuisine here is from north-west China hence lamb is on the menu and oriental style pictures of charging horses on the walls. We didn’t order the kebabs but I wish I had seeing the many many orders coming out from the kitchen. Instead we had the dish described as tofu in English but what I assume was Ma Po or pock marked old lady’s tofu. Ma Po: Pock marked old lady’s tofu. The noodles are home made here and the process of transferring them from the dish of noodles and lamb to my plate was a nightmare because they were so long. By the time we left we had the messiest table in the restaurant. And a couple had wrapped around my neck to boot. Rewind a couple of weeks and I was on assignment with the Foodies Bus Tour breaking for lunch at the Oriental Tea House (455 Chapel St, South Yarra). The chicken feet arrive. I’ve always been squeamish. Correction, almost everybody on the tour is squemish. I always was a bit worried by the cooked naked variety that look exactly like chicken’s feet…. Read more »