Sun Ming’s been around in Parramatta for as long as I can remember, with my parents frequently buying shāo kǎo (烧烤) from this and nearby barbecue restaurants throughout my childhood. Though frequenting the BBQ counter, I had never been further inside the restaurant until now.
Complimentary soup was served with our meal. It was light and a bit sweet with a bit of pork bone, similar to many entree soups at larger Cantonese restaurants. I certainly wasn’t expecting this from a neighbourhood BBQ restaurant at 3PM in the afternoon, but it was a nice surprise.
This chicken congee was warm and delicious, with light flavours of chicken and ginger, and crispy fried wonton bits on top. I feel like I could drink one of Sung Ming’s congees every day – they just feel so wholesome.
While it’s not strictly against the law to have congee without Fried dough sticks – Yóu tiáo (油条 – $3.70), it’s definitely unwise to forego them if available. Sun Ming’s dough sticks are freshly fried, warm throughout, and crunchy on the outside with a softer inside, perfect for dipping into congee. Whilst nothing out of the ordinary, these sticks are special just for being ordinary – a perfect rendition of what they are meant to be.
I had my first taste of Fujian (Hokkein) Fried Rice as a child in the early 2000s, in a small Chinese diner in Burwood called Canton Noodle House. Since then, I have travelled the world trying Fujian Fried Rices from all over Sydney and Melbourne. Some have been better, many have been worse, and out of all of these Sun Ming’s ranks within the top tier. The fried rice component of the Fried Rice Fukkien Style ($17.80), as it is known at Sun Ming, is less fried than its counterparts across Sydney, more resembling a normal rice that has been tossed in oil. The size of the toppings is greater than what I’ve experienced elsewhere, with both vegetables and seafood coming in larger chunks rather than minestrone-sized pieces – a point of differentiation rather than a point of advantage or disadvantage. The toppings themselves were warm and full of umami flavours – not too heavily salted but salted just right to add flavour to the rice, and of adequate quantity that no grain of rice was left untopped and boring.
The beef brisket in hot pot ($18.80) was exactly as stated on the label. It is a more strongly flavoured dish, with a huge amount of nice, fatty beef brisket and wombok cabbage in a hot pot. It’s a bit too salty to eat on its own, but just perfect with rice, which is how it is designed to be eaten. I liked this very much – I only wish that there could’ve been an option to mix beef brisket and tofu within the same hot pot.
I’ve recently discovered that most BBQ meats from Chinese BBQ shops aren’t actually made on site, due to the significant difficulties in small spaces and therefore the significant advantages of economies of scale when it comes to roasting entire ducks and huge slabs of pigs. Whilst I can’t confirm where Sun Ming Parramatta gets their roast duck from, (or perhaps they actually do do it in house), I can confirm that it is very delicious, plump, juicy, and not too salty.
Char siu is char siu. There is generally a good mix of fatty and lean pieces.
I’ve always wondered what these sausages were, and it took the help of my girlfriend speaking in Cantonese to actually order a little bit to try. Though I still don’t know what they’re called (the English-speaking internet is divided on this topic – perhaps siu cheong), I can describe them for you in reasonably good detail. They are a thick sausage with a soft internal structure and a sweetness similar to that of cha siu or your standard dried lap cheong. The thickness and softness however give it much more presence in your mouth than just chewing a twiggy-stick-esque lap cheong, and while I enjoyed it by itself I think it would also be great with rice.
UPDATE MARCH 2023
We went back. Of course we did.
The combination and bean curd in hot pot ($22) hit every single mark it was meant to, with a generous serving size, jam packed with fried soft tofu, beef, chicken, some prawns, vegetables, and roast pork belly. This is a universal classic dish that the restaurant pulled off with no problem.
I have been searching for a good Sang Tung Chicken (Shandong Chicken – $20) for what feels like many years now, and none has come as close to what I remember and enjoy as Sun Ming Parramatta’s. This chicken was crispy skinned on the outside whilst remaining moist on the inside, with a deliciously sour, sweet, and savoury sauce and topping of chillis, garlic and shallots. This was exactly what I was looking for.
The BBQ Pork and Roast Pork with Rice ($16) was sadly not as good at the end of the day as when we usually get takeaway from them, with only a limited portion of roast pork still available by around 8PM. I also didn’t love the char siu this time around, which I found to be more fatty but also with a bit of a porky aftertaste – not as good as what they usually have on offer.
UPDATE MAY 2023
Between stroke calls at the end of the day when essentially all other nearby restaurants had closed their kitchens I inhaled this Roast Pork and Soy Chicken with Noodles ($16), which wasn’t particularly spectacular (especially the noodle soup, I think rice might be a better option), but came with this excellent complimentary soup of the day.
This soup of the day, free, was unlike any other I’d ever had. Though the day was generally bad for me (7 stroke calls in a 24-hour period), the soup of the day was good, with a nice tomatoey and slightly spicy flavour. I liked it much more than the noodle soup that I actually paid for.
Sun Ming BBQ in Parramatta is a centre of excellence for authentic, well-priced Chinese food in the heart of Parramatta. They are my pick for Cantonese/Hong Kong BBQ meats over the nearby Mr Ping’s, which in my opinion is not as nice and also a bit more pricey. Recommend.
Sun Ming BBQ Parramatta
145-149 Church St, Parramatta NSW 2150
(02) 9689 2178