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Chinese

JC Dragon Fusion – Parramatta NSW Restaurant Review

When you think about Asian Fusion cuisine you normally think about Asian inspired meals cooked with a mixture of both Asian and European cooking techniques. JC Dragon Fusion in Parramatta flips any such expectations on their heads and serves Chinese food fused with Chinese, cooked with the traditional Chinese techniques of steaming, boiling, deep frying, and stir frying.

Let’s go back in time to before you had seen the above photo. I want you to close your eye and picture for me “steamed prawn and pork dumplings” ($8.80). Now open your eyes. Is this what you imagined?

While Chinese-literate punters would immediately recognise the 燒賣 on the menu as shaomai, the English listing of this item on the menu leads in and traps members of the Asian Fusion diaspora like myself. As shaomai these are pretty good, in no way better or worse than you would get from your regular yum cha restaurant. As dumplings they are a bit lacking.

The pork ribs with black bean sauce ($8.80) was exactly as you’d picture them, though I felt that they did not have such a strong black bean flavour as the shadows cast by pork ribs with black bean sauce of past.

Ever the intrepid explorer, my girlfriend saw a distant table enjoying an aromatic hot pot with their lobster meal, and asked if we could have the same sans lobster. The traditional free range chicken hot pot ($39.80) is not generally offered on the menu, and I’m pretty sure the owner just made up a price for it on the spot. It features half a raw free range chicken (also known as a chicken who walks in Chinese), which is boiled at the table in an aromatic bak kut teh like broth. I thought that the soup tasted and smelled good, however did not find that the chicken added very much at all. The chicken was a skinny triathelete chook, cut up with lots of bones included inside the chicken, making it quite difficult to get any actual meat. Though a large portion I did feel that spending $40 on this presumably more legitimate bak kut teh did not provide much better a result than $5 bak kut teh packet mix soup. My girlfriend stuck to her guns and said she enjoyed it but I wouldn’t get it again.

VERDICT

JC Dragon Fusion Restaurant’s only claim to fusion may be that it fuses yum cha lunch items and dinner items into an all day menu. I do appreciate the availability of dim sum for dinner, and can therefore recommend paying them a visit if you do too.

4 yums/5 chas

JC Dragon Fusion
Shop 4/115 Church St, Parramatta NSW 2150
(02) 9635 8333

Categories
Chinese

Thumbs Up Hot Pot – Hurstville NSW Restaurant Review

Thumbs Up Hot Pot in Hurstville provides an authentic Chinese hotpot all you can eat experience for the very affordable price of $32 per head.

Ordering is by circling options on a piece of paper. There are English and Chinese translations, however if you are after bok choy that is the only option that is not translated to English.

There are also multiple options for soup, with the option of single or double soup bases or triple, or quadruple choices for an additional fee. We chose the Chongqing Spicy Hot Pot Base and the Bone Broth Base. All hot-potting is done in a large communal hotpot, although if you’re keen to have your own private pot that’s also possible provided you sit by yourself. There were a few solo diners in the restaurant with us.

We had quite an eclectic selection of ingredients, drawn from the tastes of myself and my three colleagues. We definitely circled much more than our stomachs could handle, and the restaurant staff only brought out as much as they thought that we could eat. While we missed out on many of the items that we had ordered, it turned out that they knew us better than we did. We were absolutely full by the end of our meal.

The lamb and beef rolls are quite fatty. Overall the menu had quite base level ingredients, with frozen fish balls and probably not really anything made in house. You get what you paid for, however, and at $32 the price is right.

VERDICT
$32 for all you can eat hot pot is excellent. Thumbs Up Hot Pot reminds me of all those hot pot places on Clayton Road in Clayton VIC where my partner and I would go while she was staying with me. While the quality of ingredients is definitely not premium as some other competitors like YX Mini Hot Pot, I’d definitely recommend Thumbs Up to a price-conscious friend or colleague.

5/5

Thumbs Up Hot Pot Hurstville
164 Forest Rd, Hurstville NSW 2220
0415 338 539

Categories
Chinese

No. 1 Malatown (第一道骨汤麻辣烫) – Mascot NSW Restaurant Review

Tucked behind a corner and invisible from the main road, No. 1 Malatown in Mascot is not somewhere you end up accidentally. Sharing a very similar name to the decidedly disgusting but similar in concept No.1 Malatang restaurant chain, No. 1 Malatown’s Mascot store provides most of your ma la tang staples as well as the unusual addition of hot kitchen-cooked a la carte dishes.

The No.1 Malatown store in Mascot is a large store with two separate dining areas. The front room is dominated by the fridge, regularly restocked with frozen meats, fish balls, greens, and noodles, as well as a drinks table featuring two types of citrus infused water, cutlery and crockery.

The selection of ingredients at No. 1 Malatown is perhaps a bit reduced compared to its competitors, however this did mean that I was forced to try different ingredients that I’ve traditionally avoided, like spam. It’s worth a mention that I witnessed the fridges being restocked with frozen meat during my visit. The vegetables and other ingredients were quite fresh.

No. 1 Malatown offers a selection of either bone broth or tomato broth for traditional wet malantag, or dry spicy or non-spicy cooking techniques for stir fry. The bone broth is the spicy “mala” version, however does come with a bit of creamy bone broth flavour. There is no option to have spicy malatang without bone flavour.

I generally enjoyed my bowl of malatang. It’s always nice to try different takes on the same concept. The selection of tofu, something that is a bit of a malatang staple for me, was pretty narrow. There was no fresh silken tofu, only frozen tofu slices which had quite a strange , fish-ball like consistency when cooked. Despite this, the meal was pretty good.

No. 1 Malatown is unique in that it offers other a la carte options alongside its core malatang offering. The lamb skewers are OK, not great. I can’t really explain or express why, but they’re just not as good as what you’d get at a restaurant or stall that dedicates itself to this art.

There is a small board within the restaurant that explains bonus offers for certain purchase amounts. These include things like bonus drinks, bonus wings, bonus skewers for certain amounts of spend. The staff in the store make no effort to mention these bonuses or point out to the sign, so you are shit out of luck if you don’t notice it yourself. It was only while I was getting myself some water, some time after I had ordered, that I noticed the bonus board and asked for my chicken wings. A bit of a strange way to do business, if you ask me.

The chicken wings were actually pretty good, and I’m glad I was able to try them. They were moist inside and appropriately crispy on the outside.

VERDICT
No.1 Malatown is good, but probably not even the best malatang place in Mascot. While their a la carte sides are not bad, it’s clear that they’re not the restaurant’s true focus. The presence of a hidden bonus board put a bit of a bad taste in my mouth – they would’ve absolutely let me leave without my free chicken wings. I did also run into some other first timers whilst I was at No. 1 Malatown – an anaesthetic nurse from RPA with whom I had a brief but passionate discussion about the benefits of the Vygon arterial leadercath. At the end of the day I think Long Men Zhu is probably better, cleaner feeling, and certainly where I would take someone for malatang in Mascot over this place.

3.75/5 – Quarter mark lost for unwelcoming business practices.

No.1 Malatown 第一道麻辣烫+烧烤
Shop 3/260 Coward St, Mascot NSW 2020
0413 070 021

Categories
Chinese

Hot-Star Large Fried Chicken – Liverpool St, Sydney CBD NSW Review

My first ever experience of Taiwanese Fried Chicken Steak was at the now defunct 3Q Fried Chicken on George St many many years ago (or was it at Hot Star in Melbourne 2013 ? I can’t remember but I don’t want to lie to you, and especially not to myself). Since then I’ve had many different styles of Taiwanese fried chicken, at many different places. The sheer ubiquity of the Hot-Star brand, and the generally dependable quality of its food make them one of my go-tos.

While I’ve eaten at Hot-Star on Liverpool St many times, most of which have been late at night, I only have this single, poorly mosaiced photo to share. Hot-Star, for the uninitiated, specialises in large fried chicken, basically breast that has been butterflied and beaten into flat submission, battered, fried, and offered with either regular or spicy seasoning.

The result is delicious and always fresh. While no doubt offensive to the cardiovascular system, they are quite appealing to the senses.

Hot Star Large Fried Chicken – Liverpool St
96 Liverpool St, Sydney NSW 2000

Categories
Chinese

Beijing Roast Duck Restaurant – Beverly Hills NSW Restaurant Review

A non-systematic review of the available literature was performed using non-structured keywords. Further opinions from a lay audience were subsequently gathered by means of an online forum. An interactive social media feature of this online forum, that is positive votes signifying consensus concordance with recommendations was used to determine the location of the first Peking duck meal I’ve had since childhood.

The number one rated suggestion on this online forum was “Beverly Hills” with no additional descriptors. A quick internet search led us to Beijing Roast Duck Restaurant, though it was only on arriving in Beverly Hills that there were no less than three or four restaurants on the same strip of road serving Peking duck.

This Pig Ear in Soy Sauce ($12.80) was pretty good. A small hint of spiciness, but generally quite refreshing with its cool temperature and cool cucumbers. The texture of the pig ear was absolutely standard, and though it didn’t stand out it was what was expected of a staple.

Contrastingly, this Sliced Jellyfish ($15.80) was not what was expected. A second cold dish, the jellyfish came mixed with garlic and cucumber, which was appropriate. What was completely unexpected was the large and absolute chunkiness of the “slices” of jellyfish. While I guess what I had pictured in my mind would have been better described as “shredded” jellyfish, I hadn’t even processed that a cold plate of jellyfish in a Chinese restaurant could come in such large bitey chunks. This was not enjoyed by any member of our party.

The Eggplants in Chilli Sauce ($18.80) were extremely and unexpectedly good. Unlike your classic eggplant dish which is diced into small pieces, these eggplants were cut into larger chunks, covered in a thin batter, and then stir fried. The result was a nice crispness on the outside with a warm moistness on the inside. The sauce was more of variation on a sweet and sour sauce rather than a chilli sauce, but the dish was great nonetheless. A really surprising hit.

Next we come to the restaurant’s namesake dish and the reason for our little adventure. The Ordinary Roast Duck Set ($68) featured one whole duck cooked in two ways – served sliced in the classic pancake format alongside small shreds of shallot and wedges of cucumber, as well as in a soup.

The duck was carved by a man in a chef’s hat not at the tableside, but tableside-adjacent in a little alcove. This was really a missed opportunity in terms of the theatrics normally associated with freshly carved duck, as ultimately what we got to see was merely the man’s back, until the two plates of duck were delivered to our table. The duck itself was really OK. with a crispy skin but not as crispy as I had remembered or anticipated. There was plenty of meat to share between four people along with the other dishes ordered, which was nice as it provided something to chew on. One common complaint I’ve read about this restaurant is that the duck tends to lose its temperature quite quickly, and I agree that this is a problem. Some sort of heating device might be good to keep it warm throughout the course of the long meal.

While I did enjoy the Peking Duck, ultimately I don’t really know if it was much different to your average Cantonese/Hong Kong style roast duck. The skin was certainly a bit crispier than my local Cantonese BBQ restaurant, but not really to the level that I’d expect of a subcutaneously emphysematised duck, as is classic in Beijing cooking. The flavours and vibe were different however, and I will pay them that.

The Fried Duck Frame with Cumin ($8.80) was a reasonable amount of meat on a large amount of bone, quite nice, well flavoured without being too flavoured. I think however it was a victim of its own messiness, as eating it required hands with some dexterity, as well as a victim of our fullness by the time it arrived. Not much of it was eaten. I also didn’t realise, whilst ordering it, that getting the duck frame fried with cumin would mean that the duck frame could not be used for soup. Of course it all makes sense in retrospect.

COMMENTS
As this is my first Peking Duck meal in a very long time, I have little to judge it by. I enjoyed most of the dishes here (apart from the Jellyfish) but will have to continue my adventures to compare this duck to the other ducks in the area. Price wise the meal represented good value, with large servings of everything. Stay tuned for further duck analyses.

4/5

Beijing Roast Duck Restaurant Beverly Hills
493 King Georges Rd, Beverly Hills NSW 2209
(02) 9570 5131

Friends CJP, BWX, PX, JW
Non-eating friend HWJ