One tried and true formula for naming a Chinese restaurant is rolling the dice on different combinations and permutations of the words “Golden”, “Empress”, “Dragon”, “Jade”, and finishing off with ” Seafood Restaurant”. Another familiar technique is to name a restaurant after one’s hometown and append “Taste of” in front of it. Taste of Shanghai is one famous example. Taste of Nanking is another.
TASTE OF NANKING is located on Gadigal Avenue in Waterloo, a recently developed strip of Asian (mostly Chinese) restaurants and groceries with quite a few gems to find. It is somewhat down the street from U STORE, an expensive but fun Asian grocery store with a wide array of snacks and a good mix of not only Chinese but also Korean and Japanese goods.
Taste of Nanking’s Mixed Noodle with Scallion Sauce and Minced Pork ($13.80) was really good. It is a dry noodle dish with a delicious sauce base and a generous helping of mince. The serving is huge, and I enjoyed the addition of the steamed bok choy which provided a fresh and moist counter to the thick saucy noodle dish. There’s a chilli symbol next to it on the menu, but it has more of a sweet taste than a spicy taste. I can definitely recommend this one.
The Crayfish Topping on Steamed Rice dish comes in three different grades – Original, Luxury, and Supreme – denoting the quantity of crayfish topping added. I had the “Luxury”, level with 120 grams of crayfish topping, coming in at $22.80.
My feelings about this dish were a bit mixed. This was my first time having small crayfish like this, and I appreciated the small prawny flavour but wondered what kind of hell it was to have to hand peel these tiny crayfish that I was eating multiple of in each mouthful. Apart from the yummy crayfish, the sauce that swam in was a bit too salty and tasty for me, and in this sense the rice definitely came in handy. The egg was yummy, and the dish did benefit from the addition of extra egg. The preserved vegetables added a sweetness to the otherwise quite salty dish. Again this was quite a large serving and like the mixed noodles we took what we couldn’t finish home. If I had one alteration to suggest I would either only get the Original variation (assuming that with only 90 grams of crayfish topping there would be less salty sauce) or add some additional rice.
The Nanking Special Eggs ($2) were a little bit special. They are your classic marinated soy/tea eggs, served cold, and really good eaten with the mains.
The Braised Jumbo Meat Ball in Brown Sauce ($6.80) have a maximum order of 1 per customer, which I don’t really think makes sense unless there is a good reason for scarcity – normally more orders mean more income for the restaurant. They are a large ball formed out of minced pork. My partner quite enjoyed their soft internal texture, however I thought that they were a bit too salty to have on their own. They’re not bad, but if you are ordering these balls I’d highly recommend you have them with some rice.
The Signature Nanking Soup Dumplings (6 for $7.80) were pretty much Xiao Long Bao but without the folds in the pastry. I’m not really sure what else is different – perhaps a difference in the filling, but given the reasonably wide variation of XLB fillings in general I think it still fits in the same spectrum. The soup of Nanjing soup dumplings is also meant to be more prominent, and while these were quite soupy I think again they fall within the same spectrum as the XLBs of Sydney. They are cheap, juicy, and cheerful.
Taste of Nanking is not generally well-rated online, but I’m not too sure why. One one star review on Google Reviews was because their air conditioning wasn’t cold enough one Summer day, which I don’t really think is enough to poo-poo an otherwise good meal. Service seems to be another common complaint I thought the guy running front of house was really enthusiastic, although agree that it was a bit odd that we were given one cup to get water from the water cooler between the two of us.
Overall I think the food was good, and any of my gripes about it being too tasty could have been solved by ordering some extra white rice. Portions were huge and the meal was generally quite good value.
4.5/5 – Not for a business lunch or romantic date, but good for a quick casual meal or takeaway.
Taste of Nanking 老南京 Waterloo
1/18 Gadigal Ave, Waterloo NSW 2017
(02) 9313 8450