Categories
Asian Fusion Chinese

Belly Bao – Newtown NSW Restaurant Review

It’s not quite fair to rate a restaurant you were 45 minutes late to, but that’s just what I’m about to do.

I met up with a few of my colleagues after work one Saturday afternoon. It was difficult for us to get a reservation at a universally convenient time, but we settled on a time that would have been possible for me to make with optimum handover and traffic but was ultimately suboptimal. I don’t think we needed to have bothered, however, as as I was walking up to the restaurant 45 minutes post our booking time another group walked in and was able to secure a table without a reservation – it seems that they keep a number of tables open for walk-ins, and one should keep this in mind if booking is problematic.

Belly bao fried chicken wings

Belly Bao’s Fried Chicken Wings (2 for $9) were good and crispy despite having had a long time to cool down. While their flavour and internal texture was not standout, their resilience to heat loss by radiation is quite impressive and implies that they would be a good choice for delivery or takeaway where food is more at the mercy of travel time.

The crackling roast pork belly bao ($7.90) with crackling, radish, coriander and mayonnaise was fine but nothing to write home about. There was nothing particularly good or bad about the bao bread. It would be unfair for me to rate its contents given that it sat on the table uneaten for approximately half an hour prior to my arrival, but I will go ahead and say that I didn’t feel like the crackling pork was quite as crackling as advertised, nor the pork meat appropriately tender. It may be better fresh.

I am able to give an honest review of the slow braised beef short rib bao ($7.50) with kimchi, spring onion and sesame mayonnaise as the restaurant forgot to make the three that we ordered for the table until questioned. This unfortunate lapse meant that I was able to have it fresh. I found the flavour of the beef balanced and appreciated that it was not too overflavoured, which seems to be a common problem with many baos especially in restaurants in largely culturally and linguistically non-diverse areas (bad memories from Bao Now in Te Anau, New Zealand 2018 still haunt me to this day). Not a bad bao overall.

Overall a 3.5/5

Belly Bao
184 King St, Newtown NSW 2042
0402 826 907

Categories
Chinese

Marigold – Haymarket Sydney CBD NSW Yum Cha Review

For most Sydneysiders Chinatown’s Marigold, a yum cha institution of 40 years, needs no introduction. This was not true for me, an ex-Western Sydney local whose yum cha haunts centered around Parramatta and Auburn, and who only heard about Marigold for the first time this year.

We often think about what is in a name, and when one of my colleagues first mentioned Marigold I took note of the distinct lack of the words “Golden”, “Jade”, “Empress”, “Dragon”, and “Seafood” and doubted its legitimacy. How wrong I was.

We dined on a weekday lunch in December 2020 with a group of our learned friends. Around us were tables mostly of middle aged Chinese people, as well as the odd group of young Caucasians. We were the only young group of Chinese-Australians in the expansive level 5 dining hall, and while we were all doctors we probably still disappointed all the aunties and uncles around the room when we ordered in English.

Rather than go through each dish in detail I will tell you just about a general vibe. Every little steam basket and plate of food we had was good. The selection was reasonably varied, and there was nothing that we craved that they didn’t have. Service from the ladies wheeling around the trolleys was a bit pushy, but that’s how yum cha operates and was fine. One of the waiters kindly obliged when I asked for a knife and fork for my chopstick-capable colleague as a joke – and this ended up coming in handy to cut the egg tarts.

On the note of egg tarts I didn’t think these were the best I’ve ever had. They weren’t fresh, and the pastry was not as light as they could’ve been. Marigold was, apart from the egg tarts, one of the better Yum Cha restaurants I’ve been to, and I can recommend it wholeheartedly.

Parking was $9 for 2 hours in the CBD on a weekday. Pretty good.

5/5.

Marigold
683 George St, Sydney NSW 2000
(02) 9281 3388

Marigold Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Categories
Chinese

Po Po 面婆婆 – Hurstville NSW Chinese Restaurant Review

Po Po is a small and authentic Northern Chinese diner in Hurstville. It’s been on my hitlist for some time now, and we finally were in the area and able to hit it up for some dumplings and noodles.

I really enjoyed the friendly, homely service, as well as the delicious dumplings and beef brisket noodle soup. We got all of our dumplings boiled as that is my favourite way to have them, and I feel that boiled dumplings are really the best test of the chef’s skill and expertise.

The pork and chive dumplings were good!

Pork and chive and prawn dumplings – also good

Unfortunately the xiao long bao were not very good. I wouldn’t recommend them.

The beef brisket noodle soup we found to be quite flavourful and delicious. There were big chunks of beef, and the flavour of the soup was neither too strong or too weak. I can recommend this dish.

I wish you could see how happy my girlfriend is in this photo, guys. This is why I do it.

Eating at Po Po really felt like eating in an authentic Chinese diner. There were plenty of other groups, mostly older Chinese couples, eating at the same time as us, and this is a group which seems an excellent barometer for cheap and filling food. One funny thing we saw was a Caucasian gentleman come into this obviously Chinese store and ask for pork rolls (which they did not have), and then ask for pho (which they also did not have). He ultimately, after much patience from the owner, settled on some pork buns. I hope he enjoyed them, although I guess he may be disappointed if he was looking forward to some Vietnamese food.

I can recommend this place.

PO PO Hurstville 面婆婆
238 Forest Rd, Hurstville NSW 2220
(02) 9580 6218

Categories
Chinese Drinks

Xiaomi’s Yoghurt – Kingsford NSW Bubble Tea Review

Xiaomi means “small rice” in Mandarin, a name perhaps more fitting for this purple rice yoghurt specialty store than the world’s largest mobile phone manufacturer (on whose product all of the photos on this blog have been taken).

Xiaomi Yoghurt’s restrictive opening times have meant that despite the many many times we have eaten out in Kingsford it has been very rare for us to see it open. I took the opportunity one evening to grab a mango tea yoghurt ($8) for myself and some purple rice yoghurts for my partner (4 for $20) and her friends and colleagues in the Prince of Wales intensive care unit.

I really enjoyed the mango tea yoghurt. It had heaps of thick fresh mango at the bottom, with a good mix of yoghurt. I particularly enjoyed the strong tea flavour in one layer of the drink. My only regret is that I drank it through the straw whilst driving in my car, and thus I wasn’t able to appreciate all of the layered complexities present in the drink.

My partner liked the purple tea yoghurt. She’s somewhat of a connoisseur, and found it no worse than its competitors but at a better price.

4/5

Xiaomi’s Yoghurt
Shop 1/450 Anzac Parade, Kingsford NSW 2032
+61 405 980 868

Categories
Café Chinese

Zensation Tea House – Waterloo NSW Dim Sum Restaurant Review

Zensation Tea House is a nice little two person operation in Waterloo. It is a mix between a teahouse, dim sum restaurant, and tea shop. The interior is decorated in a very cosy manner with all sorts of different tea related decorations and displays. There are a number of different seating options available, and a few different booths in different styles.

The attention to service from the middle aged Chinese man and woman and the toy poodle Goldie made our experience a real treat. We could tell that the lady was manning both the restaurant and the store by herself to start, but she fielded all her customers deftly and with a very kind manner.

We were given a bowl of sunflower seeds to eat while we waited. This was some kind of next level targeted nostalgia bomb as my grandmother and mother would eat these nonstop. (Still alive, teeth not so good now).

The food served was on par on quality with a regular yum cha restaurant. What was special was that they allow you to mix and match your dim sum for the same price. We were able to order 18 pieces of assorted dim sum for only $42, which is quite special. It’s really nice that as we dine as a couple we were able to get 2 each of a bunch of different things, compared to if we had gone to a normal yum cha place and had to get 3-4 of each thing we ordered. This meant that we were able to have much more variety! It would even be very feasible to go alone and get one of each type of dim sum for a cheap price.

A deeper dive into selected dim sum. Most were very good. The har gao was good. The siu mai, both chicken and pork/prawn varieties were good, the chive and prawn was good. The lo mai gai was good. The custard bun was good. The only complaint I have would be about the scallop and prawn dumplings which felt a bit flour-y, and the vegetarian dumplings which were mostly just not to my taste. All in all though very authentic.

Goldie, the shop dog, was not for eating. I got to pet him.

Water was filtered and chilled. We didn’t go for a tea session as we were in a bit of a rush and didn’t have time to stay. Tea was around $9-12 per head for unlimited refills, so we thought we would save this somewhat pricey pleasure for a different time.

I can really recommend Zensation Tea House in Waterloo, both as a nice date, a prolonged tea drinking session, and also for a solo diner keen to have an assortment of dumplings rather than just 4 of 3 types.

5 goldies/5 (peg approved)

Zensation Tea House
Shop 160/806 Bourke St, Waterloo NSW 2017
0418 291 197