Categories
Café Chinese

White Rabbit Teahouse – Chippendale NSW Cafe Review

Following on from White Rabbit Gallery’s theme of white women collecting items of Chinese cultural significance is the White Rabbit Teahouse, located in the gallery’s foyer. The teahouse offers snacks and tea to gallery patrons and passers-by alike, however its coffee-free menu will not suit anyone looking for a rapid caffeine hit – the staff at White Gallery Teahouse earnestly recommend the cafe across the road for that.

The tea at White Gallery Teahouse is served in small glass pots with unlimited refills. The prices are quite reasonable compared to other specialty teahouses (for example Zensation in Waterloo), with our Taiwan Gingseng Oolong tea coming in at $7 for two. We were the only patrons in the teahouse at the time and service was brisk, with our waitress readily topping up our water as required.

The Lychee Iced Tea ($4.50) was nice, refreshing, and not too sweet. I regret getting a glass and not a carafe ($13).

The chicken and coriander dumplings ($13 for 10) were not very exciting. I like that they were boiled rather than steamed or pan fried, but thought that they didn’t have much taste to them. The teahouse prides itself on serving MSG-free dumplings and the avoidance of glutamate is probably the reason for the dumplings’ lack of taste.

The large soy sauce bottle lamp ($579) was located next door in the gallery’s gift shop. I took a photo purely because it reminded me of a story of a guy who recently came in hyperthermic and obtunded and all they could find was a bunch of little soy sauce bottles in his pocket.

VERDICT

If you’re at White Rabbit Teahouse for dumplings I wouldn’t bother. Shanghai Dumpling Bar in Spice Alley, a mere 2 minute walk from White Rabbit does much tastier dumplings. If you’re not that keen on food and just want a nice place for a cup of tea after a stroll through the gallery it is absolutely fine.

3/5

White Rabbit Teahouse
30 Balfour St, Chippendale NSW 2008
(02) 8399 2867

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

Dumplings & Beer – Randwick NSW Restaurant Review

Picture this.

You are a doctor working in the intensive care unit of a tertiary hospital in the Eastern Suburbs. Your partner (who didn’t get a job at said intensive care unit though he really wanted one) is celebrating his birthday today, although he’s trying very hard not to celebrate or let anyone know. The options for lunch where you can walk there and be in, out, and back in the unit within thirty minutes are vanishingly slim – and you’ve already been to Cafe Mckenzie fifteen times this year. One of your Eastern Suburbs colleagues recommends Dumplings & Beer for a quick bite. You take the bait.

Dumplings & Beer’s website – ©2020 Dumplings & Beer.

Dumplings & Beer’s website goes into great lengths to describe Alex Ly and Rose Ly-Schmidt’s parents, both of whom were Asian, but apart from that do not seem to have any other other qualifications relevant to the dumpling industry. Sure, dad seemed eat a lot and mum made dumplings for dinner parties, but so does every other Chinese person’s parents. This kind of story doesn’t lend your restaurant any additional authenticity. If anything, it makes me wonder what isn’t being said. What is it about you yourself that makes this restaurant special?

After a few long paragraphs of shit talk I must admit that the Duck Wraps (3 for $11.50) were actually quite good. To be fair, it’s quite hard to screw up wrapping some roast duck, cucumber, shallot and hoisin sauce in a thin pancake. My only complaint would be the pancake itself. I’ve had better.

The Panfried Pork & Cabbage Dumplings (5 for $9.90) is where it all started to go wrong. Just look at them. The wrappers were absolutely not the right kind for anything that a normal Chinese person would dare to call a dumpling. The wrappers were in fact very thick and bready, almost as if they had been made from self raising flour. The fillings were just fine – it’s hard to mess up the combination of just two ingredients, however I think the presence of these dumplings and the absence of the classic pork (+/- prawn) and chive dumplings on the menu speaks volumes about the restaurant’s target audience – a group that’s probably less discerning about what Chinese food they eat.

The Xiao Long Bao (4 for $9.90) just weren’t very good. Two of the four came with their wrappers stuck to the paper so that they broke when handled, and at $2.50 a pop they were quite expensive.

The Bean Curd Roll (2 for $8) weren’t great but they’ll do. Just about twice the price as what you’d get at a good yum cha restaurant.

The Steamed Scallops, Pork and Chives Dumplings (4 for $9.90) were more of a shao mai than a dumpling. I actually thought these were quite good, large, and reasonably priced compared to the rest of the food on offer.

The Crackling Pork Belly Sliders (2 for $10.50). The meat was warm and the skin crispy. They came with a very sensible amount of sauce, and were not oversauced as sometimes tends to happen at places like this. These bao were completely inoffensive, and we actually ended up getting a serve for takeaway for one of my partner’s colleagues.

VERDICT

I love dumplings, but not the ones on offer at Dumplings & Beer. To be fair, I don’t think I’m the kind of customer Dumplings & Beer targets – the kind that actual authentic Chinese food might offend.

I’m not coming back to a dumpling restaurant where the dumplings aren’t even as good as what I can make myself.

2/5. Try elsewhere.

Dumplings & Beer Randwick
NewMarket Shop 9 162, 164 Barker St, Randwick NSW 2031
(02) 9310 0030

Categories
Chinese

Din Tai Fung – World Square Sydney CBD NSW Restaurant Review

If there’s one theme to Din Tai Fung, Taiwanese multinational dim sum chain, is that the food is alright but expensive. This was my second time dining at Din Tai Fung, the first was with a few of my friends from high school (and now medical colleagues) in 2012.

The xiao long baos (8 for $14.90) at Din Tai Fung are pretty standard fare. Though a flagship dish of DTF, they do not stand out apart from the fact that there is nothing wrong with them. They are juicy and tasty, however at 8 for $14.90 are very overpriced. There is nothing about them that sets them apart from other XLBs (my senior intensive care colleague remarked that not everything needs to be abbreviated – but I think this is a common abbreviation), and they are no better than Taste of Shanghai‘s, which are 8 for $12.

The spicy seafood dumplings/wontons (6 for $14.90) were really quite good. They were stuffed full of seafood flavours, and the spicy soup/dipping sauce that they came in was quite nice as well. Expensive, but a recommendation from me.

The shrimp and pork dumplings (6 for $13.90), steamed, were pretty good but again expensive. I wouldn’t consider them as special as the spicy seafood dumplings, so would not recommend these if the choice is between the two.

The pork and prawn shao mai (4 for $12.90) were missable. Similar comments to the above. Don’t think I need to repeat myself.

The green beans with minced pork ($17.90) are standard Chinese restaurant fare. You would certainly expect a much larger serving for this price though. Get them if you like it, but green beans are not what Din Tai Fung is known for.

It’s nice to eat food named after a dead Chinese guy for once. Even though General Tso may be more or less long forgotten, the chicken that has nothing else to do with him apart from bearing his name lives on. DTF’s General Tso’s Chicken ($18.90) is the second GTC I’ve ever had, the first being in Box Hill, Victoria, in 2015. Though not traditional Chinese food, I actually quite enjoyed it. I liked the spicy sweetness, and fried chicken of any sort is generally a winner. I can recommend this dish as long as you’re not someone who gets offended by the simple concept of Westernised Chinese food (how come when it’s diner food it’s not called “fusion”?).

The pork chop noodle soup ($15.90) and the fried rice chicken fillet ($17.90) could almost be described in the same breath. While the pork chop was more salt and pepper, and the chicken fillet had more of a classic Taiwanese fried chicken taste, the two were essentially the same – slabs of meat, battered deep friend, seasoned, and cut into slices. Neither were bad, however again the price comes into play – why spend $18 on fried rice and Taiwanese fried chicken when you can get a larger piece of chicken for $10.50 across the road at Hot Star on Liverpool St? The carbs in these dishes were nothing to sing praise about.

I actually really enjoyed the prawn pancake ($9.90). It reminded me of the deep fried bean curd with prawn filling inside. Very nice prawn flavour, and the sweet chilli sauce was the perfect choice of accompaniment.

The Jasmine tea served in paper cups ($5 for the table), was a good buy for a party of 4, and actually much cheaper than most yum cha places. I imagine they’re only served in paper cups to minimise contact with our gross intensive care germs during COVID-19 , however that doesn’t really make sense to me as they’re handling all the other crockery and cutlery anyway.

VERDICT
While the food at Din Tai Fung tastes and looks completely adequate, it competes with alternatives that are not only completely adequate tasting but also two thirds of the price. We paid $142.10 between four for the above pictured dishes, which I think is a bit too much for a dim sum meal that wasn’t that special.

Din Tai Fung World Square
Shop 11.04, Level 1/644 George St, Sydney NSW 2000
(02) 9261 0219

Categories
Chinese

JKG Shancheng Hotpot King 山城火锅王 – Haymarket NSW Hot Pot Restaurant Review

Tucked away at the back of a shopping centre in Sydney’s Chinatown is JKG Shangcheng Hotpot King. It is a relatively budget hotpot restaurant, with a wide selection of meats and seafoods but a lower emphasis on cleanliness and service.

Ordering is via a tablet-based system. Make sure to scroll down the page to view all offerings, as we were initially very confused as to why our options were so extremely limited.

Sauce attracts an extra charge, however as I’m not a big fan of sauce we were able to convince them to let us only pay for one serving. The sauce station was very dodgy and had a bug-zapper lamp next to it. I don’t know if this was the best decision, as while it would be good at killing bugs it was probably also part of why there were so many flying bugs near the sauce station.

The wontons in chili soup were yum. The filling was evidently housemade, which is preferable to store-bought.

For our soup bases we got mushroom and chicken broths. The mushroom broth was very shroomy with many assorted shrooms – perhaps superfluous as we also ordered a number of shrooms to cook ourselves. The chicken broth we felt was flavourless apart from being salty.

The serving sizes for fresh vegetables, mixed mushrooms, and mixed tofu were quite large, and good value for the price. Having full sized servings of all three was a bit too much for us as a couple however , and we wish that they would do half sized servings for half the price. Nonetheless, it would be good for a party of three or four.

A metre of beef was too much for us. The beef was a bit too fatty.

No complaints about the chicken.

Overall my partner and I spent around $120 on our meal including a beer. This is around the same price that we paid at YX Mini Hot Pot, however we got much more food (of somewhat lesser quality) for the money. I would recommend JKG Shangcheng Hotpot King to a more price-conscious market, for example students, who at the same time do not expect much service (it took a very long time and multiple visits for our hot pot soup to be topped up).

JKG Shancheng Hotpot King (山城火锅王)
Shop 8A/363 Sussex St, Haymarket NSW 2000
(02) 9267 6366