My first experience with Mr Stonebowl was at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, when I ordered some dinner from their Hurstville restaurant that took around two hours to deliver and ended up being quite disappointing. My second experience, on the first day of reopening in October 2021, was much better, though not without its faults.
Our ordering was largely guided by my esteemed colleague JZHW, a Burwood local and Mr Stonebowl evangelist.
The garlic prawn with stir fried rice in squid ink ($19.80), a “must-order” per both JZHW and the staff at Mr Stonebowl, was a pretty reasonable dish. It was a large pot of dark-coloured rice covered in a creamy sauce and topped with some battered and deep fried garlic prawns. This configuration of white sauce atop rice was fusion in a sense reminiscent of Hong Kong cafe style cuisine, though no cultural inspirations have been explicity mentioned by the restaurant. Overall a large, economical, and good (if heavy) dish.
The chicken feet and bean silk in homemade sauce ($8.60) wasn’t really very good. This dish was the first indication that steamed yum cha style dishes aren’t really this restaurant’s specialty. While feng zhua (鳯爪) is typically steamed to the point where the meat and skin is falling off the bone and easily eaten off, these little chicken feet still had all of the connective tissues clinging to the bone. Unfortunately this made for a difficult to eat and less flavourful dish. A few extra minutes in the steamer would’ve made a lot of difference, and honestly this is an amateur mistake to make. I wouldn’t order this again.
The stew beef tendon with crispy quail eggs ($17.80) was alright. I wasn’t a huge fan of the flavour, but I do like myself a bit of beef tendon in pho, in instant noodles, and just in general. The decision to slightly fry the quail eggs to make them crispy and dry on the outside was a strange one.
The special soup with fish fillet, prawn, razor clam, and quail eggs ($18.20) was surprisingly spicy, but had quite a good flavour. The nature of the fish fillets wasn’t clear but our JZHW’s Vietnamese partner thinks it was basa.
The pork ribs in Beijing style sweet and sour sauce ($17.80) were not, as I thought they would have been, Zhenjiang pork ribs. Instead they were your pretty standard sweet and sour sauce pork ribs with cubed pineapple in tow. They were pretty good to be honest, but not really traditional Chinese food. This would all be much easier if I could read Chinese.
The pork and chive dumplings ($8.80) were a standout. Very good, very authentic, and very cheap. I could recommend these to anyone.
The shumai ($8.50), conversely, were quite bad. They were very loose inside, packed with vegetables rather than the classic pork or prawn meat. Thematically they were more similar to the Australian “dim sim”, a fried mess of minced cabbage and mystery meat. I wouldn’t recommend these.
The prawn dumplings (xia jiao) ($8.50) were alright. They were plump and tasty, though I felt like again they could’ve been steamed for longer. The wrappers were just a bit too chewy in my opinion.
The Singapore style barramundi ($20.80) was, in my opinion, better than that at related restaurant Mr Stonepot in Eastwood. While I think the fish was probably leaner or smaller and the dish a dollar more expensive, I thought the sauce tasted better here.
I think that Mr Stonebowl does live up to its reputation for providing reasonable quality Chinese food at an attractive price. The four of us had initially set out for hotpot, but after finding we looking at paying around $80 pp for the only hot pot available in Burwood on the first night of eased COVID-19 restrictions we chose to dine here instead at the relative bargain basement price of $33 per person. There are certainly things I’d avoid at Mr Stonebowl, which generally includes anything steamed, but the rest of the food seems pretty reasonable.
Mr Stonebowl Burwood
GF 122, 122-126 Burwood Rd, Burwood NSW 2134
(02) 9745 1388
Diners – WKS, JW, JZHW +1