“The sauce is quite good,” I say, gesturing at the Burnt Cabbage ($18) with fish sauce butter. “It is. What do you think about Kiss,” my dining companion snarks, “it’s Chinese Ester, but at least Ester gives you the full half cauliflower.” The eclectic (and often inappropriate) music is not solely responsible for his mood.
The empire has landed in World Square, giving shoppers a step up from the usual food court fare. Here you can have a bottle of wine - the T'Gallant Juliet Pinot Grigio ($36/bottle, $7.50/glass) goes down swimmingly - and gorge on dumplings all day and night.
More than just a menu change, this year Chef Gallery have changed their logo, livery and launched a unique art initiative showcasing Chinese (or Chinese-inspired) art, curated by Simon Chan. Responsible for the gleaming red chair, artist Laurens Tan explained that China is “the nation or the culture that underwent the most change in the last two decades.”
It doesn’t feel like a food court restaurant inside a shopping mall, in fact it doesn’t feel like you’re inside at all. Mrs Mi in Chatswood Chase brings the authentic taste of Northern China's Shanxi region into what appears to be a bustling and vibrantly coloured street-side location.
From slickly modern private dining rooms, to texture-rich ceramics and stone, highlighted by natural light flooding into what must have been a difficult u-shaped space, DS17 have taken the lessons of Alpha and outdone themselves. Equally so, in Head Chef Chris Yan’s hands, the now-extensive menu builds upon the ideas germinated in Lotus’s initial Walsh Bay outlet, but far surpasses them.
If any place encapsulates the combination of fine dining without the snooty never-get-laid wait staff; and the trendy without the too-cool-for-you army of bearded artisans of ‘whatever’, Master might just be the perfect candidate.
Pungent green fire is igniting my nasal passages, but I’m smiling! The genius addition of glossy wasabi mayonnaise to Lan Yuan Angus Beef ($26) makes it an easy favourite in Top Ryde’s new ‘bamboo garden’.
Despite good instructions from enthusiastic floor Manager Quinton Van Schalkwyk, most of my meal is spent debating and creating the perfect cup of tea with my British dining companion.
Dumplings, in and of themselves, make me happy. Boil ‘em, fry ‘em—just let me have them. So it didn’t take too much to get me across the bridge to visit Chinaman Dumpling Bar.