Many moons ago, me and Helen shared a meal together at Mr Wong. This restaurant is shy from public eye and tucked in the back alleyway that is Bridge Lane, but that doesn’t stop food aficionados to track it down for a good feast of modern Cantonese fair. This restaurant is always full so best to make a reservation in advance if you want to make sure there is a table ready for you. But that night must be our lucky night as it was an impromptu dinner for us; we walked straight in and scored ourselves a seat at the communal bar table.
The restaurant is massive, converted from a former nightclub, the venue can house close to 240-seats over two levels. It is not your typical cheap and cheerful Chinese restaurant, the clienteles here are mostly businessmen from the financial district, hence you would expect to pay a little bit more for the food. Led by executive chef Dan Hong, you can pretty much expect the menu to be a little unconventional. The dishes may sounds familiar, but are they?
We clinked glasses to some pre-dinner drinks; not Chinese jasmine tea but fusion Asian cocktails featuring fruit, herb and spice found in different regions of China.We tried Hainan province cocktail which is a concoction of Otokoyame sake with Paraiso lychee liquor, rhubarb bitters and homemade ginger syrup; a refreshing sweet cocktail with a subtle heat of ginger; and also Anhui province cocktail; an intriguing cocktail of using hoisin bitters which gave it a savoury note amongst the complex flavours of Wyborowa vodka, sochu, lemon juice, lemongrass, ginger, shiso leaves and a Sapporo top; yep, beer in a cocktail.
Do what the Chinese do, we ordered a full table spread of dishes and shared. One of their signature dishes is the Peking duck. I do love me some peking duck pancakes, a great starter to kick off a meal. We wrapped some juicy pink meat with glistening skin, cucumber sticks, threads of spring onion and a dollop of hoisin sauce inside the warm and soft pancakes and munched away gleefully.
We didn’t go too crazy with mains since we had fair bit of the peking duck between the two of us and only ordered one meat and two vege. The sweet and sour crispy pork hock was a great choice, huge chunks of fat-ribboned pork belly were braised then deep fried to yield that melt-in-the-mouth center while is still nice and crispy on the outside; soaking up that sticky and sweet caramel sauce with a bird’s eye chilli heat. Our favourite dish of the night was the crispy eggplant, stir fried in a sweet and sour spicy sauce made famous in Sichuan province, commonly known as the “fish fragrant sauce”. First time I had this dish with the eggplant battered then deep fried which was a nice touch, concealed inside each crunchy baton is piping hot smooth eggplant. The last dish we shared was the stir fried sweetcorn together with a textural mix of soybeans, almonds, lapcheong sausage and spiced tofu then wrapped in lettuce cups like a san choy bao.
It was a nice change from the restaurants around Haymarket where Chinese food done well. No sticky table top, no plastic stool, no glaring white light tube but in a dimly lit atmospheric dining room with a sophisticated rustic touch. Definitely worth a visit.
3 Bridge Lane, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9240 3000
Lunch 7 days 12pm – 3pm
Dinner 7 days 5.30pm – 10pm
(til 11pm Mon – Wed, till midnight Thu – Sat)