04 June 2011

Spice Temple: Modern Chinese, CBD Sydney (20 Apr 2011)

10 Bligh Street, Sydney NSW 2000

Taking comfort in spicy Chinese

“The culinary focus here is regional China with a distinct avoidance of standard Cantonese fare. There is chilli for the chilli lovers, or subtle flavours for those desiring a more mild experience. Spice abounds regardless.”

Walking down the Alice-in-Wonderland tunnel stairwell as a first timer to this dimly lit restaurant I hope I’m forgiven for thinking it was (I imagine) like walking into some hidden Asian high class brothel due to menu cards depicting beautiful seductive looking women and their photos hung around the walls like a line up of escorts waiting to be chosen. I wonder what the female customers think of Neil Perry’s adornment of the seductive female faces as I’m sure there’s no complaints from the businessmen meetings scattered around the restaurant. Are they supposed to represent the ‘spice of life’ or spicy women perhaps? It leaves me both confused and amused but I eventually refocus on the food.

The Steamed eggplant with three flavours ($18) is served in an oversized decorative bowl. Seriously does it need to be that big taking up most of the table space? Thankfully it delivers a good combination of flavours and definitely worth a try. The Lamb and cumin pancakes ($14) is an interesting combination when I’m used to a plain old shallot pancake. It’s rather pricey but we are in a rather decadent looking restaurant after all. I wasn’t a huge fan of the Crisp pork belly and smoked tofu ($16) probably because I was expecting more crisp pork belly to sink my teeth into. The Fried squid with whole five spice ($26) sounded great but I wasn’t a fan of the overly spiced coating which was a bit too furry in texture and not quite what I was expecting. The squid was tender however and cooked well to my liking.

The Steamed Flathead ($32) was a clear favourite for me which went nicely on top of some Steamed rice ($3 per person). Lovely depth of flavours created by the pickled mustard green, turnip and chilli which excited the taste buds. Stir fried duck with bean sprouts and fresh chilli ($35) came with meaty pieces of duck although I was hoping for more of the prized crispy skin amongst the dish. For something with a bit of a chilli kick the Kung Pao chicken ($35) had plenty of heaven facing dried chillies and sichuan pepper corns in the mix. The chicken was tender although I found the abundance of dry chilli a little annoying in the mouth due to its papery texture. I’d still probably be happy to order it again though.

An ultra smooth Mango pudding with condensed milk chantilly ($14) came with two shards of crunchy sesame seed wafers bordering on over-caramelised I thought. For a sugar hit which won’t make you feel too guilty the smallish Cherry jellie and peanut chocolate bar ($3.50 each) is nicely sized to go with a coffee of Macchiato ($4) or Cappuccino ($4) which were done well without being bitter. I’m not quite sure what was in the Rickshaw ($10) as a dessert digestive but it was well received to cleanse the palate.

PROS: Nice decor, Intimate atmosphere, Efficient and professional service, Quality ingredients, Flavoursome dishes, Separate toilet room
CONS: Expensive, The come-hither looking photos of women on the menus and walls makes it feel like a men’s club, No daylight or external window view
MUST TRY: Steamed Flathead
WORTH TRYING: Steamed eggplant with three flavours,
Kung Pao chicken

Steamed eggplant with three flavours: Garlic, coriander and sweet pork ($18)

Lamb and cumin pancakes ($14)

Crisp pork belly and smoked tofu with spicy ginger and garlic dressing ($16)

Fried squid with whole five spice and dark chilli paste ($26)

Steamed Flathead, Jiangxi style-Pickled mustard green and turnip with chilli ($32)

Stir fried duck with bean sprouts and fresh chilli ($35)

Kung Pao chicken: Sichuan pepper corns, heaven facing chillies and cashews ($35)

Steamed rice ($3 per person)

2010 Sauvignon Blanc, Leeuwin Estate ‘Art Series’ Margaret River ($69)

Mango pudding with condensed milk chantilly ($14)

Cherry jellie and peanut chocolate bar ($3.50 each)

Macchiato ($4)

Cappuccino ($4)

Dessert Digestive: Rickshaw - a cheeky palate cleanser ($10)

Biscuits and business card (collect the set of your favourite pin ups?)

Seating and decor

Menu cards — does this mean they're spicy women?

100 wines explained in 100 words — I had to count and yes there's 100 words exactly.

Private dining room


Unisex private toilets. For running water be sure to wave your hands in front of small motion sensors near the tap.

Restaurant bar

Stairwell to restaurant

Doorway entrance is marked with animated curtains

View from street entrance

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Spice Temple on Urbanspoon


joey@FoodiePop said...

Steamed flathead looks gorgeous!

Richard Elliot said...

I'm torn about trying this place. The food looks good, but I can't help thinking it's very expensive!

PIE-314 said...

Mango pudding looks excellent! Especially with the... sesame (?) crisp thingys.

MissPiggy said...

I'm keen to go here...tho, for me, it's quite pricey so I'm waiting for a special occasion to justify it. Food looks great...the pictures of the spicey ladies is a bit odd.

Buggles and Squeak said...

love, love, love the chicken wings and hot & numbing wagyu beef... the beef fillet with black bean sauce also amazing... the chocolate peanut parfait dessert is also great... cocktails are tops also! pricey yes... worth it... absolutely!

Tina@foodboozeshoes said...

Yes, mixed feelings about the pin-up ladies... Perhaps fine at a bar but...

Bianca said...

Love Spice Temple! I still remember that amazing eggplant and those cocktails, such a gorgeous place, great food and amazing service!

Lex (A Food Story) said...

Haha I must admit I had forgotten about the pics of the women on the walls, but yes as a female... a little odd! Though I quickly forgot that when the food came out.

I've been to spice temple twice and on one occasion it was a work lunch so I didn't have to worry about the prices... yes it is expensive, but I loved everything we had when we went (though we didn't have any of the dishes you had Simon).

I really want to get back there soon!

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