Spice Temple – 10 Bligh St, Sydney. http://www.rockpool.com/sydney/spice-temple/
Back in Sydney, I left the restaurant choice to my friend – so she decided to book Spice Temple. This is one place I surprisingly haven’t been to all these years – I worked 1 block from this place, used to walk past it everyday on the way to work – and everyone used to rave about it. I guess I hadn’t tried it previously because I’m not a big believer of (i) Asian fusion, and (ii) going high end for Asian food. My favourite Asian food has always been at hole in the wall places. Take for instance, the best laksa in Sydney – it is down the road on Hunter Street at a whole in the wall place called ‘Malay-Chinese Takeaway’ – when you could pay $8 for amazing laksa, why would you go high end – unless for the ambience?
Nevertheless, I was super excited to try Neil Perry’s Spice Temple. I’ve been to his Rockpool of George and loved it (omg, the date tart!), plus I’m a big fan of his influence on Qantas’ in flight menus – I actually look forward to the food on a Qantas flight (!!).
We got the booking for a 6pm sitting, arriving on time – the ambience is just beautiful. Located on the basement floor, mood lighting sums up the place – very dark but for the candles on each table. Makes for a perfect place for a date!
Our waiter was very helpful in guiding us through the menu and how many items to order for our party of 3 when we told him we had never been – “It’s always nice to have new customers” What we ate:
- Steamed eggplant with three flavours - garlic, coriander and sweet pork ($19): we had this without the pork as D is vegetarian – this was just DELICIOUS! In fact, it was my favourite dish of the evening – loved the combination of all the tastes in the dish!
- Fried salt and pepper silken tofu with spicy coriander salad ($19): again, another great dish – who knew tofu could taste this good? Loved the salty, lightly fried tofu in the base sauce
- Lamb and cumin pancakes ($16): also very yummy, must have it with the accompanying sauce, otherwise would be slightly bland.
- Stir fried prawns with salted duck egg and four chillies – brined, dried, fermented and pickled ($42): oh so good – loved the heat in the dish – guess I should have expected it with the “four chillies” in the title Loved the generous serving of prawns which is so rare at restaurants
- Spinach stir fried Sichuan style ($14): a nice side dish, loved the spice
- Steamed pumpkin with Sichuan black bean sauce ($16): really tasty, loved the combination of the black bean with the pumpkin – really new taste for me!
What we drank:
- Monkey ($18) – spicy ginger beer, lime, ketel one vodka: as recommended by our waiter when I said I liked ginger based drinks – a great cocktail, would highly recommend it!
- Spicy ginger beer ($10) – the non-alcoholic version of the above, this would be the go for teetotallers
Unfortunately, we were totally stuffed and had no room for dessert. There were 3 of us – I would recommend going in a larger group so you can sample more of the food, and particularly given the portions are so generous. Given we were in the 6 – 8pm sitting, our waiter promptly cleared away everything for the next sitting.
Totally loved the food, ambience is very special and the service was excellent. As usual, Neil Perry did not disappoint – I cant wait to go back!
the verdict: 9/10 – my favourite place Chinese in Sydney! Great value for a 2 hatted restaurant
don’t forget to order: steamed eggplant with three flavours – ridiculously good
to try next time: hot and numbing crispy duck