Post-holiday blues set in today once the stressors of daily life reared their ugly head. Still a few flashbacks to restaurants, happier, simpler, bubblier times… Beach days, hanging with E, my long-lost cousin… All help to banish the blues. That and Bobby Ferrin telling me to be happy.
Yes, E, my long lost cousin. This story is everything I love about social media. So our other cousin A decided to create a family group on Facebook on the passing of our great aunt, my gran’s, her gran’s and E’s gran’s sister. See the connection? Yes, our grandmothers are sisters. When I accepted the membership I took the time to scroll down at all my “new” family members until I spied an E located in Sydney. Well, you all know how much I like to reach out and “touch” a person. So I did, in a not so creepy way. I think.
Delighted she wasn’t terrified but as excited as I was to meet, we planned a catch up while I was in Sydney. We were pleasantly surprised to be about the same age, have children of similar ages and going through the same phase of life. Lots to talk about. AND lots in common. By the end of the trip we spent about 70% of my time down there together and we were braiding each others hair. Seriously. No braids, but she did let me curl her hair. Twice.
Anyways as I said to her “here’s looking at you, kid”. We will always have Sydney.
I know, I know, enough mush, you want to hear about the nosh. Mr Wong’s nosh to be specific. So here it is.
Mr Wongs Chinese Cantonese Restaurant – Betty’s clean plates ranking is… Hang on, read my review first. Cheeky.
Tucked away on Bridge lane in the heart of Sydney’s CBD is this gem, Mr Wong. Everyone I asked while in Sydney had this restaurant on their referral list, so I had to give it a go. And Babycakes loves his Crispy skin duck, especially with Plum sauce.
First of all let me say, I LOVE the “no booking for parties under 6” policy. If you are hungry and you want to eat good food, you’ll get ready, do your lipstick in the car and get your butt down there early.
The Maitre d’ is warm welcoming and very efficient despite what had the potential to be chaotic, owing to the no bookings policy. With the help of her iPad app she finds you a suitable table quickly. The interiors are very much the bistro but not quite. The stone, glass and metal give the illusion you are the Christopher Columbus of restaurant exploration, stumbling upon a hidden gem. I was very excited to be seated. And so were my boys, the promise of much craved unfettered access to iPads and iPods is the great vegetable-eating-good-behaviour motivational speaker.
Despite the hype, the ambience, the warm welcome and promise of delicious food, the cherry was the host dispensing the menus quickly but immediately asking what the children would like to eat. he very quickly made a few top suggestions including sides and headed directly to the kitchen to place the order, so their little tummies would not go hungry. I have eaten in establishments on 4 continents and this was very much a first. Mr Wong you captured my heart with Crispy Skin Chicken.
With the children sorted out, we settled down to washing down our anticipation with bubbles. Rose coloured bubbles.
The Menu for our feast:
/1/Roast Angus beef short ribs “shandong” style with soy sauce, chilli & shallot dressing
/2/ crispy skin roast duck
/3/ steamed sea scallops with chopped garlic, green shallots & Bonito soy dressing
/4/ water spinach with sambal chilli paste
/5/ deep fried vanilla ice cream with butterscotch sauce
/6/ mango pudding passion fruit granita pomelo and pearls
The beef ribs were cooked to perfection, given that it was beef ribs. The juiciness, and tenderness demonstrated the beauty of the sous-vide cooking technique. The Scallops – flavourful, melt in my mouth, beautiful. The dish comes with six pieces and little Ben ate about 5. Any mother will tell you that meats not cooked right come back into a napkin. By far my favourite was the water spinach with samba chilli paste. It is a Malaysian dish. I loved the authenticity of the way it was presented – with the stalks. The crunch added texture to the dish, there was the right amount of spice without the chilli being overpowering.
Not so Highlights (Downlights)
While the duck was succulent, moist with beautifully rendered skin, the bones made the dish difficult to eat in it’s entirety. We ordered a second half, as I said, it is Babycakes favourite dish, so if there was one dish that needs to be plentiful it was this one. Lesser restaurants have served a this dish and while not cooked half as well at least they were easier to
Having been fortunate enough to meet Brendan Fong, head Chef for the restaurant after the meal and discussed the menu, i struggled with this next part. I really was impressed by Brendan, it is not often one gets a chance to meet the beautiful hands that crafted your meal, and I would love to sit down with him over a coffee one day and just talk food. He was so personable, and for a restaurant like Mr Wong, he could definitely have had more swag, if he was the type.
Which is why I am convinced I must have had a bad batch of the much talked about deep-fried vanilla ice cream with butterscotch sauce.
According to Brendan, their very own in-house vanilla ice cream (creamy, just enough vanilla, not to sweet) is coated in a pre-baked spherical vanilla sponge coated in panic crumbs and deep fried for two minutes. Unfortunately all I could taste was akin to batter used for tempura prawns. very savoury and definitely a mismatch to this beautiful ice cream. That coupled with the butterscotch sauce that was very heavy on the salt (Dead Sea proportions) made for a very unpleasant finish to the meal. So I focused my energy on eating just the ice-cream which I cannot praise enough.
Overall? the beautiful setting, the very attentive,welcoming and kid-friendly hosts & hostesses, the refreshing libations and the wonderful Monsieur Le Capitaine, Brendan – I’d say a 4 licked-clean plates out of 5 (4 stars). Looking forward to seconds.