With the backing of Justin Hemmes and a top-notch team in Jowett Yu and dim sum king Eric Koh, Chef Dan Hong pulled off what seemed impossible in Sydney years ago; a secret laneway restaurant that’s intimate, exciting, and that’s notable for the food.
The Sydney CBD was not your idea of a good night out, especially around the Circular Quay areas. Years later Merivale happened, and Sydney city became an indomitable dining district. A Vietnamese, a Singaporean and a Taiwanese walk into a bar. Not just any bar, but a Justin Hemmes bar. And suddenly, what used to be the Tank nightclub is serving some of the best Cantonese food in Sydney, via Australian-Vietnamese executive chef Dan Hong, Australian-Taiwanese head chef Jowett Yu, and Singaporean dim sum chef Eric Koh, of London’s Hakkasan.
Mr. Wong does Cantonese-style food in a larger than life way. Seating 240 people over two levels and serving up a selection of up to 80 dishes, it’s a big affair. Yet somehow the restaurant still manages to feel intimate, with nooks for two, dim lighting and moody jazz.
Layered with timeless colonial furnishings including timber floors with tiled inlay, bamboo framed French woven chairs and slow turning ceiling fans, Mr. Wong pays homage to classic Chinese influences in a contemporary style. The Cantonese-style menu features over 60 dishes including Chinese roasted duck, faux Shark Fin Soup and Abalone served Steamboat style, as well as an unrivalled dim sum selection.
Go to the loos (charming in their own right) and admire the glass-encased drying room of hanging ducks on the way. On the way back, stop by the roast meats window with its glossy ducks and sides of barbecue roast pork, expertly tended by master roast meats chef Yeung Lam, from Hong Kong’s East Ocean restaurant.
There’s plenty to see in the two-level dining room, from the Shanghai colonial-era accents to the glassed-in wine cellar where staff ascend a ladder to reach the bottles above.
Dimsums and Appetisers
Cucumber, fennel, wakame, celery, pickled ginger, wood ear, enoki – just toss every oriental vegetables into this salad. More like a pickle that we served in a Chinese dinner than a salad.
King prawn wontons in supreme broth
鮮蝦豆苗水晶餃 Crystal prawn and snow pea leaf dumpling
Sorry the photo looked horrible, the iPhone X did not play nice in the dark environment.
鮮蝦蟹黃燒賣 Pork and prawn shumai (4 pieces)
Scallop and prawn shu mai see dumpling skins hugging tightly packed prawns, wearing a high-hat of scallop and a shower of bright orange crab roe.
Chinese roasted duck
They’ll tell you to go for the Peking duck. They’ll tell you it’s a juicy bird with crisp skin and sweet meat. And they’d be right. It is.
Mr Wong sure knows how to roast a duck. Beside the open kitchen, the birds hang raw and resplendent in a glass display, quietly awaiting the five-spice and roasting treatment. They arrive shiny and crisp-skinned, with an excellent fat-to-tender-meat ratio, primed for rolling in pancakes with cucumber and hoisin sauce.
Wok fried crispy tofu “Typhoon Shelter'” style
Typhoon shelters are safe harbours in Hong Kong that boats can anchor in during one of those seasonal typhoon. Many of these boats were homes of boat people; there aren’t many left, except for tourists. And one of the specialty dish that came from these boat homes is this “Typhoon shelter”-style 避风塘 of cooking.
It usually required a copious amount of garlic, deep-fired in oil with chilli and basil (ingredients for a smoke bomb) to produce a crispy, golden condiment used to cook other ingredients. Most common of which is mud crab. But Mr Wong used tofu deep-fried to form a crispy crust and then quickly wok fried in the condiment. Delicious and healthy at the same time.
Pippies wok fried with blackbean & chilli
That classic Chinatown dish, live pippies with blackbean & chilli, is cleaner here, without the glug of cornflour, which in my opinion made the pippies a bit watery.
Salt & pepper calamari
Another Chinatown classic, I usually would not order this, but I am with Caucasian guests, so might as well do the stereotypical menu.
Roasted Angus beef shortrib
Someone came very late to dinner and we added another course specially for him. The short ribs turned out to be incredible! Cooked fork tender in this glorious hoisin and plum sauce – not quite the Texan BBQ, but more Tianjin spare ribs tanginess. topped with fried shallots and coriander, this has done just to Mr Wong’s creed – best of East and West.
Mango pudding with coconut tapioca, lychee granita & mango pearls
I can’t really place this dessert. It’s very oriental with the pearls and mango pudding. But the presentation and lychee granita gave it the Western treatment. Nice, but I am not a dessert lover so I just go along with the rest of the folks.
Mr. Wong’s deep fried vanilla ice cream with butterscotch sauce
And finally, the memorable deep-fried ice-cream with a sweet, rich butterscotch sauce.
Eating at Mr Wong is roughly double what you’d pay at, say, the Marigold. But what you’re getting for the extra money is the spectacular fit-out, outstanding service led by the tuxedo-clad Andrew Jones (ex Felix) in a tux and host Johnny Rockstar (ex-Lotus). You’re getting a wine list that’s about a thousand cuts above any other Chinese restaurant in Australia and, of course, some damned delicious food.
3 Bridge Ln, Sydney NSW 2000, Australia
Tel : +61 2 9114 7317
Date Visited : Apr 2018
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