I’ve been eagerly awaiting for the re-opening of Tang Dynasty at the Kingston Foreshore. It used to be located in Kingston’s Green Square, a popular spot for politicians and senior public servants, but closed down about 10 years ago. Now, the original owner of the restaurant has made made a comeback on the Foreshore. I thought it would open last month when I noticed the table linen, glasses and napkins already displayed elegantly on the tables, but the restaurant was waiting on one final sign off by the authorities. Tang Dynasty officially opened on Chinese New Year a few days ago.
A lot of time must’ve been spent on the fit out which is polished and sophisticated. I was greeted at the door by two large wooden horses before one of the waiters arrived to seat me. Beautiful lanterns hang from the ceiling, oriental latticework adorn both the ceiling and parts of the walls, and oriental artwork is hung around the restaurant. The white table linen is a bright contrast to the plush golden chairs.
There is plenty of seating inside the large restaurant in addition to the outdoor tables. As it was a a warm day, I opted for a table inside. There are 80 items on the menu (available on Tang Dynasty’s website) in addition to a few banquets starting at $56 per person. In general, prices are not cheap – most mains are between the $27-$35 mark. The cheapest meal here are the noodle dishes at $15.30.
The mixed entree ($16.20) for 4 pieces is pricey so I was thankful for the discount. It came with a spring roll, fried dumpling, pork siu mai and fried fish cake. Served with prawn crackers and sweet and sour sauce, these were okay but didn’t stand out for me, especially after paying a whopping price.
V had a cold that day and ordered the chicken sweet corn soup ($7.80). I like the personalised chinaware with the picture of a horse on each bowl, plate, soup spoon and even the chopstick/soup spoon holder. The horse is identical to those standing proud at the entrance of the restaurant.
For my main, I had the combination seafood in a bird’s nest ($37.30). Expecting crispy noodles as the ‘nest’, I was surprised to find it was made of very thin fried crispy chips! Made it even yummier. I received three large tiger prawns, chunks of squid and fish, with crunchy snow peas and thinly sliced spring onion and capsicum on top. Not a huge serving of seafood, but I was full after eating this as well as tucking into a bowl of steamed rice ($3 per person). The seafood had been cooked well in a nice light sauce.
I went back for dinner with my partner that night to try out more dishes. I was curious about the fried bao ($16.30 for 3 pieces) which I was told was like a dumpling but bigger. When only 2 bao came out, I got the attention of a waitress to see what had happened to the third bao. She went back into the kitchen to enquire and told me the chef said these two bao were bigger than the three smaller bao. Maybe the kitchen staff thought because it was just the two of us, they should make two bigger bao? I’m still not sure if I got ripped off or not. Anyway, the bao were bigger than the size of my palm and stuffed with pork mince and spring onion. I did like the slight flakiness of the bao but thought there was too much dough to filling ratio and left some of the bao uneaten.
I chose the crispy duck with flower rolls ($33.80) since I love duck and was curious what the flower rolls would be. First of all, crispy chicken came out. I could tell it was chicken because of its white flesh and even nibbled on a bit to make sure. This was taken back to the kitchen. About 5 minutes later, the duck came out with hoisin sauce and it really was duck. It had been deboned and deep fried hence the crispy part. I was happy with the decent amount of duck meat that can be shared between two people. I didn’t know what the flower rolls were until I realised the 2 small pancakes served with the duck are flour rolls not ‘flower’ rolls. Typo in the menu. All that was missing was the spring onion and cucumber to make some Peking Duck pancakes.
My partner really wanted beef and black bean. He orders it at every Chinese restaurant. EVERY TIME. Tang Dynasty did not have beef and black bean so he was at a loss as to what to order. The beef steak with black pepper corn ($36.20) was the next closest dish. This came out sizzling on a hot plate with onion and spring onion. Very tasty but it’s a dish I could get elsewhere for half the price.
Tang Dynasty restaurant is beautiful. The staff are very polite and helpful. It’s the opening weekend so there are a few teething issues. I noticed the table next to us sending back a dish that wasn’t quite right. Our waiter asked what we thought of the dishes and if anything could be improved so it looks like they’re happy to take on customer feedback. The peaceful ambience let us have a private conversation and enjoy our time there. The food is pleasant but very expensive. Besides the fit out, I couldn’t distinguish what the ‘high class’ or fine dining’ aspect of the food was to a regular Chinese restaurant. With three Thai restaurants, I was hoping for a cheap Chinese place in the area. Oh well. I’d recommend trying Tang Dynasty now with the 20% discount. I asked about the discount offer period, and our waiter said they weren’t sure how long it would go on for but estimated about two weeks.
Value for money 5/10
FPJ score 18.5/30
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