Replacing Chairman and Yip in Civic, is new contemporary Chinese restaurant Tasting China. It sneakily opened over a month ago and the menu looks pretty tasty. Prices for mains are around the $25-35 mark so it’s definitely not your cheap Chinese take away.
I love the gorgeous Chinese decor inside mixing traditional furniture with the fairly modern portraits along the wall.
I stopped in for lunch while running errands in the city. I was greeted upon entering and as it was just me, I sat on one of the stools by the window watching people watch their phones and stop to catch Pokemon (there’s a pokestop just around the corner). The prawn and shallot fried noodle ($18) seemed like a good dish to try. Although there were only two other occupied tables at the time, it took about 25 minutes for the noodles to arrive. I was happy with the portion size and there was a lot more noodle than prawns which was expected. A very basic dish but it was done well with all the right flavours and an abundance of shallots. It was a tad oily but very moreish and I easily finished off the whole plate by myself.
I was eager to share the other dishes on the menu so a friend and I headed back on another day. I was asked whether I wanted to start with some tea and recommended the Jasmine tea. I decided to try the Jasmine tea ($8) which game in a gorgeous glass teapot filled with tea leaves and flowers. The water was refilled and the tea constantly poured into our tea cups by stall without prompting.
Handmade dumplings were on the menu with two fillings available – pork and chives or pork and cabbage. I picked the pork and chives in a serve of 8 ($10), but it also came in a serve of 16. They were not the prettiest looking parcels but did look homemade. The dumpling wrapper was translucent and thin. The filling was meaty but unfortunately I couldn’t taste a strong enough flavour of chives. The premixed soy sauce and vinegar was a bonus in that I didn’t have to do it myself. I should mention that it took 50 minutes for the plate of dumplings to arrive so we were ravenous.
I really wanted to try Grandma’s braised pork, quail eggs and master sauce ($32). Served in a large hot pot, my eyes widened with glee at all the food only to realise a few seconds later that it was sitting on a small shallow plate inside. It still looked magnificent and smelled heavenly. I was happy to find that the pork belly pieces weren’t too fatty, however it wasn’t as tender as I would have liked. A few more hours in a slow cooker would have done wonders. The sauce was thick, rich, slightly sweet and the perfect accompaniment to the pork. I actually stole most of the quail eggs which were still a little gooey inside. Star anise had been mixed into the dish enhancing the flavour of the pork and sauce.
I have to say this was a mouthwatering dish and I loved every bite. Although the portion was small, its richness was enough for two people to share. My friend looked at me in horror when he saw my pile of pork belly fat layers on my plate which I refuse to eat hehe.
My friend picked the lotus root, mixed greens, Hawaiian nuts and cashew nuts ($18). I loved that the vegetables were beautifully fresh, perfectly cooked and still crunchy. It was also a generous serving size.
We ordered a vegetarian fried rice ($16) to go with our mains. Again, I found the vegetables in the dish to be really fresh and even the bright green broad beans were still crunchy. Note: There didn’t seem to be any steamed rice on the menu.
The food that I sampled was delicious and so tasty. Although service was professional and friendly, the timing was the biggest issue. It also took a while to get someone’s attention to take our order. Our waiter asked if we wanted all the food to come out at once which we did. The 50 minute wait for the dumplings wasn’t expected considering the restaurant only had a few occupied tables. Perhaps they were being made from scratch? When the dumpling plate was cleared away, our waiter had forgotten about serving the food all at once as he asked if we would like the mains brought out to which he received vigorous head nods. I think Tasting China is a great place for a leisurely lunch or dinner, but not if you want something quick.
Tasting China is located at 108 Bunda Street in Civic. Open seven days for lunch and dinner.
Value for money 7.5/10
FPJ score 22.5/30
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