I was talking to a friend about Fei Jai recently and he too agreed that this restaurant was the type of place ABCs (Australian-born Chinese) would go to, but probably not take their parents. I guess it is knowing how they'd react when they find out how much you paid for such a meal.
Well, that's part of the whole appeal to me. Dining at Fei Jai feels like a secret indulgence... in refined home cooking. Yes, note the emphasis on the word 'refined'.
I've been fed a lot of traditional Cantonese food over the years, and while there are days when I crave that, the food at Fei Jai fills in the other gaps. The flavours are familiar and quaint, but the modern approach makes the dining experience so much more exciting. It's more of a treat than an ordinary Chinese meal.
Fresh chopped chilli with soy sauce, and Pun Chun chilli sauce are must-have condiments. I like that these are already at the table.
The complimentary bowl of prawn crackers are a winner too, I've always found them to be so irresistible. These in particular are light and crisp, without the stale oil aftertaste you can sometimes find.
Starters range from $3.50 for market oysters (each) to $22 for 4 serves of the san choy bow. Each item is as tempting as the next - steamed scallop and prawn dim sums, char siu pancakes, and spicy salt calamari... mmm...
There's six of us today but with one being a toddler and another, a baby, we order a feast for four adults. Thankfully it's a gorgeous sunny day so everybody is dining outside, giving us the entire inside of the restaurant to ourselves. Its only a small dining room but nothing says child-friendly more than shade and a smoke-free open space.
We start with two of the crab and corn soup ($12). Each serve is sufficient for two people, giving us more than just a bowl each. With plenty of freshly picked Blue Swimmer crab pieces, the soup is divine; the texture is creamy and the corn, so sweet and delicious.
Because one can never get enough crab, we also have the crab omelette ($16).
It's a egg white omelette - pillowy fluffs of egg whites, studded with generous handfuls of flaky crab meat - spruced up simply with some fresh ground pepper.
The san choy bow ($22 for 4 serves) features a medley of perfectly diced scallops, prawns, squid, snake beans and zucchini, served DIY style with a side of trimmed iceberg lettuce cups. The flavours are subtle, really allowing the taste of the fresh seafood and mixed vegetables to shine.
Now onto main course, which of course is designed to share.
There's two variations of the fried rice ($11 for small, $16 for large) - the BBQ pork and prawn, and the local mushroom and snake bean. We get the large of the BBQ pork and prawn which I suspect is where the egg yolks from our egg white omelette has gone into. It's a hearty fried rice, albeit nothing amazing.
Meanwhile, the wok-fried Patagonian toothfish ($30) is every bit spectacular. A light batter coats the moist fish fillets which sit on top of some sugar snaps, snow peas and zucchini, and a light sweet soy sauce. This is my type of comfort food. Elegant but warming. I could have it every day; this with a bowl of rice, and I'm content.
OK, maybe throw in the crispy skin poussin ($27) too. To have the fish and chicken every day, I'll be overjoyed.
This crispy chicken is so good, I'd say it is a great contender against Tan Viet (in Cabramatta) for the best crispy chicken in Sydney. The whole baby chicken is served quartered. The skin is paper thin with a delightful crunch, and the meat is just so tender and juicy.
I do love dipping it in the lemon juice and five spice salt mix. Ah, simple pleasures.
If there was a dish at Fei Jai to remind me of my mother's home-cooking, it would be the braised Angus beef eye fillet ($32). The thickened garlic and ginger soy sauce made a frequent appearance on our dining table at home. Biting into the tender slices of beef, memories of many great childhood dinners came flooding back to me.
Desserts are exquisite as well. We share the banana fritter and passionfruit & vanilla bean sago pudding (both $12 each). The banana fritter is a single large fritter served with a scoop of vanilla icecream and fresh strawberries. It's the type of dessert you don't want to share, although somehow, I do.
The sago pudding is a ginormous serving but possibly could have stretched further with additional passionfruit pulp and palm sugar syrup.
The restaurant name means 'fat boy' in Cantonese, but with such a sublime menu, where I literally want to eat everything, I think I'll soon turn into Fei Jai's sidekick, fei mui (fat girl).
31 Challis Avenue, Potts Point, NSW
Phone: (02) 8668 4424