Unlike the cheap and cheerful Chinese restaurant in my previous blog post, the Eaton experience is very much refined. As a "proper Chinese restaurant", we have the delight of sipping on the complimentary house soup while browsing the broad menu. It's a nourishing soup with watercress and pork bones; I just love picking at the pork bones - the fall-off-the-bone meat is flaky and so tender.
There's also complimentary pickled cabbage, although I find that everything else is so flavourful, we barely touch it.
To start, we have pipis in XO sauce. The market price for these today are $51/kg. Our half kilo order comes in at 560g which rounds off to $28. The XO sauce is smokey with visible bits of bacon, garlic and dried scallops. It could've done with a punchier kick of chilli but every pipi shell was still licked clean :)
Something a bit different is the Hong Kong harbour style eggplant ($17.80). Beneath a scrumptious stir-fry of pork mince, dried shrimps, egg and other mystery ingredients are thick batons of dry-fried eggplant chips. The outside is so light and crisp and the insides are soft and creamy. Soooo good!
The Fujian fried rice ($16.80) is generously peppered with lots of squid, prawns, chicken, mushrooms, Chinese greens and carrots and of course held together with a deliciously thick sauce.
We also have the pork spare ribs ($16.80) because Zen was concerned we didn't order enough meat. Ha! There's a faint scent of fermented beancurd in the crust which I find utterly indulgent.
Despite it being a Sunday night, the restaurant was packed by 7pm and many hungry diners were turned away! Thankfully, the service is considerate and we didn't feel rushed at all.
We're even served the complimentary desserts - a plate of oranges and a bowl each of bitter melon jelly with coconut cream - which by the way, I love! The bitter melon jelly has a distinctive flavour that is reminiscent of pennywort or wheatgrass... but the coconut cream leaves a lingering refreshing sweetness.
Free fruit is good but free bitter melon jelly is awesome!
Eaton Chinese Restaurant
313 Liverpool Road, Ashfield, NSW
Phone: (02) 9798 2332