Only the Merivale group could spend $4 million on setting up a restaurant and get me THIS excited about a new Chinese restaurant.
There are no shortages of modern Chinese/Cantonese restaurants in Sydney so what makes this one different?
Firstly, I must admit it's the lure of Dan Hong - if Ms G's and El Loco are anything to go by, then Mr Wong is deemed for success. I love that Mr Wong bridges the gap between a cheap eat and fine dining, the fact that service is top-notch and more importantly, that the menu reads like it was made for me - for example, there's faux shark's fin soup ($12)!
Bookings are only accepted for groups of 6 or more and after being turned away last Friday night, I tested my luck again on Wednesday night and managed to score a table near the bar for a very limited hour.
The colonial decor is gorgeous, and I especially adore the gallery of roasted ducks hung up to dry at the other end of the restaurant! But we waste no time on admiring the space around us as the hour counts down.
I'm immediately shocked to learn that the dim sum menu is available during lunch time only! Thankfully, on the next page I read that there are 2 platters available for dinner, one steamed, and the other deep-fried. Of course we share both.
More on those later, as first to be served is the Sichuan steak tartare ($18). The highlight here is the numbing marinade on the finely chopped steak. Topped with garlic crisps and microherbs, the flavours are complex and deeply satisfying. There are refreshing cucumber slices and crunchy tapicoa crackers to prolong the experience.
The steamed dim sum platter ($32) features two of each item making it easy to share between Wynn and myself. However at $4 each piece, the expectations are set high.
There's scallop shumai, Jade seafood dumpling, har gow and Chinese mushroom dumpling.
The dumpling skin on them are perfectly smooth and are wrapped with intricate precision. I'm glad they didn't reinvent the wheel with the har gow, it's exactly like your traditional prawn & bamboo dumpling, except the flavours are somewhat cleaner. The scallop shumai is delicate in appearance and taste, but it's the Chinese mushroom dumpling that steals the show!
On the deep-fried dim sum platter ($32) there's crispy beef roll, lobster mei si roll, pear taro croquette and foie gras prawn toast. They're more unconventional than the dumplings on the steamed platter so each bite is met with a sense of intrigue.
I'm not sure I like the croquette as the sweetness of the pear is really unusual. There isn't quite enough foie gras in the prawn toast although the half that had the foie gras did taste incredible!
I also love the crispy spun pastry on the lobster roll but the filling is strangely cheesy (or something similar that I couldn't put my finger on?)!
Despite our hour being up, we're pleasantly advised that we could stay for a bit longer and get dessert!
Dessert is a challenging decision between favourites such as deep fried ice-cream and alluring creations such as roast white chocolate ice cream with yuzu curd, longans and raspberries!
We end up sharing the green apple ice ($14) which looks like something that was served out of the Ms G's kitchen! The granita is fresh and vibrant with a beautiful zing and is complemented with crisp water chestnuts and the lovely fragrance of coconut sorbet and osmanthus jelly. I love this combination so much - it totally beats the red bean soup you'd usually be served at the end of a meal at Chinese restaurants!
However, with prices almost double what you'd pay elsewhere, Mr Wong definitely isn't for every day. But when traditional yum cha or dinner at a classic Chinese restaurant just won't do, then Mr Wong is a worthwhile treat. I'm very keen to come back for some Peking Duck!
3 Bridge Lane, Sydney NSW
Phone: (02) 9240 3000