Two words which immediately spring to mind when you first set your eyes upon the dizzy spectacle that is Gungho.
Cherry red moulded plastic chairs are tucked under bright white formica square tables. The backlit menu behind the service counter has helpful food photos. And all this is amplified by the floor-to-ceiling mirrored wall down one side of the narrow eatery.
Proudly subtitled as "Eurasian cuisine innovators", this shiny hip eatery beckons you closer with its giant photo of a young Asian female, flawless complexion, manicured eyebrows, glowing white teeth, perfect smile. There's a marked determination on the menu to use plus signs instead of ampersands: "Lite + Easy", "Fast + Fabulous", "Work + Out" inexplicably reassure you that minimal punctuation must translate to maximum freshness and minimal calories.
This hyped-up saturation of colour and bubbly youthful enthusiasm is powerfully alluring. It's Wagamama meets McDonalds and despite this mental image, or perhaps because of it, I know I need to eat here.
Somehow I manage to convince Rebecca to join me on this eating mission. My lurid description of the decor and menu somehow instil in her a morbid curiosity to check out this place as well.
Mango chicken spring rolls (4 large) $7.80
Served with Gungho mango sauce (homemade)
We share a platter of the retro-themed mango chicken spring rolls which arrive fresh from the deep fat fryer. We know this because a bite by yours truly releases a soprano-worthy high C as boiling hot gooey mango strips sear the pulsating flesh that was once my tastebud-studded tongue.
The spring rolls are golden brown and crunchy with plenty of chicken and mango inside. The sauce is tropical and it all tastes as mouth-twitchingly sweet as it sounds.
Pepper and lemongrass calamari $10.80
Deep fried calamari with garlic, fresh chillies,
white pepper and a hint of lemongrass
We share the pepper and lemongrass calamari which arrives with a compressed mound of steamed white rice, a garnish of salad and a bowl of clear chicken soup. The calamari is tender but I find the batter a little heavier and thicker than I prefer.
(complimentary with main meal)
The dish I'm most interested in is the fried chicken with passionfruit sauce. Of the entire menu of 94 options, it is this dish which is the most compelling in its rarely seen flavour combination. Like a child obsessed with the mesmerising yet pointless wonder that is rainbow coloured ice cream, I know that I must too indulge in this taste sensation.
Fried chicken with passionfruit sauce $10.80
Deep fried chicken fillet in Gungho special passionfruit sauce
A chicken thigh fillet is battered, fried and then drenched in a lurid glow of passionfruit flavoured sauce. A few scattered passionfruit seeds add some tropical street cred. Unfortunately it doesn't come with a complimentary vial of much-needed insulin.
Our trifecta of fried foodstuffs leaves no room for dessert, although the avocado thickshake beckons enticingly and the black sesame ice cream labelled as Sesame Treat makes me smile at the thought of Big Bird.
There are plenty of other menu options on offer: noodle soups, fried kway teow, bakuteh and assorted laksas. More Westernised options include fish and chips, grilled chicken with chips and salad and the ubiquitous pineapple chicken fried rice.
Gungho Eurasian Cuisine Innovators
Shop 9, 107-121 Quay Street, Haymarket, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9212 3228
Open 11am to 10pm daily.
Rebecca's review on Cucina Rebecca
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3/22/2006 11:19:00 p.m.