I keep saying that I'm older now, and that I've outgrown the gluttonous orgy of all-you-can-eat lures.
Famous last words, it would seem, when I visited Bungalow 8 recently for their Tuesday $21.50 all-you-can-eat mussel night.
We turn up at 6pm to a venue that is steadily filling with patrons. There's the usual stylised post-work crowd hanging by the bar, but there are also plenty of diners tucking into big black pots filled with mussels. We head to the bar, pay our $21.50 and get fluoro wrist bracelets to identify us [as pigs, one presumes] to the waiters.
Mussels tom yum
with galangal, lime and chilli in a fragrant Thai broth
Our first order of mussels arrives before we've even returned to our table. There are five different options available, and I chosen the mussels with tom yum to start with.
It's a huge black Belgian pot that arrives, one kilogram of mussels piled on top of a puddle of tom yum stock. The tom yum has a great spicy kick but I'm sure it has coconut milk in it too, which doesn't quite seem ring true as a tom yum clear soup.
To the side is a small saucer of fries, a steak-style cut, that are pleasantly hot and crisp. A basket of bread rolls arrives to our table shortly afterwards, but we're too intent on piling up mussel shells in our upturned pot lids. Besides, we're making a deliberate decision not to consume too many carbs either in chips or bread.
with bacon, tomato, shallots and garlic in a napoli sauce
For round two, I opt for the mussels provencale, the simplest and lightest sauce of the night, sweet with fresh tomato wedges and scattered with shreds of bacon. It's scary how quickly that second kilo disappears.
Mussels Thai green curry
with coriander, bean sprouts and bamboo shoots in coconut cream
Round three, and we wave the waiter over again for our next order. I have the mussels with Thai green curry, another spicy offering with plenty of chilli and the richness of coconut cream.
J-girl and X-girl both retire at this point, but I just look at the G-man and we nod in unison.
with lemongrass and ginger in a spiced coconut sauce
I'd tried some of J-girl's mussels with white wine, a creamy sauce that oozed overwhelmingly with the richness butter. So for my fourth round I order the mussels with laksa. It's disappointing in flavour, without much spice and only a hint of chilli.
The fourth kilogram is a tough one but I get there in the end.
And the fifth kilogram?
Huh, what do you think I am... a pig or something? :)
Number 8, The Promenade
King Street Wharf, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9299 4660
Open 7 days, food served until 10pm Sun-Thu, 11pm Fri-Sat
All-you-can-eat mussels $21.50
Tuesdays lunch and dinner (bookings essential)
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4/08/2007 09:41:00 p.m.