Crispy skin chicken $18.80
We'd forgotten it was Boxing Day.
That's because we'd rocked up to Austrian Schnitzelhaus, ready for some pork knuckle and a shattering of crackling, only to find it closed. Doh! Or dummkopf!
We piled back into the car and head to Rhodes Shopping Centre, figuring we'd catch a movie before dinner instead. By the time we get there, stomach growls have gotten more insistent. We hope that Tomodachi is open but it's closed. It's Boxing Day. Argh!
There's only a cafe open or Rhodes Phoenix. We head toward the lady in the pretty cheongsam dress.
Deep-fried king prawn and calamari with salt and chilli $26.80
The Phoenix brand is now a Sydney-wide empire, adding Manly, Rhodes and Hilltop (Castle Hill) outlets to its original Sky Phoenix retaurant in Pitt Street Mall. The decor here is determinedly showy with plenty of regal reds, dark timbers and sparkly crystal lighting. Huge wooden display cabinets with expensive wine bottles only add to the sense of ostentatiousness.
We're not ones for much pomp and ceremony, so when our bucket of rice arrives, and the first dish lands on the table, Veruca Salt prepares to start scooping rice. Within seconds a waistcoated waiter materialises by our side. "No, no, I must do the rice," he gently chastises, and with a purposeful nod he ladles the rice, one bowl at a time.
In spite of the glamour, and general attentiveness, we find our dishes a little lacking. The crispy skin chicken looks promising enough, a lacquered tan that gives a crunchy skin, but the meat itself is a little dry, even with a generous douse of lemon.
Peking style pork ribs is a guilty pleasure of mine, a dish that reminds me of my grandma and a sweet tooth I'm sure I've inherited. A regular dish at so many family gatherings in my childhood, this is no substitute for sweet and sour pork. At its best it's sweet, spicy and a little bit sticky. The battered pork ribs should be crunchy and succulent, the dark red sauce offset by the chunks of sweet pineapple and squares of capsicum and onion. With this childhood memory in mind, I'm disappointed that this version tastes more like sweet and sour pork ribs than the dish I remember so well.
Pork ribs Peking style $18.80
Much better received is the deep-fried king prawn and calamari with salt and chilli. The albino coloured batter is paler than most, its fluffiness almost springy in the mouth. Its starchy chewiness suggests an egg white batter, the prawns and calamari well-protected for a soft and yielding tenderness. Generously scattered with bits of chilli and scallion, we also attack the bed of deep-fried seaweed (dried cabbage or kale?), a house specialty garnish that also lines our pork rib platter.
In the end we don't end up seeing a movie, even though, yes, we know. It's Boxing Day.
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Rhodes Shopping Centre
1 Rider Boulevard, Rhodes, Sydney
Tel: +61 02) 9739 6628
Yum cha hours
Mondays to Saturdays and Public Holidays: 11am - 3pm
Sundays 10am - 3pm
A la carte hours
7 days a week: 5.30pm - 10.30pm
A la carte menu
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Strathfield -- Crystal Seafood (Chinese)
Strathfield North -- Bar Biscotti (Cafe / Breakfast)
Strathfield North -- Outback Steakhouse (American)
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1/07/2009 01:20:00 a.m.