Looking for a late night dinner in Sydney? Most of the time we end up heading toward Chinatown.
I'm not quite sure when Super Bowl on Goulburn turned into a Super Meal. The frontage and signage is exactly the same, the only difference is the blue cursive neon lighting switched from Bowl to Meal. And again, inside, everything remains pretty much as I remembered.
Rice bowls waiting for goodies
Super Bowl. Super Meal. It's always played host to creatures of the night looking for a congee fix. The decor isn't much to look at, and service is, er, minimal, but the food is fast and there's plenty of different dishes from which to choose.
Pearl sago with cereal $4.80
Chocolatesuze makes a request for a Hong Kong coffee, that odd mix of milky tea and coffee served on ice and very sweet. I give in to the intrigue of the pearl sago drink with cereal, a mild-tasting milk topped with a mound that looks like sawdust but tastes somewhat of ground rice, soy beans and oats. The sago pearls at the bottom are always relished, with their satisfying chewiness.
There are 12 of us tonight, a hungry mob that includes Billy, Howard, Karen, Minh, Shez, Simon and Suze. Billy is put in charge of ordering, and before the tea in our cup has cooled, the food begins to arrive. Dishes are dispatched from the kitchen as soon they're ready, seemingly cooked in no particular order and ferried relentlessly by waitstaff to our soon over-flowing table.
Fried pippis in XO chilli sauce $26.40 (market price)
Pippis in XO chilli sauce are always a winner. There's something quite sensual about the way they're eaten, using your fingers to pull the shell wide open, pursing your lips around the shell and using your teeth to pull off the meat, and then getting your tongue into every crevice to lick up the sweet, salty and fiery XO chilli sauce.
Deep-fried spare ribs with spicy salt $16.50
Deep-fried spare ribs are a tad on the oily side but the serving is generous and the flesh is soft and tender.
Sampan congee (tang jai jook) $26.80
The huge bowl of congee for the table is so wide and deep you would swear it could double as a baptismal font. We choose the sampan congee, the traditional Hong Kong style congee that contains a lucky dip of intestines, squid and pork mince topped with crunchy fried wonton skins, roasted peanuts and the happy green of fresh shallots. It warms our bellies and nourishes our stomachs like a visit to Grandma on Sunday.
Deep fried fritter $2.40 per stick (four serves pictured)
In Chinese: you tiao or yau jar gwai
The highlight of any congee is the accompanying yau jar gwai, deep-fried krullers of dough that taste like airy savoury donuts. These are a touch oily chewy, not quite as good as the consistently crunchy but fluffy version at Super Bowl on Dixon Street. Billy and I have a running debate over whether Super Bowl or Super Meal is better (I'm all team Super Bowl).
Deep-fried shredded beef with Peking sauce $17.80
I've never quite understood the appeal of deep-fried shredded beef with Peking sauce. The Pom and Big D are firm fans, relishing the battered tendrils of beef coated in a thick and sticky sauce. I tend to find this dish overly chewy, the beef barely discernible in the thick armour of batter.
Big D grabs his fork and digs in
Fried handmade noodles Shanghainese style in XO chilli $12.80
We move onto the spicier and more fragrant dishes. Fried handmade noodles Shanghainese style are a gleaming muddle of pulled noodles, flat chives, onion and beef cooked with enough XO chilli sauce to make you whistle.
Stir fried French beans in fine shrimp sauce $15.50
Stir fried French beans in fine shrimp sauce make use of that pungently aromatic block of fermented ground shrimp known as belacan (pronounced blah-chahn). The Pom notices us attacking the dish with our chopsticks with great gusto and is keen to find out the attraction. His nose wrinkles as soon as he tastes it - the belacan has quite a strong salty fishy taste - a flavour I call feisty, but one that marries particularly well with the clean sweet squeakiness of fresh green beans.
Deep fried crisy skin chicken (half) $17.50
Deep-fried crispy skin chicken is a textural yin-yang of delicate and brittle golden-glazed skin against the juicy plumpness of the meat below.
Deep-fried squid with spicy salt $16.50
And can any group dinner resist the lure of deep-fried squid with spicy salt? Curls of calamari are dusted lightly with flour and then deep-fried until just cooked. This version is more on the floury side than the crisp batter I prefer, but then I am a fan of the fresh chilli and shallot scattered version at Super Bowl.
Which team do you barrack for? Super Bowl or Super Meal?
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7/09/2009 01:13:00 am