I hope that you like garlic.
A day of errands happened to bring us to the Eastwood area and when lunchtime came, we strolled our way past Chinese, Korean and Japanese options, investigating each one keenly. Compared to the Oriental opulence of the Golden Jade Seafood Restaurant across the mall, Da Wan Lai is quiet and understated, a few fish tanks at the front and an entry marked with a multitude of posters advertising dishes in hand-written Chinese.
Corn bun with pickled vegetables $6.80
Many of the dishes here are specific to the Shandong region of nothern China, an area known for its wide use of corn, peanuts and vinegar. Our entree dish seems fitting, a collection of corn buns arranged like flower petals around a bowl of pickled peanuts, garlic and carrots.
The steamed corn buns aren't as corn-flavoured as I'd expected. There's only a slight difference in texture to the ordinary white mantou buns - these are a touch denser with a tackier skin.
Pickled vegetables are salty, sour and almost hot with the intensity of garlic.
Chinese cabbage, black fungus, mushroom, vermicelli
and patridge egg in hot pot $12.80
Our vegetarian hot pot arrives in a huge terracotta bowl that has a wonderful illustration of two robed men in a field and a passage of Chinese text. Inside the soupy depths of the bowl is a treasure trove of vegetables, thick slices of Chinese cabbage, curled fronds of black fungus and long slippery strands of clear mung bean vermicelli. The partridge eggs are quail eggs and the soup is sweet. It's a nourishing soup that echoes the simplicity of homemade fare.
Pork intestine, beef tongue and pork knuckle in special sauce $19.80
A trio of meats is sliced and served cold with a dipping sauce of soy, chilli, fresh coriander leaves and yes, you guessed it, garlic. Pork intestine is deliciously soft, chewy and gelatinous, and the beef tongue has the buttery meat-and-liver flavour with the slightly bouncy texture I've always enjoyed.
My favourite of the three is probably the pork knuckle, a jellied mixture of pork skin and tendon that is one part crunch to two parts wobble.
Sichuan-style chicken with dry bean curd and shallot $18.80
We conclude with skewers of Sichuan-style chicken, thin strips of tender chicken fillet pushed down in a zig-zag on spikes of bamboo.Ten skewers rest over a crimson lake of chilli oil, a bed of firm tofu cubes buried at the bottom.
The chilli oil is fiery and a perfect complement to the chicken and tofu. A scattering of sesame seeds, crisp fried shallots and slivers of green onion add extra crunch.
We depart fueled with sustenance, warmed by chilli and breathing garlic. Lots of garlic.
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8/16/2009 01:12:00 am