Rotating food is fun.
I'm sure this is why sushi trains offer so much appeal. A mesmerising rhythm of food on the move. Like pigs on spits. And now, behold, the spinning skewer.
We'd come prepared tonight. Stomachs hungry and any jackets left in the car before we step into the smoky confines of Yummy Chinese BBQ, a temple of all-you-can-eat feasting in Ashfield, in Sydney's inner west.
The thick fog of charcoal smoke hangs heavily in the room despite the presence of overhead exhaust fans. On each table is a narrow metal grill fuelled by charcoal. There is little in the way of explanatory service or introduction, and we take cues from other customers in the room and head straight for the buffet.
Salads and cold meats
A bain marie in the back corner holds a host of dishes to keep the hunger pangs at bay. We load up our plates with cold Peking ribs, tofu and vegetable stir-fry, clams, squares of shallot pancake, garlicky wedges of raw cucumbers and cool and crunchy cold potato strips.
What's much more exciting is the wall of skewers. Lamb, chicken, beef and seafood, we find a rainbow of skewers sorted neatly into black narrow tubs.
It's easy to get carried but we resist restraint and pile only two plates high with skewers. Our favourites include the chicken hearts which we devour with gusto, and whole prawns which are plump and sweet.
A flat grill can be placed over the barbecue to cook mushrooms, lotus roots, calamari, tongue and mussels. We find ourselves continually going back for more of the wagyu beef slices that are extraodinarily tender.
Skewers on the barbecue
Each metal skewers has a flower-shaped metal cog at its base, and when placed into the barbecue slot, the skewers spin like twirling ballerinas. It's spellbinding, more so because we're watching our dinner slowly cook before our eyes.
It's a relaxing way to enjoy a dinner - not quite as chaotic or work-intensive as Korean barbecue. There's also a sense of accomplishment each time an empty skewer is deposited into the metal cannister on the table.
We eat ourselves into a protein coma before helping ourselves to the dessert buffet, a modest display of fresh fruit, chewy rice dumplings, squares of carrot cake, frozen vanilla ice cream and a deep vat of sago pearls in a thin coconut milk soup.
And as for the amount of food you'll find yourself easily putting away, I'm sure it's the act of rotating foodstuffs that send the hypnotic message "now you're getting hungry...". At least, that's my story. And I'm sticking to it.
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Yummy Chinese BBQ
287 Liverpool Road, Ashfield, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9798 2666
Sunday to Thursday 5pm-10pm
Friday to Saturday 5pm-11pm
All-you-can-eat $28.90 per person (prices correct as at October 2010)
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10/30/2010 02:05:00 a.m.