Is Hong Kong cuisine the new flavour of the month? On that little stretch of mostly pedestrianised road I like to call Dixon Street North, not one but two restaurants have recently surfaced, both offering food from Hong Kong. At the southern end of the block between Goulburn and Liverpool Street is New Hong Kong Cafe, taking over the first floor site of Malaysian restaurant Nonya. On the other side of the street and opposite Arisun is Old Town Hong Kong Cuisine, two storeys high and gleaming with bright lights and glistening roast ducks hanging in the window.
Old Town Hong Kong Cuisine dining room
On a Thursday night the place is heaving, filled with a hubbub of Asian uni students, boisterous families and shoulder-slumping office workers, unwinding for the day. It's noisy but comforting, like only an Asian eatery can be, with a relentless cacophony of chopsticks and chatter.
Roast duck in the roasting oven
At the front of the restaurant, the roast ducks provide plenty of distraction. First there's the gleaming oven, where patience will reward you with a brief glimpse of a roast duck parade, speedily moving in non-stop circles within the chamber.
Carving roast duck
Standing by the window is the barbecue meat chef, entrusted with a sharp cleaver and the task of carving roast ducks to order. There's a surgical precision about the entire process, even the way the duck slices are placed on a plate and then handed to the uniformed
Peking duck with bun $8 for two
Holding pride of place on the counter, under a glass cloche of silence, is the peking duck wrapped in the soft embrace of a steamed white bun.
Pigs ears $5.50
The menu runs across nine pages, helpfully illustrated with occasional photos of dishes, chilli warning signs and little white chef's hats to indicate a restaurant recommendation.
Prawn dumplings $6.80
We start with several dishes from the Old Town Dim Sim section - it's a novelty to be able to order siu mai pork dumplings or xiao long bao soup dumplings until well into the night. We test out the classic har gow prawn dumplings, compact little purses that are pleasingly plump with prawns. The skin is thin too, and steamed to a perfect stickiness.
Pan fried pork dumplings in birds nest $14.80 for 8
Crispy seafood spring rolls $7.80 for four
There's plenty of contrasting texture, too, in the crispy seafood spring rolls, wrapped in a feathery netting that crumbles deliciously with every bite.
Trotter in honey vinaigrette $5.50
Under the appetiser section, we wade into the pigs trotter - braised in soy and spices and sweetened with honey.
Deep fried bean curd with spicy salt $14.80
Stir fried chilli chicken [at rear] $14.80
Sauteed green beans with pork mince $14.80
Our vegetable quotient is fulfilled by a bowl of sauteed green beans that appears modest in size at first, but turns out to yield quite a large amount of squeaky beans with garlicky pork mince, spiced up with chilli.
Seafood combination fried egg noodle $14.80
The fried egg noodle is a winner too, a nest of crunchy chow mein draped with a wet and saucy stir-fry of prawns, squid, mushrooms and Chinese cabbage.
Whole Peking duck (2 courses) $55
We might have skipped past the live seafood and the congee, but we weren't going to miss out the roast duck. A whole roast duck will set you back $36 but we head straight for top, ordering it Peking Duck-style ($55).
Peking duck pancakes
The two course affair starts with the familiar Peking duck pancakes, a bamboo basket of thin wheat pancakes which you wrap around roast duck slices garnished with cucumber, hoi sin and spring onion.
The Peking duck holds its own, the skin providing a crisp and fragrant sheath that protects juicy and succulent duck flesh.
Duck san choy bow
The rest of the duck meat is shredded and served in course number two: duck san choy bow. It's a tumble of duck, water chestnuts, fried vermicelli noodles and crushed peanuts - sweet, salty, fresh and crunchy - all wrapped up in a crisp lettuce leaf cup. Make sure you have it with chilli sauce - even if you have to ask the waitstaff. It's infinitely better.
Hong Kong old style salty fish and chicken fried rice $12.80
And for anyone still hungry, there's always fried rice. We tried the version with salty fish and chicken but not much salty fish could be detected, although the abundance of omelette was welcomed.
Black sesame soup with sweet tofu pudding $6.50
There are a surprising number of desserts here for an Asian restaurant, although they were out of the shaved ice "snow flake" when we visited. The black sesame soup with sweet tofu pudding combines two of my childhood favourites: the nutty ji ma wu black sesame soup with silky soft spoonfuls of quivering tofu fa soy bean pudding.
Mango, pomelo and sago sweet soup with herbal jelly and ice cream $8.50
And there's a bit of everything in the sweet sago soup livened with chunks of mango, pomelo and glossy dark cubes of herbal jelly.
Crispy sweet potato with ice cream $9.80
Little chunks of sweet potato can be amazing when deep-fried and covered in toffee and sesame seeds, but the sweet potato flesh is a little dry and the portion is a modest serve for the price.
Deep fried egg white with red bean $12 for 6 pieces
What I am in awe of is the deep fried egg whites. They really are giant dollops of whipped egg white that are carefully sandwiched around red bean paste or durian and then deep-fried until golden.
Deep fried egg white with durian $16 for 6 pieces
Consider them a deep fried floating island, but do remember to check these out. Sure you might find a little residual oil within the airy pockets, but biting into a cloud of egg white is pretty amazing. Red bean paste is always a crowd pleaser but if you want a real kick, go for the durian - the king of fruits!
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Old Town Hong Kong Cuisine
10A Dixon Street, Haymarket Chinatown, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9264 3888
Monday to Sunday 11am - 2am
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8/22/2013 12:28:00 am