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Monday, November 14, 2016

Good Luck Pinbone, Kensington

Mike Eggert and Jemma Whiteman on the woks in the kitchen at Good Luck Pinbone in Kingsford

Pinbone is back, but not as you know it. After a 15-month long hiatus, the original trio have flung open the doors at their newest joint, Good Luck Pinbone. Don't go looking for maple bacon tarts and chocolate crackles with parfait. Chefs Mike Eggert and Jemma Whiteman have u-turned the menu to modern Chinese, a throwback to their former gigs in the kitchen at Billy Kwong. Berri Eggert (Mike's sister) is back on the floor.

"We love cooking in woks," said Mike in his recent podcast interview on The Mitchen. Pinbone did hold a Chinese-themed lunch during their recent tenure at 10 William Street. In the podcast, Mike also revealed that alternate restaurant names bantered about included Imperial Pinbone Palace (total winner!) and 121AP, a reference to their address on Anzac Parade. [Note: It's worth listening to the podcast just to hear Mike's spot-on impersonation of 121BC co-owner Giorgio De Maria.]

Berri Eggert on the floor at Good Luck Pinbone in Kingsford
Berri Eggert on the floor

The decision to open in Kingsford might come as a surprise to many. It's not Surry Hills, Darlinghurst nor Chippendale (gasp). Much of the decision seems to have been based on the condition and suitability of available sites. The team searched across Sydney and beyond - including the original Arnotts bakery in Morpeth - before finally settling on the old Sushi Tengoku site, a Japanese restaurant famed for its mega-sized sushi.

The red pagoda roof still remains. Apart from that, it's bare walls given a deliberately wonky pastel pink and peach colour scheme. There are just 38 mustard-coloured school chairs in the dining room with four stools at the bar counter.

Citrus and quimen iced tea at Good Luck Pinbone in Kingsford
Citrus and quimen iced tea $6

The team have yet to pursue a liquor licence so BYO is available at $5 a head. The drinks list does include unlimited jasmine tea ($4pp) plus several non-alcoholic drinks, including a refreshing citrus and quimen iced tea, paper pineapple included.

Pickled radish, carrot and turnip at Good Luck Pinbone in Kingsford
Pickled radish, carrot and turnip $8

We visited on its first night of opening, and watched Berri rip down the brown paper sheets covering the windows with more glee than ceremony. We start with pickles, a happy mix of crunchy baby radishes, carrot wedges and tiny turnips scattered with toasted sesame seeds.

Sashimi silver trevally, soy milk and burnt cabbage at Good Luck Pinbone in Kingsford
Sashimi silver trevally, soy milk and burnt cabbage $18

The menu includes influences from across Asia, including a Japanese-style sashimi silver trevally carefully draped with shards of smoky burnt cabbage, segments of pink pomelo and a puddle of cooked soy milk.

Kangaroo tataki, herbs and butter lettuce at Good Luck Pinbone in Kingsford
Kangaroo tataki, herbs and butter lettuce $17

Kangaroo tataki is skilfully cooked to a tender deep pink. We're instructed to wrap up the rare kangaroo slices, shiso and fluffy bamboo fungus into the side serve of soft butter lettuce leaves.

Eggplant sambal, black fungus and coriander at Good Luck Pinbone in Kingsford
Eggplant sambal, black fungus and coriander $16

We move more into what feels like Malaysian territory with the eggplant sambal. It's a sticky and sweet mess of caramelised eggplant melded with garlic and sambal chilli paste. Black fungus adds a pleasing crunch.

Stir-fried potato, bean sprouts and raw yolk at Good Luck Pinbone in Kingsford
Stir-fried potato, bean sprouts and raw yolk $15

The classic dish of spicy Sichuan stir-fried potatoes takes a different route here with the inclusion of a raw egg yolk.

Mixing raw egg yolk into stir-fried potato and bean sprouts at Good Luck Pinbone in Kingsford
Mixing the raw egg yolk into the potato and bean sprouts

It's a much lighter dish than the hot and sour heat of the original. The potatoes are also mixed through with bean sprouts, impressively trimmed of every tail - we pity the workhorse who's been lumped with this job!

Chongqing crispy spatchcock with chilli peanuts at Good Luck Pinbone in Kingsford
Chongqing crispy spatchcock with chilli peanuts $32

Chongqing crispy spatchcock is one of my highlights of the night. The spatchcock (that's a young rooster to you) is superbly juicy, covered in dried red chillies, crispy shallots and possibly the world's biggest roasted peanuts.

Blue swimmer crab with white pepper sauce at Good Luck Pinbone in Kingsford
Blue swimmer crab with white pepper sauce $30

The blue swimmer crab with white pepper sauce packs a surprising fermented shrimp paste punch. There's a reason why this one is usually served last. The going will be slow and messy but trust me, it's worth it - the crab flesh is sweet and tasty.

We make a last minute order for the mung bean noodles ($15 and no photo because darkness had fallen by now). They're not as chewy and bouncy as you'd expect but still impressive when you realise these are made in-house. The noodles are hand-sliced with a special cutter. Be warned: these noodles are a garlic bomb.

Chilli cucumber pickle at Good Luck Pinbone in Kingsford
Chilli cucumber pickle $6

We return two days later to attack the rest of the menu. After opening at 6pm on a Saturday night, the place is full by 6.03pm. We're glad we lined up early (it's no bookings).

Chilli cucumber pickles are just what we need to get our appetites going, with all kinds of crunch, juiciness and zing.

Pickled radish, carrot and turnip at Good Luck Pinbone in Kingsford
Pickled radish, carrot and turnip $8

And we also tuck into the pickled radish, carrot and turnip.

Peach iced tea and grape and orange soda at Good Luck Pinbone in Kingsford
Peach iced tea $6
Grape and orange soda $6

We order the peach iced tea and the grape and orange soda. Their light fruitiness works brilliantly with the dishes, and who can resist those tissue paper fruit pom poms?!

Sashimi silver trevally, soy milk and burnt cabbage at Good Luck Pinbone in Kingsford
Sashimi silver trevally, soy milk and burnt cabbage $18

We run through the sashimi silver trevally again...

Kangaroo tataki, herbs and butter lettuce at Good Luck Pinbone in Kingsford
Kangaroo tataki, herbs and butter lettuce $17

as well as the kangaroo tataki.

Raw prawn, Sichuan oil, butter, bread and seaweed at Good Luck Pinbone in Kingsford
Raw prawn, Sichuan oil, butter, bread and seaweed $16

Raw prawns are served with triangles of generously buttered white bread, like a soft version of prawn toast.

Raw prawn with Sichuan oil on buttered bread at Good Luck Pinbone in Kingsford
Raw prawn with Sichuan oil on buttered bread

This is probably one of the few dishes that has echoes of the old Pinbone in Woollahra. There it was soft white bread with mascarpone cream, flying fish roe and caviar. Here it's the subtle sweetness of raw prawns livened with Sichuan oil and the gentle crunch of seaweed.

Stir-fried squid, swedes and green chilli at Good Luck Pinbone in Kingsford
Stir-fried squid, swedes and green chilli $18

Swedes make a surprise appearance outside of soup, sauteed here with tender strips of squid and finely sliced green chilli.

Eggplant sambal, black fungus and coriander at Good Luck Pinbone in Kingsford
Eggplant sambal, black fungus and coriander $16

The eggplant sambal is just as good the second time around. I could eat a truckload of this on just a bowl of plain white rice.

Black bean, ginger, pork spare ribs and dried longans at Good Luck Pinbone in Kingsford
Black bean, ginger, pork spare ribs and dried longans $26

Pork spare ribs are marinated with black bean, ginger and chilli. This reminds me of pai gwut at yum cha, but super-sized. We eat up all the soft bones and relish the sweet tendrils of dried longans.

Smoked eel with celtuce and shiso at Good Luck Pinbone in Kingsford
Off menu: smoked eel with celtuce and shiso

The kitchen sends out an off menu dish on the house, a ensemble of smoked eel, celtuce and shiso. Celtuce, also known as Chinese lettuce or steam lettuce, is a type of lettuce grown specifically for its stick stems. You may have seen these in Asian grocery stores - the stems look like a longer and less knobbled version of wasabi roots. The deep green vegetable tastes much like celery but without the annoying strings.

It's a tasty number that we hope will be added to the menu.

Chongqing crispy spatchcock with chilli peanuts at Good Luck Pinbone in Kingsford
Chongqing crispy spatchcock with chilli peanuts $32

The Chongqing crispy spatchcock delivers again with golden brown skin and succulent flesh. The dried chillies and sichuan peppercorns will make your tongue tingle.

Blue swimmer crab with white pepper sauce at Good Luck Pinbone in Kingsford
Blue swimmer crab with white pepper sauce $30

When we attack the blue swimmer crab for the second time, I brace myself for the onslaught of fermented shrimp paste in the white pepper sauce we experienced two days ago. But Mike has already pulled back the pungency, a well-calculated move that means the crab is no longer overshadowed by the intensity of fermented shrimp. The white pepper sauce has a lot more nuances, so much so that I end up scooping this over my second bowl of fried rice.

Fried rice with pork jowl and green garlic at Good Luck Pinbone in Kingsford
Fried rice with pork jowl and green garlic $16

The fried rice uses pork jowl that Pinbone have smoked themselves, wok-fried with a medley of omelette, shallots, fried shallots. Like any good fried rice, it's a dish that could easily stand on its own, interspersed with all kinds of different tastes and textures.

Sirloin, furikake butter and mustard greens at Good Luck Pinbone in Kingsford
Sirloin, furikake butter and mustard greens $28

The sirloin is another feat of mastery, a juicy pink steak cooked on the binchotan. It's blanketed in furikake, the Japanese seasoning made up of seaweed flakes, sesame seeds and salt more usually used on rice. There's a whole lake of melted butter in this dish. We drizzled this on our fried rice. You should too.

Mulberry, strawberry and mango frozen fruit pops at Good Luck Pinbone in Kingsford
Mulberry, strawberry and mango frozen fruit pops $5 each

Without an oven in the kitchen, dessert come straight from the freezer: house-made ice blocks made with real fruit. We end up with a mix of everything. The mulberry will stain your tongue deliciously and mango tastes just like a Weis bar but my pick is the strawberry.

Mike Eggert in the kitchen at Good Luck Pinbone in Kingsford
Mike Eggert in the kitchen

Even as we sat in the full capacity restaurant, the food came flying out at a regular pace, a feat even more impressive when we snuck a peek into the kitchen. It's literally a two wok-burner operation with Mike and Jemma pumping through dockets like well-oiled machines.

Don't wait too long to visit. Good Luck Pinbone are currently on a 9-month lease. The lease will be renewed on a monthly basis after that date. The entire building they are in is set to be demolished soon. What are you waiting for?

Good Luck Pinbone in Kingsford


Good Luck Pinbone Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Good Luck Pinbone
121 Anzac Parade, Kensington, Sydney
No bookings

Opening hours
Thursday to Saturday 6pm-11pm
Sunday 12pm-5pm


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posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 11/14/2016 01:49:00 am


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