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Sunday, February 04, 2007

Friendship Oriental, Beverly Hills

friendship oriental

There's an inherent sense of shame whenever I admit that despite my Chinese heritage, I can barely string two sentences together. Usually this happens in Chinese restaurants when a gabble of Cantonese is hesitantly demurred by an Aussie accent that asks for "the English menu please".

Salt is further rubbed into the wound when I contrast my mother's beguiling charm with any Chinese waiter and my own inability to make inroads past brusque efficiency. A few sentences from her and the waiter's face softens, she makes enquiries as to what vegetables are in the kitchen today, and could they possibly make up one of her favourite dishes?

As for me and my shameful ignorance of my mother's tongue, the Chinese waiters merely shake their heads and sigh.

Tonight my bilingual shortcomings mock me again, when, having made the pilgrimage to Friendship Oriental in Beverly Hills (after reading about the great night-time specials on Emily's blog), I am confronted with a specials menu written entirely in Chinese. The promise of delicious morsels at bargain-basement prices is painstakingly close, and yet so torturously far. It is almost enough to make me cry.

Our waiter is somewhat helpful, but we can tell his heart isn't really in it, as though we are asking more than we linguistically deserve. We persevere though and are soon tucking into our siu ye late night specials (from 10pm every night).

Rice congee with century egg $6.80

Our rice congee with century egg is the first to arrive. Annoyingly we forget to order yu tiao, the deep-fried Chinese bread batons that taste like savoury donuts. The waiters also forget to provide us with spoons and soy sauce too (the table next to us suffers the same fate we notice).

century egg
Century egg

The serving of congee is generous, and fine slices of pork belly appear like treasures within the deep. Morsels of century egg are delicous earthy rainbows, the firm and jelly-like albumen contrasts with the smooth and creamy yolk.

won ton mein
Wonton with egg noodle $3.00

Wonton with egg noodle has four meaty wontons buried beneath.

roast duck noodle
Roast duck with egg noodle $5.60

The roast duck on egg noodles is lean with a shiny glazed skin.

salt and pepper calamari
Salt and pepper calamari $9.80

The highlight is definitely the salt and pepper calamari - finally a pairing of crisp light batter with tender and soft calamari. A party of crispy fried green onion, shallots and lots of garlic tumbles its way over the calamari and onto the bed of puffy vermicelli below. It's intensely garlicky but oh so good.

ducks and pigeons
Hanging ducks and pigeons

Roast ducks and pigeons are a specialty here, and we can't help but loiter by the glassed-in kitchen. The table across from us orders Peking Duck and we watch and drool as we observe the carving ceremony.

peking duck carving

From the street, a deceptively empty front room belies the hubub of diners deep within this restaurant. The next time I get the late night munchies I know where I'm heading, and yes Mum, I know I really should brush up on my Chinese.

friendship oriental kitchen
Friendship Oriental Seafood on Urbanspoon

Friendship Oriental
477-479 King Georges Rd, Beverly Hills, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9586 3288

Open 7 days 5pm to 2am
6 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Anonymous on 2/04/2007 11:58:00 pm


  • At 2/05/2007 8:39 am, Blogger PiCkLeS said…

    I think the prices went up! $5.60 for the noodles?? I must investigate =P

  • At 2/05/2007 12:33 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Argh! I know how you feel about Chinese restaurants and the whole Cantonese thing. I can string more than 2 sentences together but I still can't read Chinese and so my solution is to basically avoid Chinese restaurants if not dining with someone who can read the menu. I feel too embarassed to ask for the one with English because my Cantonese is, albeit heavily Au accented, sufficiently passable for ppl to assume that I can read....!! ARGH!!!


  • At 2/05/2007 2:05 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    aw i can feel your pain! i cant read chinese nor can i speak it apart from naming yum cha items hahaha

  • At 2/05/2007 7:13 pm, Blogger thanh7580 said…

    *Gasp* you can't speak Chinese Helen. I just always assumed you could since you go to so many Chinese restaurants and know the Chinese names for food. Luckily my very bad Chinese is sufficently good that I can read Chinese menus and hence not have to order Beef Black Bean, Lemon Chicken and Spring Rolls from the English menu at Chinese Restaurants. I must thank my mum for forcing me to go to Chinese school every Saturday when I was younger.

  • At 2/05/2007 10:33 pm, Blogger Thyme to Feast said…

    AHH I can kinda of relate, I speak chinese (poorly) but its a dialect not everyone knows, its always 'can you speak cantonese? Mandarin??' 'no its a different one' So i end up having to bascially order in english or sounding silly ordering dishes, I could be saying the name in cantonese, mandarin or even vietnamese for all I know!

    I should have given chinese school more of a chance...other than going to only 2 classes ever...

  • At 2/06/2007 9:45 pm, Blogger Brooke - Little Miss Moi said…

    Wow I'm jealous. All I have where I live now is a wok and one asian-foods trader at the local markets.

    I used to live at Eastwood and I would get the help of some of the other patrons in deciphering the menus. They told me what was on the specials posters, and I'd order it. Or I'd just order "one of what they're having, please". It was a good way to taste new food, as generally what's on the posters isn't in the menu.


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