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Thursday, July 09, 2009

Super Meal Chinese Restaurant, Haymarket Chinatown, Sydney

Looking for a late night dinner in Sydney? Most of the time we end up heading toward Chinatown.

I'm not quite sure when Super Bowl on Goulburn turned into a Super Meal. The frontage and signage is exactly the same, the only difference is the blue cursive neon lighting switched from Bowl to Meal. And again, inside, everything remains pretty much as I remembered.

Rice bowls waiting for goodies

Super Bowl. Super Meal. It's always played host to creatures of the night looking for a congee fix. The decor isn't much to look at, and service is, er, minimal, but the food is fast and there's plenty of different dishes from which to choose.

Pearl sago with cereal $4.80

Chocolatesuze makes a request for a Hong Kong coffee, that odd mix of milky tea and coffee served on ice and very sweet. I give in to the intrigue of the pearl sago drink with cereal, a mild-tasting milk topped with a mound that looks like sawdust but tastes somewhat of ground rice, soy beans and oats. The sago pearls at the bottom are always relished, with their satisfying chewiness.

Cereal powder

There are 12 of us tonight, a hungry mob that includes Billy, Howard, Karen, Minh, Shez, Simon and Suze. Billy is put in charge of ordering, and before the tea in our cup has cooled, the food begins to arrive. Dishes are dispatched from the kitchen as soon they're ready, seemingly cooked in no particular order and ferried relentlessly by waitstaff to our soon over-flowing table.

Fried pippis in XO chilli sauce $26.40 (market price)

Pippis in XO chilli sauce are always a winner. There's something quite sensual about the way they're eaten, using your fingers to pull the shell wide open, pursing your lips around the shell and using your teeth to pull off the meat, and then getting your tongue into every crevice to lick up the sweet, salty and fiery XO chilli sauce.

Deep-fried spare ribs with spicy salt $16.50

Deep-fried spare ribs are a tad on the oily side but the serving is generous and the flesh is soft and tender.

Sampan congee (tang jai jook) $26.80

The huge bowl of congee for the table is so wide and deep you would swear it could double as a baptismal font. We choose the sampan congee, the traditional Hong Kong style congee that contains a lucky dip of intestines, squid and pork mince topped with crunchy fried wonton skins, roasted peanuts and the happy green of fresh shallots. It warms our bellies and nourishes our stomachs like a visit to Grandma on Sunday.

Deep fried fritter $2.40 per stick (four serves pictured)
In Chinese: you tiao or yau jar gwai

The highlight of any congee is the accompanying yau jar gwai, deep-fried krullers of dough that taste like airy savoury donuts. These are a touch oily chewy, not quite as good as the consistently crunchy but fluffy version at Super Bowl on Dixon Street. Billy and I have a running debate over whether Super Bowl or Super Meal is better (I'm all team Super Bowl).

Sampan congee

Deep-fried shredded beef with Peking sauce $17.80

I've never quite understood the appeal of deep-fried shredded beef with Peking sauce. The Pom and Big D are firm fans, relishing the battered tendrils of beef coated in a thick and sticky sauce. I tend to find this dish overly chewy, the beef barely discernible in the thick armour of batter.

Big D grabs his fork and digs in

Fried handmade noodles Shanghainese style in XO chilli $12.80

We move onto the spicier and more fragrant dishes. Fried handmade noodles Shanghainese style are a gleaming muddle of pulled noodles, flat chives, onion and beef cooked with enough XO chilli sauce to make you whistle.

Stir fried French beans in fine shrimp sauce $15.50

Stir fried French beans in fine shrimp sauce make use of that pungently aromatic block of fermented ground shrimp known as belacan (pronounced blah-chahn). The Pom notices us attacking the dish with our chopsticks with great gusto and is keen to find out the attraction. His nose wrinkles as soon as he tastes it - the belacan has quite a strong salty fishy taste - a flavour I call feisty, but one that marries particularly well with the clean sweet squeakiness of fresh green beans.

Deep fried crisy skin chicken (half) $17.50

Deep-fried crispy skin chicken is a textural yin-yang of delicate and brittle golden-glazed skin against the juicy plumpness of the meat below.

Deep-fried squid with spicy salt $16.50

And can any group dinner resist the lure of deep-fried squid with spicy salt? Curls of calamari are dusted lightly with flour and then deep-fried until just cooked. This version is more on the floury side than the crisp batter I prefer, but then I am a fan of the fresh chilli and shallot scattered version at Super Bowl.

Which team do you barrack for? Super Bowl or Super Meal?

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Supermeal Chinese Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Super Meal Chinese Restaurant
39 Goulburn Street, Haymarket Chinatown, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9211 1568

Open 7 days 11am-2am

Related GrabYourFork posts:
Supermeal, Haymarket (Apr11)
Super Bowl Dixon Street, Haymarket
18 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 7/09/2009 01:13:00 am


  • At 7/09/2009 1:47 am, Anonymous divemummy said…

    Boy it's been a long time since I've been to Super Meal (Bowl) - I'd say close to 5 years.

    Hmm...could the cereal powder on that drink be Horlicks? It's made from malt and cereal and kinda tastes like a cerealy version of malted milk powder. I believe it's as popular in Hong Kong as Milo is here.

    Totally agree with your disdain of deep-fried battered beef strips. Interesting that the Pom and Big D relish it. Do you know where the dish originated? I never saw it in Sydney until a few years when I think I first tried it at the Hung Cheung in Marrickville.

    Have you tried the 1000 year egg congee at Super Meal or Super Bowl? That's my favourite flavour - Canton House at Burwood does a good version.

  • At 7/09/2009 3:07 am, Blogger Karen | Citrus and Candy said…

    To be honest I don't notice the hugest of difference b/w Supermeal and Superbowl. I think Supermeal is still the same with regards to food, except for the name change (and different managers!).

    I think I choose Supermeal just out of familiarity, habit and because the premises are bigger, better and tends to have less waiting time than Superbowl :)

  • At 7/09/2009 8:34 am, Blogger Vanessa Pike-Russell said…

    Looks like 'Chef's Choice' in Wollongong. I love pippies but usually pay $9.90 when they are in season. Would you be interested in travelling down to Wollongong to explore some of the great restaurants in the Illawarra?

  • At 7/09/2009 11:04 am, Anonymous Lance said…

    My dad loves the Deep-Fried Batterred Beef Strips and it's called Rusty Nails at our local restaurant at Riverwood.

    Anyway it was called Supermeal after the Superbowl owners sold out, must have been about two years ago.

    I prefer Supermeal but back up Divemummy - Canton House at Hurstville serves up awesome congee as well as great wontons.

  • At 7/09/2009 2:31 pm, Blogger Stephcookie said…

    I haven't tried either yet but it's great that there are late night food options in Sydney. I'd be even better if it became more widespread! It must be a Malaysian thing but I love late night supper and get the biggest cravings for greasy food at weird times of the night!

  • At 7/09/2009 5:27 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Awwww thx so much for including me ^^! even though I wasn't there hee hee Hmm I can actually nearly taste the food through your descriptions and photos tho!

  • At 7/10/2009 1:00 am, Anonymous billy@ATFT said…

    when I look for deep fried, battered food, I want it durrrtyyyy... :P
    I quite like the beef strips, is battered and deep fried, gotta be good right? :) At some restaurant, u can order some steamed bun and put the beef strips inside and chomp down. sooo gooddddd.... :P

    Helen, Supermeal holds closer to our hearts.... ;)

  • At 7/10/2009 11:11 am, Blogger Forager said…

    I agree with Karen, there isn't a great difference in terms of food quality or service with these 2 establishments - but on principle, I go to Super Bowl. I feel like Super Meal is sneakily trying to pull one over my eyes.

  • At 7/10/2009 11:42 am, Anonymous chocolatesuze said…

    mmm my coffee tea drink was tasty. not so much the cereal drink heh

  • At 7/10/2009 12:10 pm, Anonymous clekitty said…

    Ooh wow... That food looks uber yummy. I must go and have a late night meal there :D

  • At 7/10/2009 6:32 pm, Anonymous jonathan said…

    The foods look so amazing.. ! And chinese food is one of my favorites. You write a great review, thank you so much!

  • At 7/11/2009 10:04 am, Blogger K said…

    wow! I love it how your pics make something so simple look so tasty! Makes me crave congee!!

  • At 7/11/2009 7:17 pm, Blogger TheBigB3n said…

    It used to be a much closer call between Supermeal and Superbowl with the cheaper prices and shorter queues despite a slight lack in taste at Supermeal when compared to Superbowl winning me over all those late uni nights.

    However with the quality drop around 4 months back(maybe more), its definitely back to Superbowl for me. The batter for the salt and spicy squid at Supermeal has a grainy and thick texture and the congees now has a distinct lack in flavour and sometimes overly floury starchy feel vs Superbowl.

    P.S. The deep fried beef strips with peking sauce is awesome!!!

  • At 7/12/2009 10:57 am, Blogger June said…

    wah liao 2.40 per stick for the fritter freaking expensive here it is RM1.00 for 5 stick and it is far more bigger than the one in the picture softer ;P

  • At 7/12/2009 10:58 pm, Anonymous Howa said…

    The convenience of Supermeal/Superbowl is great for the late night munchies, and you know that the food will be half decent without being outstanding. I love the fried spare ribs with spicy salt/chili, I have to order it every time I go to a Chinese restaurant.

  • At 7/13/2009 10:47 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Divemummy - Nope the cereal powder definitely wasn't Horlicks - I love that stuff. I'm sure it's the "cereral drink" stuff you find in Asian groceries. It wasn't overly sweet but it tasted like it was meant to be good for you :)

    Oh I love Century egg congee - the problem is finding people who agree to order it! Although now I have a congee-making rice cooker, I usually get my fix by keeping a stash of century eggs at home.

    Hi Karen - Au contraire! I think there's a huge difference between the Bowl and the Meal. lol. I find the S&P calamari and the you tiao vastly different. Not different? Just ask Billy - he's Camp Meal all the way :)

    Hi Vanessa - Haven't been the 'gong in eons. I don't have a car so I'd have to convince others about the culinary delights of eating out in the 'gong, but hey $9.90 for pippies could be a suitably strong enough inducement!

    Hi Lance - Oh that's right - I remember a friend ordering Rusty Nails in London and I had no idea what it was. I think it was actually my first ever encounter!

    Didn't realise it became Super Meal two years ago? Funny how you don't notice the subtle name changes. I haven't been to Canton House in Hurstville but I have been to the one in Burwood.

    Hi Stephcookie - It's funny that all the chefs head to Chinatown when they knock off work because that's the only place you'll find food in the early hours. Asians do love late night suppers don't they? I wish there was more of it, especially night markets! It's a shame the Chinatown markets are only on Fridays and not throughout the year.

    Hi FFichiban - lol. How did that happen? I blame, um, blogger. You must've been there in spirit! Heh.

    Hi Billy - lol. SUPER BOWL, SUPER BOWL. Oddly the thought of adding a mantou bun to the beef strips sounds much more appealing - probably because I love those buns!

    Hi Forager - haha, I think it is strange how they've tried to pretend they are still Super Bowl and hope people won't notice. A bit like Deli France on the corner changing its name to De La France. lol.

    Hi Chocolatesuze - Ha, I mainly ordered the drink because you were so intrigued by the cereal. It tasted as I expected - very odd. lol.

    Hi Clekitty - Always good to have options late at night. Just because it's late, doesn't mean you should settle for bad food!

    Hi Jonathan - Glad you enjoyed the post.

    Hi K - Ooh I always have cravings for congee. It makes everything in the world so much better against doesn't it?

    Hi TheBigB3n - Yay, another backer for Team Super Bowl. lol. But oh noes, you like the deep fried beef strips? Maybe it's an acquired taste? At least you're team Super Bowl - you must have good taste. lol.

    Hi June - Oh I'm sure everything here is much more expensive! Would love to go to Malaysia sometime. The food sounds amazing (and cheap too!).

    Hi Howa - Funny how everyone has their "must order" favourite. I'm quite partial to S&P calamari and I do love my you tiao too.

  • At 7/13/2009 10:59 pm, Anonymous Yas said…

    Hmmm i just love foodblogger's eat out - so many dishes on the table!

    Is this where you guys ended up after waiting for a table at Chat thai??

  • At 7/13/2009 11:19 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Yas - Nope we ended up at I-San Thai around the corner that night. This was actually where we ended up after the opening night of Billy's exhibition :)


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