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Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Eight, Haymarket

The Eight is the latest restaurant to take up residence on the third floor of Market City, undergoing a complete overhaul in interior design to match its modern Chinese fusion menu. A re-positioning of the entrance is the first thing that you'll notice on approach, no longer opposite the movie foyer but shifting around the corner to a more glamorous setting.

The restaurant name is no coincidence - the number eight has always been associated with luck in Chinese custom, as it sounds very similar to the word for fortune. Here at the huge 750-seater restaurant, the number eight has even been worked into the carpet by Hong Kong designer Danny Chang.

Owners Chillie Poon and Henry Tang with the evening's host Glen Wheeler

Although The Eight opened for business at the start of this year, the official VIP launch dinner was only held earlier this month. Here we learnt that co-owner Henry Tang originally began his career as a town planner, before opening Silver Spring with his wife Chillie Poon. Business was great, Henry says, and Silver Spring was the most popular restaurant in Chinatown - until Kam Fook opened in Market City.

Kam Fook progressed through a series of owners, evolving into Dragon Star and then China Grand. When the site became available recently, Henry leapt at the opportunity.

The Eight dining room

An assembly of dignitaries, celebrities and food journalists were treated to a ten-course banquet, with proceedings overseen by 2GB radio host, Glen Wheeler.

Szechuan pepper squid

We started with Szechuan pepper squid, eaten clean by all, before moving on to the stir-fried spanner crab with salty egg yolk, sadly abandoned by many who grappled with chopsticks and extracting flesh from the shell.

Stir-fried spanner crab with salty egg yolk

The only way to attack this crab is with fingers, and I made no hesitation in digging in. The salty egg yolk, a rich crumble of duck egg plastered to every surface, has to be patiently scraped clean with the teeth for maximum enjoyment. This was deliciously good, the salty egg contrasting with the sweet morsels of crab flesh. The sight of so many uneaten plates on other tables did make me weep on the inside.

San choy bow

Wok-seared diced beef fillet with foie gras paste and asparagus

We continued with parcels of san choy bow wrapped in crisp lettuce cups, stir-fried king prawns and scallops and wok-seared diced beef with foie gras paste and asparagus. The beef was admirably soft and tender, although the flavour of foie gras was hard to detect.

Stir-fried king prawns and scallops with vegetables

Peking duck carving

The arrival of the Peking ducks brought a frisson of excitement to the room, with four waiters urged to carve as fast as possible in an impromptu race. Their shiny cleavers glinted as they cut into lustrous tiles of roasted duck skin, but otherwise the waiters were quietly serious, passing up the opportunity to play up to the crowd or the cameras.

Peking duck

Slicing the Peking duck skin

Assembling the Peking duck pancakes

The Peking duck pancakes were served with lengths of green scallion and dabs of the house-made hoisin sauce. 

Fried pork ribs with garlic

Dishes rolled forth like neverending waves on a beach. We hoed into a spicy kung pao chicken, stir-fried baby bok choy, fried rice and golden-fried battered pork ribs laden with crushed raw garlic.

For dessert we finished with a duo of fresh mango pancakes, a thin pancake wrapped around sponge cake, cream and sweet fresh mango, and osmanthus jelly cubes set with pretty tendrils of osmanthus flowers.

I eight it all. It seemed like the luckiest thing to do.

Level 5, Market City
9-13 Hay Street, Haymarket Chinatown, Sydney
Tel: +1 (02) 9282 9988

Opening hours:
Monday to Friday 10am-3.30pm and 5.30pm-11pm
Saturday and Sunday 9am-4pm and 5.30pm-11pm

Related Grab Your Fork posts:
The Eight, Haymarket (Jan 12)
25 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 4/24/2011 04:23:00 am


  • At 4/24/2011 6:38 am, Blogger joey@forkingaroundsydney said…

    Fingers is the only way to go for some dishes, and there's no shame in that. :-) I wonder why the official launch dinner is so long after the opening? Unfortunately to say, it seems like the same-old same-old to me; you would think for a ten-course feast designed to highlight the restaurant, there'd be at least one fish course! The pics are great but nothing grabs me as being interesting or worthy of going back to try.

  • At 4/24/2011 8:43 am, Blogger Mel said…

    Drool! Why am I reading this before breakfast? It's just making want to go out and gorge myself on Yum Cha asap. Food looks lovely...the duck, so yum.

  • At 4/24/2011 8:54 am, Blogger Simon Leong said…

    that Fried pork ribs with garlic and those ducks look amazingly good :-)

  • At 4/24/2011 9:08 am, Blogger Unknown said…

    750 seats - that is a lot of seats! Love the peking duck carving race

  • At 4/24/2011 10:20 am, Blogger K said…

    Did you say salted egg yolk? With crab? I want some!

  • At 4/24/2011 10:23 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Hey how did you find the service? When we went for a 3 table family dinner, all the dishes were prepared and left on the serving table getting cold whilst we were still on our first course, no joke :( even the steamed live fish was sitting on the side getting cold!

  • At 4/24/2011 10:39 am, Anonymous john@heneedsfood said…

    Diced beef with foie gras, yes please! I'll take one of those glistening ducks as well!

  • At 4/24/2011 11:01 am, Anonymous Nobal Glomad said…

    I think Glen Wheeler's suit is sponsored by GLAD Foil??
    Thanks Helen for a new Sunday recovery option... Deep fried heaven :)

  • At 4/24/2011 11:52 am, Blogger thang @ noodlies said…

    Hum.. another big Chinese restaurant on this challenging site...

  • At 4/24/2011 12:22 pm, Anonymous Shaun@everybodylovesramen said…

    I think I heard that fried pork rib w/ garlic calling my name..

  • At 4/24/2011 12:50 pm, Blogger Janine said…

    It does seem surprising that they didn't feature a fish dish - perhaps they thought it might be a hassle? But the salted egg yolk looks OMG yummy :)

  • At 4/24/2011 12:58 pm, Anonymous chocolatesuze said…

    rofl @ eight it all lolllll but mmm salted egg yolk crab! hands all da way!

  • At 4/24/2011 4:27 pm, Anonymous Hannah said…

    You know, I was going to say when I read the bit about people giving up on the crab, "But surely, Helen, you took up the slack?" :D I heart you.

    Also, guess what! I have Szechuan salt and pepper squid today, at Easter lunch! Except mine was just salt squid, in reality. Sad.

    I'm also unsure about how I feel about the flowers nestled in the look-broken necks of the ducks... :P

  • At 4/24/2011 5:07 pm, Anonymous The Concealer said…

    Wow! I was there yesterday for yum cha and it was INSANE. I felt like a rock star though cause my partner and I just walked in and got a table whilst the larger tables were waiting. Yum Cha was good. I thought it would be yum cha but better?

  • At 4/24/2011 7:44 pm, Blogger Jennifer Reid said…

    That duck looked delicious! Bet there was none of that left on the plate :)

  • At 4/24/2011 8:52 pm, Blogger Jen said…

    The pork ribs with garlic look so good. The military-like attack on the ducks is pretty funny.

  • At 4/24/2011 9:02 pm, Anonymous sara (Belly Rumbles) said…

    I feel pretty confident using chopsticks with most things, but there are times where I need to use my fingers and I have no problems in doing so. Thought I often wonder who maybe tsk tsking me from another table, hehe.

    The spanner crab sounds and looks finger licking :)

  • At 4/24/2011 10:17 pm, Blogger OohLookBel said…

    They certainly know how to put on a nice spread of food; the fried pork ribs and Peking duck look delicious. Maybe I should go back for dinner (my yum cha experience there was underwhelming).

  • At 4/25/2011 12:00 am, Blogger YaYa said…

    I would have no shame in packing up the leftover crab to gnaw away at a later time! They obviously didn't invite REAL foodies to the launch, hehe!

  • At 4/25/2011 9:53 am, Anonymous Claire said…

    We had yum cha here a few weeks ago and it was fabulous - the service was quick and very helpful (so much so that we were surprised) and the sui mai and har gow were incredible. After these descriptions it looks like we're going to go back for supper one of these days!

  • At 4/25/2011 6:19 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Foie gras in a Chinese restaurant sounds weird. All the other stuff seems pretty traditional to me.

  • At 4/26/2011 7:18 pm, Anonymous Gareth said…

    Aside from the drool inducing photos great post, great insight to Eight Helen! I love peking duck pancakes, my fav Chinese dish of all time with hoi sin sauce.

  • At 4/27/2011 11:37 am, Blogger Viv said…

    awesome, another place to try out next time in in chinatown (and another place for peking duck!) the place looks so neat...the waiters even have uniform! haha.

  • At 5/01/2011 11:55 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    OMG!!! I wished I lived in Sydney!!! gahhhhh!!!

  • At 5/04/2011 9:25 am, Blogger susan said…

    Ooh those pork ribs with garlic look amazing. I love pork rib anything really..


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