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Tuesday, October 02, 2012

First Taste, Campsie

beef tenderloin claypot rice at First Taste Campsie

Forget the Paleo diet. There are few things more comforting than a bowl of freshly cooked rice soaking up the sweet and salty sauces of a meaty stew.

You could go one better of course, and that, my friends, is the joy that is clay pot rice, cooked over flames until a delicious golden crust forms on the bottom. It's a specialty at First Taste in Campsie, one of the fancier restaurants along the main strip, although it's still DIY tissues and tea thermoses on every table.

Dining room decor at First Taste Campsie
First Taste Campsie dining room

The menu is cheap and cheerful with most dishes coming in under ten dollars. Stewed herbal soups feature heavily, with broths including crocodile with pork and dried coconut ($6.90); pork lung with dried bak choy ($4.50) and black chicken with ginseng ($6.30).

deep fried five spicy salt pork chop at First Taste Campsie
Deep fried five spice salt pork chop $9.80

There's an Old Time Favourites section that lists sweet and sour pork and boneless lemon chicken. We zero in on the deep fried five spice salt pork chop, a generous serving of two pork chops that is tender and less oily than you'd expect, marinated in what tastes like a fermented soy bean paste.

chicken with mushrooms and Chinese sausage clay pot rice at First Taste Campsie
Chicken with mushroom and Chinese sausage clay pot rice $8.50

But it's the clay pot rice we're keen to explore. Deciding which one is the hardest part - there are 21 different variations to choose from, like quail with oyster sauce ($9.50) and eel ($13.50).

We stick with the basics. Beef tenderloin ($8.50) [top] falls apart with a melting softness. And then there's the treasure trove of the chicken clay pot, a party of chicken pieces, plumped-up dried shiitake mushrooms and Chinese sausage braised gently in soy. The fatty slivers of Chinese sausage are the best bit.

crispy rice at First Taste Campsie
Crunchy rice

It's hard not to scrape the bottom of the pot immediately, but if you let it sit a while, you'll be rewarded with an even crunchier layer of golden rice. I remember my Grandma and I savouring this bit from the stovetop rice cooked in a pot - in today's era of rice cookers this is a long-lost pleasure.

The little burnt bits of rice will probably get stuck in your teeth, but it's worth it just to savour its nutty smokiness, and maybe take a trip down memory lane as well.

rice at First Taste Campsie

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First Taste (Campsie) on Urbanspoon

First Taste
233 Beamish Street, Campsie, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 8065 3679

Opening hours:
Monday to Sunday 11am-10pm

Also at:
316 Forest Road, Hurstville
Tel: +61 (02) 8065 2178

Related Grab Your Fork posts:
Campsie - Albee's Kitchen
Campsie - Keung Kee Seafood Restaurant
Campsie - Se Joung
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posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 10/02/2012 12:07:00 am


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