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Thursday, August 22, 2013

Old Town Hong Kong Cuisine, Chinatown, Sydney

pan fried dumplings at old town hong kong cuisine

Is Hong Kong cuisine the new flavour of the month? On that little stretch of mostly pedestrianised road I like to call Dixon Street North, not one but two restaurants have recently surfaced, both offering food from Hong Kong. At the southern end of the block between Goulburn and Liverpool Street is New Hong Kong Cafe, taking over the first floor site of Malaysian restaurant Nonya. On the other side of the street and opposite Arisun is Old Town Hong Kong Cuisine, two storeys high and gleaming with bright lights and glistening roast ducks hanging in the window.

restaurant dining room
Old Town Hong Kong Cuisine dining room

On a Thursday night the place is heaving, filled with a hubbub of Asian uni students, boisterous families and shoulder-slumping office workers, unwinding for the day. It's noisy but comforting, like only an Asian eatery can be, with a relentless cacophony of chopsticks and chatter.

roast duck oven
Roast duck in the roasting oven

At the front of the restaurant, the roast ducks provide plenty of distraction. First there's the gleaming oven, where patience will reward you with a brief glimpse of a roast duck parade, speedily moving in non-stop circles within the chamber.

chef carving roast duck
Carving roast duck

Standing by the window is the barbecue meat chef, entrusted with a sharp cleaver and the task of carving roast ducks to order. There's a surgical precision about the entire process, even the way the duck slices are placed on a plate and then handed to the uniformed nurse waitstaff.

peking duck with bun
Peking duck with bun $8 for two

Holding pride of place on the counter, under a glass cloche of silence, is the peking duck wrapped in the soft embrace of a steamed white bun.

pigs ears
Pigs ears $5.50

The menu runs across nine pages, helpfully illustrated with occasional photos of dishes, chilli warning signs and little white chef's hats to indicate a restaurant recommendation.

har gao prawn dumplings
Prawn dumplings $6.80

We start with several dishes from the Old Town Dim Sim section - it's a novelty to be able to order siu mai pork dumplings or xiao long bao soup dumplings until well into the night. We test out the classic har gow prawn dumplings, compact little purses that are pleasingly plump with prawns. The skin is thin too, and steamed to a perfect stickiness.

pan fried pork dumplings in birds nest
Pan fried pork dumplings in birds nest $14.80 for 8

Pan-fried pork dumplings are served on a plate that rests incongruously on a pan, and the lacy frill is not only pretty but adds a delicate and elegant crunch to the parcels of pork mince.
crispy seafood spring rolls at old town hong kong cuisine haymarket chinatown sydney
Crispy seafood spring rolls $7.80 for four

There's plenty of contrasting texture, too, in the crispy seafood spring rolls, wrapped in a feathery netting that crumbles deliciously with every bite.

pork trotter in honey vinaigrette
Trotter in honey vinaigrette $5.50

Under the appetiser section, we wade into the pigs trotter - braised in soy and spices and sweetened with honey.

deep fried tofu with spicy salt
Deep fried bean curd with spicy salt $14.80
Stir fried chilli chicken [at rear] $14.80

Dishes arrive in no rhyme or reason from the kitchen, sent out according to speed of cooking. We pounce on the deep fried bean curd with spicy salt, golden brown cubes that belie the fragile tofu core within, and a wok full of stir fried chilli chicken, visually ominous with dried chillies but not overly spiced in taste.

green beans with pork mince
Sauteed green beans with pork mince $14.80

Our vegetable quotient is fulfilled by a bowl of sauteed green beans that appears modest in size at first, but turns out to yield quite a large amount of squeaky beans with garlicky pork mince, spiced up with chilli.

seafood chow mein egg noodles
Seafood combination fried egg noodle $14.80

The fried egg noodle is a winner too, a nest of crunchy chow mein draped with a wet and saucy stir-fry of prawns, squid, mushrooms and Chinese cabbage.

two course peking duck
Whole Peking duck (2 courses) $55

We might have skipped past the live seafood and the congee, but we weren't going to miss out the roast duck. A whole roast duck will set you back $36 but we head straight for top, ordering it Peking Duck-style ($55).

peking duck pancakes
Peking duck pancakes

The two course affair starts with the familiar Peking duck pancakes, a bamboo basket of thin wheat pancakes which you wrap around roast duck slices garnished with cucumber, hoi sin and spring onion.

peking duck roast meat
Peking duck

The Peking duck holds its own, the skin providing a crisp and fragrant sheath that protects juicy and succulent duck flesh.

duck san choy bow
Duck san choy bow

The rest of the duck meat is shredded and served in course number two: duck san choy bow. It's a tumble of duck, water chestnuts, fried vermicelli noodles and crushed peanuts - sweet, salty, fresh and crunchy - all wrapped up in a crisp lettuce leaf cup. Make sure you have it with chilli sauce - even if you have to ask the waitstaff. It's infinitely better.

salty fish and chicken fried rice
Hong Kong old style salty fish and chicken fried rice $12.80

And for anyone still hungry, there's always fried rice. We tried the version with salty fish and chicken but not much salty fish could be detected, although the abundance of omelette was welcomed.

black sesame soup with sweet tofu pudding
Black sesame soup with sweet tofu pudding $6.50

There are a surprising number of desserts here for an Asian restaurant, although they were out of the shaved ice "snow flake" when we visited. The black sesame soup with sweet tofu pudding combines two of my childhood favourites: the nutty ji ma wu black sesame soup with silky soft spoonfuls of quivering tofu fa soy bean pudding.

mango pomelo and sago sweet soup chinese dessert
Mango, pomelo and sago sweet soup with herbal jelly and ice cream $8.50

And there's a bit of everything in the sweet sago soup livened with chunks of mango, pomelo and glossy dark cubes of herbal jelly.

toffee sweet potato chinese dessert
Crispy sweet potato with ice cream $9.80

Little chunks of sweet potato can be amazing when deep-fried and covered in toffee and sesame seeds, but the sweet potato flesh is a little dry and the portion is a modest serve for the price.

deep fried egg white with red bean chinese dessert
Deep fried egg white with red bean $12 for 6 pieces

What I am in awe of is the deep fried egg whites. They really are giant dollops of whipped egg white that are carefully sandwiched around red bean paste or durian and then deep-fried until golden.

deep fried egg white with durian
Deep fried egg white with durian $16 for 6 pieces

Consider them a deep fried floating island, but do remember to check these out. Sure you might find a little residual oil within the airy pockets, but biting into a cloud of egg white is pretty amazing. Red bean paste is always a crowd pleaser but if you want a real kick, go for the durian - the king of fruits!

waiting people

View Larger Map
Old Town Hong Kong Cuisine on Urbanspoon

Old Town Hong Kong Cuisine
10A Dixon Street, Haymarket Chinatown, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9264 3888

Opening hours:
Monday to Sunday 11am - 2am

Related Grab Your Fork posts:
Hong Kong - Ching Yip Coffee Lounge, Haymarket
Hong Kong - The Good Kitchen, Hurstville
34 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 8/22/2013 12:28:00 am


  • At 8/22/2013 9:14 am, Anonymous Amanda @ Gourmanda said…

    This looks amazing! Like you, I grew up on the tofu fa and the ji ma wu - a combination would be amazing!

  • At 8/22/2013 9:29 am, Anonymous angela@mykikicake said…

    I work around the corner from here..must venture for dinner one night :)

  • At 8/22/2013 9:36 am, Blogger Ramen Raff said…

    I've heard awesome things about their peking duck bun! Gotta try soon! And hello their salty fish & chicken fried rice! It's my fav kinda fried rice :)

  • At 8/22/2013 10:04 am, Blogger OohLookBel said…

    Looks more like 'Mr Wong-lite' than old HK, but can't wait to try it!

  • At 8/22/2013 10:22 am, Anonymous Hannah said…

    For a second, the deep fried egg white confused me, but then of course meringue! I'm in.

  • At 8/22/2013 11:01 am, Blogger Tina @ bitemeshowme said…

    Now that was a feast. My bf went here without me (boo hoo) and he was quite impressed!

  • At 8/22/2013 11:09 am, Blogger Milktea Eats said…

    just reading the post has me missing HK so much already!

  • At 8/22/2013 11:17 am, Anonymous Yvonne said…

    Hmmm, I know where to go now for a good simple Chinese food fix!

  • At 8/22/2013 11:28 am, Anonymous john | heneedsfood said…

    Was wondering when you'd get around to sniffing this place out. Looks just as I'd expect. Must give it a go when I'm back in town.

  • At 8/22/2013 11:43 am, Anonymous Nick said…

    I'm already really excited to go back. I didn't try any desserts. I've never had deep fried egg whites - they look amazing.

  • At 8/22/2013 11:48 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I past this place last night and was wondering what they offer. I can't wait to try all the tasty dishes you mentioned

  • At 8/22/2013 12:06 pm, Anonymous billy @ a table for two said…

    Man, the name is confusing me with Ipoh Old Town restaurant! LOL the lacy pork dumprings look so pretty though!

  • At 8/22/2013 3:17 pm, Blogger Von said…

    I've heard much about the New Hong Kong Cafe but I didn't know there was this one as well! haha.... I'd really love to try the deep fried egg white

  • At 8/22/2013 4:41 pm, Blogger Jarhead said…

    I've been a couple of times since it opened! The food is fantastic. Really love the Peking Duck and the Beans with Pork. One random dish that we tried that was really bizarre, but delicious was the Boiled Fish with Pickles. Really tasty, with a strange Szechuan Pepper tongue numbing after-effect... Great pictures!

  • At 8/22/2013 5:46 pm, Anonymous gastronomous anonymous said…

    oh i have heard great things about this place! wouldn't mind trying the peking duck!

  • At 8/22/2013 6:32 pm, Blogger retrodaze said…

    wow the outside of the restaurant looks fancier/nicer than I expected!

  • At 8/22/2013 6:43 pm, Anonymous Kelly @ MsBrulee said…

    Oh Helen you always find such amazing eats! The picture you took of the duck slices is so engrossing I'm finding it really difficult to take my eyes of the computer screen...

  • At 8/22/2013 7:47 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Great post, all over the Peking Duck and the dumplings. Never had Sesame soup, had sesame cheese cake once though. Love the photos.Might be time for Chinese.

  • At 8/22/2013 8:59 pm, Blogger joey@forkingaroundsydney said…

    Great post as always. The food looks pretty ho hum. As someone said, Mr Wong-lite.

  • At 8/22/2013 10:47 pm, Anonymous steph | alittlebitoftang said…

    Everything there look homestyle , just like HK ! That birds nest fried dumpling looks so good !

    Deep fried egg white with durian is interesting! I'm surprised they sell it at a restaurant since a lot of people complain about the smell =\

  • At 8/22/2013 11:28 pm, Anonymous chocolatesuze said…

    ooh those egg white puffs with durian sounds all kinds of amazing!

  • At 8/22/2013 11:36 pm, Blogger MAB vs Food said…

    Really great post again! This is certainly a place i need to check out. I like the look of the black sesame with sweet tofu pudding. And that peking duck bun in the cloche! How cool does that look!

  • At 8/23/2013 12:01 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Oh oh oh I walked past Old Town when I was in Sydney last weekend!!! All the dishes are so familiar because my parents are from HK and I go back twice a year :)

  • At 8/23/2013 7:12 am, Blogger Unknown said…

    Oh God!!!
    I just want to dig in and eat everything!!!
    How lush!!
    I will have to pin it :)
    Oh, I just noticed that you are not on my blogroll so I will fix that now :)

  • At 8/23/2013 8:11 pm, Blogger Sarah said…

    That place looks like so much fun, and a little fancy too! Love the glass dome on top of the peking duck bun. :)

  • At 8/24/2013 9:34 pm, Anonymous LisaKK said…

    This post made me salivate and I ended up going tonight after decided that I must have those pan fried pork dumplings in birds nest. Amazing! It was our wedding anniversary and we couldn't decide where to go, we ended up having fun sitting in the stools in front of the bbq meats counter.Have to say, the service was unexpectedly friendly! Thanks for the post and recommendation!Loved it!

  • At 8/24/2013 10:29 pm, Anonymous Cara @ Gourmet Chick said…

    This post takes me back to Hong Kong - love the look and sound of the duck san choi bao!

  • At 8/25/2013 3:55 pm, Anonymous Priscilla @ foodpornnation.com said…

    OMG what a great review! I want to come here so bad. Reminds of HK so much, god I love the way you write Helen! You are such a word smith!!

  • At 8/25/2013 4:08 pm, Anonymous msihua said…

    Everything looks so delicious! I want a dome of peking duck (the whole duck though) and pigs ears! Wheeee

  • At 8/25/2013 11:27 pm, Blogger Vivian - vxdollface said…

    Oh I went here recently, loved the fit-out especially all the hanging light bulbs and stools. I love the combination at black sesame dessert and sweet tofu dessert, it's known as 'black & white' lol.

  • At 8/25/2013 11:39 pm, Blogger Annie said…

    walked past this restaurant on friday night. the lines are already getting crazy. will definitely check this out soon

  • At 8/26/2013 4:51 pm, Anonymous Christine @ Cooking Crusade said…

    So many great classic Chinese dishes here. I need to give this place a try, thanks for a great review!

  • At 9/15/2013 9:33 am, Anonymous Olivia said…

    I have the biggest craving for Beijing duck now!!

  • At 9/15/2013 9:33 am, Anonymous Olivia said…

    I have the biggest craving for Beijing duck now!!


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