Christmas always signals for an exciting period of the year...there's bubbly, good food, laughter and at the end of it, there's usually a holiday break for most people :) This year was quite special for me because it was the first official Christmas work lunch I attended and we were lucky enough to go to China Doll at the beautiful Woolloomooloo Wharf for the occasion!
What's a celebration without some good champagne? Unfortunately I wasn't the one who ordered this so I have no clue what the specific name of the bottle was but it was a sparkling delight that kept refilling and refilling, to our hearty content :)
Menu wise, you can go A La Carte or if you're with a big group (more than 4 people), you could consider trying out the banquet menu options, which we did. We went with the scrumptious $69 Banquet Per Person - upon glancing at the courses that was to come, I was beyond ecstatic.
The Chilli Salt Squid was one of the best squids I've ever had - each piece was coated with a thin layer of batter and produced the perfect crunch once bitten into. It was so tender and flavoursome, everyone was going crazy for it! The chilli definitely added extra spice and flavour into the squid and was addictive as hell.
You seriously can't go wrong with Steamed Half Shell Scallops with Ginger and Shallot. This classic Asian seafood dish proved to be very popular as everyone on the table reached forward immediately to grab their little shell of heaven.
The scallops were beautifully flavoured from the ginger and shallots and it was a meaty bite! Yumm!
Usually I'm not a big fan of Zucchini but these Corn & Zucchini Cakes sold me good. Fried to perfection and accompanied with Coriander Sambal, these croquette-like balls were beyond unique and delish.
I loved the textural contrast of the crispy outer shell with the soft fluffy fillings and when dipped into the Sambal sauce, oh god, it was a veggie treat for sure.
The San Choy Boy was so-so for me but the rest of the table seemed to really like it! Everyone complimented on how fragrant and tasty the finely chopped beans were.
You know how occasionally, there's that one dish that makes your heart stop and your eyes enlarge with absolute amazement that something could taste THAT good? Well at China Doll, the Pork Belly with Chilli Caramel & Nam Pla Phrik makes it into that rare category. The aromas from the dish went soaring into my senses before I even set my chopstick onto a piece!
It was tender, juicy, flavoursome and fatty - just the way a good old pork belly should be. The outer edges were golden crunchy, caremelised with a sticky coat of tastiness whilst the insides melted delicately in your mouth. The key to the dish definitely lied in the sauce: slightly thick with fragrant spices and hints of sweet chilli - this plate was my happy place. Little exquisite cubes of joy.
Some Steamed Jasmine Rice and Chinese Greens to go with all the super tasty food :)
The next hero dish of the day was the Steamed Cone Bay Barramundi! Sitting afloat some Chinese Bok Choys and topped with Chilli Garlic and Mustard Greens, all the abundant flavours were cooked straight into the fish. The sauce again was the unique magical ingredient that kept me going back for more - the perfect drizzle over some plain rice. The Barramundi itself was perfectly cooked, you couldn't have asked for more tenderness in a fish. Thumbs up for this!
The Crispy Chicken was crazily crispy on the outside and was another delightful treat for the table as we all digged right in. The Pickled Chilli Vinaigrette was zesty and tangy - a great match with both the chicken and rice.
Oh and did I mention, it was super tender as well? Man this place just can not do any wrong can they?
Although by then we were already quite full, we still pondered the most important question: "What's for dessert?". The Dessert Platter was a beautiful take on sweet Asian influences and attracted alot of oohs and ahhs - at least from me it did :P
My favourite was definitely the Sago Pudding with Fresh Passionfruit Coulis. It was sticky and sweet - perfect with the assorted Sorbets! The Sticky Black Rice was a little too heavy and bitter for me though it seemed to do well with the others. I am seriously salivating this all over again as I stare intently at the picture below...
The back wall of the restaurant was adorned with these beautiful pieces of China - a stunning backdrop in real life!
AND the perfect weather and location to go with it :D
China Doll definitely impressed me with its modern take on classic Asian cuisine. The atmosphere was buzzing and the location proved to be the ideal lunch spot, provided that the weather is on your side of course :) Service was also lovely and the banquet menu was a great option to go that day.
I would definitely return for another meal because from what I've heard - there are so many other signature dishes I have yet to try out! Overall, it was definitely a memorable and delicious Christmas lunch. The perfect finish to a busy and eventful year :)
6 Cowper Wharf Road
Sydney NSW 2011