It took some time to find the entry to Spice Temple, a monogram door on a quiet and dark Bligh Street, opened to a winding staircase which led my Valentine and I to our Sichuan escape.
Spice Temple is apart of Sydney's Rockpool, Neil Perry's world renown Bar and Grill, but a kept secret is around the corner. The 'Cocktail Programme' is 12 drinks, based on the Chinese calendar, suprising ingredients like bitter orange, buttermilk yoghurt and pistachio set the meal up perfectly.
With quite an overwhelming menu and empty stomachs we chose to order the banquet, naturally.
The first few courses of their $69 banquet are intended to open the palate and they did just that. Pickled veggies, cucumbers with smashed garlic and ginger chicken salad in spring onion oil.
The next course and one of my favourites was the steamed eggpland with three flavours coriander, sweet pork and garlic blanched three times said to remove the 'nasty aftermath' it would normally bring. Delicious.
Our table was dimly lit, the mood was elegant and romantic with wooden blinds and splashes of red. Each course is given an explanation on how it should be eaten and why it made it to the menu.
Next came the Hapuka fillet, spicy fried squid with chilli paste, the melt in your mouth wagyu and more, soon feeling as though we could fit not another thing they bring their specialty. Never before have I seen the word 'numbing' on a menu, 'Hot and Numbing pork', strategically put in red on the menu, as are all the fiery hot dishes Spice Temple serves. A pork so hot that your tongue soon becomes numb to the chilli. Don't let that sway it works wonders and some green veggies in their house made oyster are set to follow to quench the fire.
And lastly the watermelon granita, an icy dish with ginger syrup poured over the top.
If you don't like Chinese take away (and I don't blame you) then you'll love Spice Temple.
Book at least 3- 4 weeks in advance and dress for the occasion.