03 August 2011

you're a doll

There are close to hundreds of restaurants I'm dying to try in Sydney. So finally, when the opportunity arises to go anywhere I want, why am I so stumped?

I could list them all to you now, one-by-one like some food obsessed blogger or something....oh wait. 

I found myself free, a Sunday evening, a willing companion and Sydney's food scene as my oyster. Cancelling out the restaurants that are booked up till the next season of MasterChef starts and the ones that have been on MasterChef and don't take any bookings. Well I guess the options weren't endless. But then I thought of the ones that have been around for a while, that I have always wanted to try. 

China Doll is once such place. Their motto should be "China Doll, where the crockery is pretty and the food is damn good." Ok, so it's clear I won't be hired as their copywriter but I would eat there anyway. 

When you see their menu, you'll want to take the easy option and order the banquet but buyer beware - there is no banquet for two.

Apparently it's too much food for two. Clearly they didn't know who they were dealing with. 

We tried to convince the waiter we would be fine, but to no avail so they offered us the option of ordering half serves of their entrees and a few of their mains. Compromise is a beautiful thing. 

The pretty plates
My chilli plate
It could have been the fact that I kept asking what dishes were chilli that gave away my obsession, so our lovely waiter brought me my very own plate of chilli. Sriracha, fresh chillies with soy and dark chilli paste.

Sashimi of Hiramasa kingfish and ocean trout with blackened chilli dressing
This was quite possibly one of the best sashimi dishes I've had in a long time. The sauce had a clever mix of chilli, sweet and sour and the sashimi was layered on crispy, thin apple slices. Both styles of fish were fresh and easy to eat and went down a treat with the pickled ginger.

Chilli salt squid
A much nicer rendition of salt and pepper squid. I loved the crispy salt crust but the chilli didn't quite hit the mark for me, I actually couldn't taste it, lucky I had my trusty chilli plate to help with that. 

2 types of dumplings
So I'll admit this isn't a great photo but once I opened the dumplings, my camera lens would get all steamy. I wasn't going to make my date wait any longer and I didn't want to wait either, I'm a dumpling fiend.

We ordered the Steamed Dumplings with prawn and green soy bean served with tobiko and red vinegar and also the Shu Mai, another steamed style dumpling with prawn, pork, scallop and shitake mushrooms served with chilli oil.

They were both soft and the stuffing was heavenly but those shu mai were my favourite, you could taste every element especially the whole scallops and shitake mushrooms. Truly beautiful.

Crispy pork belly with chilli caramel and nam pla prik
This dish was oh so on the money. Crispy tender pork belly in a sticky, spicy caramel sauce plus the nam pla prik sauce which put simply is fish sauce and chilli. The combination clearly works perfectly and I'm going to have to give this a go at home or I'll be spending all my time and money here. 

Wok fried Asian eggplant and tofu with Sichuan chilli bean paste
I'm going to come clean and say my motive behind ordering this dish came down to, two simple words - Sichuan chilli. It helped that there was eggplant because then my date was on board too.

The sauce was quite sour but balanced quite well by the creamy eggplant and tofu and it had just the right amount of spice, nothing too hot. I like my chilli to be bearable.

There was one other dish ordered, the Panang curry with slow cooked wagyu beef shin. I wish I got a photo of this but I was enjoying it so much I forgot. Valid excuse right? The beef fell off the bone with one tap of the chopstick and melted away in my mouth with the beautiful smooth panang sauce.

You don't need a photo though because it's a must try the next time you're heading to China Doll. Did I mention that it's set on Woollomooloo Wharf, good food and a view? That's rare.



  1. OMG! Crispy Pork belly! I love love love it!

    I too have forgotten to take photos of food that were just too good that I had to dive ine straight away and devour it.

  2. i heart china doll! their sashimi is awesome

  3. @Ramen Raff...so so so easy to do when you're hungry and something looks way too good.

    @chocolate suze, I can't believe this was my first trip there, sashimi is so delicious!

  4. I adore their sashimi dish too! Looking at the photos reminded me of how much I love it :)

  5. Wow...I'm wanting every dish you've mention here! I'm going to add this place to my every growing wishlist (we all have one).

  6. Thanks for the comments ladies. @MissPiggy definitely a must add to your list!

  7. China Doll is my happy place! Demos and I go there every year on our anniversary, and I do love their cocktail list. The tea smoked duck is my fave!

  8. What a great anniversary spot. Can definitely see why you keep going back!