Having had a wonderful Rockpool experience the night before, we decided to make it a Neil Perry double whammy and have lunch at Spice Temple.
We walked over about 1pm ish and asked for a table which was easy. It surprises me it's never busier especially when other Crown restaurants such as Number 8 get pretty chocka on a sunny Sunday afternoon. I guess the fact that Spice Temple doesn't have an outdoor terraces is a factor.
I love the pink aura in Spice Temple and I hope that one day we can sit downstairs on a busy evening as I think it'll be a pretty cool party place too. Anyway today there were beautiful lillies in cages on display.
- Lamb and cumin pancakes
- Tea smoked duck breast with pickled cabbage and Chinese mustard
- Caramelised pork spare ribs
Next a huge dish of ribs came out. We had been warned it was a big serve in spite of it being on the "small plate" section of the menu. These pork ribs were chewy and sticky and caramelly and oh so tasty.
The lamb and cumin pancakes reminds me of naan bread stuffed with doner meat or a keema naan (is that the mince one?). Ok it was a better than that and the pancake bit was flaky and golden but it wasn't a stellar dish. One to miss next time.
Hot, sweet, sour and numbing pork with chilli, sugar, black vinegar and Sichuan peppercorn was our next dish. What a powerful punch this packed. The Sichuan peppercorn rendered our tongues useless. The sensation of drinking water and wine with this was a little strange - like lots of fizzing happening in the mouth! This is certainly a memorable dish - I'm not sure I enjoyed too much of it as it was all a bit tongue tingling but it's certainly one to remember and talk about. I'd love for our spice loving friends to try this and see what their reactions are.
We also enjoyed a fillet of beef with wok blistered peppers in black bean sauce. This was delicious and a really nice salty contrast to the pork. It was light and tasty version of the old Chinese takeaway favourite and it was far superior to the gloopy, gluggy, glossy black bean sauce that is served up. The beef fillet was tender and retained the beef flavour and the sauce was almost broth like that was great with the steamed rice.
Our veggie choice was fried green beans with minced pork and XO sauce. Also a really nice dish with rice.
Our tingling mouths meant we were keen for a cooling dessert and we decided to share mango pudding with condensed milk chantilly. The peanut brittle it came with had that delicious burnt sugar flavour, flaky crunch and then the flavour of peanuts came out. Yummy with the mango pudding that was creamy and sweet. Just what we needed to finish the meal.
I love the Chinese restaurants in Melbourne. I love the down and out places with fluorescent lighting and brisk service. I love the budget friendliness of these joints. I love yum cha too. I think though that Spice Temple, may just be my favourite Chinese restaurant in Melbourne. I know it's not cheap compared to the other places but if I had to score everything across service, ambience, quality of food, value for money, it would probably take first place.