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Review - China Doll



Curiosity drew me to this undeniably popular Finger Wharf entry, but I wasn’t sure quite what to expect! Attracting mostly conservative and wealthy over-thirties, it was surprising to find Scottish-born Chinese chef Frank Shek dishing up playful, and at times challenging, food. Thick, fatty BBQ Lamb Ribs ($22) are juxtaposed with pickled bean sprouts and tangy chilli lime.



Sashimi of Hiramasa Kingfish and Ocean Trout ($26)
arrives speckled red with blackened chilli dressing. It reminds me (if I can be so crass) of Samboy Barbecue Chips; but the combination unlocks the ocean trout so well that I fall more in love with each successive bite. (I’m generally not the biggest ocean trout fan, either.)



Meaty, succulent Fremantle Octopus ($18) is another big win. While I'm here, I should mention that many of these dishes are half serves, which the restaurant does at exactly half of the marked price to boot.



While the prawn and mushroom Steamed Dumplings ($20) may not have the thinnest skin in town, they certainly pack in the most flavour!



Add my name to the masses who will protest if the Penang Curry of Wagyu Beef Shin ($36) ever leaves the menu – it’s incredible!



Michael Watt, who left a legacy of tunes and wine at Manly Pavilion, elevates service here to a whole new level. So it’s prudent to drink his recommended 2009 Peter Lauer Fass Trocken Riesling ($13/glass) after downing a clever Ling Ling ($17) pictured in the rear of this photo.



Now we ate a ridiculous amount of dishes on top of these ones, so forgive me this once if my memory starts to get a bit hazy, it was a long meal! One of my favourites was this half serve of Sichuan Salt and Pepper Prawns with Chilli and Garlic ($36/$18). The sichuan peppers were so fragrant that I suspect they had been freshly ground right before serving, and the batter was one of the best I've tried.



This is the Korean Style Lettuce Wraps with Grilled Pork Belly, Srichacha Mayonnaise and Kim Chi ($36) that perhaps lacked the authenticity of the other dishes, but it's always fun to wrap and roll.



Sadly this one, Crispy Pork Belly with Chilli Caramel and Nahm Pra Phrik ($33) I barely remember at all - so full was I by the time it landed. A definite case of eyes bigger than belly I'm afraid! 

China Doll
4/6 Cowper Wharf Road, Woolloomooloo
Ph: (02) 9380 6744

China Doll on Urbanspoon

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