Owner Leslie Chan is a third generation Chinese Physician, and this newly opened restaurant combines his interest in Chinese herbs with a range of Chinese and Equatorial dishes. Leslie believes the herbs make his dishes healthier and tastier, and after trying his cuisine, I’m inclined to agree. This stance about health is backed up by him not offering soft drinks – just tea and juice - though this will of course have to change when he gets his liquor license and requires mixers. His tea is excellent, and he hopes that they will make it a take-home product in the future. All of the dishes are also free of M.S.G..
While Leslie writes the recipes (he says timing is crucial), his wife Demi Chan performs the magic in the kitchen. The waitress's uniforms come courtesy of Singapore Airlines (old stewardess uniforms) and add a special touch. The cuisine is in Leslie's words, 'equatorial cuisine' and there are some Westernised dishes on the menu too, so it will suit a wide audience.
After admiring the waitresses, we began our meal with a Good Fortune ($28.80 small 2-4 people) dish. To change your fortune, each diner sprinkles a brightly wrapped package of sesame seeds over an excellent salad flavoured with raw salmon, jellyfish and grapefruit, then you all mix it with chopsticks as a group. It’s generally served in Singapore and Malaysia at New Year, but here you can have it every day. I loved this dish, and have never had anything like it before!
Next up was the Hainam Chicken with Rice ($13.80) which comes from an island of China near Vietnam. It was beautifully moist, and delicately cooked.
The rice comes in balls, and the relishes and chillis you can see are house-made. The black sauce was like soy meets molasses, quite unusual, but went with the chicken very well.
The close-by Sydney Fish Market is a guarantee that you are getting great seafood; and you can taste both freshness and quality in the wonderful Malay dish of Deep Fried Prawns in Shell with Coconut Butter ($33.80). It was an excellent dish, and I want to eat it again in the near future.
On the wall outside, Leslie makes the marketing claim ‘probably the best Singapore Chilli Crab in Sydney’ and it holds true for me – eating the divine sauce on roti had me moaning with pleasure! I don't recall being served Singapore Chilli Crab ($88.80) on Roti ($3) before, but it was a true revelation. I even accepted a take-away container of what wasn't consumed so my partner could try the amazing sauce.
This particular dish also left my mouth feeling fresh in a way most Chinese cuisine doesn't, and nothing was overly sweet. Leslie mentioned being interested in making a version of Chinese cuisine that people could happily eat three or four times a week, and I suspect he may have done it.
Try it out for yourself from 8am-midnight - park across the road for free between 10am and 3pm, or after 7pm. Personally I'll be going back with my Mother for a birthday lunch because I doubt she has had Singapore Chilli Crab this good since we were in Malaysia back when I was six. I'm keen to see what she thinks.
Chinese Herbal King Seafood Restaurant
Shop 328, 310 Wattle Street, Ultimo
Ph: (02) 9660 7588