Tucked away in an old church-school is this rather extraordinary dining room housing Blue Eye Dragon, an award-winning Taiwanese restaurant.
The dumplings at this off-the-beaten-track Pyrmont standout are a definite attraction – Pork Dumplings with Chives, Ginger and Shallot ($10) arrive plump and perfectly formed. If you like them as much as I did, buy a frozen take-home pack ($25/kg).
Reasonably new to Taiwanese cuisine, I groped for analogies. There are definitely Mainland Chinese influences in dishes like impeccably battered Salt and Pepper Soft Shell Crab ($14); and it’s a must-have.
You’ll also find Japanese influences, evident in moist and crunchy Deep Fried Chicken with Basil and Five Spice ($10), which would be hard for anybody to dislike!
Expect great restraint in flavour intensity, especially in the house-made fish sauce with the Queensland Scallops with Shallots ($21/6).
As a result the tasty produce sings – also evident in the well-cooked Wild Caught Barramundi (market price).
Since I’m partial to spice, I rated the Chicken with Dry Chilli in Gongbau Sauce ($22).
If you’re not, try the popular speciality of slow-cooked Pork Belly in Soy, Aniseed and Garlic ($22). Lighter flavours suggest lighter wines, and this list has a decent range, with many bottles coming in under forty dollars. This, the dumplings, and the reasonably priced design-your-own ten course banquets ($50/head), will lure me back with friends.
If you find all the dishes I've mentioned so far tasty, and would like to try some more besides, head on down here on Saturday 14th May, 2011 for a 10 Course Banquet with 6 Glasses of Mudgee Wine ($80/person) as part of the Pyrmont Festival 2011. Dishes like the Stewed Beef Shin with Sesame Oil and Shallot ($10) pictured above go down a treat with the 2010 Mongrel Rose.
You'll also be offered some Crispy Prawn Rolls with House-Made Plum Sauce ($14) which contain whole prawns.
With the Prawns and Vegetables in XO Sauce ($34) I was impressed again with the cooking - the prawns retained aspects of translucence while the carrot slices had crunch. I enjoyed them with the Tinja High Altitude Riesling 2010, which was much sweeter than I expected but suited the food.
By the time we'd tried all ten courses, we were stuffed, and there was no room for dessert. It certainly is one of the better value banquets in this town!
Please note: many of these were reduced portions so my dining companion and I could try all ten courses on offer during the Pyrmont Festival without feeling wasteful. These photos are of the dishes I actually ate, and do not represent the portion sizes at this restaurant.
37 Pyrmont Street, Pyrmont
Ph: (02) 9518 9955