With over 280 seats, Zhu Canton, Randwick's new Cantonese restaurant, is certainly a large undertaking for The Randwick Club. This joint venture between The Randwick Club, and Gable Lo, Director of The Club Catering Management Group, follows in the footsteps of clubs like Fairfield RSL and the Epping Club, who have made their premises significantly more attractive as dining destinations using high-end restaurants like La Tratt and Rawson's.
Giant Designs – who are also responsible for Chippendale’s Mekong, and Bondi Junction’s Zilver – have transformed the entire third floor auditorium and function space of this somewhat daggy Labor Club into quite an impressive space. It starts the second you step out of the clunky old elevators at a bank of blue-lit live seafood tanks filled with barramundi, and wander down a screened corridor running between the bar and the main dining room.
Taking in glimpses of the central dining room through dark timber screens add an element of intrigue to your entrance.
This wooden cage, fronted on one side by a marble-framed open kitchen, is softened by soft waves of hanging fabric, printed with an abstract Chinese watercolour design.
It also boasts private dining rooms, and a more casual daytime dining area topped with hanging vines.
Launch party guests, who included Mayor Noel D'Souza, the Hon. Matt Thistlethwaite MP and Alvin Quah, started the night with sparkling Lychee Cocktails.
Taken under the hanging vines, the canapes showcased the work of dim sum master, Johnny Lai, who is also known as ‘Grandpa Johnny’.
Lai will be responsible for the restaurant's daytime yum cha menu of handmade dumplings and dim sum. And if his baked cha siu bao (BBQ pork buns) are anything to go by, it'll be both popular and delicious.
Neatly pleated har gow (prawn dumplings) were thin enough to show off the pink prawn hidden inside, while the tender-crisp golden crust of ham shui gok quickly gave way to reveal their chewy, porky cores.
Juicy siu mai, wrapping pork and prawn meatballs in thin yellow skins, were also impressive and eyecatching, with their topping of bright orange roe.
Paper-thin Mongolian lamb pancakes and crisp salt and pepper prawns both boded well for the wider menu, which is in the hands of Executive Chef Billy Tam, a chef with more than forty years of experience to his name.
Ending on a fabulous mouthful of baked pineapple bun, I was off into the rainy night clutching a Zhu Canton fortune cookie that predicted there'd be more of this restaurant in my future.
Only time will tell if it was correct...
The Randwick Club
Level 3, 135 Alison Road, Randwick
Ph: (02) 9399 4188