Bursting back into Zilver Bondi three years after my last visit – yeah, okay, I don’t like shopping centres very much – it was exciting to see that this modern Chinese restaurant has continued to develop.
The beautifully illustrated menu gives you an easy way to visualise dishes; and on this visit, by virtue of dining with a large and disparate group, I got to cover a lot of ground on it.
We began our meal with a flood of dumplings, with most of the table descending into a frenzy of Piggy Steamed BBQ Pork Bun ($11.80/2) squeezing poses to increase their Instagram cache.
Turns out cutest isn’t always best, with the ugly dumpling – a black-flecked, transparent and gelatinous Truffle King Prawn Dumpling ($9.50/4) – easily winning on flavour.
While my Insta-famous table mates were busy filming stories featuring themselves seductively biting the heads off Swan Scallop and Taro Puffs ($12.80/3), I took a large bite out of a fried Hedgehog Bun ($7.80/2) only to be surprised with a sweet chocolate and red bean centre.
Rookie mistake! While Zilver Bondi's lunchtime yum cha does come around on carts, there is a supplementary illustrated booklet that helps you determine exactly what’s inside them, and thus which order to order and eat them in.
However I have no regrets about the Yellow Monster Lava Buns ($9.50/3)! Their oozing salted egg custard centres strike a great balance between sweet and salty, and will eat well wherever you place them in your dumpling adventure.
The ugly-tastes-best rule also carried through to Abalone & Prawn Dumplings ($12.80/3). To enjoy these ones, you need to place an order, which helps to ensure their abalone toppers arrive nice and tender.
You can also order the edible molluscs as Salt & Pepper Baby Abalone ($12.80/each) presented on their beautiful mother-of-pearl lined shells - both were good eating.
Bright red Spicy King Prawn Dumplings ($9.50/4) had good bite and a nice chilli kick that creeps up after a minute or so. You're free to add your own chilli sauce to the Cheeseburger Spring Rolls ($9.50/2). The crisp, sesame seed-studded spring rolls arrive in a metal fry basket with shoestring fries for novelty appeal, but they eat well enough when smothered in chilli sauce.
With a big group, the opportunity cost to try out Peking Duck ($78.80) served on wobbly osmanthus jelly rather than in a pancake, is relatively small per person. While it's hard to pick up with chopsticks, it really centralises the flavour of the crisp-skinned duck.
Our table was able to work our way through a lot of main dishes, but many of them including a steamer basket full of Eggplants with Garlic and Lotus Leaf ($23.80) and wobbly little stacks of steamed Silken Tofu with Scallops and Prawns ($42.80), aren’t very practical if you’re dining as a pair.
If I were designing a meal for two from Zilver Bondi’s new seasonal menu, there are three dishes that I would include.
Diced Wagyu Beef with Black Pepper Sauce ($39.80) presents tender hunks of wagyu and mushrooms inside an edible, salty potato basket. This modern Chinese take on meat’n’potatoes is visually spectacular – eating the potato bowl is half the fun – but it’s the flavour of the wagyu that will keep your chopsticks coming back.
Stir Fried King Prawn & Turnip Cake with XO Chilli Sauce ($36.80) are my second must-eat. The tangle of plump, tenderly cooked crustaceans dance on the palate with garlic and lively chilli. The dish's heat is nicely punctuated by popping silky radish cakes into your mouth. It’s another dish I really found it hard to stay away from.
Your last must-try is the Hokkien Style Saucy Fried Rice ($26.80). It’s fried rice, but not quite as you know it - covered in a thick sauce with diced pieces of chicken, prawn, scallop, egg and mushrooms, which give it lots of texture. My Taiwanese dining companion explained eating it felt like being home. I found it compelling too, and can see myself revisiting Bondi Zilver just to eat it again.
NOTE: You can see a previous review of this venue back HERE.
Shop 6010/11 Westfield Bondi Junction
500 Oxford Street, Bondi Junction
Ph: (02) 8866 2999