By Greedy Financier
I admit it. I’m a bit of a fan of Dan Hong. And so when I heard about his new venture with the Merivale group – Mr. Wong – I got a little excited and cleared my schedule so that I could attend grand opening night. I left work nice and early to ensure I would get a table (since they don’t take bookings for groups of less than 6). Eagerly I turned into Bridge Lane and was a tad surprised to find that the Tank Nightclub/Bar (where I used to frequent in the good old Uni days!) had been transformed into a warm welcoming Chinese restaurant.
Mr. Wong Kitchen Visible from the Laneway
I was also surprised there was no line, but it was only around 5.30pm and it was a cold windy rainy night (a pretty big deterrent!).
The Old Tank Nightclub – Now the New Mr. Wong!
We were immediately seated and presented with a rather large menu. The menu contained all the traditional Chinese/Cantonese dishes, and also some modern twists on the classics, e.g. foie gras prawn toast (which unfortunately I didn’t order, but I will definitely be back to try!).
Mr. Wong Menu
I was amazed by the transformation of the old bar. One side of the restaurant was dedicated to a dim sum kitchen (they serve yum cha at lunch time), the far right end seemed to be the main commercial kitchen, and downstairs there was a bar area.
Dim Sum Kitchen
Downstairs Bar Area
There was a rustic industrial feel about the place, with pipes running along the ceiling and raw brick walls, but at the same time, the space was warm and enticing, with the dim lighting and the roast ducks hanging in front of the kitchen area.
Main Kitchen with Roast Ducks Hanging in Front
While we waited for the food to arrive, I sipped on a black sesame frappe. Originally I was going to order a cocktail (they have an interesting cocktail menu with cocktails made according to different regions of China and with different Chinese spirits/alcohol), but when I saw the black sesame frappe on the mocktail menu, I just had to order it (love black sesame!).
Black Sesame Frappe
The frappe was smooth and creamy, with just a hint of black sesame. It was a delicious drink, but since I love black sesame, I would say it could do with a little more (or a lot more!) black sesame paste.
“Faux Shark’s Fin soup” – Flavours and Textures of a Traditional Shark’s Fin Soup without “Shark’s Fin”
First course of the night was shark’s fin soup – or more correctly faux shark’s fin soup. I do like the real stuff, but it can be a little pricey, though I have to say for fake soup, for the serving size, Mr. Wong’s faux shark’s fin soup was not cheap. The soup was really only for one person, and the floor manager informed us that they had decided to reduce the size (and the price) of the soup in order to allow people to sample more dishes. The soup itself wasn’t extraordinary, and was a little salty.
Wok Fried Pork Belly with White Miso, Chilli, Cabbage and Spring Onions
Our mains started with wok fried pork belly. The pork belly was tender and soft, and there was just a hint of chilli. It was a nice dish, however, again, serving size was a tad small.
Twice Cooked Green Beans, Pork Mince and XO Sauce
I really enjoyed the twice cooked green beans – it seemed they had been deep fried (once) and then stir fried (twice). They were super crispy and had a great crunch. The beans combined well with the pork mince and the overall dish had a subtle XO sauce flavour running through it.
Pippies Wok Fried with XO Sauce
The last main we ordered was live pippies in XO sauce – and yes, I do like XO sauce. I have to say this dish packed a mighty XO sauce punch. The sauce was robust and flavourful, and simply scrumptious. The pippies themselves were fleshy and well cooked, and had to be the biggest I’ve ever eaten.
Strawberries, Meringue, Macadamia Praline, Cream Cheese Ice Cream and Thai Basil
As I do with nearly every meal, I finished off with dessert. Reading the menu, I was super excited about the desserts – they seemed to be modern and radical. The cream cheese ice cream was nice, but only had a hint of cream cheese. It went well the strawberries and macadamia praline, however, I found the basil overpowering at times, and the meringue was rock hard. I’m still a little puzzled about how it ties in with the Chinese menu, but it was definitely an inventive dessert.
Mr. Wong’s Deep Fried Ice Cream (Vanilla) served with Butter Scotch Sauce
I was expecting a modern take on the traditional Chinese deep fried ice cream – think Holy Basil deep fried ice cream! What came out seemed to be the usual Chinese deep fried ice cream – but it was a little more fancy. The ice cream was obviously premium vanilla bean ice cream (not sure if it was house made), and it was coated in a crunchy coconut batter. It was sitting in a pool of thick rich butter scotch sauce which tasted like salted caramel, and was absolutely divine.
The service was especially efficient, and we were in and out within an hour or so (though they were probably eager to get us out to free up space for the grand opening night). All in all, I had a pleasant experience at Mr. Wong. The food was for the most part, well cooked and tasty. Mr. Wong is certainly a more modern Chinese restaurant, and particular dishes and the serving sizes reflect that. There are some interesting menu items, both food and beverage, and I definitely will be back to sample more of what Dan Hong has to offer.
(Lunch reservations accepted, Dinner reservations only accepted for parties of 6+)
Open Daily 12 Noon – Late
Ph: +61 2 9240 3000
3 Bridge Lane