Spice Temple, Sydney
The door to Spice Temple (10 Bligh St, Sydney) is a shimmering curtain on a giant lcd screen, a hypnotising shade of deep blue that sways in the ‘wind’. It compels you to step forward and do a double take to check that it is indeed the entrance to the restaurant and not just a moving billboard. The ‘push to enter’ sign reassures me and I make my way down a spiraly staircase and into a darkened reception and bar area before being led into the darkest restaurant I have ever been in. Seriously dudes what is up with Sydney restaurants skimping on the lighting? Trying to save electricity? ‘Moody’ atmosphere?
We are celebrating the father unit’s birthday who has chosen the venue and has already written down some dishes to be tried. There was no sign of Matthew from Masterchef (check out his blog here) but the service was great and we start off with a round of drinks- a glass of riesling for me and the mothership asks if I’d share a carafe of the Zodiac Pig cocktail (fresh lychees with gin and sparkling wine, $28) why of course! I do love my cocktails and while the cocktail is a little heavy on the gin, the whole lychees proves to be a much welcome savior at the end of the meal from the burning. Oh gawd the burning. But I’ll get to that part later.
We start with the Tofu and preserved egg with soy chilli dressing ($18) which has such clean flavours that we are scraping the plate clean. I was a little disappointed with the size- only 3 cubes of tofu! It was tasty tofu though and so silky and smooth. I’m not a big fan on the pungent preserved egg so I shafted my slices to the father unit who could eat bowlfuls of the stuff.
Steamed eggplant with three flavours ($18). Our smiley waiter pauses to explain the three flavours on the plate are garlic, coriander and sweet pork atop a bed of shredded eggplant before tossing everything together. The resulting mixture is hearty and packed with bags of flavour (hurhur how I miss Masterchef)
Stir fried sea scallops with velvet noodles and chilli paste ($23). The scallops are fat specimens with a slight char to the exteriors but with juicy soft innards. The chili paste is pretty much non existent which is good for me cos I don’t play well with chilli. We are surprised when we discover the noodles are cut into nubbins instead of ribbons, almost like flattened gnocchi but they were light and tasty and the slivers of capsicum and scattering of shallots provided a welcome crunch.
Hunan style crisp pork belly with fresh and dried chillies and mushroom soy ($32). I heard the table next to us say HUMAN pork hahaha mmm tasty humans lols but you know what happens when you fry pork belly? It becomes MORE awesome! Glorious you could say! I heart pork belly with its layers of lean meat, fat, lean meat, more fat and crispy skin oh yes.
Steamed Blue eye fillet, Hunan style Salted red chilli and pickled green chilli ($34). Start with the green side first the waiter advises which is just as well because the red chilli is bordering on help me I can feel the beginnings of burning but the fish is delicate and cooked perfectly.
Hot, sweet, sour and numbing pork ($32). Having tried this dish previously and not finding it hot I shovelled in a huge piece of pork only to start spluttering and wheezing as tears started rolling down my face. The burning! It tasted like the fires of a thousand suns! Damn right it’s numbing because I couldn’t feel my face! It wasn’t this hot last time was it?! I ask the father unit as I frantically gulp down water and mouthfuls of rice to stop the burning oh gawd the burning. The family had been watching in amusement as I was slowly dying an agonising death until they too were conquered by the searing pain. Father unit shakes his head and replies not even 1/3 of this heat! And that is coming from the king of eats all things spicy who wouldn’t even take on a $5 wager hahaha a second bowl of rice was ordered to stop the burning and then the parking was about to expire so no time for desserts but I shall return again! But maybe not for the numbing pork. Anywhos happy birthday dad! Are you reading this at work?