Lick'n Lychees cocktail
A belated farewell to our favourite chef/food blogger Lex, who has headed off to Canada for a working holiday! We farewelled him in style with some drinks and delicious food at China Doll on Woolloomooloo Wharf, where he had just finished working. As a result we were well and truly spoilt, with an insider to tell us what to order and head chef Frank Shek sending out some of China Doll's best dishes, some of which were on the house.
Sashimi of hiramasa kingfish and ocean trout with blackened chilli dressing - $26
We place our palates into the hands of the very capable chefs and start with the cold sashimi dish first. The red colour of the dish worries me at first but I find that the spice factor is very mild and is careful not to overpower the delicate taste of the kingfish and ocean trout. Hiding underneath the slices of fish are batons of crunchy apple which provide a nice crunchy texture against the soft fish.
Crispy school prawns with lime mayonnaise
The crispy school prawns are a blackboard special tonight and turn out to be one of my favourite dishes. The prawns are absolutely addictive, particularly when smothered in the lime mayonnaise and an extra squeeze of fresh lime.
Prawn and mushroom steamed dumpling with tobiko and red vinegar - $20
Four plump steamed dumplings arrive in a bamboo basket with a small dollop of tobiko (flying fish roe) on top. These are filled with prawns and mushrooms and wrapped in a dumpling skin that reminds me of siu mai.
Kurobuta pork and peanut san choy bau - $18
The san choy bau are slightly different to what I'm used to, with the filling being cubes of tender pork rather than pork mince. The lettuce leaves are trimmed to a perfect circle and are a nice crunch against the saucy pork filling.
White cut chicken salad with watercress, cucumber and sesame dressing - $18
A fresh salad rounds off the entrees with a cucumber, watercress, mint and coriander salad with chicken. A sesame dressing adds a nutty flavour and some creaminess.
Alaskan king crab - $60
After a short break we get stuck into the mains and the first one to come out is a giant plate of Alaskan king crab which the kitchen has cooked up for us as an off-the-menu special. The shell is coated with a light batter of pepper, chilli, lime and bonito which makes the shell just as tasty as the soft crab flesh. It's definitely one of the highlights of the night since the last remaining pieces are quickly snatched up and soon all that's left is crab shell.
Crisp pork belly with chilli caramel and nam pla phrik - $33
Crisp pork belly is sticky, sweet and fatty with deliciously crisp edges on each piece of pork. It's accompanied by nam pla phrik, a Thai condiment that consists of chillies in fish sauce.
Whole spiced crusted fish with Thai flavours - $42
We order a whole spiced crusted fish from the grill section of the menu and tonight it's a whole barramundi with Thai flavours. It's served alongside a bean, tomato and cress salad and a cherry tomato sauce. The fish is charred on the outside which brings out the spices and crisps up the skin but the flesh underneath is soft and tender.
Tea smoked duck with tamarind and plum - $38
The tea smoked duck is aromatic and quite sweet from a liberal coating of the tamarind and plum sauce. The duck meat, as expected, as a wonderful smokey flavour, but it's the crisp skin that surprises me, which Lex tells us comes from deep frying the duck to order after it has been smoked.
Clockwise from top left: Black rice pudding with ginger, Trio of gelati, Vanilla sago with passionfruit, Lemon and star anise shot
After all the savouries, a shared dessert platter arrives which features a black rice pudding with ginger, coconut milk, lemongrass and star anise, a vanilla sago dessert with passionfruit, and a trio of gelati including white chocolate, apricot and strawberry. We're also served a small alcoholic shot with interesting lemon and star anise flavours.
Banana pudding with chocolate sorbet
We can't resist ordering extra desserts, so Lex orders two more for us to share. The banana pudding is served with bruleed banana slices on top and is pure comfort food. The pudding is warm but not too dense and the banana flavour goes well with the chocolate sorbet.
Condensed milk tart
The last dessert is a definite winner - what could be wrong with a condensed milk tart? A crunchy tart base and an oozy creme anglaise and condensed milk filling topped with a fluff of pashmak is sinfully sweet, and combined with the white sesame ice cream and salted peanut brittle is pure awesomness on a plate.
Thanks to Lex for such a fantastic dinner and best of luck in Canada!
Shop 4, 6 Cowper Wharf Road
Woolloomooloo NSW 2011
Ph: +61 2 9380 6744
Open 7 days
Lunch: 12 - 3pm, Dinner: 6 - 10.30pm
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