Monday day and night brought big chilli flavours to my palate as after judging the chilli products for the Royal Fine Food Show all day we slithered into Neil Perrys’ Spice Temple that night. My mouth was on fire all day so I thought might as well keep it going! Spice Temple is Modern Chinese and is like no other Chinese restaurant in Sydney as the menu steers us in directions we are not aware of and comes out making us want more. 6 foodies shared this experience with me so we got to try many dishes which captured many exotic flavours.
Spice Temple – Feel the Heat! 10 Bligh St Sydney NSW 2000 (02) 8078 1888
The waiter was exceptional as he and I worked out how we should eat this menu in reference to taste and variety. The kitchen put out all the dishes in a way that let our palates travel with the flavours. Starting with cabbage and radish pickle and cucumber with smashed garlic I was in heaven already. The sweet and sour flavours picked up our palates immediately so we were getting anxious for more. Following were the Northern style lamb and fennel seed dumplings and the red braised duck leg with tea eggs. Tea eggs are boiled twice and further stewed in salted tea liquid and sometimes soy sauce and Chinese five spice. The flavour was light but I didn’t notice any strong flavour from these.
You have to be fast with the chopstix when sharing with 6 people as the food was not sitting long that is for sure. The Guangxi style roast pork belly was delicious, rich and a powerful peanut hit along with the pocket cumin lamb which was an entertaining dish which highlighted the take on Chinese buns. Eating here is playful as many dishes you have to pick up your food or stir it around or pop something into broth. Three Shot Chicken with beer, chilli and soy comes to the table in a bowl that is placed over a flame and the ingredients are added as the chicken cooks. It’s fun to watch, the theatre here is great and the dish capture the three shots perfectly.
The vegetable dishes were highlights as the hot pot of fresh shitake, oyster, enoki and wild Chinese mushrooms, Yunnan style gave us full meaty flavour in the lightness of a warm broth. My friend who lived in Beijing for years said it was very authentic from her memory. I loved the stir fried spinach Sichuan style which brought out that hot chilli hit with the wilted spinach. The final dish of fish drowned in heaven facing chillies and Sichuan peppercorns was very overpowering and no one enjoyed this dish. The presentation was fantastic but the dish overpowered the Leatherjacket making it our least favourite for all of us. It may be done traditional style but the intense flavour took away all the other amazing tastes before it.
The wines were matched with perfection and my favourite two for the night were the Pinot Gris from Scorpo Vineyard in the Mornington Peninsula, Victoria and the La Montessa 05 Rioja from Spain – magnificent. Spice Temple is moody, sexy and dark adding mystery to the space, the people and the food which we all felt was full of spirit, heat and flavour flavour flavour! A tip is to eat here with at least 6 people so you can get a real feeling for the food as you travel through China in all it’s glory. This place is not to be missed.