Mr Chow’s Peking Restaurant, Millers Point

~~~~~~~~O~~~~~~~~

 With just one mouthful, I am grateful to have lost my smoked bean curd rolls virginity.
I care less they are not on most Chinese restaurant menus.
I care a lot more that I shall return just for them.

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Notwithstanding the luxury and refinement of Cantonese cuisine which originated from China’s south, Northern Chinese holds the Peking duck trump card that encapsulates Chinese as one of the great cuisines of the world.

Tucked away in the northwestern corner of Sydney CBD at Millers Point is an old Northern Chinese restaurant that’s been around for Google knows how long.

The menu is extensive as most Chinese menus are. Food is clinically categorized, Chinese restaurant style – duck, chicken, lamb, pork, beef, prawns, fish, scallops, calamari, vegetables, fried noodles, rice, desserts and so forth.

“Standard Chinese food” I tell Mysaucepan after a cursory glance of its on-line menu at home. “By deduction, I think the food should be quite good since this restaurant has been around for yonks.”

Dated as it may be, I like this no-nonsense-no-fancy-menu-description style because each category showcases dishes which have been around for centuries. Grandma’s tofu, Shanghai style fried noodles, Peking shredded beef, Shantung chicken, sweet & sour pork and Peking duck are Northern Chinese heavyweights. It is difficult to see a good restaurant mucking up these tried and tested, all-time favourites.

Dining room, Mr Chow's Peking Restaurant, Millers Point

Dining room, Mr Chow's Peking Restaurant, Millers Point

Today, Mysaucepan and I are having lunch with our friends NiallJeffrey and their respective families.

As we walk into Mr Chow’s at noon this lazy Sunday, the smallish dining room is far from capacity.

White tablecloth, black chopsticks and white leather-bound chairs do make an elegant difference compared to your average neighbourhood Chinese restaurant.

Smoked vegetarian bean curd rolls $17.80

Smoked vegetarian bean curd rolls $17.80

From its vibrant burnt sienna, three vegetarian bean curd rolls need no announcement they have been smoked.

Stuffed with julienne carrots, bamboo shoots, ginger and Chinese mushrooms, smoky aromas on the bean curd skin are aromatic and intense.

With just one mouthful, I am grateful to have lost my smoked bean curd rolls virginity. I care less they are not on most Chinese restaurant menus. I care a lot more that I shall return just for them.

Jellyfish with shredded chicken $21.80

Jellyfish with shredded chicken $21.80

Crunchy jellyfish is heavenly with soft shredded chicken breast.

It’s a favourite summer salad at home and my last interpretation of this salad was rather different though it was in line with tradition.

Here at Mr Chow’s, julienne celery is substituted with cucumber. Fine strips of carrot add colour and crunch but the most important ingredient is amiss. Without a generous sprinkle of roasted white sesame seed, this dish is sadly akin to a bride without her groom.

Twice cooked tea smoked duck $33.80

Twice cooked tea-smoked duck $33.80

Twice cooked tea-smoked duck is coated with some crisp batter and served with Chinese pancakes, hoisin sauce and cucumber batons.

I am sniffing for fragrant smoky aromas having been spoiled by our smoked bean curd rolls earlier. If any at all, these aromas are subtle. Perhaps too subtle.

Some slices of meat are also let down by its tough and chewy texture. Unfortunately, I have yet to discover a tea-smoked duck that tops two interpretations I consider the best in Sydney.

Xiao Long Bao $18.80

Xiao Long Bao or steamed pork dumplings $18.80 for 10 dumplings

“My son loves the xiao long bao here” Niall tells us.

A double decker of these steamed dumplings is beckoning us to tuck in. The skin is delicate and the moment I sink my teeth in, a burst of hot, flavoursome soup floods my mouth.

Kung Po chilli sauce king prawns in batter $32.80

Kung Po chilli sauce king prawns in batter $32.80

King prawns encased in light and crisp batter are waddling in a shallow pool of fiery red Kung Po chilli sauce.

Dried chilli flakes and chilli seeds ensure the crisp and succulent texture of these prawns is matched with a spicy attitude.

Peking style shredded beef $23.80

Peking style shredded beef $23.80

I’m not a fan of Peking style shredded beef because I dislike the spicy sweet taste sensation.

Nevertheless, I have tasted my fair share of good Peking style shredded beef to know this one is not sufficiently caramelized. Too much spicy sweet sauce is rendering crispy strips of carrot and beef soggy.

Guotie or pan fried pork dumplings $37.60 ($18.80 for 10 pieces)

Guotie or pan fried pork dumplings $37.60 ($18.80 for 10 pieces)

Two servings of guotie are majestically fanned on a plate that resembles a large pot sticker sunflower.

Guotie or pan fried pork dumplings $37.60 ($18.80 for 10 pieces)

Guotie or pan fried pork dumplings $37.60 ($18.80 for 10 pieces)

I love guotie for the firm yet slightly chewy texture of its skin.

Pan-fried to a golden brown, they are tasty even on their own without the usual condiment of red vinegar and ginger shards.

Peking duck $72 (includes second course)

Peking duck $72 (includes second course)

According to wikipedia, the first restaurant specializing in Peking duck (cover image above) was established some 598 years ago in the Xianyukou, Qianmen area of Beijing (then known as ‘Peking’) in 1416.

This restaurant, Bianyifang, still thriving today must surely rank as one of the oldest in the world.

So, it can be difficult to fathom the history and tradition of this Peking duck dates back almost six centuries.

Peking duck slices (served with Chinese pancakes)

Peking duck slices (served with Chinese pancakes)

Served with Chinese pancakes, hoisin sauce and batons of shallots and cucumber, this duck is tasty, provided you have a choice slice of its skin.

Taste-wise, this duck packs a good flavour but is let down by the way it’s carved. Tradition dictates each slice of duck to be at best all crispy skin only or with a thin layer of lean meat, achieved by slicing horizontally just under the skin.

Unfortunately, there are large slices of lean meat with small ribbons of skin. Bacon with a ribbon of rind is fine but it’s a disaster when you get the equivalent in Peking duck.

Sang Choy Bao (second course for Peking duck)

Sang Choy Bao (second course for Peking duck)

Remnants of meat from our Peking duck carcass have been diced with bits of onion, mushroom and spring onions. Stir-fried with a splash of Shao Xing wine, I detect good wok aromas in a sang choy bao.

Scooped onto a chilled iceberg lettuce cup, this is popular Chinese food cooked well.

Stir-fried Chinese broccoli in ginger sauce $19.80

Stir-fried Chinese broccoli in ginger sauce $19.80

Chinese broccoli is blanched in hot water to soften its texture before being stir-fried with ginger and Shao Xing wine.

These vegetables are crunchy with its fragrant gingery sauce.

Traditional home-style dishes at Mr Chow’s are good because they are well-executed. These dishes should be on your radar because I believe it’s what Mr Chow does best.

Mr Chow's Peking Restaurant, Sydney

Mr Chow's Peking Restaurant, Sydney

So dear readers, which is your favourite northern style Chinese restaurant in Sydney and what dish do you enjoy there?

Note: We have been advised by friends who regularly patronize this restaurant to avoid coming on busy Friday and Saturday nights as service can be extremely slow. We neither concur nor reject this advice as we have never been to this restaurant during these times.

Mr Chow’s Peking Restaurant
33-35 Kent street, The Rocks
Millers Point, New South Wales

http://www.mrchowspeking.com.au

Tel: +61 2 9252 3010

Opening hours: Lunch
Tusday to Sunday 12pm – 3pm  Dinner Sunday, Tuesday to Thursday 6pm – 10.30pm Friday & Saturday 6pm – 11.30pm.

Mr Chow?s Peking Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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6 Responses to Mr Chow’s Peking Restaurant, Millers Point

  1. Padaek says:

    Great post and beautiful photos ChopinandMysaucepan! The food at Mr Chows looks amazing! At first, I thought the smoked vegetarian bean curd rolls were stuffed pork intestines, lol. Looks so good! Would you know if they smoked the bean curd before or after the rolls are made? Hmm, I wonder why they omitted the sesame seeds on the jelly fish? Love the look of the guotie – ‘a large pot sticker sunflower’ – that’s wonderful! :)

  2. Can never go past a good Peking duck. It’s been a while since I’ve had one at a restaurant!

  3. Oh, what a delicious looking feast – the duck dishes look soooooo gooood! And the jellyfish – yes, would definitely have tried that.

  4. You have totally got me craving for some duck now!

  5. irene says:

    The quo tie is presented so beautifully! And I love jellyfish salad too, so great in summer!

  6. I was probably 20 before I tasted my first Peking duck and I’d never eaten duck before. I was on a date and couldn’t think of a kind way of saying I’d like something else. Good thing because the first bite sent me to food heaven. I’ve been a fan ever since.

    All that food except that shredded beef looks fantastic. Lovely photos.

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