The Eight, Haymarket, Sydney


Lobster with ginger, shallots and 'yee meen' $168 per kg plus $10 for the noodles

Lobster with ginger, shallots and 'yee meen' $168 per kg plus $10 for the noodles

Newer Chinese restaurants in Sydney and for that matter in major cities like London, New York and San Francisco are evolving to capture the essence of modernisation that is happening around the world.

The Eight in Sydney’s chinatown is one such restaurant serving fine Cantonese cuisine where traditional classics such as steamed fish with ginger and shallots are jostling for prime position on the menu with newer fusion dishes like braised abalone with foie gras.

The name of the restaurant is synonymous with wealth because the pronunciation of the word “eight” in Cantonese sounds like “prosperity” and “good fortune”.

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The Eight, Haymarket, Sydney

Located on level three of Market City in the heart of Chinatown, The Eight has a more modern feel and ambience over more traditional chinese restaurants.

Diners at The Eight

Diners at The Eight

Owner Henry Tang, who also runs Zilver restaurant on Pitt street in Chinatown took over this space at the beginning of 2011 formerly occupied by Kam Fook chinese restaurant. The fit-out has gone through a complete makeover where this huge 700+ seater restaurant is decked out with a modern decor and private dining rooms.

Complimentary soup in clay pot

Complimentary soup in clay pot

We arrive at 8.15pm on a Friday night in search of seafood chinese style. The traditional complimentary soup of the day comes in a large clay pot and on a cold winter night, we savour some heart-warming pork-ribs soup.

Live prawns $128 per kg

Live prawns $128 per kg

We order some live prawns and the waiter brings about 800gms in a plastic bag to seek our approval where he estimates is a good serving for the 4 of us dining tonight. The prawns are so fresh they are doing trampoline exercises in the plastic bag.

Live prawns $128 per kg

Live prawns $128 per kg

I believe this process of seeking customer concurrence is good practice for chinese restaurants offering fresh seafood so that customers have an idea of the quantity, size and price of these relatively expensive seafood dishes.

Live prawns $128 per kg

Live prawns $128 per kg

We choose prawns which are not overly big because the smaller ones tend to be sweeter and crunchier in texture. The only way to eat these little buggers is to dig right in with our fingers, peeling each prawn while the connoisseur would also suck on all the flavours concentrated in the prawn head.

Coriander and ginger dipping sauce & chilli and soy sauce

Coriander and ginger dipping sauce & chilli and soy sauce

For the live prawns, always request for an added serving of fresh coriander and ginger dipping sauce.

Peeled live prawns with coriander and ginger dressing

Peeled live prawns with coriander and ginger dressing

This sauce is light with a dash of soy, sesame oil and is meant to complement the gentle sweet flavours of the prawns. I did not mind getting my hands dirty because each prawn is bursting with its sweet taste and crunchy texture and the light dipping sauce is the perfect complement.

Lobster with ginger, shallots and 'yee meen' $168 per kg plus $10 for the noodles

Lobster with ginger, shallots and 'yee meen' $168 per kg plus $10 for the noodles

The waiter brings a 1.8kg live lobster in a plastic bag to our table which we feel is too big and he goes away and returns with one that is 1.3kg  which meets our approval and we choose ‘yee meen’ as a noodle to come with the lobster.

Lobster with ginger, shallots and 'yee meen' $168 per kg plus $10 for the noodles

Lobster with ginger, shallots and 'yee meen' $168 per kg plus $10 for the noodles

It is important to request the waiter to space out the arrival of the lobster because a large plate of live prawns takes a little more time to eat as it needs to be peeled.

We are disappointed because the lobster arrives soon after the live prawns. The waiter acknowledges this mistake and our lobster is given a cover to be kept warm while we tuck into our prawns. This is one mistake that must be avoided by chinese restaurants serving expensive seafood.

The lobster itself is quite tasty but the noodles needed a lot more work on the flavour department. This is one of the most popular seafood dishes for chinese restaurants serving fine Cantonese cuisine and we all felt it needs to step up a gear to be on par with other top chinese restaurants in town.

Eggplant with dried scallops in soy sauce

Eggplant with dried scallops in soy sauce $20.80

An eggplant with dried scallops in soy sauce has tender strips of peeled eggplant and the savoury remnants of dried scallops topping. This dish is tasty and flavoursome although a tad salty.

Complimentary dessert and fruits

Complimentary dessert and fruits

The stock standard complimentary deep-fried sesame seed balls, cake and fruits is offered for dessert.

Dining room at The Eight

Dining room at The Eight

The Eight has weaved itself into the fabric of the floor carpet in the restaurant.

The Eight, Haymarket, Sydney

The Eight, Haymarket, Sydney

So dear readers, what is your experience with chinese restaurants in general?

The Eight Modern Chinese Restaurant on Urbanspoon
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The Eight
Level 5, Market City
9-13 Hay Street, Haymarket Chinatown, Sydney
Tel: +612 9282 9988

Business hours:
Monday to Friday: 10am – 3.30pm and 5.30pm – 11pm
Saturday & Sunday: 9am – 4pm and 5.30pm – 11pm

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14 Responses to The Eight, Haymarket, Sydney

  1. i’m hoping the yum cha this weekend will be good :-)

  2. JasmyneTea says:

    My first chinese restaurant experiences were horrible takeaway containers filled with soggy spring rolls and burnt fried rice, yuck! Luckily I’ve seen the light and have had wonderful, AUTHENTIC chinese food since. I definitely want to try this place!

  3. Your pictures are really wonderful. Great review!

  4. Shame the eggplant with dried scallops in soy sauce is a tad salty, it looks delicious.

  5. looks good although it is disappointing the Lobster was brought out too early. Hope it was still warm enough for you to enjoy whole heartedly.

  6. Lobster and noodles is my favourite dish at any Chinese restaurant that has live seafood. There’s nothing like it although we always seem to choose XO chilli sauce for ours.

  7. What a high cholesterol meal…. and I LOVE IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The Lobster with noodle is one of my favorite dish. This looks super good… your website will be my restaurant guide when we go to Sydney!

  8. Carolyn Jung says:

    How interesting that they bring out the shrimp and lobster while still alive just so you can see what you’re getting ahead of time. I’ve never seen a restaurant do that. It’s quite a nice touch. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve ordered a whole steamed fish at a Chinese restaurant, only to find this wimpy little thing presented on a plate. ;)

  9. LeQuan says:

    All the food looks delicious. Prawns are one of my faves and those looked really sweet and crunchy. Too bad the waiter forgot about your request. I agree with you on spacing out the dishes.

    Love eating at Chinese restaurants. Definitely need to go with someone who can read Chinese. I say that because a lot of restaurants have two menus, a Chinese one and English one and they are totally different. Let’s just say the Chinese one has much better food.

  10. Manu says:

    I am very bad with Chinese restaurants… I need to go out and try more! This place sounds like a great place to start from!

  11. I ADORE CHINESE RESTAURANTS. And this one looks like a place I need to check out. Although, Ive never been to a chinese restaurant with a chinese person, hmmm… I bet that would add a bunch of value to the experience. Love the prawns, so good. Im totally drooling, and strangely craving prawns now. ;)

  12. Okay, I have never been to a restaurant like that (700 + seats etc), and I think you probably spent my monthly food budget on that evening. :D I didn’t even know there were restaurants where you pay for your food by weight (except the uni mensa in Heidelberg ;) ). Did you really eat living prawns? I couldn’t do that. I’m far from being a vegetarian (I think I’ll never be again), but I want my food to me dead and motionless.

    I have a lot of good memories of Chinese restaurants because Chinese was what we’d would eat when eating out as a family (grandparents, parents, and me). It was what we all liked the best. :)

    • Chopinand says:

      Hi Kath, many leading Chinese restaurants in Sydney have large seafood tanks on display in the dining room where they keep fish, shellfish, abalone, lobster etc alive to ensure its freshness when customers order these seafood. By doing so, these seafood is sometimes referred to as “live” prawns or lobster as opposed to frozen seafood from their refrigerators.

      The prawns and lobster we had were alive and fished out from these tanks and shown to us so that we get an opportunity to agree to their size and weight etc. So what we ate were cooked (and pretty well dead :) ) but were actually alive moments before they were carted off into the kitchen :)

  13. Love the yee mien that comes with lobster/crab – and ginger and shallot sauce is my fave too – drool…

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