Tucked around the corner, under Rockpool Bar + Grill is a door. A door that is a giant LCD which you push open. This is the entrance to Spice Temple – setting the benchmark of what’s to follow.
Myself and friend Damien walked in, entering at the top of a large spiral staircase, with long sculptures hanging from the roof down the void to the lower level, where the restaurant and bar is located. We approached the front desk and were politely asked to take a seat while our table was being set. Our very sweet and bubbly bar girl brought us the cocktail and wine lists (100 wines to match with each dish!), which were quite extensive. After a good ten or so minutes of general chit chat and looking over the menu you, we ordered our drinks and at that same time our table was ready, so we were escorted to it.
The restaurant is like an industrial basement. A stylish polished concrete foyer and bar, turns into a modern Chinese décor, featuring typical Chinese restaurant red carpet, dark floor and dark roof, and fantastic detail to mood lighting makes the experience quite intimate, even if you are sitting right next to another table.
We ordered the cocktails, which were highly recommended. I got the “Aries”, lime, ginger, gin and lychee. Boy did it have a zing to it! Damien got the “Rat”, lavender tea soda with mint and sugar cane spirit. Light and sweet. Both drinks had a good punch to them. They were presented nicely and served in Riedel glasses.
Now the hard task was to choose what to eat from the detailed modernised Chinese menu with head chef Neil Perry overseeing.
The meals are designed to share, so we decided we would get a few.
We started with the Lamb and Cumin pancakes. The simple presentation hid a remarkable taste. Easy to eat, almost like having a Turkish gozlem – thin and crispy, there’s salt flakes on the top of the sandwiched cumin and lamb pancake. Cut up in wedges like a pizza, they were great to chew on while gas-bagging and preparing for the next few dishes.
The Hot and Numbing Wagyu Beef followed the pancakes. This was by far the best beef I have ever had. It is crispy on the outside and so tender on the inside. It’s broken down into pieces and strands of meat. The flavours were deep and rich. I enjoyed this down to the very last piece, and even then I was lifting garnish looking for more. All the Wagyu that Spice Temple serve is from David Blackmore with a +9 score. Blackmore Wagyu are the only producers marketing only 100% Fullblood Japanese Wagyu beef in Australia – so you know you are eating great meat!
Next dish was the Braised duck, tofu, dried chestnut and baby leeks, served over rice. Not being the biggest fan of duck, I still throughly enjoyed the meal, appreciating the flavours and textures. For people who love duck, this is definately something for you to choose. It all comes in a light broth, which was nice, especially to moisten the rice and fuse the dish together with the rice.
So what was for dessert? Peanut butter parfait. A crispy meringue-like base, the parfait in the middle, and a uniquely flavour caramel top which was somewhat salty, but worked well with the sweetness of the peanut butter. A drop of chocolate sauce and some delicious sugar and sesame seed peanuts over the top. So good!
Our waiter for the evening was pleasant, knowledgable and gave us assistance with the menu with ease. It didn’t seem as if we were troubling him in any way. The staff all looked like they wanted to be there – which is important when dining at a restaurant that you’re paying good money for.
Pros: The style, comfort and design is great. Lighting is great. A mixture of customers from all over. Great food.
Cons: I didn’t really find anything negative to say about the venue, service or food. Everything was exceptional.
Pricing: Entrées from $10 to $29, Mains from $19 to $45, Desserts from $16. Cocktails are all around $17. White wines from $14 to $19 a glass, Red’s from $12 to $17 a glass and Champagne $17 to $27 a glass.
Final Say: Chic, fun, clever, kind, generous, delicious. A great night out. Great place for a catch-up with friends, or a family dinner. Overall I was extremely pleased. If you’re not a huge fan of spicy food, don’t stress, this food is great for you too! Neil Perry does it perfectly once again.
Spice Temple – 10 Bligh Street, Sydney – (02) 8078 1888