|The entrance to Spice Temple is right next to Rockpool Bar & Grill|
“SPICE TEMPLE IS OPENING!!” The Boy excitedly kept me up to date with the going-ons with the set-up of the restaurant. He’d check the Rockpool blog nearly daily to tell me how close they were to the opening day.
|The stairs leading to the bar and restaurant (they have seats both upstairs and downstairs)|
So it was an obvious step for me to make a reservation for the first Friday night after Spice Temple‘s opening. It was to be a Hot date with the Boy and I was hoping that it was going to be a great night!
|Extremely dark, these globes lit the tables at the bar area|
We arrived on time, just in time in fact, to see Neil Perry himself walk past us and into the restaurant.. I nearly went up to him to ask for a picture or a chat… but he looked too much like Steven Seagal (images of fighting in the kitchen with a wok and a pot flashed across my eyes)… and I was shy 🙂
We were led downstairs and seated at the bar. It was a bit confusing as we weren’t given a choice to go to our table directly and as we’d never been there before, I thought for a moment that the dark area where we were led to was where our dinner was going to be!
We were provided with the cocktail menu and left to ponder. No instructions and no other conversations, apart from, “Please take a seat.” The full cocktail menu can be viewed here (it’s a bit dark in the picture).
|Dog and Green Tea Jasmine|
The cocktail menu was a highlight for me, as it draws inspiration from the Chinese Horoscope with each cocktail representing one of the 12 animals. As I am born in the year of the Dog, I was partial to trying it out. Delicious!
The Boy ordered a Jasmine and Apple tea (which was pretty close to a Bubbly Cup version of Green Apple Green Tea).
It was not until I hailed a waiter to ask, are we allowed to order our dinner, did he do a double take and say, “Oh, you want to be seated? Of course!”
Apparently, the waitress who had escorted us down the steps had failed to impart some information. We were then led to another part of the establishment (where quite a few people were already seated, whom I did not see lounging in the bar looking throughly confused).
|Monkey and House Made Spicy Ginger Beer|
We ordered more drinks at our dining table (as I wanted to try more Cocktails!). This time, I ordered the Monkey and the Boy ordered a House Made Spicy Ginger Beer. Maybe because I’m partial to sweet drinks, the Monkey was quite hard to …. errr…. drink.
From their menu (slightly different from the Sydney menu), we ordered an entree, two mains, rice and several desserts. Anything that had a red coloured font in the menu was extra spicy. There were two choices of Banquets (set dinner courses) priced at $69 and $95 respectively. The Boy was keen to go with those, but as a few dishes in the two Banquets had beef in them, I declined.
I also noted, from the menu, that some dishes had to be pre-ordered when making a reservation as they take 24 hours to cook them. Damn! Wish I had known.
|Fried Squid with whole five spice and dark chilli paste $26|
Instead we went with the Fried Squid with whole five spice served with a dark chilli paste, which tasted incredibly like a hot sambal paste (Malaysian chilli paste). The squid was cooked beautifully and the batter was light and tasty. The lime wedged that was served with this dish cut through the spiciness of the chilli paste really well. A truly delicious dish that left us wanting more.
|Stir Fried prawns with salted duck egg and four chillies (Brined, dried, fermented and pickled) $39|
For the mains, we had a stir fried prawn dish which seemed to have a slight Thai inspiration to it. Served with onions, chillies and finely sliced coriander, the creamy coconut gravy was a delightful dish that went really well with steamed rice!
So far, the first two dishes were excellent and I was expecting the third dish to arrive and leave my palate with a huge and resounding bang!
|Guangxi style roast pork belly (with coriander, peanuts, red onion and sesame seeds) $30|
The Guangxi Roast Pork Belly, sounded so good on paper. However, I felt that there was a tad too much coriander on this dish. Don’t get me wrong, I love coriander and will gladly eat it on it’s own. But somehow, with this dish, it seemed a trifle out of place.
The pork belly meat wasn’t as tender as I’d expected… it was a bit tough. The crackling however was a WINNER!… But the crackling wasn’t good enough to save this dish from a disappointing end of our savory dishes.
|Trio of desserts|
As I’m always greedy with desserts, I ordered 3 of them!! One for me, one for the Boy and one for us!… Okay, I was just being greedy!!
|Orange jelly cake with orange blossom fairy floss $6|
The reason why I ordered the Orange jelly cake was because it was the dessert offered for both the Banquet options. Perfectly logical reasoning.
The orange blossom fairy floss was really fun to eat and had a nice non-overpowering scent to it. The Orange Jelly Cake was just a regular cupcake with a jelly middle. Nothing much to shout about.
|Almond jelly with rose granita and dehydrated candied lychee $14|
The Boy had a Almond Jelly with Lychee granita…served with dehydrated lychee skins, was a delightfully light dessert. He finished the whole thing and only offered me half a teaspoon! He said that it was delicious…
|Chocolate and Salted Peanut Caramel Parfait $18|
I on the other hand, opted for a non-Asian sounding dessert… I had to… it was chocolate… with salted caramel.. and peanuts!
I had spend the whole day thinking about Phillipa Sibley’s Snickers and how much I wanted to eat it again. This dessert provided me that opportunity.
In terms of looks, it looks quite like an ice-cream sandwich. But the taste! The taste was sooooo alike the Snickers from il Fornaio that if I had my eyes shut, I’d swear I was eating the same dessert!
Okay, I might have exaggerated there. What this dessert had going for it was a really nice crunchy base (which Phillipa’s did not). The texture and creaminess of the parfait wasn’t as good as Phillipa’s but the crunchy salted peanut caramel was just as good.
This dessert and this dessert alone, saved the night from the lackluster pork belly dish.
The meal was expensive. But we were expecting that. I draw similarities from this and Nobu (kind of hard not to, since they are both Asian inspired restaurants, located side-by-side in Crown Casino). The similarities are in its concept and lay-out. They both offer good food and almost perfect desserts.
Spice Temple has quite a while to go, to work out the kinks, but it has definitely made a worthy foray into the Chinese cuisine.
Would we return? Yes. But it’ll have to be a while. It put quite a dent to my wallet.
*Disclaimer: All food ratings are purely based on my own experiences and how I feel about the service, food and quality
Food/ Cuisine: Chinese
Dining Style: Restaurant & Bar
Overall Food Rating (Based on the Dining style): 7.75/10 (I’d give the desserts a 8.5/10)
Restaurant ambiance: 7/10 (the Boy gives it an 8/10 because he say’s it’s funky. I think its much too dark. He said it reminded him of a Chinese junk ship, in a cool way.)
Service/ Attitude: 7/10
Value for money: 6.5/10
8 Whiteman Street
Southbank VIC 3006
Email: [email protected]
Spice Temple is open from
Sunday to Friday for lunch and
7 days for dinner
How to get there: