Spice Temple II

2/10/2011 10:48:00 PM

I know I've blogged Spice Temple before, but I really, really like it!  Encouraged by a tasty and cheaper-than-expected first visit to the Melbourne Spice Temple, and keen to try more from the menu, we visited again a few weeks later with a couple of friends.

Spice Temple
Crown Complex
8 Whiteman Street
Southbank 3006
Ph: (03) 8679-1888

One of our friends was running a little late, so we started in the bar with some cocktails.

SNAKE - Field raspberries & orgeat with dry vermouth and sake - $17
Apart from the incredibly delicious Pig (a pitcher of sparkling wine, gin and lychees), we ordered a refreshing Snake.  Orgeat is a sweet syrup made from almonds, sugar and orange-blossom water.  I'd never tried it before, and when I asked what it tasted like, the waitress brought over a small spoon of it so that I could try some before committing to a whole cocktail - how nice of her!  It was slightly fragrant but not overpowering, and I then happily ordered the cocktail.  In another moment of helpfulness, the waitress turned up the lamp on the table when she saw we were taking pictures.

My friend Adri wasn't drinking, so ordered a green apple and jasmine drink from the non-alcoholic section of the menu.  It was a little pricey at $9, but I think it's great when a restaurant makes an effort to provide varied and interesting options for non-drinkers.
Green apple and jasmine - $9 
And now, what you've been waiting for... the food!  Between 4 of us, we got 2 starters, 4 mains, a vegetable side dish and 3 desserts.  In hindsight it was a bit too much - I guess our eyes were bigger than our stomachs!  Interestingly, on this, our second visit, they were offering one of the 24-hour notice dishes: the tea-smoked chicken with black vinegar.  I wonder if patrons had been complaining that they didn't know about the 24-hour notice dishes when they arrived...?  (I remember I-Hua wished she'd known about them when she visited!)

We didn't try the tea-smoked chicken, but we sure did eat a lot of chicken that night!

From the "Salads and Cold Cuts" section of the menu, we ordered the strange flavour white cut chicken.  A tender piece of boneless rolled chicken was covered in a punchy sauce.  (The  "strange flavour" name is a literal translation from the Chinese, which refers to the untraditional combination of chilli and black sesame paste).
Strange Flavour White Cut Chicken - $18
I can never resist a fried chicken wing, and Spice Temple's spice fried chicken wings were fabulous!  The meat was incredibly juicy and tender, and the salty coating was surprisingly soft.  It was an extremely generous serving too!  A winner all around.
Spice fried chicken wings with heaven facing chillies - $21

You may remember the 3-shot chicken from my visit to Spice Temple Sydney, a dish which I think I enjoy more for its theatricality than anything else.  I thought it would be a great dish to impress the one friend in our group who'd never been to the restaurant.  (You can see her taking a picture with her iPhone, ready to be uploaded on Facebook!)

The 3 shots in question are Tsingtao beer, chilli oil and soy sauce.  Our waiter poured them over the chicken in a claypot...

... and allowed it to bubble up on a gas burner.

Three shot chicken - Beer, chilli and soy - $35
Although we all loved the theatre of the dish, we didn't enjoy eating it as much as last time; for some reason it was overpoweringly salty.  We couldn't taste the beer or the chilli oil at all.

Much, much tastier was the hot and numbing crispy duck, suggested by our waiter as "the best thing on the menu".  It comprised a boneless rolled duck fillet (rather like the strange flavour chicken, come to think of it!), crispily fried and sitting atop a stickily sweet sauce with a dusting of Szechuan pepper.  Amazing.
Hot and numbing crispy duck - $39
Mmm... duck...

We couldn't visit Spice Temple without ordering the hot, sweet and sour numbing pork, despite it being so similar to the duck.  Twice the deliciousness, I say!

Hot, sweet, sour and numbing pork - chilli, sugar, black vinegar and Sichuan peppercorn - $30 
I must say I was a little disappointed when it came out though, as the serving size seems to have shrunk significantly since the last time.  When I quizzed my waiter about it, he said that they reduced the portion size after noticing that lots of customers - gasp! - couldn't finish the whole dish and would let the rest go to waste. For shame, Melbourne diners!

With all that deep-fried food, we definitely needed a bit of green.  This came in the form of a simple yet perfectly executed plate of gai laan with oyster sauce.

Chinese broccoli with house made oyster sauce - $12
Next up (we're nearly there guys!) was a ma po dish made with wagyu beef.  (Our visit was in November last year, and this dish doesn't appear to be on the menu any more, but I'm sure there are still lots of other great dishes!)  They brought it to the table like so...
Mao po tofu with wagyu beef - $40 
... and then stirred it up for us!

When she brought it over, our waitress asked if I'd like to take a photo of it before she stirred it up.  So nice! I'm not sure if it was lucky hiring, or if Spice Temple do a great training program, but their waitstaff are so considerate and well-informed!

And finally... dessert!  Yes, yes, I know there was a lot of food, but when you have four good friends together, and 3 of them happen to be Malaysian... well, yes, we eat a lot.

My friend An chose the mango pudding.  Look at that!  Just a little different from the heart-moulded mango pudding you get at yum cha, don't you think?  I loved the presentation and the crunchy sesame tuilles.  The mousse itself was fresh-tasting and light - a great dessert after a heavily spiced meal.

Mango pudding with condensed milk chantilly - $14

We also ordered 2 (yes, 2) caramel, chocolate and peanut parfaits.  Delicious, as usual, but I was unpleasantly surprised to see frosty bits of ice atop one of them.
Caramel chocolate and peanut parfait - $18
The dinner was, overall, quite a bit more expensive than our first visit, but we did order a heck of a lot more!  I'm sure you'll be more sensible if you visit.  Indeed you should - great service, buzzy atmosphere, delicious and original food. What more would you want?

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  1. My sister did not really enjoy the three cups chicken as well. Feeling disappointed, she bought some ingredients and made her own three cups chicken the next morning.

  2. Anonymous9:22 AM

    thats a shame they shrunk the size... i remember thinking ooo wow such a big portion for such a nice place =). and turns out i ate most of it, coz the other 2 didn't eat much spice LOL!!!

  3. Man, wish I had gone to Spice Temple instead of Rockpool. This food looks so much better than what I had at Rockpool recently. Totally bad experience there.



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