4 Mar 2011

Double Happiness



China Red
Shop 6, 206 Bourke St
Melbourne VIC 3000,

(03) 9662 3688
web: China Red

Open Hours
Monday ~ Thursday
11:30am ~ 10:30pm

Friday ~ Saturday
11:30am ~ 11:00pm

Last month we have invited some friends to try a new restaurant China Red in Chinatown which we discovered after our visited to the upstairs Shanghai Dynasty Restaurant. Unfortunately due to the flood (heavy rain) our friends couldn't make it but we still decided to go as it was a bit difficult to find a place to eat on Saturday without booking. The price I paid: a wet feet. Stupid me stepped into the water outside the car park. That was so embarrassed. Therefore the first thing I went into the restaurant was looking for it's restroom. I was told to go outside the restaurant and use the public toilet in the complex. That was inconvenience. (Later I found out there's a unisex toilet downstairs).

In the meantime, DH already got a table downstairs in the basement. The restaurant has two levels and it is ultra modern and chic in style. Clean, relaxing and comfortable. On the wall, traditional Chinese architecture on printing in black and white, and on contrast, a young bride in a gorgeous Qi Pao in eye catching lovely red colour, beautiful and shy. She was sitting quietly waiting for her groom to arrive. There's a story to tell on the wall and you can make up yours. Excellent design. Red lanterns, dark colour walls and Chinese printings and paper cuts on display. Great ambiance for casual dinning. Not to mention there's a secret private room reserved for VVIP downstairs. Just kidding. The small oriental room divided by the fabulous double happiness sliding doors is for large group booking and it fits up to 10 or more people. So if you want some private conversations and dine in a group this is an option for you. The room is tiny but has a lot of details; large wooden round table with Chinese antique reproduction carved chairs. A selection of  beautiful teapots display on the shelves and a red chandelier with traditional Chinese writing hanging from the ceiling. Pretty amazing.

Because of the flood, we've wasted a lot of time on traffic and almost late for our booking. The lady at the door was so nice and didn't mind there were only two of us turned up instead of a group. The little restaurant was packed. The wait staff was very friendly and offered to show us how to use the super hi-tech touchscreen ordering system which was mounted on the wall at each table. This is something new in Melbourne I guess as I haven't seen it elsewhere yet, but very popular in Japan and has been used in Sydney for a while. Thanks for her attentive service but we didn't need her help at all. I love to order direct through a machine as this minimised any human mistake due to communication problem. There are few sections to choose from just like menus on papers. From memory there are appetizers, mains, drinks and desserts and there's a picture of every dish you order and price shown next to it. You can always order more with the system and check the accurate total price without challenging your calculation skills. It's excellent fun and super convenience and the system is easy to use and works smoothly. What a great innovation! Love it.

There were also hard copy menus on hand and for people who likes the traditional human to human ordering method, that was not a problem at all. Some people like to ask for recommendation and make sure what they order, especially if you don't speak Chinese. Totally understandable. Going through their menus, I found those were similar to a close by restaurant called "Spicy Fish" who also served mainly Szechuan Cuisine. Are they also belong to the same group as Hu Tong Dumpling Bar I wonder? They all shared very similar menus.

We were extremely hungry and wasted no time other than selecting things to eat. Their menus have a large selection of food; dumplings, buns, noodles, cold and hot appetizers, vegetarian, poultry, meat, seafood and desserts etc. With the self ordering system, we selected the dish and pressed confirm on touch screen. Simply as that. The good thing about it was easy and we've got to see what each dish looks like and don't need to guess until it places on our table. And the bad thing, we totally lost control and kept order unstop.
Here's what we ordered:
Milk Tea $4.50
Red Bean in Syrup $4.00

Black Fungus in Vinegar $9.80
Won Ton in Spicy Sauce $8.80
Spicy Sliced Pork Tripe $8.80
Vegetable Dumplings (6 pieces) $ 6.80
Pan Fried Pork Buns (4 pieces) $8.80

Chili Mud Crab (seasonal price) $118.30 (around 3 pounds)

The milk tea arrived in an interesting glass container, it was placed in a bowl of ice. Very interesting idea to separated the ice and the drink but still keep it cold. The taste was awesome! Silky and deep in flavour. I don't know how to explain this exactly but if you've tried a good milk tea in a cafe in Hong Kong, you would know what I'm talking about. Hubby liked his Red Bean drink and he said it was good.

Black Fungus in Vinegar was a dish I fall in love with after having it at Shanghai Dynasty Restaurant not long ago. It was crispy and chewy. Simply delicious and very good for health. This is a super easy dish. The black fungus was dried and comes in package. Soak it in water overnight so it becomes soft in texture. Then seasoned with vinegar, a little salt and sesame oil. I will definitely order it again and again.

The won ton in spicy sauce was delicious. Very similar to those at Hu Tong Dumpling Bar. Soft thin wrapping and nice pork filling. The sauce has a lots of chilies in it but not that spicy. I wish they could be spicier and more seasonings in it but I guess the level of heat there was more acceptable for the general public.

Spicy sliced pork tripe was brilliant. It was so fresh and tasty. Marinated pork tripe boiled in hot water then sliced in small narrow pieces and seasoning with hot chili oil, sugar and salt, chili, Szechuan pepper corn, white sesame and spring onion. Lovely appetizers and full of flavour.

Vegetable dumplings and pan fried pork buns were something normally we won't order but we decided to try them that night. The dumplings were beautiful in colour, as green as a snow pea (my fave veggie). I can't remember what was the filling, from the photos I could tell there were some finely chopped carrot, spinach, etc. They came in a large bamboo basket and were large in size. Strange looking fat dumplings in my opinion and the wrapping was a bit too thick. Still a nice choice for vegetarian but not me. I don't like dumplings, buns, noodles, spaghetti or anything made of flour. When I was a kid whenever my grandma cook dumplings, I would left the wrapping aside and eat the filling only. Naughty child. And grandma made the best dumplings in the world. I really missed her thin wrapping small dumplings with well marinated filling. We used to have them on eve of Chinese New Year. Actually my favourite dumpling filling were the spinach, egg and vermicelli vegetarian type rather than plain pork. I have found the pan fried ones in some Korean restaurants.  Anyway, the pork buns look perfectly cute and they tasted okay but nothing special. Again the wrapping was too thick and left no room for filling. Both of the dishes were pretty good prices. For $6.80 you've got six dumplings and for $8.80 for four pork buns. They are good lunch choices.

Last, we had the mud crab in dry chili sauce. Wow! Wow! Wow! Apart from the price, this dish rock! It was hot hot hot! So prefect that I instantly addicted to it. An original for us Chinese to taste not an Chinese x Western dish to favourite the locals. I don't have a problem with recipes adjust to fit most of the customers. However, I'm more favour in stick to the original recipes and cook authentic dishes. The handsome Mr. Crab was more than three pounds in weight. The meat was extremely fresh, sweet and tender and the chilli sauce was powerful (very hot). I ate with my bare hands and licked my fingers like a child. A marvelous dish and hubby was totally agreed with me.

The service in China Red was fast and efficient. There were so many wait staffs on duty and they were so friendly and attentive. Thanks to the modern technology and machine ordering system, it let them got more time to service their customers. We didn't need to top up our empty glasses, the wait staff took care of that the whole night. When I traced up a dish, I got response very quickly and they were all happy and smiling. So, what else to ask for. We left as two happy and satisfied customers.

When we got outside the restaurant, there were chefs working in this large open kitchen with see through glass. It was late and they were all packing up and cleaning. So the show business in handmade noodles and buns was over that night but it will start again the next day and the day after. DH has asked me many times to revisit the restaurant since we first dine there and he was completely in love with China Red.
Double happiness, for both the customers and also the business owners.
Win win!

China Red on Urbanspoon

Cuisine: Chinese
Food: Good
Service: Good
Atmopshere: Good
Value: $$
Recommend: Likes It

2 Meow~:

Fil said...

Nice blog. Particularly love the Photos.


Dollymic said...

Hi Fil,
Thanks for your lovely comment!