While this post is about a restaurant and its food, its also about one of my now favourite Melbourne restaurants which has a link to Qantas and therefore it is about travel and planes….Right? Recently on a quick trip to Melbourne, my friend Bert and I visited Spice Temple , one of Neil Perry and The Rockpool Groups restaurants. Perry, who has been the creative consultant for Qantas Airways through his business Rockpool Consulting since 1997, designs and overseas the airlines First and Business Class menu’s and the Chairmans and Business Class lounges, so it was quite befitting that FreakyFlier should dine here while in Melbourne.
Located in the Crown Casino Complex along Southbank, entry iis via the main doors of the casino. At the sophisticated entrance we were warmly greeted and without a reservation show to a table within seconds.
The menu is designed around regional Chinese cuisine and not the usual fare we might all be used to. The menu features bold, hot and subtle flavoured dishes so it’s suitable for your friend who love intense heat or your Nan who prefers a more ethereal experience, either way its profound and ingenious.
Rat Cocktail – Bert is a RAT. Before you start thinking I am saying something awful, I’m talking about his Chinese Zodiac sign. At Spice Temple cocktails are designed around the 12 signs. The Rat Cocktail was a lovely mix of Lavender soda, mint, lime and Havana Club Blanco rum. I tried a sip, stunning.
King prawn wantons with aged black vinegar – I was dreadfully scared when I saw this dish. The menu dishes itemised in red were stated to be the hot dished. This was one of them and when we were presented the glistening plump wantons my eyes were focused on the slathered red and green bits, bathing the wantons in what looked like severe heat.
By itself, I thought it slightly alien looking, with a big body and flowing tail. While it had heat, those chilies in no way distracted from the prized item itself and simply complimented the most silkiest wanton skin and juicy prawns I think I have ever tasted. Then they served the Tea Smoked Duck.
Tea smoked duck breast with pickled cabbage and Chinese mustard – Moist, gelatinous, melting. I still cant stop thinking about it. In fact for several days later Bert and I were texting each other saying ‘I want Tea Smoked Duck’. Seriously we did. Moist, gelatinous, melting (ok I know I already said that…). A little hint of smokey Chinese tea with ever so slightly zinging Chinese mustard, the slices were presented with a side dish of soy and a dish of chilli sauce, not your run of the mill supermarket sweet chilli sauce, but made in house seriously numbing sauce. But lets move on and talk about numbing….
Hot and numbing dry Wagyu beef -“No, it’s not hot” said Bert. “It’s numbing”. He nodded. The Shiro Kin Full Blood +9 Score Wagyu was addictive, slightly hot, but with heat not overpowering the flavour. The meat slightly crunchy in parts was almost beef jerky like covered in a smoky Sichuan-ish type sauce. Yes it was numbing, but as Bert said, no its not hot.
O.K. So we didn’t try that many dishes, but now I am going back, if not just for that Tea Smoked Duck, I wonder if I will be served that in Business Class on a Qantas flight soon, I hope so!
FreakyFlier and Bert paid for their meals independently.