Even if you don’t normally go for spicy food, push yourself on a visit to Spice Temple. Though there are plenty of tasty options for the heat-averse, the punchy dishes are where this modern Chinese restaurant really shines.

Everything is designed to share. Dumplings – the lamb and fennel are especially plump – and steamed, silky eggplant doused in three complimentary flavours (pork, coriander and garlic) are a good way to ease you into some hotter mains. Kung pao-chicken comes heavily sprinkled with peppercorns and intense, ruby-hued heaven-facing chillies (only bite into the latter if you’re an especially seasoned chilli eater) and there’s more than one meat dish described as “hot and numbing” – even out their fire with a serve of sweet cabbage and radish pickle.

Kung pao chicken at Spice Temple

Though the menu brings the heat, the restaurant itself is cool in all senses of the word. Behind a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it door, a staircase leads into a subterranean space where the decor is dark and red lanterns light each table. The main dining square is subtly cordoned off with thin wooden panels, allowing diners just a glimpse of the activity at the bar.

As for drinks, there’s a 100-strong wine list, each carefully chosen to match the food, but if you prefer a more creative concoction the cocktail list is inventive. Choosing a drink is easy with the 12 zodiac cocktails, each designed for one of the signs on the Chinese calendar – simply order the one that matches your birth year.

Atmosphere: Sophisticated
Best for: An intimate feast
Cuisine: Chinese
Standout dish: Kung-pao chicken
Open: Monday – Friday for lunch and dinner with bar menu available all day; Saturday and Sunday for dinner
Address: 10 Bligh Street, Sydney
Phone number: (02) 8099 7088

Book at Spice Temple

Feeling hungry?

SEE ALSO: Your Ultimate Guide to Ordering Yum Cha


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