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.
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.
Best for: An intimate feast
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
SEE ALSO: Your Ultimate Guide to Ordering Yum Cha