Fire and spice and all things nice—the taste of the east is well and truly kicking in Adelaide. Here are our top picks.
You’ll find Wah Hing smack bang in the heart of the Gouger eat-street strip in the centre of the CBD. The décor, while basic, has a cool edge that seems to set it apart from the rest of the Gouger fracas but what really keeps the punters returning is the food. From smoked tea duck and salt and pepper tofu to the signature chicken in ginger and spring onion sauce, dishes here are always consistent, reliable, and super tasty.
85 Gouger Street, Adelaide; (08) 8212 0338
Just another Gouger Street venue? No. Ding Hao is where those in-the-know come for their dumpling fix. Steamed or fried, they are arguably Adelaide’s best. Yum cha on weekdays is a pick-from-the-list arrangement – there are about 50 options to choose from. On weekends, it’s a frenetic yet efficient trolley-service. The pea-shoot dumplings, in particular, are legendary.
26-28 Gouger Street, Adelaide; (08) 8211 7036
Ba Guo Bu Yi
Specialising in Szechuan flavours, it’s no surprise to find Ba Guo Bu Yi, on Gouger Street, is a destination for spice-lovers. Fiery dishes abound such as authentic mapo tofu, signature spicy boiled fish fillet and sizzling lamb with cumin and spice. The unassuming space is given a lift thanks to Chinese screens, red tablecloths and red lanterns.
98-100 Gouger Street, Adelaide; (08) 8212 0000
Across the road from Ding Hao, Star House is another of Adelaide’s premier yum cha destinations. Authentic, honest and excellent value, come here during the week to order from the more than 90 options. On weekends, choose one of three sitting times and be decisive: items are whisked off the trolleys faster than you can say dim sum. You’ll want to snap up the pork buns, golden yam puffs and prawn dumplings.
31 Gouger Street, Adelaide; (08) 8221 6303
A bustling atmosphere, generous portions and authentic flavours define this Szechuan specialist. Kung pao chicken is sticky, piquant and mouth-numbing, sliced beef in Szechuan broth with garlic and spring onions bursts with umami and serious heat, while the signature barbecue whole barramundi smothered in spicy sauce is perfect for feeding a crowd of chilli connoisseurs.
89 Gouger Street, Adelaide; (08) 8231 5828
The location (a former Irish pub) is slightly incongruous but the food is lip-smackingly good every time. Lunchtime yum-cha is very popular (you’ll need a booking on weekends) but the a la carte also offer high points: notably the Peking duck with pancakes, Szechuan lamb and wide array of seafood dishes, including Moreton Bay bug tails and steamed Murray cod. It also boosts a standout wine list, too.
401 King William Street, Adelaide; (08) 8212 8383
Arguably the most sophisticated of the Gouger Street contingent, Concubine boasts a smart interior where decor accents are used with contemporary flair. The menu, likewise, has a modern finesse: certainly, it’s Chinese dominated but there are also Thai and Malay influences and locally sourced ingredients are a priority. Highlights include salt and pepper squid, which comes with a refreshing chilli, apple and leaf salad and ‘Xinjiang’ lamb fillet with cumin, black pepper and dried chilli.
132 Gouger Street, Adelaide; (08) 8212 8288
Set at the back of the Norwood Hoyts complex, it would be easy to overlook Eastern Garden due to its sequestered location but that would certainly be a mistake. Step inside and discover a richly decorated, high-ceilinged dining room. Most likely it’s packed with fellow food-lovers tucking into dishes like Szechuan style stir-fried chicken, kung po prawns and green beans with minced pork and XO. Service is swift and polite. Yum cha here is also incredibly good.
185 The Parade, Norwood; (08) 8332 8606
As the name suggests, Little Canton is mostly about Cantonese food, even though there’s a smattering of Szechuan and other regions. From the a la carte menu, choose crispy skinned chicken with ginger and shallots, king prawns with vermicelli hot pot and green beans with garlic and chilli – all delicious. But, really, it’s the daily yum cha that’s all the rage: irresistible dumplings, soft meaty pork buns, textural deep fried squid tentacles and much more. The range is impressive and the quality top notch.
173 Henley Beach Road, Mile End; (08) 8354 2886
Chef Lai Noodle Cafe
We’ll say it upfront: you aren’t here for the décor – it’s little more than a hole-in-the-wall pit stop. What are you here for? The food. Quality authentic dishes, most with a Malaysian lean – think shallot cakes, mee goreng, salt and pepper squid, Hainanese chicken rice and pan mee soup. If that’s not convincing enough, know this: Chef Lai is a favourite of Adelaide’s superstar chef Cheong Liew and what’s good enough for Cheong…
3 California Street, Adelaide; (08) 8212 0076
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