Chinese restaurants seem to be getting fancier these days, with the likes of Mr Wong and China Lane setting a new standard. Following the same path is He Tai Open Kitchen in Macquarie Park. The setting is elegant and spacious, with wooden carved screens and decorative tiles adorning the restaurant. It definitely lived up to its name, with the dumpling masters and chefs plying their trade in full view.
Finding the restaurant was a little mission in itself. Whilst listed as being on Level 3 of Macquarie Centre, you actually have to walk through the carpark to enter from the outside of the shopping complex. Food selection is via a tick sheet, without the hustle and bustle of yum cha trolleys. The dimsums had five categories of pricing, ranging from small $6.80 to special $12.80. On first impression, the food was very pricey with only one dish classed as a small (the congee).
The Deep fried tofu had a nice crust and I liked the flavours of the spice mix.
The Prawn dumplings - so often an indicator of overall dim sum expertise - were great, but I was expecting for a little more 'wow'.
The Seafood fried rice with XO sauce was a generous portion. The XO sauce gave it a great flavour but my gripe is they didn't have enough seafood.
The Okra & Mushroom Dumplings with Squid Ink were somewhat of a novel item on the menu. I liked the texture of the filling and the dumpling skin wasn't too thick allowing the flavours of the filling to shine through.
The Snow mountain BBQ pork buns were probably the highlight of the meal. The buns had a flaky crust with a very flavoursome filling. Are they as good as the TIm Ho Wan variety? Almost!
The Vermicelli rolls with prawn were expertly made. The vermicelli was smooth and silky, a notch above the average yum cha fare.
Mango pomelo sago is normally one of my favourite desserts. I love the combination of pomelo, mango, sago and grapefruit. The colour of Open Kitchen's version is a lot more orange than I remember... not exactly sure why but it may have something to do with the fact they used canned mango instead of fresh - disappointing considering it is right in the middle of mango season!
Opening at the end of last year, the service was a little inconsistent - the wait staff were unsure of table numbers and end up walking around each table trying to deliver the dishes before they get cold. I did enjoy the ambience of Open Kitchen and the food overall was of god quality, but not so good to justify the expensive prices.
I have tried most of the options at the newly revamped Macquarie Centre (Chef's Gallery, Ippudo, Papparich to name a few), so was keen to try something new which is how I ended up at The Missing Piece. Located outside DJs and Uniqlo, the cafe was buzzing on the Saturday we visited.
The Missing Piece is known for its creative drinks so I tried the Tutti Frutti (a white peach, passion fruit, raspberries and rock melon frappe) which looked spectacular and tasted just as good. I loved the fact I could pick out whole raspberries in the drink and it wasn't all just blended into a pulp.
My bf got the GoNuts milkshake - combining two of his favourite things (cinnamon donuts and milkshake). It was topped with a sprinkle of cinnamon sugar and came with a snake wrapped around the straw - a quirky but nice touch. The milkshake had a good consistency and wasn't too sweet, so was very easy to drink.
The Sea salad with wood smoked salmon, kale, quinoa, chia seeds, almonds served with a poached egg was delicious. The dressing was simple - just olive oil and lemon but it was all the dish needed, and the percetly poached egg topped it off.
It was only when the dish arrived that I understood why it was called Hashtag sliders (With the polenta chips literally forming a hashtag). I loved the sliders - the lamb was soft and succulent and the jalapeno mayo gave it a touch of spice, though not too much. The polenta chips had a nice crispiness, but could have done with a bit more seasoning.
It can get quite busy on the weekend, but service is pretty efficient, so the wait isn't too long. On the way out, we saw some delicious looking cronuts and pastries at the front counter...which we will be back for next time!
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