Date contradicts self amid China food sensation

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China Doll
Woolloomoolloo Bay, Sydney, Australia

I arrive for my midday booking and ask if there’s any chance of a table outside in the sunshine.

The restaurant is on the Finger Wharf at Woolloomooloo and it’s a perfect day for alfresco dining.

You won’t get a table outside if you booked this morning, she tells me.

I say ask if we can have an outside table if one becomes available, like, say if a booking is cancelled or if the arrival of someone’s wife breaks up an illicit tryst, or if someone breaks their leg on the way to the restaurant.

“Of course,’’ says the maitre’d, but I have the feeling that the chance of any of these eventualities happening are rather slim.
As my companion arrives the problems begin. Having been given carte blanche I have ordered the Snowy River trout with green papaya salad.

She insists I change the order.

I call our waiter over and he rushes to the kitchen. On his return he says they haven’t started the fish so of course there is no problem.
What would we like instead? The sancerre does its job of cooling my palate with its dryness while the chillis go nova in my mouth.

What follows is a six-minute debate while all the options are weighted including the New Zealand snapper and numbing sichuan pork ribs.

Eventually it is decided that I’m allowed to order the trout, provided the papaya salad is served on the side.

Now down to business, we begin with the hiramasa kingfish and ocean trout sashimi. The trout is lovely and unctuous the kingfish dissolves in my mouth when it meets the 2008 Reverdy sancerre.
Oh I forgot to mention when I asked for still water at the beginning, out came a bottle of Tasmanian rain. Rain harvested before it touched the ground in a piece of marketing brilliance.

But I digress. Next comes the pork and prawn dumplings with vinegar sauce nice and as doughy as the kingfish was kingfishy.
While I enjoy the wine – as a dry as a hot, suffocating desert wind – and big bottles of Tsingtao, my companion polishes off two margaritas. This is going to be a serious lunch.

We tackle the trout (line caught by a strapping lad from Snowy River on horseback that morning). Wow! it’s rich and wild and lovely. The green papaya salad is not the least bit papaya-ey (my companion’s concern) it is sweet and dressed in vinegar with mint and cilantro.

And  of course in the end we back up and get the numbing sichuan pork anyway. The wine loses most of its goodness in the front of course because of the thermonuclear attack from the tiny sechuan peppers, but there is still some dryness at the back. Eventually I revert to beer.

And of course our long forgotten maitre’d asks if we’d like to finish our drinks outside in the sun, now the crowd has thinned.
A capital idea.

China Doll

Phone:  +61 2 9380 6744

Shop 4, 6 Cowper Wharf Road
Woolloomooloo NSW Australia 2011

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