The opium den of the people

Extra crispy, smoky Peking Duck ...Waitan Restaurant
Extra crispy, smoky Peking Duck …Waitan Restaurant

A special Lunch correspondent

My favourite thing about Waitan, Sydney’s hottest new Chinese restaurant – aside from its opium den-like lounge and acres of soothing dark timber – is its deconstructed Peking duck.

One of the first things you notice as you walk into Waitan, aside from the other heavenly aromas, is the smoke from the authentic wood fire, tucked away in a distant corner of this 2500 square meter space.

The ducks are baked in the open oven with oak and cherry wood for extra crispy, smoky skin.

The first course is crispy duck skin dipped in a special sauce or white sugar.

Second course is duck meat wrapped inside a handmade pancake along with fresh shallots and cucumber, topped with a special barbecue sauce.

The third course is more duck meat, with skin this time with pancakes et cetera.

My companion and I put the whole kickshaw together at the table, with extra chili for me – or la-jow if you prefer the Mandarin.

sesame seared tuna ... Waitan
Velvety sesame seared tuna … Waitan

Then comes the lovely velvety sesame seared tuna, a sooth match for the 2010 Trimbach Reisling the sommelier has picked out for us.

Then there is an avalanche of Middle Kingdom cuisine, the quality of which I have rarely enjoyed in Beijing or Shanghai and never before Down Under.

Deep breath: squid ink dim sum, prawn spring rolls with har gow sauce, pigs head terrine with dashi stock and jamon serrano, wood fired chicken with five spice salt, pork belly braised with chilli and black vinegar and a Tasmanian morwong straight from the tank, steamed with ginger and shallots.

It’s lucky it’s late and we’re both starving.

Dessert? Fagetaboutit.

OK you twisted my arm.

We’ll share the cherry and coconut pavlova, and the black bean fudge brownie sundae with red bean ice cream (a song).

In addition to the main space, bar area, 14-private dining rooms and Sydney’s largest dining table, spanning 5.2m to accommodate up to 32 diners – Waitan possesses an intimate atmosphere, making it ideal for that romantic evening supper.

Intimate atmosphere ... 14 Private Dining rooms
Intimate atmosphere … 14 Private Dining rooms

There are also grill rooms, which cater for parties of six to 18 revellers and a private chef can respectively eat, drink and cook their heads off.

Finally, the Library is a members-only space where guests can sit back, sip on a glass of the finest cognac or single malt whiskey and admire the yartz.

It cost its backers over $10 million to create this new venue, which stacks up against any new age Asian restaurant on Earth, and is worth every penny.

At last Sydney has the fine dining Chinese restaurant it deserves.

I liked it so much I sat down with the local Managing Director of Waitan, Patrick Tian.

You can read the interview here.

405 Sussex St.
Sydney NSW 2000


Reservations – 02 8218 1000 or [email protected]

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