Hidden in an alcove, behind an animated door straight out of Blade Runner, lies one of Sydney’s greatest hidden dining treasures. On entering you lurch downstairs and stand blinking in an almost primordial gloom. Before your eyes grow accustomed to the gloom you’re led to a table through a room full of shadows. You can make out figures but not faces. This is Spice Temple – Neil Perry’s paean to Chinese food.
It could be a stylish speakeasy, Lex Luthor’s hideout or even a safe haven during a zombie apocalypse yet its darkness, its hidden corners and glimmering light fittings make Spice Temple an ideal place to embrace anonymity. A sanctuary away from the ever-jealous eyes of deskbound colleagues and that scourge of the Western world, human resources. By the way, they’re not welcome here as far as I’m concerned.
And to the food … actually a couple of beverages kick things off. Ice-cold Yebisu beers followed by an understated, delicately floral Moorilla Estate Gewürztraminer are the drought-breakers on this particular occasion. A starter of hot and numbing dry wagyu rips you out of your workday lethargy and deposits you fairly and squarely at the table. It announces your arrival at a serious lunch as the chili hits the soft palate and causes your taste buds to salivate before they recoil to dry like a flattened lizard on a cracked footpath in summer.
The wine soothes and the beer moves you up to the plate for fish drowned in heaven facing chillies and sichuan peppercorns. Soft fish melts in your mouth and the chili moves from hot to that warm peppery feeling of pure mouth-watering pleasure. There’s a real liveliness to this dish. The exquisitely fresh, slightly sweet leatherjacket maintains its natural flavors despite being pummeled by the presence of chili and sichuan pepper - both crackle in the mouth as if to give the fish one last chance to get off the line.
Aah yes … now you’re eating, now you’re at lunch and that urgent task (which was never really that urgent) can wait. No need to call the office and (as long as you know who to tell) this is your place, a place to share.
Remember – no HR, they’d blow-up Buddha if they had half a chance I’m told.
10 Bligh St
Sydney NSW 2000
Lunch Monday to Friday
Dinner Monday to Saturday
+61 2 8078 1888