I am a freelance reviewer in Sydney, and lover of sharing my experiences in all things food, wine, entertainment and travel related.
Published October 7th 2012
A pretty China Doll delivers flawless perfection
On a wonderful sunny afternoon, a celebratory birthday lunch brings me the privilege of dining at China Doll – one of Sydney's leading Modern Asian restaurants on Sydney's historic Woolloomooloo Wharf.
A Sydney establishment for many years, China Doll has upheld a great reputation over the years and is a One Chef's hat restaurant, operating under the helm of leading Chef Frank Shek.
According to the restaurant website, China Doll modernizes, yet follows traditional oriental experiences from Japan, Hong Kong, China and across South East Asia. It promises Asian dishes which are true to its roots, yet combined to suite the western palate, using locally grown, superior produce, and flavours are kept clean and distinguished.
It is also a 'see and be seen' restaurant, on what is affectionately known as the 'Finger Wharf' – quite possibly due to the myriad of fine dining establishments offering finger-licking good food.
The restaurant's location lends itself to some anonymity, being located away from crowds and traffic. It is positioned perfectly to enjoy the afternoon sun while doing a spot of celebrity spotting and absorbing the tranquillity of the floating luxury yachts on the beautiful wharf.
With all the right ingredients so far for a tranquil and beautiful place to enjoy a drink and bite, I get straight into the menu.
We begin with the Steamed Dumpling - Prawn & Green Bean with Chinese Red Vinegar. The dumplings are plump, translucent and bursting with flavour from the fresh prawns, chili and other delightful spices.
The other entrée sampled is the Sashimi of Hiramasa Kingfish and Ocean Trout, which is well presented on a long rectangular platter and covered in rich red chili spices and ginger, while lying on a bed of crisp, matchstick sized green apple slices. The sashimi is fresh and oozes, flavour with each bite. The Kingfish is particularly good.
As expected, the Penang Curry was amazing. The curry sauce was robust in flavor and the beef, so tender that it fell apart effortlessly on my fork. This main was paired with a side of Fried Rice which was generously portioned and also very tasty. The Duck Pancakes were also delicious, with the duck, juicy and cooked to perfection.
Despite the fact I cannot finish the mains, I decide not to skimp on dessert, and opt for the Passion fruit Sago Pudding. The soft sago balls melt in my mouth and the passion fruit flavor is creamy and sweet.
I notice that at the table next to me, media personality John Laws is also unable to finish his main and is given a doggy bag of the leftovers, so I decide to do the same.
Overall I am extremely impressed at the quality, depth of flavour and portions of all the dishes I have sampled, and while it has been a long time coming for my visit to this well known establishment, I can now understand why it draws in diners. If it's good enough for John Laws, it's good enough for me.
With its picturesque front door vista and higher end pricing, it is perfect for dining alfresco for a long lazy lunch, for locking in that business deal, to impress someone special, or for other well-to-do diners.
Service is efficient and professional and staff are happy to advise you how to get the best for the menu.