I am a freelance reviewer in Sydney, and lover of sharing my experiences in all things food, wine, entertainment and travel related.
Published August 30th 2012
It could be partially due to their recent victory on the medal tally at the 2012 London Olympics but China is definitely top of mind at the moment, and now a large number of new Chinese restaurants are entering the Sydney dining scene.
One can definitely notice the veritable trend of fantastic new Chinese restaurants opening in recent weeks, with some examples including The Century in The Star Casino, Merrivale's Mr Wong's and the more recently opened China Lane, which I am going to report on.
As the name would suggest, China Lane is itself tucked away off the main drag of George Street. It is located in the laneway of Angel Place in Sydney's CBD, just a short walk up from Wynyard Train Station.
Follow your way through the alley near the City Recital Hall and you will see distinctive birdcage artwork hung in the air, which floats just above the outdoor seating for China Lane. China Lane is a sophisticated and modern Chinese dining option and you can tell from the décor.
From the outside, an electric blue neon light distinguishes the restaurant, and upon walking inside you see that restaurant is far from your 80's style, kitsch Chinese restaurant. It is instead a classy establishment with a Shanghai Nights meets Mad-Men design to it. The style is 1950's and the space enjoys a cinematically inspired interior. Vintage dining chairs and vinyl banquettes adorn the restaurant, as does other dark furniture, lamps and mood lighting. The outdoor seating is made convenient for year-round dining with heating and push rugs provided to patrons.
Being the latest addition from the lovely people who brought you China Doll in Woolloomooloo and China Beach in Manly, you can be assured of the quality and caliber of the food and service in China Lane.
With all indoor tables taken, we sit outside and admire the gliding birdcages suspended overhead in the laneway, before perusing the menu, which we soon find out, delivers a fantastically fresh modern Chinese cuisine.
We opt for the al-a-carte menu, but there are two banquet options for larger groups. The menu is a sizeable selection of contemporary Asian fusion dishes, split into eight categories: Raw and Nibbles, Salads, Steamed, Grilled, Wok & Fried, Spicy and Wet, Vegetarian, and Sides.
It seems obligatory at every modern Chinese restaurant to still try the classics with the new modern twist, so we have the Prawn Dumpling with Chinese Red Wine Vinegar and the Pork San Choy Bau for entrée.
For mains we try the Pink Snapper Fillet with Ginger, Soy and Shallot, and the Chili Lemongrass Cuttlefish with Garlic and Chili Vinegar. All the dishes sampled show finesse, creativity and knowledge of contemporary Asian flavours.
The dishes complement the urban Asian ambience of the place which is full, and the comprehensive wine list has all varieties to match every flavor on the menu.
The verdict: You are at the wrong place if you are expecting traditional Chinese fare. For those who have a more modern palette, it is right up your alley. Cost is about $100 for two plus wine. Entrees and mains can also be split into half portions if you wish to try more of the menu.