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Lunar New Year Banquets at The Gardens by Lotus

Home > Sydney > Restaurants | Lunch | Food and Wine | Dumpling Bars | Chinese New Year
by Gypsy Rose (subscribe)
I love travelling, discovering hidden gems & food. Experience the journey on Instragram! @gypsy_compass. Owner of do check it out for grazing platters and more :)
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Nestled amongst Sydney's oasis, the tranquil Chinese Garden of Friendship, The Gardens by Lotus calls home. This hidden gem Chinese teahouse offers breathtaking views of the gardens, and this year is celebrating the Year of the Rabbit with an exclusive Lunar New Year Banquet that features tantalising traditional Yum Cha delicacies from 22nd January until 5th February.

Dining at The Gardens also includes free entry to the gardens.

Some of the views at The Gardens of Friendship


We were greeted by the lovely and professional staff and taken to our table. Our table was at the back in the very imitate section (only three tables) of the teahouse and offered an awe-inspiring backdrop of the views from the gardens.

Upon arrival, it was raining but this didn't ruin our outdoor dining experience. On the contrary, it is enhanced with the rain hitting the pond and gentle, beautiful traditional Chinese music playing in the background.

The musician was across the pond. Her gentle strokes on the traditional Erhu (Chinese violin) echoed gently to where we were sitting and added to the serenity of the ambience.

The decor is exquisite, with almost every table having a view of the gardens, regardless if you are sitting in the main dining area of the intimate room at the back of the teahouse.

It is all open to the gardens so you can enjoy the sounds, fresh air and tranquil views.

The tranquil and scenic views from our table.

The Menu:

The Lunar New Year Banquet featured a 15-dish feast ($79pp) of Pacific oysters, soy, ginger and finger lime, Purple cabbage, pickled cauliflower, iceberg lettuce, soy ginger dressing, Lamb with carrot and leek spring rolls, Shallot pancake, Steamed pork and prawn siu mai, Jade prawn dumplings, Vegetable dumplings, Pork xiao long bao, Daikon radish cake, Snowy mountain pork buns, Rolled duck pancakes, Asian greens, Salt and pepper whitebait, Soy noodles, and Seasonal fruit plate. We also were treated to the Year of the Rabbit Dumplings ($24)- hand-crafted dumplings filled with mud crab, prawn and ginger.


The dishes didn't come in order of menu and came out randomly throughout our dining experience. The first three dishes to come out were the Pacific Oysters, Purple cabbage and Rolled duck pancake.

The Pacific oysters, soy, ginger, finger lime, the Purple cabbage, pickled cauliflower, iceberg lettuce, soy ginger dressing and the Rolled duck pancakes

The Pacific oysters, soy, ginger and finger lime were large and had a subtle fish flavour. Combined with the aromatic Asian flavours of soy and ginger, it transformed the oyster into a world of flavour, from saltiness to hints of sweetness.

The combination of the classic and traditional Chinese flavours of soy and ginger was such a perfect meld. The soy added hints of saltiness, sweetness and slight acidity, whilst the ginger added sharpness, yet both ingredients didn't overpower the delicate oyster.

The fragrant Oysters

The Purple cabbage, pickled cauliflower, iceberg lettuce, and soy ginger dressing was a world of flavour, texture and freshness.

The salad was refreshing and packed with classic Chinese ingredients. The pickled cauliflower was nutty, slightly sweet and had an enjoyable crunch. Combined with the fresh crispy ingredients of purple cabbage and iceberg lettuce, followed by the slight saltiness and sweet dressing, this starter dish created a magical dance on the palate.

The Cabbage & Pickled Cauliflower Salad

Overall, the salad was a welcoming starter that excited the senses of what was yet to come. The elements of texture from the iceberg lettuce, purple cabbage and pickled cauliflower combined with flavours from the soy ginger dressing and the sesame seed garnish created a well-balanced dish.

The Rolled duck pancakes were slightly underwhelming due to them not having much filling, therefore, there wasn't much to taste and experience.

The pancake itself was cooked perfectly and was smooth. Once we got to the filling of duck, hoisin, shallots and cucumber, it was tasteful. The small duck piece was cooked perfectly, and the hoisin sauce combined with crispy freshness from the cucumber and shallots was delightful.

The Duck Pancakes

The Lunar New Year Special (hand-crafted dumplings filled with mud crab, prawn, carrot, and ginger) was cleverly (and cutely) shaped like a rabbit and was quite fitting!

The Lunar New Year Dumpling Special

The dumpling fillings were quite generous and packed with mouth-watering flavours. The mud crab and prawns were not overcooked, and the addition of carrots and ginger did not just showcase texture; the flavours bought the dumpling mixture to a new level from the sharpness of the ginger and the sweet, earthy flavours from the carrots.

The dumpling "pastry" was cooked perfectly, as it was a soft, smooth and elastic texture.

How adorable!

Overall, the dumplings weren't just cute to look at. They were filled with flavour and texture, making the taste buds crave more. The Lamb with carrot and leek spring rolls were quite interesting and unique and certainly a different take on the "normal" spring rolls we usually get or make.

The generous filling

The spring roll pastry was crispy and flaky, just like it should be. The filling was quite generous and cooked perfectly.

The Lamb was flavoursome and juicy, and the aromatic flavours from the Chinese spices infused the lamb. The humble vegetables carrots, and leek, added texture to the mixture and invited the earthy flavours to blend with the spices and the juicy lamb, making it a sublime combination of flavours and textures.

The Spring Rolls & Shallot Pancakes

Shallot Pancake was the next dish that teased our taste buds. Chinese shallot pancakes are my favourite, and this pancake didn't fail to tick the boxes of a great tantalising savoury pancake. It was cooked perfectly and was not too oily, each layer was filled with flavour, and the shallots did not overpower the doughy pancake.

The exterior was crispy and flaky and had a slightly chewy interior. Then inside was packed with an addicting fragrant, and the shallots did not overpower.

The Daikon Radish Cake was quite interesting, and I must admit, never tried this before. The exterior was slightly crispy, and the inside was pillowy, creamy and hearty.

The Daikon Raddish Cake

This dish had an aromatic, savoury taste with a slight peppery bite. However, it was mostly sweet and had a smooth texture.

The Steamed Pork Siu Mai and Jade Prawn Dumplings come out together in the bamboo steamer. The iconic Chinese dim sum, the Steamed pork siu mai, had a delicious paper-thin wonton wrap and was filled with a flavourful pork filling topped with crab eggs, adding texture.

It was seasoned well and steamed perfectly. The pork retained its juices and was not dry.

The Jade Dumplings & Siu Mai

The Jade Prawn Dumplings not only look beautiful with the vibrant colour, it was delicious too!

The dumplings were filled with a generous helping of fresh prawns, and the outside layer was soft and smooth and had the perfect elastic texture.

Overall, both the siu mai and dumplings were a treat to eat and satisfied the palate with an array of flavours and textures.

The Vegetable Dumplings and Pork Xiao Long Bao were the following dishes to arrive in the bamboo steamer.

Like all other dishes, the Vegetable dumplings were packed with authentic aromas and full-flavoured textures with hints of a combination of saltiness and sweetness.

The Vegetable Dumplings & Pork Xiao Ling Bao

The Pork xiao long bao was spot on. The aromatic "broth" juices burst out with the first mouthful, followed by the seasoned, sweet and delicious pork mixture.

The richness of the broth complimented the tender pork, making it the perfect marriage of ingredients, textures and flavours.

The Snowy Mountain Pork Buns were the next culinary delight to hit our table. What a treat this was! When we thought our taste buds couldn't overdose further with tastier food, the buns teased our palate and pushed our taste buds to crave more.

The Pork Buns

The buns had all the characteristics of the perfect pork bun; Salt, sweetness, and texture. In addition, the sweet, savoury saucy pork filling was mind-blowing.

Check out that delicious filling!

The final dishes to arrive were Soy Noodles, Salt and Pepper White Bait and Asian Greens.

The Soy noodles were cooked al dente and packed with balanced Asian flavours of sweet, savoury and aromatic.

The noodles had the right amount of soy sauce, and the garnishes of bean sprouts, sesame seeds and shallots added texture and earthy tones and were the perfect garnishes to complete the dish.

The Noodles

The Salt and pepper whitebait had the right amount of batter and cooked perfectly. The garnishes of the thinly sliced red chilli and shallots were a great addition, as the chilli added that hint of spice to take the whitebait to a new level of deliciousness.

The whitebait was seasoned well and didn't lack in flavour and texture.

The Whitebait

The final dish was the Asian Greens. This dish mainly consisted of bok choy tossed with soy sauce. The greens were cooked perfectly and retained their crunch. The soy sauce was not overpowering, and "picked" the dish up.

Asian Greens tossed in Soy Sauce

Dessert was a disappointing fresh fruit plate that consisted of two slices of watermelon, one slice of rockmelon cut into fours, and one strawberry cut into fours.

It was pretty underwhelming and wasn't a pleasant way to end our mouth-watering culinary journey. They could have been slightly generous or added more fruit, such as lychee or dragonfruit, to stick to the authenticity.

The fruit could have been better, probably because we had a bad season for fruit due to poor weather.

The underwhelming Fruit Plate

Our dishes were complimented with China Sencha Tea which was slightly sweet and mellow and went well with all the dishes from the banquet.

Our culinary New Year celebratory lunch was packed with authentic flavours and textures and teased the taste buds for more. Each dish was filled with flavoursome ingredients that created the perfect unison.

The staff were friendly and attentive, filled our glasses with sparkling water throughout our dining experience, and explained each dish as it arrived.

Our palate was pushed to the limit with traditional Chinese dishes that created their very own celebration.

There are two banquets to choose from:

We were given the $79pp option with the addition of the Year of The Rabbit Dumplings ($24).

The second Banquet is $88pp and includes additional dishes. See the website for more information.

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*Gypsy Rose was invited as a guest
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Why? A Chinese New Year Feast
When: 22.01.23-05.02.23
Phone: (02) 8311 5156
Where: Chinese Garden of Friendship, Pier St, Haymarket
Cost: Banquet 1: $79pp or Banquet 2: $88pp
Your Comment
I had never hear of a radish cake before. What an innovative culinary invention.
by Gillian Ching (score: 3|6399) 51 days ago
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