Sometimes you just want something warming, no fuss, and inexpensive that hits the spot. In the overcrowded, teeming restaurant scene that is Chatswood, Sea Bay Kitchen is a welcome addition that targets this particular need.
A stone's throw from Chatswood station on the Pacific Highway side, it is easy to reach, and churns out good, honest Xi'an style (North West Chinese) food - comprising of dumplings, noodles and those puffy white wheaten bread thingies that are synonymous with this type of food.
Meat wonton soup $11
Fun fact: Sea Bay Kitchen is called that not because the food is from a region near the sea, but as a corruption of the Chinese 'Xi Bei' meaning North West.
Pan fried dumplings $13 for 14 pcs
There's none of that fussy, overly delicate fragile-as-a-cloud Taiwanese dumpling style dumplings which people Instagram and enjoy eating in 5 seconds, then leave feeling pleased but hungry for more because it was a light but ephemeral morsel. Think more I-need-a-massive-pile-of-dumplings-to-stave-off-the-hunger-pangs-and-I-don't-want-to-break-the-bank type dumplings. Pan-fried or steamed, we went for pan-fried, and it was a massive satisfying plate of dumplings that arrived, that we happily smothered in the home-made chilli oil and vinegar, before slurping them down in a few hasty greedy slurps.
They also sell wine and Tsing Tao beer, so that's a win!
Spicy and sour dumpling soup $12
As you can see from the photos, serving sizes are generous, and the food is more home style and filling, rather than pretty. I love it, and I have been back three times in the last month, which is kind of crazy given how many other eateries I could choose from in Chatswood, but the cheap and cheerful extensive menu keeps drawing me back for more.
The decor is interesting. The owners seem to have a fascination for Li Na, the retired Chinese professional tennis player, so one wall is filled with portraits of her, while the other is plastered with photographs and articles about her. So if you are a fan, you will enjoy visiting just for that.
I would love more people to discover this place, so it can embed itself as one of Chatswood's staple restaurants and secure my continued patronage by remaining in existence. The problem with this location is that people don't generally think about this side of the railway line having restaurants, and patron numbers suffer as a result. I hope that changes. For now, though, it's still a bit of a hidden secret, so crowds are few and enjoying good food in a quiet location a fantastic bonus.
Sea Bay Kitchen also has more well-established branches in the City and Eastwood if Chatswood isn't convenient.
Give it a whirl. It's perfect comfort food that won't impoverish you.