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The East Chinese Restaurant at Circular Quay

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by Sydneyfunmum (subscribe)
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Published January 5th 2016
Great Opera House pre-show dining option


This is our go-to Chinese restaurant when we feel like a sit-down meal of Chinese food and need somewhere close to the Opera House because we have tickets to see something.

While not cheap (by which I mean, not cheap in a Chinese takeaway kind of way - however comparing it to the other restaurants along this strip, it's actually pretty good value), it has a glorious view of the Harbour Bridge and we have some solid favourite dishes which we are happy to order again and again, knowing they will be done consistently to the standard we like.

My impression is that this restaurant doesn't quite manage to pull the crowds that the other restaurants along this strip do, which is a shame really, because I think the food here is great and of a consistently high standard. This slightly lower customer density could be because a lot of the traffic here are tourists, and if you come as a tourist to Circular Quay, you're going to want Aussie food, not Chinese food.

Whatever the reason, people should be aware that this restaurant has been here for ages (which I usually take as a good sign that the meal experience is consistently good and punters in the know consistently return), it's got good quality Chinese food that tastes awesome and considering the location, is fairly-priced, and it also has one of the better views of the Harbour Bridge along this strip of restaurants. So if you're not stubbornly attached to modern Australian food and you're looking for something tasty to eat around Circular Quay, this place is worth a visit.

Har Jo East Chinese Circular Quay
Har Jo at the East Chinese Restaurant


We started our meal with Har Jo - a crispy minced prawn, crab meat, water chestnut and coriander in bean pastry concoction, decorated with mayo and black caviar. It was very moreish, and at $13.80 for two as an entree, good value.

salt and pepper squid East Chinese Circular Quay
Salt and Pepper Squid


We continued with our house favourite - salt and pepper squid - big squares of tender squid covered in a thin layer of peppery crunchiness. Mmmmm.

Rainbow steak East Chinese Circular Quay
rainbow steak - spicy, sweet, sour - my favourite dish


It had been a while since we'd been here and they'd changed the layout of the menu. I nearly cried because my favourite dish didn't appear to be on the menu anymore, but my enterprising husband noticed that there was a specials menu up near the front of the restaurant, and they appear to have just moved the rainbow steak from the main menu to that. The waiters didn't actually mention to us that there was a separate specials menu, and it's a bit confusing because the menu they hand you has a Chef's suggestions page at the front which you'd be forgiven for thinking was the specials menu - when in fact, it is completely different. So the insiders tip is to remember to check both the specials menu, and the main menu.

Above you can see a picture of my favourite dish at this restaurant - the rainbow steak. It's probably not much to look at, but it packs a flavour punch, making the sweet, salty, spicy, and sour parts of my tongue dance the can-can whenever I eat it.

As we were in a rush to go to a concert at the Opera House, that's all we had time for to eat. That's the other good thing about this restaurant - service is pretty fast so it's a great option for a quick meal to squeeze in before you go to see something at the Opera House.

If you're horrified by the lack of vegetable matter in the meal we just ordered, be assured that there are plenty of vegetable dishes on the menu that more balanced-diet lovers can order. The menu is actually ridiculously large as is often the case at Chinese restaurants. It's several pages in length, with a page for vegetable dishes, a page for poultry dishes, a page for noodles, etc.

Verdict
There is now a whole mass of dining options down the side of the Opera House, with lots of interesting and high quality food to choose from. However, don't forget about the East Chinese Restaurant if you're looking for more than just a tasty bite to eat before a performance. We like it because it's got a better view than the dining options alongside the Opera House, the food is just as tasty, and the ambience is just generally a much more relaxed, quieter place to get a bite to eat than the other eating venues on offer around the Opera House. And yet, it's still very close to the Opera House, and service is fast. Definitely a forgotten option for many Opera House attendees - but one which should be re-examined.
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Why? Chinese restaurant with a great view of the Harbour Bridge
Phone: (02) 9252 6868
Where: Circular Quay
Cost: For a main and entree, probably allow about $50 per person, not including alcohol
Your Comment
Nice one ! I love the san choy bau here. Fresh and tasty
by Priyanka (score: 2|423) 1076 days ago
I don't like a lot of advertising emails but I am very impressed with Weekennotes. rhis is a very useful and helpful link. I will be sure to visit the Chinese restaurant near Opera House and many others that you mention thanks to your feedback. Thank you. 😀
by Dorri (score: 0|2) 1071 days ago
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