“We made the mistake of ordering a cappuccino and were told (politely but firmly) that one cannot ‘taste the coffee’ in a cappuccino,” writes dining reviewer WENDY JOHNSON
THE name says it all. Tasting China takes you on a culinary journey, tantalising tastebuds with textures and flavours from Beijing, Sichuan, Shanghai and Canton.
The restaurant promises a “fine combination of traditional and contemporary Chinese cuisine” and it delivers. It promises “a new dimension to an authentic Chinese dining experience” and it delivers, so it’s no surprise Tasting China was voted “Australian Good Food and Travel Guide’s” People’s Choice for Best Chinese Restaurant in Canberra.
We’re massive duck fans, so ordering the Peking duck in pancakes was a no brainer (one day we’ll be brave enough to go for the braised duck platter: duck feet, neck, wings and head). It took a long, long time for the dish to emerge from the kitchen, but the staff, realising this, at least brought out a bowl of pretzels to take the edge off.
The duck was worth the wait, although the portion wasn’t huge (four relatively small pieces for $22). It was succulent, the pancakes almost translucent and the homemade sweet bean sauce a 10-out-of-10.
As I’ve written before, one of my dining friends is not enamoured with eggplant, finding it “googey” (I think that’s how she spells it). I was delighted when she announced, after reviewing the vegetable dish line-up, that the Yu Xiang eggplant dish sounded amazing ($19). She agreed to give it a go and we were both mightily impressed. The braised eggplant wasn’t overcooked and so still firm enough to hold its shape. It is created with beef mince and garlic, with a douban and soy sauce, which added lovely spicy, salty flavours to the dish. It’s perfect for those wanting gluten-free food and a vegan option is available.
For our second main, we selected another gluten-free dish – Gele Mountain Chilli Chicken. The chicken is deep fried and wok fried with Sichuan peppers and dried chillies, Chongqing style ($19). It was marvellous and we loved the tingling sensation brought on by the chillies.
We agreed that the menu showcases many interesting options and promised ourselves to return to indulge in other dishes, and very soon.
The wine list was impressive and has been carefully curated. It includes top drops from the region including a lovely chardonnay from Pankhurst Wines.
The décor at Tasting China is tasteful and along one entire wall is intriguing artwork by a contemporary Chinese artist, imported for the restaurant. We were disappointed that the staff didn’t know the name of the artist, since we’d love to know more.
All up, we adored Tasting China. There’s no outdoor dining, which we love in summer, but that won’t stop us from going back, again and again.
Tasting China, 108 Bunda Street, Civic. Open for lunch and dinner Tuesday to Sunday. Banquets available. Call 5100 3324.