Big, bold, beautiful flavours

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NOT every restaurant in Canberra has direct access to the talent of an overseas Michelin-star establishment to help create a food journey for its diners. But Malamay, the latest restaurant to grace the Barton dining scene, does.

Malamay is part of the group that owns The Chairman in Hong Kong as well as Chairman and Yip and Lanterne Rooms in Canberra. It offers an exquisite dining experience.

Dishes are modern interpretations of the traditional culinary style of China’s West. Each is created with exceptionally high-quality ingredients and best-practice cooking styles and methods. If Sichuan spices, chillies and peppers make you quiver with excitement, then Malamay is for you.

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The set menu inspires. You can choose $88 a person for seven courses and a simple dessert or $62.50 for five courses of your choice. Half of the set menu will change every few weeks to hold the interest of those who return and, based on our experience, many will return — time and time again.

Malamay will match wines (and offer half glasses) for your degustation experience, or you can choose your own from the quality wine list, which I bet will pick up awards in no time.

We enjoyed two local selections —Mount Majura (2010) Pino Gris, $39, and Collector (2010) Lamplit Marsanne, $45.

Dishes progress from light tastes to big, bold, beautiful flavours.

Our first dish was the floss of house-smoked trout with dried-scallop chilli and quick-fry milk, which is egg whites, cream and milk cooked in thin layers to create a creamy, soft texture.

One of our party has an aversion to eggplant but sampled it slow-cooked with sweet chillied sticky rices. It was a stunner of a dish that won her over.

In the spring chicken dish, Malamay uses two types of quality Sichuan pepper, which create a gastronomic experience, including a wonderful tingling sensation on the palette. This represents what Malamay strives for – introducing customers to a new world of dining.

The ban ban smoked chicken noodle salad is in honour of traditional street food and designed around the quick Chinese-style snack enjoyed in the afternoons.

This dish is about crunch – the crunch of the noodles and whole roasted peanuts. It was sensational. So, too, was the three-chillied relish and Bonito marinated prawns on hand-made noodles. And the pork ribs with plum and pork belly with chillied dust. And the scallops with mussels, flavoured bean paste and Enoki mushroom.

Malamay’s décor is intriguing and mysterious… 1930s glam Shanghai mixed in with the colours of China’s black bamboo forests and mountain areas. Bright red bamboo and earthy stone feature in the design, which is as sensational as the food. It was an honour to dine there.

Malamay, 1 Burbury Close, Barton, call 6162 1220. Lunch, Tuesday-Friday noon-3pm; Dinner, Tuesday-Saturday, from 6pm.

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Wendy Johnson
Wendy Johnson: Food reviewer for Canberra CityNews magazine since 2004, covering stories for true foodies to digest.

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