Asian fusion with lots to celebrate

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Sichuan bao… slow-cooked beef, chili mayo, Chinese fritter, spring onion and spiced peanuts. Photo: Wendy Johnson

“There’s no pretension here and White Chaco has been smart to keep its prices super reasonable, wanting customers to flock back time and time again. And they do,” writes dining reviewer WENDY JOHNSON.

DON’T blink or you’ll miss it. White Chaco in the Nibu Building, Braddon, is a petite venue that happily dishes up amazing food to around 30 customers at a time. It’s small in size but mighty big on flavours.

Wendy Johnson.

We risked it, knowing the place is packed most of the time. Luck was by our side and we managed to get a seat (best to reserve, though) in the narrow restaurant towards the back, even though it was the weekend. We were happy. 

There’s no pretension here and White Chaco has been smart to keep its prices super reasonable, wanting customers to flock back time and time again. And they do.

The menu focuses on Asian fusion and there wasn’t a dish we didn’t celebrate. 

The seared salmon sashimi was sensational ($18.90) with fresh wasabi and kombu soy. So simple but soul satisfying.

Don’t go past the crunchy, smoky popcorn chicken ($11.90) – created with marinated chicken thighs, malt sugar and soy coating, sesame and almond. It’s a fun dish (don’t fret, the chicken isn’t greasy) and beautifully spiced.

Crunchy, smoky popcorn chicken created with marinated chicken thighs, malt sugar and soy coating, sesame and almond. Photo: Wendy Johnson

Love spicy, mouth-numbing Sichuan pepper? Several dishes feature this amazing and very important spice. 

The vegetarian eggplant and tofu dish, with grilled leek, edamame, coriander and savoy Sichuan sauce, was to die for and immediately addictive ($16.90). The eggplant was not too firm but certainly not gluggy.

The vegetarian eggplant and tofu dish… with grilled leek, edamame, coriander, savoy Sichuan sauce. Photo: Wendy Johnson

Also huge on taste is the Sichuan bao, created with slow-cooked beef, chili mayo, Chinese fritter, spring onion and spiced peanuts, for that all-important bit of crunch ($13.90). The steamed buns were soft and beautifully presented in a bamboo basket, with bright green sprigs of fresh coriander dancing on top of each bao.

White Chaco also comes through with an impressive selection of rice and ramen dishes, including a double-smoked eel ($22.90) that would be fab to try on our next visit – and there will be a next visit. Our bet is that the black ramen ($18.90) – pork broth and black sesame paste, with wakame, lava egg, smoked chashu, fungus and shitake – would be divine.

Seared salmon sashimi… with fresh wasabi and kombu soy. Photo: Wendy Johnson

The wine list is great and as reasonably priced as the food. We enjoyed every sip of Mr Smith chardonnay from Tumbarumba.

White Chaco’s service is as smart as its food line-up. Fast and efficient but never rushed. Smiles all round and the confidence that comes with knowing White Chaco delivers. Staff know the food well and are ready to answer questions or make recommendations.

The décor at White Chaco is simple but well thought through. Dark tones, dark furniture and intriguing artwork inside. Limited seating outside.

White Chaco, G10/27 Lonsdale Street, Braddon. Open for lunch-dinner Monday; closed Tuesday; dinner Wednesday; lunch and dinner Thursday to Sunday.

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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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