Delighting dons and students

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One of the two gigantic fish murals (the fish symbol represents freshness) at China Plate.  Photo: Wendy Johnson

FANS of China Plate will be thrilled with the sister restaurant, which opened at Kambri Precinct, ANU, a few weeks ago.

It’s by no means a carbon copy of the Kingston location. Everything about the place is radically different, in a delightful way.

China Plate – front and centre in the new “town square” – has its eye on the university market with half the students hitting the place being Chinese. It’s attractive to young diners with its selection of Asian fusion dishes, prices and look and feel, but sophisticated enough to attract uni profs and other non-millennials hanging about campus.

The décor is “wow”, including two gigantic murals each with fish swimming up the wall (the fish symbol represents freshness). Other lovely touches are the delicately designed plates and bowls (also featuring fish) and small fans hung on the walls with welcoming, wise sayings such as: “In hardship we see true friendship” and “A smile dispels many worries”. Table tops are made of recycled timber.

The Shang Hai dumplings and Shan Tung dumplings are a sure-fire way to stimulate tastebuds at the beginning of the meal ($7 for four).

China Plate’s mixed veggie dish with garlic. Photo: Wendy Johnson

The salt and pepper squid was a top pick ($20). It’s lightly battered and packs a punch with fresh chilli and five-spice salt. The squid was super tender and looked delightful served on a blue plate in the shape of a fan. It went well with the mixed veggie dish with garlic ($16).

If you love a roast don’t miss out on sharing one of the Chinese roast options (duck or pork belly or barbecue pork). We were in heaven with the half-roasted duck ($22) – moist, succulent and full of flavour.

The half-roasted duck – moist, succulent and full of flavour. Photo: Wendy Johnson

We had never tried tangerine pork ribs before and weren’t sure what to expect, but loved the idea behind the dish ($28). The ribs are soaked in tangerine water for two hours before being marinated with garlic. They’re then deep fried to golden perfection and the garlic crumble and spring onions added crunch and texture. China Plate tells us that the Chinese love this dish with an icy cold beer or crisp glass of wine. It’s more about the taste than the quantity of meat on the ribs.

A dish we’ll try next time is the beef brisket hot pot ($18). The meat is stewed with cinnamon, liquorice, bay leaf, ginger and other goodies for at least six hours, guaranteeing it will just fall apart.

China Plate is still road-testing dishes with customers so expect the menu to evolve.

It was fab sitting near the floor-to-ceiling windows watching university life pass by. Lin Pun and partner/manager Lewis Gong have picked a prime position at Kambri.

China Plate, Kambri Precinct, ANU, open seven days.

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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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