On the weekend I was honoured to be part of a celebration of a friend’s mother’s (Mrs C) big birthday. Mrs C has been part of my life since early high school days, more years than I care to remember.
We dined at Mr Chow’s Peking Restaurant, in the Rocks, in the area close to Hickson Road. It’s upstairs at the Captain Cook Hotel. Mr Chow’s does have food from a variety of regions in China, but it specializes in northern Chinese cuisine, which is why we were there, for Mrs C, originally from Shanghai.
The people there were a collection of family and friends. Much laughter. Much discussion about good food. And then there was much eating of great food.
What We Ate
Dish after dish kept on arriving from the kitchen, so much that the last few dishes ordered had to be cancelled. Several of the dishes were ordered beforehand, so they could be specially cooked for us. So here’s what we ate:
The shallot pancakes are flaky pastry discs, fried until golden in colour. The crispy, crunchy pancake exterior holds in the tasty shallots.
Jellyfish and Assorted Seafood Combination Vegetable and Cold Noodles with Mustard Sauce
This next one was a surprise in that on first bite we discovered that it was cold! It was a mountain of noodles on a mound of veggies, such as cucumber, on another mound of seafood, including prawns, scallops, jellyfish, and who knows what else, with a mustard sauce. All that seafood felt luxurious, with a marvellous array of textures.
Peking Fried Egg Rolls?
After eating the food, I’m now trying to match up what we ate with the official name on the menu, but as some things were specially ordered this is a challenge. This was a roll with shredded veggies inside. The roll was made with a pastry with layers and layers, soft and flaky. Inside that was finely shredded vegetables, including carrot, bean sprouts. Tasty.
There were two versions of these dumplings, both with green vegetables, and one with prawns.
And then we had some gorgeous soup dumplings:
Love it when the soup just oozes out and it’s so moist. Then a special order was delivered, beef dumplings with lots of coriander, giving it a light, fresh taste.
Now, the waiter brought out the tea-smoked duck, one of the specialties of Mr Chow’s, tearing it up in pieces in readiness for us to eat with the pancakes, with scallions, cucumber, and hoisin sauce.
The pancakes were light. And the duck! Wow. Somehow it’s cooked so that it’s not fatty, but just a rich flavour. The skin and many of the smaller bones were so crispy that they were crunchy. Oh so good. That was quickly devoured, leaving just the bigger bones.
The wonton soup had been cooked in a pot, with a whole chicken, a variety of elements added to bring flavour, such as cabbage, and goji berries . Slurping the soup was like being in heaven. The ultimate comfort food dish.
This was another dish ordered ahead of time, because it would have been cooked slowly over a long time.
Salted Egg Yolk Prawns
Next was delivered a plate with more huge prawns, deep fried in a light batter (similar to tempura but crunchier), with salted egg yolks. They had that lovely salty, eggy, taste, without it overwhelming the prawns.
Peking Shredded Beef
The southern China version of this dish is quite sweet, made with a sweet and sour sauce. This northern China version was similar, but more savoury, saltier. It still had the deep-fried shredded beef, shredded carrot and other shredded vegetables (daikon?). The sauce included just enough chilli to add another layer of flavour without making it too spicy. I believe it’s made with hoisin sauce, mirin, tomato sauce and some brown sugar, only enough for adding complexity to the flavour, not sweet.
Several more dishes had been ordered, but as the eating had slowed right down, they were cancelled. There was one more dish we had to have, though, in celebration of Mrs C’s birthday, a longevity soup. Of course everything in there was long: noodles, shredded chicken, finely diced long veggies, bean sprouts. This had a delicate, gentle flavour.
Where’s the rice? There was no rice, seeing that in northern China noodles are eaten instead.
What a meal. With most dishes I could have just eaten that dish for the next week and been happy. With each one arriving, I kept on thinking “this is the best”. Stand-outs were the cold noodles with mustard sauce and all of that seafood, the Peking duck, the wonton soup, and the shredded beef, and… well I could list them all, but I’ll leave it at that.
Thanks so much to my friends (you know who you are) for being part of this special occasion.
It helped having people ordering who knew the dishes well, and ordering ahead of time. There were not many in the restaurant, and we received the best of service from all of the staff.
May I please go back and eat this all again next weekend?
Here are the details about Mr Chow’s Peking Restaurant, The Rocks, at time of posting. Please check their web site for more current details.
|Web site / Facebook||http://www.mrchowspeking.com.au/
|Address||33 Kent St, The Rocks, NSW 2000|
|Phone||02 9252 3010|
|Open||Every day except Monday:
Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Sunday
Lunch: 12:00pm to 3pm
Dinner: 6pm to 10:30pm
Where’s your favourite place for Northern Chinese food? For those who were there, what did I miss / get wrong?