Spice Temple / Southbank
My dad’s visiting from Sydney and the lucky man has been staying at Crown Promenade. Being Buddhist and all, we decided we would visit the temple for lunch.
The closest temple we could find was Neil Perry’s immaculate Spice Temple, located in the classier side of Crown. Rumoured to serve the best Yum Cha in Melbourne we couldn’t really say no.
The flawless decor was clean cut and shiny with a modern mix of asian. The ambience was elegant with great attention to detail from all staff. The menu had mouth watering dish titles and even juicier beverages. From lunar zodiac cocktails, housemade sodas to a list of 100 wines.
Starting off with a classic favourite; Sui Mai. Tasty and softer than usual but nothing extraordinary. Dad use to own a yum cha restaurant and said these were a tad lacklustre.
Tingling prawns marinated in fresh green chillies, spring onions, garlic and coriander. Absolutely loved this dish, so fresh and tingly (as the name suggests!) Delicious prawn cooked beautifully and smothered in the goodness of the marinade. Almost ordered another but any more and my tastebuds wouldn’t have made it through lunch.
The Xiao Long Bao’s (Shanghai Dumplings) — steamed beautifully, lusciously soft and flavoursome however they missed the exciting soup filling.
Spring onion pancake, a simple classic. Nice and crispy on the outside while remaining soft on the inside.
Chow Mien. Crunchy noodles, delicious pork mince and salty chilli sauce topped with spring onions.
Caramelised pork spare ribs with sesame seeds. The sticky sauce was succulent, sweet and full of flavour.
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Some minor food blogger and chef dad pickyness but analness aside, a great dining experience in a gorgeous atmosphere. The staff were great, the food was great, and the venue is beautiful.
Man Tong Kitchen / Crown
Man Tong Kitchen, the name might sound familiar because it’s owned by the same guy that brought us the iconic HuTong dumpling bar. Man Tong Kitchen is known as the ‘sister’ restaurant, although it sounds more like the manly brother.
The restaurant is located next to the Casino in the Crown Entertainment Complex. It’s not the most romantic of places but once you enter, it feels like you have entered a restaurant in China… that is full of Australians. We were the only Asians there, apart from the staff.
They have an extensive wine list, amongst other beverages. Watch out for the Chinese tea, as they charge a ridiculous $5 per person.
Spacious high ceiling decorated with a mixture of modern and vintage Chinese furniture, wooden floors and marble. The tables and seats looked like old rosewood while the room had the lucky Chinese colors going on. The restaurant seats around 200 people, and even have a couple of private rooms for functions or meetings. It is a good but temporary get-away from the pokie machines (Dad.)
Our table was set up nicely, although I feel the white mug isn’t as cute as traditional Chinese tea cups. Everything was clean and there was no need to double-check, unlike other asian restaurants.
Luxuries like hot towels, and particular attention is not something I am accustomed to when dining in a Chinese restaurant, as i’m often seeking a cheap dumpling bar or lunch specials. It was a pleasant change. Although the service isn’t extraordinary here, it’s a lot better than anything you will get down Chinatown.
They have a huge selection of great authentic Chinese dishes on the menu, and of course we ordered way too much food. Whenever i’m eating with dad it seems like we order enough food for Africa or at least enough for leftovers for the whole week.
Shredded Chicken with Chilli Oil in Szechuan Style - We started with this cold dish, it had a very strong sesame flavour but it was delicious. The cucumber gave a nice crunch and refreshed the palate.
Spring Onion Pancake. - Hate to say it, but these are much better than the ones my dad make. Sorry Dad! These were puffy, crispy, and had a nice simple flavour.
Sesame Prawn Rolls - These were also delicious and crispy. A balanced savoury sweetness with a delicate crunch.
Scallop Siu Mai - I was disappointed with the presentation, they looked sloppy and were falling over. Pete and Manu from MKR said to never judge a dish by their cover, they were right. This un-impressing dish turned out to be soft, juicy and very flavoursome. To my surprise they also contained delicious scallops! Dad ordered in Chinese so I didn’t see these coming, I was very pleased and so were my tastebuds.
Signature’s Xiao Long Bao - The oh so famous and glorified Xiao Long Bao. Back in my hometown, only asians would know what these are. Since i’ve moved to Melbourne it seems like Xiao Long Bao is in everybody’s vocabulary. I even found out there is an abbreviation for them: “XLB!”
HuTong set a good benchmark for these dumplings but I feel Man Tong might have outdone them this round. Soft moist skin, hot juicy soup and tender flavoursome meat. They even had a little hole in the top so you could suck the soup out, not sure if that was intentional, but it worked a treat. These XLB’s were very well crafted and tasted superb, dad was equally impressed and ordered a few too many.
Pan-Fried Pork Dumplings - Simple and tasted pretty much exactly like the ones from HuTong. I was expecting a bit more crunch from the dumplings. The pastry tasted like the ones that come with steamed dumplings, apart from the base that seemed like it was fried on a hot pan for maybe 10 seconds. It was very juicy and full of soup like the XLB’s. Delicious, but not cooked to the style I was expecting, and not as good as the XLB’s.
Braised Fish Head Soup in Hot Pot - Sounds appetising doesn’t it? The Chinese believe that if you eat fish head, it will make you more brainy. Now, i’m not sure if scientists have tested this yet, but I had a couple of bowls and feel a lot brainier. My tastebuds however, were not really fathomed. If it really did make me brainier, I would be drinking a lot more.
Lobster Meat San Choi Bao - Biggest san choi bao I’ve seen in a while. I was hoping for something maybe half this size. The filling tasted great, delicious lobster meat. It had quite a strong garlic flavour, the filling and sauce was good.
Duck Meat San Choi Bao - Another mammoth san choi bao, this time it was duck. Flavoursome meat, nice subtle sweetness and not too dry, but once again I felt it was a bit heavy for an appetiser. Giant san choi bao’s were a little overwhelming, considering the amount of food we ordered. Perhaps that was our fault!
Silky Bean Curd with Preserved Egg - Lusciously soft silken tofu, delicious century egg and spring onion. I love this dish because the tofu is so light and flavourless but has an excellent texture, while the century egg and soy sauce is very rich and flavoursome. When I combined the two, it’s like they were meant to be. Meant to be in my mouth.
Stir Fried String Bean with Szechuan Chilli Sauce - A nice vegetable dish to convince us that we are being healthy, although this dish was also pretty oily. Hard to escape in a Chinese restaurant.
Deep Fried Boneless Chicken with Dry Chilli - Delicious fragrant and spicy. The menu had three different versions of this dish, from three different parts of China. Szechuan, ChongQing and Normal China. Ok I admit, there is no such thing as “Normal” China but they just didn’t list a place on the menu. This was deliciously tantilizing.
Pork Spare Rib with Sweet and Vinegar Sauce - My favorite dish of the evening. Crunchy battered peices of soft pork meat in a beautiful rich sauce. The sauce was spot on, the perfect amount of sweetness and sourness from the vinegar.
Hot Spicy Couple (Beef Tripe & Ox Tongue) - My dad likes this, I do not know why. I had a couple of bites and decided not to have any more. It wasn’t horrible, but the texture was just not for me. Maybe when i’m 40, just maybe.
Stir Fried Scallop & Eggplant with Szechuan Chilli Sauce in Clay Pot - This dish was oily, but delectable. The sauce was delicious, it had a spicy kick that was absorbed by the eggplant and scallops.
Steamed fresh fish - Delicious fresh fish in a ginger and light soy sauce. My dad use to force me to eat fish when I was younger so I would have ’soft’ skin, I hated it. Now I love it and feel super healthy when eating it. I left the head and the tail for Dad.
Final say - A little overpriced, as expected with the majority of things at Crown, however the food quality here was up to a great standard. If you don’t mind paying a little extra, Man Tong Kitchen has some great authentic dishes from all over China, and you’re less likley to get food poisoning. Dad might have thought he was leaving with a few extra brain cells and softer skin from the fish heads; but I was happily satisfied with a full stomach.
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Man Tong Kitchen
Level 1 - West End
Crown Entertainment Complex
Emporio Della Pasta is an Italian style eatery in the Crown complex of Melbourne. As the name suggests, they specialize in pasta.
The furnishings and finish of this restaurant is nice and modern. Living up to Crowns ‘casual’ standard of restaurants. The environment is open, with an essence of sophistication.
We got the peri peri pollo pizza. (Try say that fast 10 times.) Now try say irish wristwatch. Moving on. The pizza was good, it had a nice thin base, good amount of sauce and a tangy kick of spice from the peri peri sauce. The chillis on the pizza were a bit too hot for me to handle, lucky there wasn’t many of them.
The pasta we got was the tagliatelle pollo fungi, this was delicious, pasta cooked al dante and a generous serving of chicken bits. If they added one more tablespoon of sauce it might have been the perfect amount of sauce.
This was my second visit to Emporio Della Pasta, and I think the restaurant isn’t mind blowing or special. It’s comfortable, and serves good food. However both visits, we didn’t receive good service. Perhaps they are a little understaffed, or maybe they just need to be quicker on their feet.
Emporio Della Pasta
Crown Entertainment Complex,
8 Whiteman St
Melbourne, VIC 3006