Lotus expands to the Inner West with a new sexy outpost in Summer Hill

Inside the gorgeous Summer Hill Lotus

When a server comes over to ask “how is everything going?” We have a problem. Namely this writer is having a ‘Harry Met Sally’ moment of her own, both cheeks bursting, resembling a food obsessed hamster. The dilemma is whether to chew very fast and miss out on the flavour bomb, or opt for some form of nodding and gratitude hand flapping in polite response.

Welcome to Lotus Dumpling Bar, though to say it’s a dumpling bar is to do a disservice to what is a well designed, sophisticated dining experience. It has to be said this area isn’t short of a Chinese restaurant or two, but Lotus nails Cantonese in a way that just isn’t on offer here.  It is the seventh restaurant in the group, and each has their distinct personality and we want to be BFF’s with this one. 

The dumplings are stuffed to every edge

The room is long and narrow with open brick work lined with tables and a generous long banquet on the other side. A stunning art feature of wine tells us that there are surprises in a well curated wine menu thanks to beverage manager Matt Stewart who has created a masterful homage to Riesling which gets a whole page dedicated this varietal which pairs so well with this cuisine. Cocktails and strong beer options round out a solid offering including a rice lager brewed for Lotus by Rozelle’s White Bay Beer Co. The bar and kitchen at the end of the room illuminate the space which is buzzing on a Thursday night.

We start with a feast of signature jade prawn dumplings, juicy fat prawns encased in half green and white jackets. Silky sichuan wontons languish in a bowl of sesame paste drizzled with chilli flakes and fresh spring onion. We are scooping up every last drop. The calamari steals the show, one chopstick laden portion has seven spices pinging my flavour buds like a pinball machine; first the delicate amber crunch, then powdery spices zing, as the melting sweet flesh finishes the dish like a degustation in one bite. It’s overwhelmingly brilliant. Pillowy triangles of tofu look like Egyption pyramids; golden, sandy and best dipped into roasted sesame sauce. The tea smoked duck is a glossy duck breast expertly sliced on the angle. Our recommendation is to savour a slice on its own first without the pancakes and hoisin. The tea aromatics and spices are delicate, complex and beautifully executed with lettuce leaf options for those who are gluten free. 

The duck is sublime

Mains contain favourites like kung pao chicken which is a gentler version of chilli than others we have had, a tasty duck fried rice and a generous portion of two luscious barramundi fillets in a classic ginger and shallot rounds out a great meal.

For those who are gluten free, this could be your new home.  Lotus Dumpling Bar also has to be commended for its enormous range of gluten free dishes which had my fellow dining companion in raptures! Some dishes are already gluten free, but look for the “#’ sign and the chefs will happily whip up a GF version for you. We counted over twenty dishes which is rare for many restaurants but outstanding for Cantonese. 

Inner Westies are already rejoicing. The restaurant is heavily booked for weeks from its launch and it is with good reason. This is one of the best new Asian restaurants to launch in Sydney in some time with care taken on design, service, technique and it really honours tradition with a hefty amount of surprise and experimentation. It’s the kind of place which t makes you want to rebook the moment you waddle out the door. Perhaps we have more in common with the tea smoked duck now…

Lotus Dumpling Bar 

26 Lackey St, Summer Hill NSW 2130

Hours: Dinner only Wed – Thurs 5 -10pm. Fri-Sat Lunch 12pm-3pm, Dinner 5pm- 10pm

About the author

Michelle hails from the UK – but grew up with big flavours and spices thanks to her Singaporean Mum. International cuisine has always been part of Michelle’s life as she explored the world in the pursuit of delicious food and wine – along with a castle or two. Michelle now lives in Sydney after a lengthy stint in Brisbane (a city dear to her heart, which she visits frequently). She is letting her nose and palette be her guide as she discovers and shares exciting and delicious dining experiences. Michelle also loves, in equal measure, fashion, sunshine and puppies.


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