As you enter Chow Bar waving gold cats greet you as a symbol of good luck, but with hatted chef Chui Lee Luk (ex Claudes of Woollahra) wiggling the wok, you won’t need it. If it wasn’t for the views onto Oxford street with the odd French poodle prancing past you could believe you’re in the Hutton districts of Beijing, dining in a new age dumpling house.
Dark woods, communal tables and mahjong tiles are given flourishes of colour with exquisite oriental china and bamboo holders offering bundles of green chopsticks, blending two elements of artistry and earthiness which are at play in the cuisine.
The menu is a backpacker party through the regions of China, Singapore and Malaysia. Throw everything you think you know overboard and prepare to be inducted into Chui’s new frontier.
Order the pickles, a radish revelation with cucumber and cauliflower punching above their weight in flavour combat. Fingers of bean curd and pork appear like silk cocoons and arguably go down as smoothly. Squid with a dusting of Schwan in a bold crunch batter then dipped in pungent fish paste sauce is both confronting and exciting. Sticky, porky thin slices of rib coated in fresh slices of ginger are trumped by ‘duck n buns’ – a riot of bread-mopping yellow sauce fun (if you can fit in the smokey soft cauliflower with mustard sauce – good luck!).
Chow Bar is your new contemporary Chinese Inn, a place to have fun and get your chow down.
Chow Bar & Eating House
320 Crown Street, Surry Hills 2010
T: 02 8095 9058
Open 12pm till late