One Dining opens at The Chinese Garden of Friendship – yum cha, tail slapping koi carp and fantastic desserts

Tourists get to experience the best of Sydney. When was the last time you escaped the hustle and bustle of Sydney’s CBD with a strole around the Chinese Garden of Friendship? Mmmm not lately. Well, sharpen your chopsticks, there is a new reason to go, as One Dining Opens, replacing Gardens by Lotus. 

We arrive just before midday and discover that you have to pay to ‘eat & play’ with a $12pp entry fee (or $8 pre booked online) for the gardens which is a nice add on, but if you just want a few dumplings this does eat into your dim sum budget.

The venue is one of our favourites and it hasn’t changed much in look or feel (nor does it need to). The area is iconic with its walled garden, inspired by traditional Chinese philosophy, waterfalls, lakes, exotic plants, pavilions, and hidden pathways. In the summer we have been known to share our dining table with a water dragon or two at our feet. 

Seated by the pond as the winter’s sun calls for your best sunnies. We skip the set yum cha experience, starting at $58 per person and go wild with the a la carte menu. First up is salt and pepper calamari done the Chinese way with long tendrils and a crispy golden batter. It is a little on the dry side of crunchy rather than soft, yielding and tender. The dumplings are better and arrive in steaming baskets of three dumplings per layer. A multi level skyscraper stack of scallop and prawn, classic crystal prawn and our favourite, the dramatic looking gluten free black gold squid are laid down on the table.

The ‘substantials’ bring a surprise – a master stock, slow cooked pork belly with rice. We were expecting a crackling little number, but it’s all the better for soft gelatinous melt in your mouth slices. It comes with plain rice, but we go one better and grab a bowl of truffle fried rice we inhale quickly. Other favourites are a medley of savoury combination stir fried noodles which is laced with beansprouts for texture. 

My dining companion, Michelle and I are self confessed ‘non sweet’ people. At this point we are both feeling an affinity with the large bellied orange and white koi. However, the GM insists we must try desserts .Oh go on then! A pretty glass of coconut panna cotta is topped with delicate cubes of Wuliangye (a Chinese grain liquor) jelly. It’s seriously good…as both of our spoons go back in for seconds. An eclair like oblong of chinese mochi doughnut is dusted in soft cinnamon sugar, drizzled with a salted caramel sauce and is dangerously addictive in a ‘oh no I couldn’t eat another thing, but do…

One Dining, 1 Pier Street, Haymarket NSW 2000
Hours – contact the restaurant for the latest.

About the author

Karen’s corporate job back in the UK had included entertaining clients in some of the best restaurants. This ultimately sparked a curiosity 'Just how do they do that?' (she confesses she was brought up on meat and vegetables, so this was all very exciting). Currently a Mr & Mrs Smith 'Tastemaker', she’s flashpacked around the world, learning about wine, experiencing different cultures and cuisines and had a two- year love affair with it all. Originally from England, she finally settled in Australia and continues to be besotted by food, wine and travel preferring to focus on the luxury end of town (thread count does matter).


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