47 Little Bourke St, Melbourne
It was with much excitement that M, D, A and I headed into the city on Sunday night in July to see Dylan Moran’s latest stand up show, ‘yeah, yeah’. Any form of evening entertainment in the city warrants a meal, and joyously close to the Princess Theatre is, of course, Chinatown. Having arrived a tad early for our dinner booking, we wandered past the theatre and along Little Bourke, gazing up at the neon lights of Chinatown’s restaurants, before returning to Bamboo House.
I’d never been to Bamboo House before, but M had read a good review so we thought we’d try it out. The menu is divided into Sichuan and Peking style dishes from the corresponding provinces in China, which made a pleasant change from all the Cantonese that dominates Little Bourke. First up we each had a soup, M had the wonton, and the rest of us had the crab and shark fin.
The shark fin, if you’ve never had it before, is sort of like cartilage, and is shaved into thin, translucent strips and has a slightly chewy texture but with a bite to it. The crab was fresh crab meat mixed throughout, and the white pieces you can see are egg. Quite a thick soup with a delicate flavour.
M suggested we get the sichuan tea-smoked duck. This was a great dish, the waiter made each of us two duck parcels, with a sweet sauce and spring onions, sandwiched between a rice bun that you picked up with your hands. The duck had a wonderfully smokey taste, as suggested by the name.
Another dish M was keen for were the hand-pulled noodles, mainly so we could see whether there was a noticeable difference between hand-pulled and (machine??)-pulled noodles. The noodles were lovely, actually, some of the best I’ve had since my trip to China; firm and bouncy with a slight chewiness, which was offset by the tangy sauce. I ate oodles of them.
The XO Prawns were also really good, served with snow peas. XO sauce is, for the curious among you, a spicy seafood sauce developed in Hong Kong made with (among other ingredients) dried shrimp, garlic and chili. At first bite, it seemed kind of ho-hum, but mid way through chewing you get a good whack of chili.
Ok, I know that this next picture looks disgusting, but it was actually my favourite dish of the night: silky smooth pieces of eggplant with pork done Sichuan style in a sweet, tangy sauce. Dee-licious! This reminded me of an amazing eggplant dish we had once in Shanghai. The sweetness of the sauce is the perfect foil to the meaty taste of the eggplant. Please ignore how it looks and order this dish if you see it on the menu!
Our dessert that night was called ‘hysterical laughter courtesy of Dylan Moran’. He was very funny, if a little brief: I wish he’d spoken for a bit longer. I won’t try and replicate any of his jokes because I think to have the proper effect, his jokes need to be spoken with an Irish accent and in a bitter tone, which I obviously cannot communicate on a blog. If you missed him this time round, try and catch one of his shows when he next tours!