Spice Temple is part of Mr Ponytail’s latest venture, a massive risk given these GFC conditions. He’s going back to his roots of sorts, famous for his love of the Asian, the Temple takes inspiration from the Chinese provinces of Sichuan, Hunan and Xinjiang.
There’s no secret words or signs, but you do feel kind of sneaky leaning on the entrance that looks more like an electronic billboard. Down the stairs, you’ll find a seductive space filled dark furnishings, sexy red glows. It’s oriental opulence, a slinky high class opium den, the only thing missing being the beautiful ladies offering lamps to inhale the vaporised poppy.
What’s not missing is the impeccable class that follows Mr Ponytail. Like any other Chinese restaurant, the menu is divided into salads/cold cuts, noodles and dumplings, seafood, poultry, pork, beef/lamb, veggies and desserts with a range in each. Don’t expect to find sweet and sour pork and honey chicken, it’s a fiery affair, the printed red warnings and names such as spice fried chicken wings with heaven facing chillies and beef fillet in fire water should strike fear.
I probably would have been well served to have a sweat towel, for even the un-red stir fried king prawns with salted duck eggs and four chillies began the tingling. As beads of sweat start to form on my forehead, the twice cooked duck is Daffy cooking mastery but the roast chilli paste dousing fired up the heat receptors and thoughts of removing my shirt. At this stage, my tongue is starting to numb as well, with the sparkling San Pellegrino doing more harm than good, so you could have served up the steamed eggplant flavoured with garlic, coriander and sweet pork or the crisp pork belly (that would shame your local roast meat up) with fresh and dried chillies, coriander and mushroom soy and I probably wouldn’t have been able to tell the difference. Calming things down were the interesting cumin lamb that you stuff into thin peking duck crepe-like bread pockets that breaks the monotony of using the choppers and tea smoked chicken, showing plenty of skill in using the technique to impart flavour without dominating bitterness and leaving the chook very moist.
GFC is well and truly here, but our table of 8 got plenty bang for their buck so I’d definitely recommend going with a group so you can sample plenty and laugh at each other’s low tolerance to handle the heat. Chilli lovers will find heaven, but for me, it wasn’t that and I wish it could have been toned down a notch so everything didn’t taste like burning. I left thinking it should have been called Spicey Temple instead.
2.5 / 5 yums!
Where? 10 Bligh St, Sydney, NSW