|Deep fried calamari that goes well with Tsingtao beer. In the background are spring rolls, a basket with steamed dumplings and prawn crackers.|
Andy was going to Hawaii, Rob was changing work roles and I had not seen Tez in so many months. There was a suggestion to go Chinese some where in a Sydney suburb and we did not venture too far beyond the Shire. We chose the home of the NRL Dragons team, an unassuming complex on the way to the Sydney airport and illustrative of many similar clubs dotted across the Australian residential landscape. There was the bar to gather in first, with already live singing by a couple on stage and the influx of Friday evening revellers on a nippy July start of the weekend. I enjoyed my Crown lager and soon we entered the den of the Crown Dragon upstairs. Seven of us booked at 7pm, but with no Kevin07 in sight.
|Beer glasses, tea cups and waiting bowls all at the commencement of the group dinner.|
There is much trendy innovation in Cantonese cooking back in the homeland above the Equator, with Guangzhou and Hong Kong still leading the pack in such culinary developments. Cantonese cooking emphasises on the fresh, the quick stir and the blending of aromatic stuff without the use of spices and chili. At times what we encounter dotted across many overseas Chinese communities are remnants of a glorious and traditional past, whist the Motherland has transformed in culinary approaches and methods. Some well known dishes were made for overseas audiences and never arose in China itself. These include the deep fried ice cream batter, the chop suey, the fortune cookie, the deep fried calamari and some versions of the fried rice. On this occasion, we consciously chose the steamed Jasmine rice, which would go down better with the several dishes ordered.
|They look oily but the pork spare ribs were well done having a marinade of pepper and honey.|
Good company is essential to have while partaking in a Chinese dinner. Such meals are essentially communal affairs, gatherings to celebrate or recover after much effort doing business or work and occasions to catch up on small chat and bigger agendas. I enjoyed catching up with my mostly university sector crowd, though Dave could not make it that night. Wills had driven most of us up and Murph had come in from the city centre. We had made a pitch stop at Franco's house, where we made a point to touch the box containing the remains of beloved Bullet, the four legged character who had himself touched lives from Figtree to the Shire, and then we went to chill out for the end of week.
|The Beijing duck waits, now whole, but soon to be carved up for their skin and then the meat.|
Beijing duck is one creation that I love, and the ducks in Australia are now fattened in Victoria for supply to the nation's Asian restaurants. They are fed a special formula, their skins are ensured crispy dry by hanging up to best benefit from the cold and dry winter air and good servings must minimise the content of fat and maximise the proportion of succulent meat. The crispy bite on the tongue skins are served with hoi sin sauce and wrapped with shallot cuts in front of you in small dough packets before you dive in to them. Most of the meat is then shredded to serve in a second dish for the same diners.
Good Beijing duck is not confined to China's capital city.
|Complimentary fruit, with watermelon slices and an interesting way to serve Mandarins on their skins.|
Chinese culture treasures orange coloured Mandarins and these fruits are described as gold in the often symbolic Chinese dialects. It is interesting to note that Chinese practice still dictates the consumption of fruits after a meal, although some perspectives in the past few years may suggest better digestion when we take fruits before the mains. Smoked tea is usually an effective way of washing down some of the rich food in Chinese cooking, but we did not have any tea this evening, so fruits will do!
|My Apple IPhone camera may not have done justice to capturing the essence of the beef hotpot.|
Beef is rarely provided in single serve steak portions in Chinese restaurants and what comes out are often small sliced portions. This particular meat is popularly cooked with green peppers, black bean sauce, stews, snow peas, braised hot pots, noodles, ginger, string beans, hot soups and in skewers, depending from which province the dish originates. Buddhist vegetarianism also discourages beef consumption.
|A stir fried combination of seafood with bean sprouts, but some thing was not so uplifting in this dish.|
|Sesame seed coated baked biscuits (centre) which are harder on the bite than those without.|
|Mild curry with prawns, pumpkin slices and onion garnishing.|
|Chicken hot pot - appetising though dark.|
My favourite dishes that evening were the marinated chicken hot pot and the surprisingly satisfactory prawn curry. This curry is more of what you get in Macau and Nagasaki.
|The second serving from the two part order of the Beijing duck dish - the sliced up meat is wok stir fried with ginger, shallots and carrots. Another variation of this serving is to have the meat in the sang choy bow.|
Tim was the person in charge of our dining table and he did a consistently good job at it. The restaurant Manager also dropped by. The Crown Dragon has a spacious feel and there was a birthday singing session in the middle of it all when we were there. St George Leagues Club has ample parking. The Cantonese-styled cuisine there may hark back to old fashioned in one opinion, but they still do a relatively good outcome in several standard dishes. For my group, Wills had ordered well balanced combinations in the main dishes of savoury, sweet, sour and hot. The lazy Susan had kept swivelling frantically at times. The servings from the Crown Dragon were wholesome.
|A Chinese Singaporean original but now adopted by Chinese restaurants from Frisco to Auckland - the deep fried battered ice cream. The wine we had that night was McGuigan's.|