Southbank Vic 3006
+61 3 8679 1888
The Angmoh wanted to take me out on Chinese New Year to celebrate the auspicious event. He picked Spice Temple as he wanted it a to be a good Chinese meal and also because it was renowned for spicy Chinese cuisine, with no Cantonese influence.
Spice Temple is located in Crown Casino, at the ‘Neil Perry’-side of the complex. The dark interior was cleverly contrasted by occasional splashes of soft, warm light and completely devoid of tacky Chinese decor. The tables were arranged in a Western fashion, and even those suited for large groups (8 or more) had a rectangular set-up and no round tables were spotted, nary a Lazy Susan.
The ala carte menu had a wide variety of offerings and those that were spicy (note: use of Sichuan peppercorns) were highlighted in red. There was also a Chinese New Year banquet menu, offering 10 dishes with auspicious symbolism, such as Tea Eggs to represent Fertility. The banquet menu was catered towards the general public with a mild to moderate spice level amongst the dishes. The Angmoh and I loved heat and we were at Spice Temple for… SPICE, so ala carte it was.
We started our meal with a couple of cocktails, named after the Chinese Zodiac Animals.
The entree of Fish-Fragrant Eggplant came quick. This dish is one of our favourites and a ‘must-order’ at any Sichuan restaurant. Spice Temple’s version was exquisite. The eggplant was lightly battered and fried, giving the each sliver a crunchy exterior. The sauce was well-balanced and not too sweet.
Just as I was instagramming away, I saw pictures of food from Spice Temple being posted on Daisy and her partner, Ricky’s, picture feed. I quickly stuck my head up and located them at the other end of the restaurant. They were having the Chinese New Year banquet, which I later discovered, was delicious and more than satisfied their appetites. It was great bumping into you, Daisy! *waves*
So, back to food! Our mains consisted of stir-fried prawns and crispy duck. The prawns were a ‘red’ item. The sauce was salty and pungent from the duck egg and fermented chillies. It was definitely a dish to be eaten with rice. The duck was succulent, tasty and most importantly, had a crisp skin. We were expecting a lot of heat and subsequent sweat action from the ‘four chillies’ in the prawns and the ‘red’ dish of the duck. Unfortunately, both dishes failed to meet our expectations.
We spied on one of the dishes that the couple next to us had ordered. It was a huge bowl of beef, brimming with chilli oil and Sichuan peppercorns. The lady had a taste of it, and quickly requested for a glass of milk. The Angmoh and I were very tempted to reach across and ask if we could have a taste.
I had my eye on the dessert option from the Chinese New Year Banquet and the staff at Spice Temple very kindly catered to our request, despite not having ordered the banquet. It was very good: the brulee had an audible crack to it and the sesame sorbet contrasted well against the creamy soy custard. It was a delightfully Sweet ending to our meal.
I was very impressed by our dishes at Spice Temple. I will admit to being sceptical about the authenticity of the Chinese cuisine and the heat levels in the dishes prior to our visit. Our dishes were certainly well-executed, but could very well do with more spice.