Monday, 17 August 2009

Restaurant Review: Billy Kwongs

I've decided to give the mantle (for what it's worth) of my favourite restaurant to Billy Kwongs in Surrey Hills. I went their for dinner with a group of friends, just before Brad and Chel's wedding. It was my third dining experience, having made it on both previous visits to Oz.

The restaurant is small, dark and intimate. The guests pack round small tables, looked after in a casual yet efficient manor. At the back of the restaurant, the kitchen is largely open to the dinners. I've noticed before that you never seem to hear much noise coming out of the kitchen, all the chefs diligently going about their business. Kylie Kwong was in the kitchen when we arrived, but she didn't seem to wielding a knife in anger and left half way through the service.

As well as being my favourite restaurant, a second - more dubious -award needs to be given to Billy Kwongs and that is of having the hottest toilet in the world. The bathroom shares a wall with a restaurant next door, who must have all their ovens up against the wall. It's like an inferno.

We ordered largely from the specials menu. Duck is one of the restaurant's signature dishes and almost a compulsory choice. We choose the crispy duck in an orange sauce. The duck was tender, the skin crispy and the sauce infused with star anise and cinnamon had a syrupy consistency without being too sweet.

We had a steamed fish and one of my favourites of the evening wok fried green beans with a hint of chili. With all the variety on the table I didn't think a simple vegetable dish would be one of my highlights.

Our final two dishes were deep fried silken tofu and some crispy pork belly. The crispy pork belly was my second stand out dish of the evening. Tender, flavoursome, crispy skinned and with a lovely asian coleslaw on the side. The silken tofu was salty and hot, but I've decided that I am not a lover of the texture of silken tofu and it was my least favourite element of the evening.

The restaurant has always had a slightly new age feel to it, if that is the right description, which I thought was more prevalent this time. Smatterings of bio dynamic ingredients have joined the organic references on the menu. There were also posters for Oxfam and the Dalai Lama in the window. We decided we didn't exactly know what bio dynamic food was.

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