Nestled in the heart of the city is one of Sydney’s newest, and apparently hippest, Chinese restaurants. The extreme lengths gone to in the name of ambience and ‘coolness’ are evident as soon as you get within sight of the place.
Would the food meet these early lofty heights..?
Extra mile- 6
*Scores are out of 10
China Lane: Overall rating – 36/50 on a medium budget
It’s kind of intriguing isn’t it, hearing about what makes China Lane stand out as you approach it?
Well it’s a hole heap of metal bird cages suspended overhead in the lane way that the outdoor seated spills onto. Not only this, but there is a constant stream of chirps and tweets (not the internet kind) coming from above. Tonight we are dining with two friends, and with 3 of us being Kiwis, the sounds remind us of home.
We’re not really here for some fancy art though, we’re here to catch up and eat some (hopefully) good food. The thing with a p[lace like this is, it’s Chinese- something we haven’t covered off so far, but very much like Thai places, a very common choice in this part of the world.
I find that these kinds of restaurants can go one of two ways:
- Good, like really freakin good- go tell your friends, you won’t believe how good this place is. Like seriously.
- Bad, cheap, nasty, ridden with vegetable oils and sugar.
You see, if you’re like me and you like to observe and assess things, you’d see that there are sooo many Chinese and Thai restaurants around, often when other places are closing down.
Why is this?
Well, if you’ve ever walked around the back of these places, or seen a delivery take place, you’ll notice the large- huge- cans of non-descript vegetable oil either being delivered, or the empty cans being picked up.
This is how- cheap cooking methods. This only leads me to believe, without quizzing every shop owner out there, that the food is cheap too (please note that this is purely my own opinion and a generalisation when it comes to these kinds of restaurants.)
Not a good combo. Ever.
To break any myths right now:
Vegetable oils are terrible. No good can come of them. Avoid at all costs.
Sadly we’ve been led to believe that the opposite is true. That margarine will help lower cholesterol and therefore your risk of heart disease. Then why are we sicker and suffering from higher rates of everything under the sun than ever before?
Because heavily processed vegetable oils and sugars are making their way into everything.
Just look at the back of most food labels.
This stuff is killing us.
For me personally, I avoid these where ever possible. Of course I don’t always play the role of super strict food Nazi (can you say Nazi these days? I think you can if it’s your own blog. Yeah, I can). Sometimes I don’t worry about it, but for the most part I know the immense damage this stuff does to my body, the effort and vital resources it has to give up to fight the toxins.
Any questions on this stuff, please comment below.
So on this night, we went to China Lane knowing that the price is certainly more than your average take away Chinese place, and that the ratings were good for taste and quality- a common sense approach.
Was the food laden with vegetable oils?
Of course without harassing the staff, it’s hard to say. What I can say is that the food was really good. Pork belly can be awesome; as it was here, or it can be crap, as it was not so long ago at a pub right here in Sydney (should I name it?). Admittedly this was a more relaxed meal for us and our companions, as doughy dumplings and fried wontons aren’t a regular on our plates, but with such small amounts being shared with the banquet we ordered, the balance of dishes was delightful and satisfying.
There were two deserts as part of the banquet and I tried them both. In all honesty I can be a sucker for the odd sneaky desert; however, these two weren’t for me. Probably a good thing with the overall theme of the meal being slightly off charts for my nutritional viewpoint.
Still, the place was pretty cool, and it was enhanced by catching up and spending time with great company. Plus NN was there too, she goes ok… Am I right…
Go Ok? I think I do damn good, especially since I have to live with a person who has a constant set of washboard abs. Am I jealous much? Hell yes, but after years of doing the girl thing and battling with my body, I have come to the conclusion that ripped abs on a women is waaay too much hard work, and is only ever suitable (and realistic for that matter) for the genetically gifted, or female competitor (case in point- when I got on stage- see below). I love food (and wine), and whilst it may seem that MC and I are food geeks, we do indulge occasionally. China Lane was to be my indulgence.
Trying to give MC a run for his money
Turns out I do go ok at times…
As MC mentioned we got a Banquet, which meant that the food choice was out of our control. If you are being mindful of your diet it is recommended that when dining with large groups you go for the Ala’carte option. Ordinarily we would avoid the deep fried dishes such as the deep fried Calamari, Wontons and Battered Ribs, however, given the circumstances we embraced the fatty goodness and smashed them in. Whilst we didn’t talk to the waitress or the chef about what oil was used, it was pretty obvious that it was of a higher quality than a standard takeaway store. There was no terrible oily after taste that is usually accompanied with cheap oil, nor was there any thick oily film on my teeth (does anyone else get that feeling? Or is that just me? That is normally one of my indicators of cheap vegetable oils).
One of the best things about Chinese restaurants has to be their Chinese vegetables. Having a big side plate of steaming hot greens with oyster sauce is always a winner, and is a great way of getting different types of greens into the diet. We were served Chinese Broccoli (or ‘gai-lan’, interestingly enough Broccolini is actually a hybrid of Broccoli and this Asian Gai-lan – put that away in the memory banks for trivia night!) but it is also common for Chinese Celery, Bok Choy, Pak Choy and Choy Sum. The accompanist of the greens helps to offset the heaviness and saltiness of some of the meat dishes.
Desert was so-so, consisting of a tapioca dish and a sticky rice pudding. If you love rice and tapioca, you would’ve been all over it like a fat kid on a donut (bear in mind Tapioca has little nutritional value whatsoever). The flavours were lovely, but the idea of eating something so carb-loaded and heavy at the end of a big meal was not so favourable.
Overall the China Lane dining experience was a great one, and certainly one worth visiting with friends, or when wanting to make a good impression on a date. It typifies Sydney’s ‘hip’ dining experience and with The Ivy just being around the corner you can indulge in the Sydney wankiness with ease. If you’re that way inclined…
What really topped off the evening though was the inclusion of fortune cookies with the bill. I’m a sucker for cute little things like that, but what was super cool was what our one said:
That, my friends is the universe talking, well actually its probably printed a hundred times but still the message is clear and apt for this blog. MC and I are on a mission to teach others about quality food, how to have a healthy relationship with food, and most importantly how to incorporate healthy food into your lifestyle. So please help us teach others, by spreading this blog and sharing the love (choose your medium below).
And that’s a wrap. Comment below if you’ve got any questions about vegetable oils or fats in general.
Remember- fats don’t necessarily make you fat…
MC & NN