When dining out, I tend to prefer visiting places with good reviews but every once in a while I do come across some surprisingly good eateries which are well hidden from the internet. Such was the case when I visited The Dining & Co, a little cafe hidden away in the quieter suburban streets of North Ryde (a stone throw away from my karate classes infact!).
We’ve made a bit of a habit of purchasing coupons for meals last year, but we don’t often purchase coupons for chinese food as we have plenty of favourite chinese restuarants already which are cheap and cheerful. And to be honest, having grown up with Chinese food, it’s a little boring most of the time 😉 The scoopon deal for New China Restaurant is quite different though, offering an all-you-can eat fare, with a selection of entree and main dishes. Now we’ve had all you can eat Japanese, sushi, Korean and everything, but never Chinese, so we were quite interested to see how it worked out!
The restaurant is quite empty on the night we visit, with one three or so table there, most with scoopons also. The service is friendly, and we are told that for this deal, we must all start with an entree each, followed by as many mains as we want but that every two main dishes comes with either fried or boiled rice.
Of course, we go for the fried entrees- spirng rolls and fried wontons. The spring rolls are tiny bite-sized pieces, and although we’re not the biggest fans of spring rolls, we do enjoy them. The fried wontons have obviously been left in the fryer for too long, being dark brown instead of golden and thus rather hard. We do order them again later in the meal, after seeing our neighbour’s wontons looking quite good, and this time they were not over-fried but weren’t the best wontons we’ve had.
The other two entree options are dumplings in clear soup (i.e. short soup) or in spicy soup, which gets me quite excited as dumplings in spicy soup is one of my favourite Asian dishes. The slippery soft dumplings are quite delicious, though it didn’t hold the sauce too well and I could easily have finished the whole bowl by myself. I was a little disappointed with the sauce itself as it wasn’t like the ones I was used to which are a tad more tingly than spicy and have a greater depth of flavour. The sauce in this version was rather like the chinese chilli sauce which I usually have with noodles and whatnot, being quite oily, though I did enjoy quite enjoy this.
The mains followed quickly after the entrees, first off with the fried duck, something we rarely order at Chinese restaurants, as we tend to prefer our duck roasted. This duck is done amazingly though, with an incredibly crispy skin, and is easily our favourite dish for the night. Whilst most fried ducks I’ve had before merely have the texture of duck, and taste otherwise like chicken, the meat of this one has a great depth of flavour and strong duck taste you’d find in roast duck.
We had high hopes for this fried rice as its deep dark colour made it look quite tasty. Unfortunately, the colour probably only comes from the use of dark soy, as rice itself was quite bland, tasting much more like plain rice than fried. Interestingly, the grains used for the rice were rather small and short in comparison to the usual Asian rice, so it had an interesting mouth feel……I wonder what kind of rice they use?
Because I’ve grown up mostly eating at Asian restaurants, I’ve come to define the term restaurant as those western style restaurants with fancy decor (preferabbly with dim lighting at night….haha), fancy waiters/waitresses, fancy plating(you know, big plates, little food)….. and most importantly, a 3 course menu. But sadly, I’ve never been to one of these restaurants.
This weekend, we visited Atrium Brasserie, a small ‘restaurant’ – not quite the restaurant I was thinking of (as it lacked the …..err fanciness- and was actually just a club restuarant). It did, however, have the 3 course menu- and at the price of $15. So the main was only fish and chips. But still. It was close enough. And it had a good view!
So the reason we went to this particular ‘restaurant’? My mum had come here once with her friends, and apparently they had a really good soup that she wanted us to try. Unfortunately, when we got there, we realised that there was no soup on the menu- only the soup of the day. The service was slow, but we eventually got taken to a seat and given a menu- to order, you tick off the boxes on a sheet of paper and pay at a counter. Going for the cheaper option, we chose the 3 course meal, along with the salad bar and steak .
We weren’t going to get the salad but then we were scared there wasn’t enough to eat. Besides- it looked fun! Because of $7, they give you a small bowl, and you can fill it up with as much salad as you like (but only once). There was a wide range of choices- some pre made salads and some vegetables with a variety of salad dressings you could add yourself. I quite liked the salads, but I haven’t had many salads before so I wouldn’t know if they’re good compared to other places. However, I’m sure it would have tasted better if the salads were separate rather than all mixed together though. We tried to pack as much in as possible, but we still had to take it back to the table so this is how much we got- there were others who stacked it much higher than ours!
The cauliflower soup came shortly- which was the soup of the day (it came with our meal) . It was just your ordinary creamy soup lumps of cauliflower, which looked like potatoes (it took a while for us to figure out that it was actually cauliflower) and a slight cauliflower taste.
The mains took a while to come- being freshly fried, the chips and the fish were very crispy. They weren’t the best fish and chips I’ve ever had though…..
14 Magdala Rd
North Ryde NSW 2113