You could be forgiven for avoiding Mr Wong during the first month of opening. After all, any restaurant that has attracted unprecedented praise from food critics and writers certainly sets up high expectations and hype that may not be met.
But the new Merivale venture not only delivers. It does it on a silver platter.
Mr Wong, downstairs dining room
Executive Chef Dan Hong, along with Head Chef Jowett Yu and Head Dim Sum Chef Eric Koh, have teamed up to create a modern Cantonese menu, far removed from the local Chinese restaurants that were popular with many Australians.
From the authentic colonial décor, to the wall of roasted ducks and the cellar that extends over two levels, the attention to detail embraces you from the moment you enter. In fact, the premises are so photogenic that you’re tempted to point your camera and get carried away.
But not this time. It’s a late visit on a Saturday night after a long and eventful Whisky Fair. There are a few empty tables on both levels and it doesn’t take long before we are shown to a table in the downstairs dining area opposite the captivating mural.
The plastic sheeted menu is presented within an ornate and stylish book. Cocktails pays homage to different provinces and the Liaoning Province cocktail ($18) made with Yamazaki whisky, Antica Formula, Amaro Montenegro, Goya plum wine and Angostura Bitters goes down perfectly. Served in a cut glass tumbler with a lotus shoot as garnish/straw, it has a sweetness on the front palate and ends with a lingering whisky flavour.
Liaoning Province cocktail
The choice of food on the menu is extensive with options banquets (for 4 or more people), ranging in price from $68 to $148 per person. Unfortunately, they are out of a few dishes including the signature duck.
Food does not take long to be served and soon, every mouthful is a burst of flavour.
Steamed Dim Sum Platter – ($32)
Mr Wong’s Special Fried Rice with pork and prawn small ($18)
Sweet and Sour crispy pork hock ($28)
Steamed crystal Bay prawns with ginger, shallots and fresh garlic ($32)
Mr Wong’s Crispy Skin Chicken (half) $28)
Chinese Roasted Duck (half) $34 – a go-to dish, (Updated from a subsequent visit)
Mr Wong is the kind of place that grabs you from the start. It makes a lasting impression and leaves you wanting more. And that is exactly what it’s about. The first visit is merely a teaser. You’ll want to return with friends and discover more of the menu. And with Palmer & Co right next door, you may never want to leave the Merivale complex.
Update: The lunchtime Dim Sum menu at Mr Wong was tasted on a subsequent visit.
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