In the two weeks since it has opened, word is out about Bondi’s hottest dining destination with China Diner joining the family of modern Chinese restaurants with China Doll, China Beach and China Lane.
China Diner, Bondi
The 198-seater venue with Hall Street frontage runs along the length of the building opposite Mr Moustache. A dimly-lit interior with mood lighting, bare light bulbs, bells suspended above the bar with a touch of old-meets-new make it an inviting space the moment you step inside.
Sit at the long communal high tables, the cosy wooden booths, at the busy bar or at the more intimate and finer dining area near the kitchen – each offers a slightly different ambience depending on the mood.
The concept is based on duality, Bar Manager Quynh Nguyen explains, offering a welcoming casual diner with a more formal option at the back of the venue. Chef Sebastian Gee offers an eclectic menu with a focus is on lighter meals that match Bondi’s lifestyle.
Side View of Bar
China Diner combines an impressive bar with an equally impressive range of spirits including a sizeable collection of whisky. The cocktails have a fresh, floral and oriental theme which appeals to a range of palates.
L-R: Wilhemina Scott Cocktail, Suzee Wong
Start with the Suzee Wong ($16) made with Beefeater Gin shaken with fresh watermelon juice and Suze with citrus and sugar then topped with a kaffir lime leaf. The drink starts soft and fresh with the watermelon flavour and finishes dry and slightly bitter with good aromatics. Or if you’re after something more textural, the Wilhemina Scott Cocktail ($18) delivers with a mix of Westwinds Sabre gin, Campari, rhubarb and plum jam, citrus, Aphrodites bitters sugar and a dash of egg white.
Charles Smith Kung Fu Girl Riesling, USA
Another asset to China Diner is sommelier Sebastian Crowther (ex Sixpenny) who has put together a list of contemporary and approachable wines with a focus on progressive winemakers. He has selected a range of wine with a focus on small, artisan producers and growers – many produce organic, biodynamic wines or take a sustainable approach to winemaking.
Whites have a strong focus on fruity Rieslings with some residual sugar such as the Charles Smith Kung Fu Girl Riesling ($13 a glass) and Chardonnays that are more mineral and not to oaked. Medium-bodied reds with a more fruity character than tannins are chosen to complement the food menu.
Prawn and Sweet Pea Har Gao Dumplings
From the “Smalls” section comes an array of temptations and the curiously-named, Son in Law Eggs with whole fried eggs, dusted with prawn floss and tamarind chilli jam, a message from a mother in law to her daughter’s husband if he ever were to stray. But the Prawn and Sweet Pea Har Gao Dumplings ($4 each), tightly filling the pastry, are difficult to resist.
Crispy Lamb, Cumin and Chilli Dim Sum
The Crispy Lamb, Cumin and Chilli Dim Sum ($4.50 each) are equally delicious. Fried to a crisp, the flaky pastry encases a spicy and aromatic lamb filling.
Eaten like a san choi bao, Crying Tiger ($5 each) has grilled pieces of lemongrass and chilli beef, tender to the bite, which you wrap in lettuce and fresh herbs. All dishes on the “Smalls” menu have a minimum order of two per item.
From the “Mediums”, the Five Spice Duck Pancakes with Hoisin, Shallot and Pickled Cucumber ($25) are the pick, succulent and flavoursome with a delicious spicy and crispy skin.
Sweet ‘n Sour Pork, Woked Greens
The “Big” list offer a choice of ten tempting dishes, capped at $30, and it is the Sweet ‘n Sour Pork ($25) that wins on the night with its tender and gelatinous texture, melting in the mouth with sweet chilli, caramel and lime flavours. The Woked Greens ($10) make a good accompaniment, cutting through the fattiness of the meat with a light ginger, soy and sesame sauce.
Coconut Sago with Fruit
Should you still have room for dessert, the Coconut Sago with Fruit ($12) is a light, fresh and cold option,
Black Sticky Rice with Caramelised Banana
while the Black Sticky Rice with Caramelised Banana ($12) is warm and comforting with a lingering sweetness of caramelised fruit. Both dishes are generously portioned and can be shared between two persons or more.
China Diner joins recent Bondi favourites such as Neighbourhood, Mr Moustache, Bondi Hardware, A Tavola and the revamped The Crossing transforming the beachside suburb from a backpacker hangout to a dining and drinking destination for Sydney-siders (Coogee, take note). The venue impresses with its welcoming and relaxed ambience, friendly service, well-crafted cocktail and wine lists, and a food menu designed to bring you back.
Whether it’s dumplings and beer at the bar, shared plates among friends in the coveted booths or a more elaborate dining experience with white tablecloths, China Diner succeeds in taking its place among Sydney’s favourite dining establishments.
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75-79 Hall St
Bondi Beach, NSW 2026
Ph: 02 9130 2333
Hours: Monday – Saturday: 12:00pm-11:00pm; Sunday 12:00pm-9:00pm
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