Welcome to Melbourne Foodie. The blogspace of a young foodie with a passion for cooking, fine dining and quality food and produce.
Melbourne Foodie, along with the other sources I write for is my way of casually expressing and recording some of the experiences I have had for others to enjoy. I always welcome any feedback,
comments or restaurant suggestions you may have and would love to hear from you soon.
MUST VISIT SOON: Livingroom, Hare & Grace
MOST RECENT FEASTINGS: Pei Modern, Sarti, PM24, Vue de Monde
BLOG OF THE MOMENT: I Eat Therefore I Am
Upon arrival I am warmly welcomed and before I know it a Chinese tea ceremony is underway. Pictured below is this hand carved tea-serving station. There is a whole process which is carefully explained to us by restaurant manager Annie. The small pouring teapot is heated inside and out with hot water. The tea is then prepared and the first brewed pot is poured out, with the following pot being served to all in the gorgeous dual-layered glasses with any residual tea being tipped out on the board, over the frog statue for good luck. The more tea you poor over the frog the better luck you have we are told. Such an exciting and elaborate presentation, and certainly a unique way of beginning the evening.
Just moments later we get to see the Chinese kung Fu tea master in action; He doesn't speak a word of English but it doesn't matter because he certainly knows what to do with tea undertaking years of training in his native China: firstly preparing tea for us in the original ceremony and consequently dancing around with this long spouted tea pot, perfectly pouring tea from all sorts of directions. Not something you see everyday.
After this we get to see another special demonstration. This time it is Master Chef Pin Tan hand spinning noodles (made simply from wheat flour and water) - quite an amazing site to watch as he turns a pile of dough into perfect fine strands of noodles in just a matter of minutes - all by hand: the only way to do it really. These demonstrations take place twice nightly Tuesday to Saturday and are a great oppotunity to see what the chef does best.
After all this fun we are escorted over to the bar for our meal. A fabulous place to be sitting as it overlooks the kitchen and enables a front-hand view of all of the action. Gone are the days of restaurant kitchens being closed behind doors: it is now all about transparency and allowing diners to see how their food is being made. I'm a big fan, especially when its a kitchen as special as this.
We begin things with a beautiful Dim Sum selection: Siu Mai Pork, Prawn Har Gow and Vegetarian dumplings: very clean flavours and better than any Yum cha I've eaten in quite some time.
Next up is a selection of Chinese roasts: Duck, Char Siu Pork and Soya Chicken with plum and hoi sin sauces. Each of them cooked well and enjoyed.
To follow we are presented with one of the chefs specialties - Wok-fried crayfish with honey chilli and spring onion: Unfortunately the lobster meat is somewhat over done losing its sweet and subtle flavour and texture. The sauce also doesn't do a lot for me: marred by excessive artifical sweetness.
We then have a beautiful Deep-fried baby barramundi with chilli oyster sauce, coriander: nicely executed and a pleasure to eat. The fish has been portioned, then cooked and re-assembled for presentation. It is always a joy to eat fish in this way, getting to taste the flesh, skin, head and wings. It would be such a shame not to have these. The beauty of Asian cuisine: nothing is wasted.
Next is a Malaysian style beef rendang with jasmine rice: no better or worse than what you would find at most other Asian restaurants. The meat could probably have been braised slightly longer for a more tender texture. A very typical rendang with a nice balance of heat and aromatics; star anise and chilli being the dominant flavours.
Wok-fried chicken with dried chilli: Featuring diced chicken and imported Chinese chillies the dish is once again quite decent, but like some of the others slightly marred by excessive sweetness.
Wok-fried kailan with garlic: This popular Asian green is simply given the wok treatment, retaing a nice crunch.
The last dsh is Sho's Char kway teow with prawns and Chinese sausage: A good version of this classic dish, using clean fresh ingredients. At the end of the day though its not something that you couldn't find elsewhere. It would have been nice to finish with a hot noodle soup and really enjoy the noodles that chef Pin Tan is famous for. After all this is a noodle bar: the one thing almost emmited from our meal.
We conclude with a dessert trio: Creamy mango ice-cream with fresh lychee, mango jelly pudding and fresh cubed mango. A nice refreshing way to end the meal, with mangos being so very good at the moment.
Sho offers a small wine list, and a unique tea selection of 24 of the worlds best teas from China and Taiwan. I get to sample a number of offerings, finishing with a very special tea: Pu'Er "35 Years Standing". This tea, aged for 35 years, has a unique silky texture and a very smooth finish. Like wine, fine teas are said to become smoother and more balanced with age. The Pu'Er proves this true with a completely different finish to anything I have experienced before. I like it a lot.
Overall Sho offers a good dining experience that I really enjoyed. The food was all of a good, reliable standard with little to complain about, served in an exciting venue made all the more interesting with the tea and noodle demonstrations. Sho is a welcome addition to the Crown complex, and a cut above the other gaming floor dining options - something however which will likely appeal to casino players, but probably won't draw a large audience from outside this area.
A unique experience, with good value meals (most under $20) and an impressive hand-seleced tea selection, designed to compliment the food and enhance the whole experience. Certainly a venue worth watching.