Friday, January 23, 2009

Satasia satisfies - or does it?

During dinner at Satasia, our conversation turned to how long the restaurant had been around. BF is a long term resident of the Balmain peninsula, while I am a relatively new blow-in at 6 years. ‘Over 10 years’ was his uneducated guess as to Satasia’s heritage. In the frequent turnover of restaurants in Balmain, that makes it a veritable institution.

Satasia certainly has a loyal following, with regulars packing it out every Saturday night. It can get pretty noisy upstairs where large tables celebrate birthdays or hen nights, so a table in the relative quiet of downstairs is best. Although you may have to put up with cigarette smoke wafting in through the open doors courtesy of the smokers outside (so much for ‘non-smoking’ venues, eh?).

I’ll admit we used to be regulars, too, until I realised that it’s not exactly the best value restaurant to be eating at every week. Why is that, you ask. Well, check out what we had the other night.

The menu at Satasia is extensive. The dishes are not numbered, but my quick count of the items on the menu totalled more than 140 (30 appetisers, 8 noodles, 30 seafood, over 41 meat and poultry, 17 curries, 12 vegetables and 2 side dishes, plus rice and dessert). They are a mix of different SE Asian cuisines, ranging from Chinese (eg. chop suey, Mongolian lamb, jing yee fish) through to Vietnamese (nem nuong, tiger cry beef), Thai (pla tort samrut, pad thai) and Indian (pappadums, rogan josh).

We started with duck pancakes ($11.90 for 2) and sang choy bao ($13.90 for 4). Hmm, now I remember why we stopped coming here. Last time, the duck pancakes were $9.90 and even then I thought the serving was a bit stingy. The pancakes are tasty containing duck meat, cucumber, hoisin sauce, and strangely, snow pea shoots and alfalfa sprouts in a soft wrapper. The sang choy bao serving was better value although I wasn’t a fan of the pork filling which I thought tasted a bit bland and burnt.

Mains were a hokkien chow mein ($18.90) and mu shu pork ($19.90). The chow mein included pork, chicken and vegetables in a fairly spicy sambal chilli with sweet soy sauce. It was a bit reminiscent of food hall takeaway (at double the price, thought the serving size was decent).
I’ve never had mu shu pork before, and to me it was nothing special, with pork fillet stir fried with ginger, vegetables and scrambled egg. As a second opinion, BF thought they were both pretty good, and there was enough left for us to take home in a doggy bag/plastic container.

I think the desserts at Satasia are its strong point ($9 each). They are written on a whiteboard and include crème caramel, black sticky rice, gula meloka (sago) with banana fritters, and summer berry pudding. I always order the strawberry rhubarb meringue, which is like Eton mess, but with stewed rhubarb and Grand Marnier in it. It was a nice finish to the meal. BF wanted fried ice cream, and it came smothered in caramel sauce, as he requested.

The lovely manageress runs a tight ship on the floor at the restaurant and, as a result, the young staff are enthusiastic and helpful. So, if you aren’t too fussed by the shortcomings in the food, then Satasia is a deservedly popular place for an eclectic Asian meal.

Satasia is at 300 Darling St, Balmain. As a point of reference, it is just 2 doors up from Adriano Zumbo Patissier (the Centre of the Universe).


  1. Hehe Zumbo as centre of the universe! :P It doesn't sound like you were very impressed with the food though-what a shame! :(

  2. hi Lorraine - let's just say the atmosphere is nice...

  3. Hi Belle, thanks for your lovely comments :) and WOW what a fabulous blog you have here - really making me hungry lol, especially the strawberry rhubarb meringue.... yum!!!
    Aga xx

  4. hi Aga - thanks so much. Wish I could be as cleverly creative as you, but!

  5. Like yourself, I dislike restaurants that serves mediocre food at high prices. Fortunately we haven't experienced that too often. Your photos of the food looked delicious, however when I noticed the price..hmm maybe not =D