Sitting by a glittering Sydney Harbour on a prematurely warm Spring day is always a pleasant and relaxing experience.
Just add a couple of dozen warships to the mix. And quite a few seamen in uniform. Plus several tables of young ladies in cocktail dress who scream and go hysterical whenever a sailor walks past... well, the experience becomes more exciting rather than tranquil.
This occasion was my birthday lunch at China Doll restaurant, located in the Finger Wharf complex at Woolloomooloo. The warships were also in town for the International Fleet Review, hence the prevalence of sailors. It was the perfect spot for a leisurely, if noisy, lunch.
I chose to celebrate at China Doll because we had our work Christmas party there last year, and I remember the food being fantastic and the service being friendly, even though the place was packed with large groups getting merry. If you look at the other restaurants in the Finger Wharf row, you’ll notice that China Doll is usually the busiest. For good reason, too, because they do it really well.
We had the banquet lunch ($59 per person). The quantities were more than enough and the quality was excellent. Lots of opportunity for people-watching, too, which makes lunch even more fun. Just before the main dishes arrived, there was a massive roaaarrr (like a sonic boom!) as some fighter jets flew by in salute to Navy. Exhilarating!
Cheers! Had a very nice mocktail, Papa don't Peach (cranberry, peach, passionfruit)
There was a special on, of chicken and foie gras wontons, so we ordered them in addition to the banquet. The banquet also included steamed scallops in shell (not pictured).
Corn and zucchini fritters were like muffins, but more light and fluffy. I wondered why my muffins aren't like light like these, then realised that these were deep-fried (duh!).
The tea-smoked salmon salad was gorgeously refreshing.
Jasmine rice and greens come with the mains. This wagyu beef curry was sublime - the meat was literally melting in my mouth, it was so tender.
We had this pork belly at the Christmas party, and it's probably China Doll's signature dish. Crispy, fatty and sweet, its absolutely worth the KJs.
This is black sticky rice and also sago with coconut. Perfect finish to a top lunch.
The service staff were welcoming and responsive, too, which makes for an overall fine day out.