Taste of China, Cairns
A couple of weeks ago on one particularly busy Friday night MS and I ventured into the Cairns CBD in search of a quiet dinner together before he flew out for work the next morning. Eager to satisfy my craving for a Red Duck Curry we ended up at Cafe Thailand on Aplin St, somewhere I have been a few times before and always enjoyed my meal. Unfortunately this time around the restaurant was quite busy and we stood at the door waiting to be seated only to be ignored by up to six waitstaff aimlessly milling around, including the male host behind another counter accepting payments and then looked on in horror as a group of five that had arrived minutes after us were readily ushered to an available table. No, they didn’t have a booking and yes, there were plenty of tables for two that we could have been seated at. At this point MS and I promptly turned and walked out. They had lost our business for the night and the sour taste that was left in my mouth will cause me to not return for quite a while. It was incredibly rude and I was pretty pissed off about the whole affair as we walked away. We decided to continue on our Asian quest and ended up at Taste of China on Abbott St. A restaurant that has been in Cairns for years and years. I remember doing seafood deliveries with my dad about 15 odd years ago when I was just a wee one. Never in the time that MS and I have lived in Cairns (all our lives) have we eaten there so we decided to give it a go. Well, it was my idea, MS was persuaded by the idea that he coulde order BBQ Pork Buns which he has only recently discovered the wonders of. Something that I have been privy to since I was old enough to say Chinese.
We were greeted at the door by a friendly older hostess who ushered us to a table right at the front near the window with a couple of menus to peruse. I ordered a glass of Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc for AU$9 while ever the sensible M “I don’t drink” S ordered a glass of Coke. There was a meal deal for AU$39 per person including the choice of two entrees, one main, fried rice and dessert, however we decided that we didn’t want to eat quite that much and went for an entree and two mains to share with some steamed rice included. Of course we ordered the pork buns for entree, however we ordered Shanghai Pork Buns thinking that they were the same thing. On ordering the hostess was cluey enough to inform us that they weren’t infact the BBQ Pork Buns that we thought they were but said that Taste of China did also have those. We’ll have those thanks.
Next up, sticking with the Pork theme MS ordered the BBQ Pork for a main. I wasn’t concerned. BBQ Pork in a bun and on a plate. Hell yes! Being the creature of habit that I am I ordered my usual Boneless Lemon Chicken. We waited between five to ten minutes for our BBQ Pork Bun entree to arrive. As always the buns were light, fluffy and slightly sweet with the yummy pork filling in the middle. We were both a little sad that we only got two Pork Buns for our entree but that is the norm when ordering them at any Chinese restaurant. Our plates were cleared quickly and soon after our mains arrived along with our small steamed rice to share.
Firstly the BBQ Pork that MS ordered was bought out and placed between us. The sauce that accompanied the Pork was dark and sticky. A lot more sticky than usual and resembled and tasted much like molasses. It was delicious and the Pork pieces were very tender with just a little bit of fat marbled along the side. We were both very happy with the serving size. The only problem with this dish is that the sauce was so sticky that it was difficult to transfer the sauce from the serving plate onto my own plate of rice. Not exactly something that I would call a big deal but the sauce was so sweet and delicious that I wanted it on my rice. A task that proved most difficult.
Next up my order of Boneless Lemon Chicken arrived. Now I do have to say that due to my families long running loyalty to Cairns’ favourite Chinese Takeway Kin-Wah my view or idea on Lemon Chicken is a little skewed. I may or may not be a little biased to the way they serve their Lemon Chicken at Kin-Wah and am forever in search of one to match it. I have said in a previous post how amazing the Lemon Chicken at Kin-Wah is and I still haven’t changed my tune. The Lemon Chicken at Taste of China was good but it wasn’t as good as my tried and true. The batter just wasn’t the same, the sauce just wasn’t quite ‘lemony’ enough and as was the case with the BBQ Pork, the consistency of the sauce was a little too thick. Might have to lay off the cornflour just a little next time chef.
We received really good service at Taste of China right up until the point where MS went to pay and pulled out our Table 52 card. Upon this swift movement from his wallet the “I’m happy to serve you in my restaurant” demeanour that we had received from the hostess promptly changed to a “Give me your money and get the hell out of my restaurant” tone. Something neither of us saw coming because she seemed like such a nice lady, happy to accommodate us for dinner. Apparently this wasn’t the case and I’m pretty sure that Table 52 encourage you to produce your card at your dining establishment before ordering. This is something I absolutely refuse to do it for fear of that particular restaurant serving me or my dining companion a smaller amount or giving me any less than the outstanding service that I deserve if I were to pay full price for my meal. Obviously this premise of mine has nothing to do with Table 52 but a sneaking suspicion that MS and I have with certain restaurants that we have dined at.
So, in conclusion, despite the proliferance of MSG in the food at Taste of China, which was something that only became apparent when neither MS or I got a wink of sleep all night even though my alarm was set for 5.30am to get up to take MS to the airport. There was also the odd litre or so of water that I drank through the night because I was just so damn parched! Yeah so despite all this we actually did enjoy our meal at Taste of China. The service was really good (up until a certain point), the food was equally as good and the serving sizes ample. It’s up to you as to whether you produce your Table 52 card early on or later in the piece but me… I would much rather smiles from the hostess serving me than evil glances in between polishing cutlery and spitting in my food.
Taste of China
36 Abbott St, Cairns QLD 4870
Ph: (07) 4031 3668