BBQ King, Sydney
I have been back on dry land for just under a week now but haven’t had a chance to put up a post until now. MS and I flew down to Sydney the day after I got back from sea for my cousins wedding on the Central Coast. I think I mentioned in my previous post that we have both started a meal plan with me looking towards a particular, but as yet unmentioned, goal come September and basically MS just wanting to be bigger and leaner. That does have certain implications for me and eating out unfortunately since we can only have one ‘cheat’ meal a week, a far cry from the three meals a day that we used to do. But after over 5 weeks eating ‘clean’ we decided to go all out and eat whatever the hell we wanted for the 4 days that we were there. We had buffet breakfasts with all the trimmings, fish and chips, pizza, wedding cake, a plethora of canapes, waffles from the Guylian Belgian Chocolate Cafe, Panna Cotta from the Guylian Belgian Chocolate Cafe and even Hot Chocolate from the Guylian Belgian Chocolate Cafe. But what trip to Sydney isn’t complete without a stopover to China Town?
I had spotted BBQ King a couple of years ago when I was in Sydney for work. A crew mate took my crew and I to some pub across the road that apparently had the best Laksa she had ever eaten. Stubborn old me didn’t order the Laksa since I was a little skeptical ordering it at a pub but hey it looked good. Laksa just wouldn’t do and I longed for the ducks and large bits of pork crackling hanging in the window across the road at BBQ King. Not long after that I read about it on a Perth food blog that was my inspiration to start foodvixen in the first place. The Food Pornographer and her many photos of Suckling Pig and Roast Duck had me at ‘hello’ so I vowed that next time I went to Sydney I would go to BBQ King. So with MS in tow we made our way down to Haymarket from our hotel on Pitt Street.
I must admit both MS and I have developed a bit of a penchant for Roast Pork and Duck of late but the only place that we can really go to satisfy it in Cairns is Cafe China on Spence Street or the one at the Casino (for a quick feed anyway). Cafe China on Spence Street is really nothing special, the food is pretty ordinary and I also question the hygiene of the place but we continue to go back there for some reason. I guess because it’s cheap and you can pretty much always rely on it to be open. We arrived to a half full restaurant at about 6.30pm and were ushered to a table by one of the many Chinese wait staff. The restaurant is very dated with yellow stained walls, drapes and old framed Chinese ‘artworks’ but it works and I actually felt like I was in one of those old school Kung-Fu movies with the really bad dubbing. Going to a flash, new Chinese Restaurant just wouldn’t feel right to me. Cheesy decor and yellow fluorescent lighting is all part of the experience surely. In the corner was a large Chinese family tucking into a banquet, some Police that were by all accounts still on duty next to them, a couple of seedy guys that looked like they were doing some Underbelly type business deals and then a couple seated next to us. MS and I overheard a little bit of their conversation… Not because we were listening but more because they were so damn close we couldn’t really help it. The crux of the conversation came to a head when the woman asked the man if he was only interested in her to live in Australia or he actually liked her for being her. Awkward.
The waiter fetched us a pot of Chinese tea and some little cups as well as a couple of menus to look over. The menu was extensive with lots of soup, rice dishes, various types of meat and even Marinated Pork Uteri. Err, maybe next time? MS and I drooled over the Whole Suckling Pig for $480 but you had to give 24 hours notice. Dammit. One day I will have loads of money to spend on Whole Suckling Pigs (notice the plural there) but until that day we stuck to the more reasonably priced part of the menu. MS was considering ordering soup for an entrée but I convinced him that if we were at a place called BBQ King then soup just wouldn’t cut it, even if it was only for the entrée. In the end we (I) chose Peking Duck for the entrée for AU$14, since MS had never had Peking Duck before and I often wondered how I could ever live without it after tasting it for the first time in Beijing about 8 years ago. Well it is the National Dish of China (thanks Wikipedia). For mains we decided we would share a couple of dishes and after much sulking from me because MS didn’t want to the order the Roast Duck because it ‘has too many bones in it’, we chose the Barbeque Pork and the Lemon Chicken (both AU$22.80), much to my dismay. But ‘apparently’ I always have to get my way so I was attempting to be a little less pushy and more open to other suggestions, even if that ultimately meant I didn’t get everything what I wanted i.e. Roast Duck.
We waited about 5 minutes until our entrée of Peking Duck arrived. On top of each of our steamed pancakes was a big, juicy piece of duck breast with crispy golden skin. The waiter placed a small bundle of shallots on top of the duck held together by a ring of fresh chilli, drizzled the sweet sauce over the top and placed each of the plates down in front of us. I nearly fell off my chair I was so excited and after a couple of happy snaps we both dug in. The fattiness of the duck, the crunchiness of the shallots, the sweet taste of the sauce and the oh so soft pancake, was just, oh god, it was amazing! I really think that it was one of the best things I have ever put in my mouth. Food wise anyway. Ha. I was expecting gratitude, amazement, surprise or at least a bit of excitement on MS’ face but all he said was ‘that wasn’t that great’ and ‘it just tasted like sauce’. Way to ruin the moment. Had we just eaten the same thing?!
Onto the mains… It didn’t take long till our table was adorned with plates of Barbeque Pork and Lemon Chicken. We dug into the Barbeque Pork first and I have to say that it was absolutely delicious and easily won the accolade of Best Barbeque Pork I have ever had. The most recent one that I can remember was at Taste of China on Abbott Street where the tough pork was drizzled in a thick molasses type sauce that completely overpowered the entire dish whereas at BBQ King the pork did the talking and not the sauce. The light and sweet sauce soaked into the ridiculously tender pieces of pork made my tastebuds do a little dance with every mouthful. In the end, although it was fantastic, we couldn’t finish it all due to the large serving size.
The Lemon Chicken was also delicious! The bite sized pieces of Chicken were lightly battered and deep-fried till they were just crispy and lightly smothered in a lovely tangy Lemon Sauce. Not too tangy though. Too many times I have been disappointed with crappy Lemon Chicken where the sauce just doesn’t taste right or the chicken is way too battered. This was in fact the second best Lemon Chicken I have ever had with the best being Kin Wah on Florence Street of course! Still it was a pretty good Lemon Chicken to come close to that one I reckon! By the end of it we were both pretty full and MS questioned why I was filling up on rice when there was all this other yummy food on the table. Well, because the best part of eating Chinese (in my opinion) is soaking up all the sauce in your steaming hot bowl of rice.
Well that was it. My anticipated trip to BBQ King in Sydney was over. But was it everything I thought it would be? Hell yeah! The service was swift, to the point and a little sterile, as you would expect at a Chinese Restaurant. On paying at the counter the owner (I think he was the owner) was more than happy to have a chat with us warning us to keep a lookout for counterfeit $50 bills that were getting around and even imitating what a crayfish looks like when it eats a prawn. Don’t ask. As mentioned the decor was a little dated and I was expecting Jackie Chan to jump out at any second but the food was fantastic and I will most certainly be returning on my next trip to Sydney. The place is hugely popular with Sydney-siders and has been for over 30 years and for good reason. I really wish we had a BBQ King in Cairns but then again maybe it wouldn’t be such a great thing because I honestly don’t think MS or myself would be able to stay away from the place, especially considering it’s open till 2am. We would be Platinum Members in no time and that meal plan would be out the window before you could say ‘Whole Suckling Pig(s)’.
18 Goulburn Street, Haymarket NSW 2000
Ph: (02) 9267 2586
Opening Hours: 7 days 11.30am – 2am