The newly opened Mr. Wong is the latest addition to the Merivale empire and shows clear evidence why Justin Hemmes is, in fact, our new dining overlord.
Specialising in dim sum and Cantonese cuisine with some modern twists, Mr Wong is spearheaded by a trio of high profile chefs, including Dan Hong and Jowett Yu of Ms. G’s fame and Eric Koh of Hakkasan in London.
So, with a massive lead up and the full power of the Merivale marketing juggernaut behind it, is Mr. Wong all it’s hyped up to be? What makes it better (or worse) than the existing array of traditional Yum Cha restaurants on offer all over Sydney? Here’s our take on the yum cha wars.
Every yum cha we’ve been to offers pretty much the same food – think pork buns and the usual steamed medley of dumplings. It’s hard to differentiate most yum cha restaurants merely by the types of food they offer. Mr. Wong, however, offers innovative and modern dishes like foie gras prawn toast, Sichuan steak tartare and abalone dim sums.
Desserts all have a distinctly Asian flavour, but are prepared in Western styles.
There’s an impressive cocktail menu, something that is unseen at most yum cha restaurants. As for the wine, they do a yummy German Reisling (Fritz’s by Gunderloch) for $9 by the glass and have a good selection of whites and reds that will (surprisingly) compliment your pan fried buns.
Don’t expect to visit Mr. Wong without loosening the purse strings. A single dish will cost you roughly $4 a pop and common mains like salt and pepper calamari soar up to $27. Throw in a drink and dessert and you’ll easily be looking at upwards of $40 a head. (Cheaper yum cha can even be found at Cabramatta, where tea is complimentary). If value for money is what you’re after, your traditional yum cha restaurant is where you should be headed.
Plenty of attention has been paid to even the littlest detail in this place, from the oriental prints to wall ornaments and bamboo-covered chairs. Mr. Wong has a very different feel to traditional Chinese restaurants, with their cramped tables to maximise patronage, walls draped in gold and red, and bright lights.
If you’re after modern, chic food and don’t mind dropping a pretty penny on the bill, then Mr. Wong is your type of restaurant. It has a buzzing atmosphere, serves up delicious food and will offer a great gastronomic experience. But, if you’re happy with the traditional yum cha offerings and are not looking to break the bank, there’s a great selection of alternative restaurants all within the Sydney CBD. Our favourite picks are Sky Phoenix, Golden Century, Marigold or Zilver at Chinatown.
Have you been to Mr. Wong yet? How do you think it compares to other yum cha restaurants? Let us know in the comments below.