Recently Sydney has seen an influx of high-end Chinese restaurants, with two opening up shop in November at the Chinatown-end of the CBD. Today we’re visiting China Republic, located right next to the Ernst & Young entrance at World Square (enter via George St).
Taking just under two years of planning and development, this two-storey restaurant is definitely catering to a market which can appreciate quality design and food. The interiors are beautiful and intricate, with quality pieces such as terracotta warrior replicas and models of the Imperial Palace shipped straight from China. To top it all off, they have a number of private dining rooms, with one for exclusive use for VIPs only. Joining the club will cost a cool minimum of $10k a year, with the most expensive membership going for $50k. Until I win the lotto, I’m still going to dine with all the normal people :).
White Cut Chicken with Spicy Lemon Sauce – $15
Tonight we’re feasting on an extensive banquet amongst our large group. First up in our entrees is a chicken dish which is served cold with a spicy lemon sauce. It is succulent and perfectly cooked through, and the sauce tastes more like a ginger sauce with a pesto texture. It’s a great combination and I find myself easily becoming addicted to this sauce.
Eggplant and Coriander Salad with Garlic Dressing – $12
Beijing Style Spicy and Sour Cucumber – $9
Next are two more cold dishes, both vegetarian. The eggplant is a bit spicy with hints of coriander. There isn’t much trace of the garlic dressing, but the eggplant is still tasty regardless. The cucumber provides a crunchy alternative with different flavours as well, lightly tossed in a spicy and sour vinaigrette.
Peking Duck – $88 (+$2 for the side dish)
Following this is the Peking Duck and we’re told that China Republic has two ovens solely used for cooking duck. In fact, they can pump out more ducks (20+) per hour than any other restaurant in Sydney, impressive! It is brought out whole and sliced up in front of you by a specialist chef, and served with two types of breads (one is a flat pancake, the other a pocket). There’s also an accompanying side dish which contains different sauces, vegetables and fillings for you to mix and match to your taste. The duck here is spectacular. The skin is crispy, meat is succulent, but unlike other restaurants the duck isn’t dripping in oil which makes it much cleaner and more appetising. Their special Flaming Duck where the whole duck is set on fire theatrically by the chef makes the skin extra crispy and delicious too! Patrons are also given a little booklet on how to eat Peking Duck, with some recommendations on different styles and techniques. A popular one is to simply dip the duck skin in sugar and consume…mm…
Chefs Special Sweet and Sour Pork Spareribs – $21
Our spareribs come out next which are coated in a sticky sweet and sour sauce. The meat falls right off the bone and it is definitely one of the better spareribs that I’ve ever had at a Chinese restaurant. I find the sauce isn’t too sweet either and has a perfect balance.
Crispy Sweet & Sour Prawns – $36
A seafood dish of crispy sweet and sour prawns comes out next to mix things up a bit. These have been butterflied which lets the meat soak up a lot of the sauce, but the shells have been left on which makes it quite messy to eat. I find the sauce doesn’t taste much like sweet and sour, but rather a tomato base with the essence of the prawns adding to the flavour.
Spicy Seasonal Mushrooms – $23
The second last dish are the spicy mushrooms which I had thought to be vegetarian, but I detected some Chinese sausage mixed in as well. The chilli oil used here adds some spiciness which isn’t overwhelming, but enough to add flavour. I find the dish a bit oily though and it isn’t really my preferred cooking style.
China Republic Dumplings – $19
The last savoury dish we get are some plain boiled pork dumplings. This is a classic Chinese dish served with tasty soy dressing, but it doesn’t contain any particular remarkable flavours and is similar to most other Chinese restaurants.
Assorted Dessert Platter for 6-8 people – $28.50
To finish off the banquet, we’re served the dessert platter which is intricately presented on a multi-tiered hexagonal plate. It contains seven types of small desserts which can be hard to share, but it lets you sample a bit of everything from cookies, glutinous rice cakes, jelly and rice pudding. None of the desserts are particularly sweet, which suits a Chinese palate as their desserts traditionally aren’t that sweet at all. It’s not my cup of tea as I’m happy with my sweet ice cream and cakes, but is definitely a way to experience some authentic Chinese desserts with a modern twist.
Overall, China Republic is very impressive and is sure to resonate with those after something a bit fancier. Although more expensive than your usual Chinese restaurant, you would come here for something out of the ordinary. The food we tasted was of extremely high quality with interesting flavours mixed between traditional and modern cooking techniques. The beautiful interiors adds another layer of elegance and really sets a benchmark to the rest of the industry.
Excuse Me Waiter dined as guests of China Republic Restaurant
China Republic Restaurant
Shop 1041, World Square Shopping Centre
680 George Street, Sydney (Corner George and Goulburn Streets)
Ph: (02) 8081 0888