Lotus Restaurant, Town Hall

Lotus has landed in the Sydney CBD, with a brand new outpost of the dumpling bar setting up shop in The Galeries. The massive space that the restaurant is housed in (formerly the Freedom furniture store) is gorgeously decked out, with a contemporary, industrial warehouse vibe and modern Oriental touches all around.

The modern Chinese influence extends to the menu, which features fresh twists on classic dishes like their delicious Crispy Skin Duck Pancake which looks like a traditional Peking Duck pancake at first, but with a sweet miso sauce in place of the usual hoisin sauce.

Crispy Skin Duck Pancake, $45 for half duck

In terms of their signature dumplings, we were impressed by the selection starting with their silky smooth Jade Dumplings with juicy prawns and their luxe Scallop Siu Mai with plenty of that succulent scallop placed on top of the pork parcels.

Steamed Jade Dumplings, $14

Scallop Siu Mai, $14

Their incredible Mud Crab and Pork Xiao Long Bao definitely took us by surprise, with that rich seafood flavour infusing into the soup of the delicate xiao long bao and shredded crab meat detectable in the meat filling, unlike the “crab” xiao long bao served up in some other dumpling eateries.

Mud Crab and Pork Xiao Long Bao, $21

Another Shanghainese favourite makes an appearance at Lotus too in the form of Pan Fried Pork Buns. These were tasty, but the bases of the buns could have been more crunchy.

Pan Fried Pork Buns, $12

We changed things up after all those dumplings and buns with the Calamari, which was cooked beautifully, without a hint of chewiness. It was powder dusted with some interesting native spice salt and paired with a rather salty fish sauce on the side, which wasn’t needed considering how tasty the calamari was on its own.

Calamari, $21

The interesting spices continued with the wild fire dukkah used on the lightly fried Crispy Tofu, which had a great mix of textures.

 Crispy Tofu, $15

Their Crispy Eggplant was also a hit, with a delicious honey glazed exterior encasing the soft eggplant and topped off with some sesame seeds.

Crispy Eggplant, $18

The unconventional dishes continued with the Wok-fried Wallaby Rump which was my first time trying the meat as I haven’t seen it on menus before. Wallaby tastes more chewy and gamey than kangaroo and seems a bit of an acquired taste. This rendition was cooked with sweet bean paste and salt bush, continuing the theme of weaving in native Aussie elements.

Wok-fried Wallaby Rump, $29

Next up, we had some Wok-fried Prawns with okra – the succulent prawns were paired with an addictive homemade XO sauce and lime to create a colourful and vibrant dish.

Wok-fried Prawns, $36

We eased up on the fusion and wok-fried dishes with a nicely executed Steamed Snapper cooked traditionally with shallots, ginger and soy sauce.

Steamed Snapper with ginger and shallots, $39

For greens, we had an intriguing Crystal Ice Plant Salad with cucumber, enoki mushrooms and black vinegar dressing. I’d never seen the Crystal Ice Plant before – it’s a plant native to Western Australia and has little raised clear beads on each crunchy leaf, as its name suggests.

Crystal Ice Plant Salad, $16

For dessert, we had a mix of traditional and fusion – a sweet Sago Pudding with red bean, which was outshone by the perfect Lotus Creme Caramel which was incredibly smooth and infused with jasmine tea.

Sago Pudding, $9

Lotus Creme Caramel, $12 

We finished off with a selection of their delectable housemade chocolates, each infused with a different type of tea – Dragonwell, Ginger and Mandarin, Jasmine, Szechuan Pepper, Goji Berry, Darjeeling, Mint and Toasted Sesame. My favourite was the Dragonwell, with a lightly roasted flavour.

Chocolates, $7 for 2

I haven’t been this excited about a new restaurant in the city for a long time – Lotus has hit the mark with a breathtaking decor in the cavernous space it has taken up residence in serving up fantastic, upmarket modern Chinese food, albeit with a premium price tag.

Excuse Me Waiter dined as guests of Lotus

Lotus Restaurant
The Galeries
Level 1, 500 George Street
Sydney NSW 2000

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