Sunday, December 23, 2007

Sky Phoenix, Castlereagh Street, Sydney

Sky Phoenix, Castlereagh Street, Sydney
Sunday 23 December, 2007

Today we had a plan - get into the city early enough to beat the crowds for last minute Christmas shopping and reward ourselves with yum cha. The first part worked perfectly - there was no one around Pitt St Mall before 11.30am on Sunday morning so we had the pick of the stores and were able to browse at leisure without feeling rushed and we were not surrounded by frantic Christmas shoppers.

Afterwards, we took the huge escalators to Sky Phoenix in Sky Garden. I've always raved about this place but today I was a little disappointed. We arrived and they didn't look busy at all - in fact they had seated everyone in the front section which is partitioned off from the corridor to Bing Lee and the entrance from Castleraegh St.

We were directed to a table in the centre of the dining space and were immediately hit upon by staff with trays and trolleys. We actually wanted to start with some tea so felt like we were turning everyone away. This worked against us because when when we were ready to eat we couldn't locate anyone!

Having learnt from my last yum cha experience at Fisherman's Wharf Seafood Restaurant you can actually order any tea you want - it doesn't have to be the plain boring jasmine that they offer the masses. We ordered and waited. Fortunately the pace of the food was so slow that we could sit back and enjoy each dish in isolation and chat for hours.

We started with some prawn rolls that were wrapped in toast. I hadn't seen these before so was keen to try a few different dishes. Unfortunately, they were dry and virtually tasteless - the toast was thick and dulled the taste of the prawn in the middle. Next up, prawns wrapped in seaweed - again, I hadn't seen these before. The prawns were almost pureed and prepared in seaweed like sushi. Without the 'blow your head off' chilli sauce I don't think I could have kept eating them.

We did pick a few winners though.....BBQ pork pieces marinated in plum sauce - they were small bite size pieces glazed and cooked well. They were absolutely delicious and so good that we were tempted to go another plate. This was followed by salt & pepper calamari - the seasoning was so good that I could have just licked it off the calamari and been content.

The staff today were dull and distracted. Asking for drinks other than tea was a chore and even the servers who are usually engaging and friendly were not interested. However, no yum cha experience is complete without mango pancakes and egg tarts. It must sound strange to order these but they are reminders from my first ever yum cha experience and I love them. The mango pancakes aren't really pancakes but fresh mango and sweetened cream wrapped in a flat pancake like base. They are messy to eat and the cream goes everywhere but I really love them. The egg tarts are best served warm and come with the lightest, buttery pastry case.

Overall, not my favourite yum cha experience but I still left smiling after the sweet stuff.

Sky Phoenix - Level 3, Sky Garden, 77 Castlereagh St, Sydney - T: 9223 8822


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