It was the last night in town, New Year's Eve, one last chance to sample hopefully some of the best that Adelaide had to offer food wise. I'd seen BBQ City earlier in the week with its roast ducks and chickens hanging in the window and it had seemed fairly popular. With Hungry Pete not having been before other than for a quick lunch the decision was made - it would be bbq night.
I do like the setup of this place. It's fairly basic and non-pretentious, with a TV and handwritten menus pasted to the walls. You could almost be in Kowloon, well if you wanted to ignore all the Aussie accents. Menus came out quickly and the offerings looked fairly typical in both range and price for this sort of place, so that the real test would be the quality of the food.
Unfortunately though, for a place called BBQ City, I was left pretty unimpressed with the crispy skin pork and roast duck we ordered. Both pork and duck are naturally fatty resulting in sometimes oily meats. I wasn't expecting this to be a problem for a restaurant that specialised in this sort of food though. The duck was particularly bad, with enough oil on the skin to render it greasy rather than crispy. The meat itself was a little oily too, though not as bad as the skin. The skin of the roast pork was much crisper but the pork was nothing out of the ordinary, and certainly not good enough to compensate for the duck.
Better were the beef brisket hotpot and the stir fried vegetables. I am very much the fan of a good beef brisket hotpot, and it's unusual for it not to be on the menu and not be ordered. This version had a fairly strong star anise flavour and the meat was tender, with a layer of bok choy underneath. I thought it was fairly typical in standard for this dish but Hungry Pete quite liked it. The best part to me, the gelatinous texture of some of the bits of tendon.
The vegetables were nicely crisp, mainly bok choy but with carrot, mushrooms and baby sweet corn as well. While only ordered to break up the heaviness of the other dishes, which were all meat based, this was my favourite dish of the night.
Unfortunately though our food ended on a bit of a down note. The Peking dumplings, a type of steamed pork dumpling, lacked flavour and the accompanying chilli oil sauce was pretty toothless.
The only Hong Kong style bbq place I noticed in town, I had really hoped for a little more. Surprisingly it was the roast and bbq meats which were the let down more than the other dishes. I had expected these to be the speciality of the restaurant but I didn't think they were quite up to standard. It can be a bit unfair, making a judgement based on a single visit, but there was nothing about them to make me want to try them again.
Service could also do with a bit of improvement. First dish to come out wasn't meant for our table, not a big issue but staff did feel a little disorganised. I'd probably have been a bit more forgiving except staff did also feel a bit uncommunicative, whether because of indifference or poor English skills I couldn't say.
Food - 6.5
Service - 6
Ambience - 7
Price - 7
84 Gouger Street
Adelaide SA 5000
Tel: (08) 8212 8299