Saturday, May 26, 2012

Mongkok, Adelaide by Big Fil

After our failure to secure a table for Wasai Japanese Kitchen around the corner Red and Hungry Pete suggested Mongkok as an alternative, somewhere they had eaten at a few times but that I had never been to. While I was quite annoyed at the time, having asked Pete several times to make a booking, what it led to was the most enjoyable Chinese restaurant meal I’ve had in Adelaide.

It didn’t look that promising to start with. With a name like Mongkok – a very densely populated area of Hong Kong - you’d expect that they would specialise in Cantonese dishes. However, when you peruse the menu the first half is all Sichuan style food, which is from a very different part of the country. From talking to Pete and Ruby afterwards they think that one of the Chefs may have come over from another Sichuan style restaurant on Gouger Street rather than having Cantonese style cooks preparing Sichuan food.

Once you enter the setup is slightly different to most of the Chinese restaurants in town. Firstly it’s more upmarket than your typical student dive. Secondly, it seemed to have more large tables than normal, so that it is aimed more at groups and customers that have made bookings than those just walking in off the street (although there were certainly a few of those to including us).

If you’ve never had Sichuanese food before some of the contrasts with the more common Cantonese food is that much if it is spicy, a bit oily and makes use of Sichuan Peppers which give a real distinctive numb feeling to your mouth. I really like it but if you don’t like spicy food you’d want to be careful about which dishes you ordered. The menu at Mongkok is very extensive but we were able to choose quite quickly because we all had particular dishes we want to try.

Both Hungry Pete and myself have a bit of a fondness for offal, with its varying textures and flavours. Consequently his choice was the cold beef and ox tongue in chilli sauce, something which Red has confirmed is a typical style of dish in Sichuan. Even with a bit of green and a few seeds on top it isn’t a terribly visually appealing dish but it does burst with flavour in your mouth. Ox tongue wasn’t the only offaly good cut which had been added to the dish as we also noticed heart and tripe in there as well.

Once I saw it on the menu there was no way I was going past the spicy pork ribs with cumin. This was a bit different in style to how I have had it previously, with the meat cut closer to the bone and different herbs used to replace the Sichuan Peppers I was expecting. This was still spicy enough to bring a slight sheen to the brow though when eaten, and good if not my favourite ever version of one of my all time favourite dishes.

Last up was Red’s choice of the boiled fish with pickled cabbage and chilli. While I had thought the sizes of the other dishes was generous this was huge, more designed for a table of six than the three of us. With thin, almost translucent noodles, tender fish, sour soup and the occasional flash of chilli this was very good, so that even with all of us bursting at the seam we made sure we finished all the fish and almost got through all the soup as well.

I loved the food here and while it’s only based on a single visit possibly my new number one favourite Chinese restaurant in town. That’s without even trying the Cantonese end of the menu which is hopefully as good. My only caveat, be careful with how much you order as two mains between three is likely to be enough for most.

Food – 8
Service – 7
Ambience – 7.5
Price – 7

83 Gouger Street
Adelaide SA 5000
Tel (08) 8231 9456

Mongkok on Urbanspoon

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