For a mid-week dinner, I joined Mother Hen and Mr Strong on an reconnaissance at the Peninsula Wantirna, a restaurant that’s attached to a suburban hotel out in Wantirna. A while back, Mother Hen had yum cha there and quite liked it. She now wanted to see what their dinner would be. If all went well, then she’d making a booking for a celebratory family event a few weeks later.
Situated near the corner of Boronia and Stud roads, PW is not hard to miss. Plenty of parking, and walking into the building it definitely feels like a big, suburban hotel/conference centre complex. The restaurant itself is quite big and spacious, with lots of natural lighting coming from the scenic view of the major traffic intersection.
The place is decorated in a typical Asian nouveau riche-y style with faux crystal chandeliers, tanks of fresh seafood and a wet bar.
I couldn’t help but note the staff. Certainly there’s a homely vibe and a slightly casual demeanour, but they’re friendly. Diners are greeted and they definitely make regulars feel welcomed. Equally, however, I could understand why some reviews have said that the service may not be as polished as they were expecting. For me, I didn’t mind that the service was a bit rustic, as I place more value on the friendly and convivial vibe that they were creating.
Like a good old school Chinese restaurant, we were served complementary soup to begin with. However, as usual, I don’t really drink this soup (no matter where I am) as I find these all taste the same and can be quite salty.
For the mains, we went with the waiter’s suggestion to try the two-dish coral trout special. The fish was a special ingredient that they had got in that day. Coral trout is a white flesh fish with firm flaky meat. The first dish was a stir fry of the fillets with seasonal veg. A glistening plate of white flesh (which had a lovely golden seared crust) cooked with ginger and rice wine. The veg were crisp and crunchy. I really liked this dish as it was simple in flavour but done really well.
For the second dish, the remainder chunks of fish (the bony and less prized bits) were deep fried, and then braised in a hot pot with lots of other things, including veggies, shiitake mushrooms, slices of BBQ pork and deep fried tofu. There was still quite a reasonable amount of meat on the fish. I was indifferent to the rest of the dish, though.
I also ordered one of their chef’s specials – the beef rolls with enoki. This was a big dish of pan fried tender, beefiness with lots of chewy enoki in the middle. Served with a ring of crisp, bright green broccoli and a peppery sauce. Propz for the many beef rolls – I had about four or five. My only minor quibble would be that the sauce was a little bit oily.
To finish off the meal, we got the complementary serve of orange slices and jelly cubes...
...and big bowls of hot tofu fa. The tofu fa wasn’t too sweet, but I only ate a few spoonfuls as I’m not a fan of all forms of tofu (unless it’s that egg-covered Japanese tofu). Mr Strong slurped his bowl up and also mine.
As we enjoyed our meal so much, Mother Hen made another booking for dinner for a few weeks later. This time, there were more of us and we were able to order more dishes. As this was a special occasion, Mother Hen ordered the six person lobster banquet set menu. As there were seven of us, we also upgraded the entree to cater for the additional person, and also ordered one or two more main dishes.
As with the first visit, we got the complementary soup to begin with. But we were hankering for the first entree, steamed oysters in black bean sauce and ginger and spring onions. These were plumpish oysters but I found them to be lacking in that sweet, sea flavour. Also, despite requesting two extra oysters when we placed our order, they had forgotten. The staff apologised for the error and this was quickly rectified.
The second entree was the lobster with egg noodles. It was a shame that I didn’t have time to take a picture of the dish before it got apportioned as it was a vision of bounty. Chunky, succulent lobster with that lovely ginger and spring onion gravy. This was pretty tasty.
The main dishes came soon after and all of them were above average. Stir fried beef with Chinese broccoli. Lots of wok hei, tender beef and crisp veg. Simple but very good.
The crispy skin chicken was tender, and the skin was crispy. Ditto, it was simple but very good.
One of the two standout dishes was the deep fried pork ribs. A thin batter, perfectly seasoned, garlicky, salty, peppery meaty ribs. The ribs had a good meat-to-fat ratio. Lipsmackingly good.
The second standout dish was the flash stir fried pea shoot leaves. A big mound of tender verdant leaves cooked with lots of garlic. Lots of wok hei, too. I’d definitely order this and the pork ribs again.
Finally, a steamed barra (from the fish tanks). This was fine but it paled in comparison with all the other dishes.
To end, we had a plate of oranges and jelly cubes and, this time, bowls of hot red and green bean sweet soup with seaweed. For different reasons to the tofu fa, I only had a few spoonfuls of this because I never got the appeal of the red bean sweet soup. The addition of seaweed is a bit unusual, but it didn’t make any difference in terms of the flavour or texture of the soup.
Food - 8
Ambiance - 7
Service - 7
Price - 8
Serves are quite generous, you definitely leave feeling full. It’s spacious and family friendly. The second time we went it was on a weekend night in December. While there were a few medium-big tables of diners (plus a smattering of smaller tables of diners), I was expecting this place to have more people. The food is great and the service is good (although note my views above). Wantirna is a bit out in the ‘burbs, but it’s definitely worth the trip out if you’re looking for a nice meal at a Chinese restaurant. If I lived closer, this could well be my local for after work takeaway.
500 Boronia Road
Telephone: 9887 0028