Sunday, July 29, 2012

Wa Hing, Adelaide (SA) by Benny

Random conversations with shop assistants can sometimes lead to serendipitous experiences, as happened on a recent trip to Adelaide. Gouger Street is dining central for Adelaide and it’s been more than a few years since our last visit, so in some ways it was a bit surprising to see so many restaurants we remembered. However, the Wah Hing, almost directly opposite the end of Moonta Street in the Chinatown area, is new to us, and came highly recommended from the shop assistant at North Adelaide’s Fabric of Life (a favourite of my better half when indulging her interest in textiles).

The d├ęcor is simple and modern with clean lines and little fuss. Generously sized square tables comfortably cope with three main courses, a serving bowl of rice and a pot of Chinese tea, without being so large you struggle to enjoy a conversation without yelling at your dining partner. There is a decent gap between tables so that you're not eavesdropping on nearby discussions and even with the restaurant buzzing, the ambient noise level is far from intrusive. On the other hand the only way to push tables together is in a line – groups of eight or more looking for a large round table may be disappointed.

The menu is full of mouth-watering promise and selecting a meal just for two is challenging – we need to be here with a larger group so that we can taste everything that appeals. After much agonising, we settled on the salt and pepper soft shell crab, steamed duck with salt plum, and to balance the meal, a simple dish of gai lan (Chinese broccoli) stir fried in stock with a hint of ginger.

The soft shell crab is wonderful. Batter crisp and light, flavours salty and tangy, crab tender and flavoursome. The crab is encircled with finely sliced cucumber, which looks a bit naff on first glance, but the freshness and crunch perfectly balances the saltiness of the crab – an excellent pairing.

The duck is even better. A large mound of succulent duck in a complex sauce – sweetness given depth by the saltiness of the preserved plums. And that mound is all duck – not just a layer of duck over a pile of vegetable filler.

The gai lan is tender and the sauce just right to provide a crisp and refreshing accompaniment to the flavour highlights of the other dishes. Plentiful steamed rice is provided on a per person rather than the ‘per serve’ basis that seems to be slowly infecting many up-market Asian restaurants over recent years – in other words, endless refills.

Service is good throughout – friendly, efficient and not intrusive. Our teapot is checked discretely and refilled as needed; the rice is replenished almost instantly the serving bowl is empty.

We don’t get to Adelaide very often, but we will be coming back, with friends. A very enjoyable dinner at a reasonable price.

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

85 Gouger Street
Adelaide SA 5000
Tel: (08) 8212 0338

Wah Hing on Urbanspoon

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