Hi, my name is Mel and it has been at least five months since I last visited Chinatown. Sad isn't it?
Needless to say I am more than psyched to be venturing into Chinatown with Miss Chicken in order to satisfy my long-standing craving for dry-fried Chinese Green Beans with pork mince. I know I am in good hands as, out of all my friends, I don't think anyone knows the best cheapie food haunts in Chinatown better than Miss Chicken.
Miss Chicken has selected the cheerfully decorated halal eatery, Silk Road Chinese Halal Restaurant for us so no pork for me tonight! Not to worry. Green beans are green beans as far as I'm concerned.
No surprises then that the first cab off the rank for us is the spicy Fried Dry Kidney Beans ($8.50). It's number 80 on their handy picture menu. Can I just say how much I love picture menus. I find them particularly helpful when I'm in unfamiliar food territory and am unsure of what to order. If it looks good in the menu, then chances are it will be good in my tummy.
Despite the "Spice Warning" and obvious chunks of chilli standing brazenly on the plate, the dish is surprisingly mild. The beans glisten with oil, which begs the question what does 'dry fried' actually mean? There is a slight saltiness to them and the plate is peppered with whole cloves of pan-fried garlic. I eat more than my fair share of the garlic, which proves to be a good method for ensuring no one sits next to me on the train on the way home. This dish has well and truly satisfied my green bean craving...for now.
We order a Northwestern Style Salad ($5.80 for a small) which is a lovely fresh companion to the oily (but oh so yummy) fried beans. The salad is a zesty mix of cucumber, red capsicum, tomato and onion. This is the first time I've had a salad with a Chinese meal and it's a wonderfully fresh accompaniment to the other dishes.
A big fat plate of juicy Braised Dumplings ($8.00) is surely manna from heaven. We choose a lamb filing for our soupy dumplings and the innards are almost meatball-like in their texture. As far as value for money dishes go, this one is right up there. There must have been 16 dumplings on our plate...and we ate every single last one of them.
No visit to a northern Chinese establishment would be complete without handmade noodles and a dish of Fried Diced Noodles with Beef ($9.00) doesn't disappoint. I like the diced noodles as I usually have 'issues' with the meter long noodles ending up all over my face/lap/top/table.
After dinner we go through a wander through Chinatown. I'm amazed at how many new places have opened up in my five month absence.
We walk past the legendary queue for Mamak, and check out the Taiwanese dessert mecca Meet Fresh, as well as a new (well, new to met) crop of eateries in the Dixon Street laneway just opposite these two foodie haunts. Chinatown is so exciting and I'm like an over excited kid in a candy shop to be back here after so long. I know one thing after tonight's dinner - it won't be another five months before I'm back again.
Silk Road Chinese Halal Restaurant is at 2/203 Thomas Street, Chinatown.