Turning Chinese

Longxiang Restaurant, on Dixon St opposite the cowboy (or where the Cowboy was), came highly recommended to me. The lovely Miss Fur eats her lunch there on a frequent basis (hey stalkers, she’s single!), and my father has told me a couple of times about how he took a couple of visiting Chinese dignitaries for dinner there and they returned three times during their visit, (having decided another Chinese restaurant they went to was rubbish).

And if real Chinese people from China like it, it must be good, authentic, and tasty, right? I decided to test it out for myself, having previously only tried takeaways that suffered from long delays before we got to eat them, which is hardly a sporting chance.

So after the Beckon VIP night, I grabbed my constant restaurant buddy/sister Karen, as well as the Wellingtonista’s Hadyn and the delightful Amy and set out to give it a go.

The menu is long – not cripplingly so, but enough that it’s easy to select one of each animal with different kinds of sauce. Collaborative ordering had us getting roast duck, Orange Beef, fish fillets with spicy sauce and chicken with ginger and spring onions, as well as rice, tea, vegetarian wontons and spring rolls, two Chinese beers and a cranberry juice.

I can’t say enough good things about the lovely woman who was serving us. She was friendly, helpful and really genuine-seeming. Lisa says that she knows her frequent customers’ names, and makes assumptions about their relationships. Brilliant. I love that in a place.

The atmosphere was fairly standard, pretty bland but that’s what you can expect.

So that leaves the food. How was it?

Well, I should probably say I have very Western tastes when it comes to Chinese food. I might avoid ordering Butter Chicken in Indian restaurants, but I do love me some Sweet’n Sour Pork. Therefore I was very very happy with the Orange Beef, which was battered and deep fried, served with a tangy sauce flecked with diced chillies, and holy crap, it was good. What appeared on first glance to be cellophane turned out to be shredded deep-fried spinach, and that was very very tasty too.

The filling in the vegetarian wontons was disappointing – I couldn’t tell if it was egg or tofu, but either way, it wasn’t my most favourite thing ever, but the spring rolls were crispy and yum.

The roast duck was exactly as it sounds – a plate of chunks of roast duck with crispy skin, served on canned pineapple. One of these days, I’m going to invent a boneless duck, because I am incredibly lazy. Or perhaps I’ll go back to Beijing Restaurant in Newtown for their shredded duck pancakes. You know, one or the other, whichever seems easiest at the time.

Meanwhile the fish and the chicken were quite bland, and suffered from too much cornflour goop sauce, while the rice was mushy and seemed more Japanese than Chinese.

If I went back, which I probably would, based on the awesomeness of the beef and the spring rolls, and how we hardly even had to turn over the lid of our tea pot to get more hot water (there’s a trick for you!), I would stick to the classic Westernised dishes and would no doubt be rewarded for that.

The bill came to $101.50 which was very reasonable, given that we couldn’t finish all the food.

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