Utter the words “Iron Chef” and I can’t but help to think of that cooking game show that fills me with mixed emotions of awe & wonder (the Japanese production with English voice overs), revulsion (Iron Chef USA, the one with William Shatner), and more recently, curiosity (the currently in production Iron Chef Australia).
I felt the same set of mixed emotions when I came across a Chinese restaurant that shares the same name (though, I believe, otherwise unrelated). Would it be an absolute disaster, or would its cuisine reign supreme?
I was certainly curious enough to find out.
Iron Chef Chinese Seafood Restaurant is a typical upmarket Chinese restaurant in many regards.
An ostentatious display of live seafood in fish tanks? Check. The juxtaposition of fine décor (at least by Chinese restaurant standards) with cheap, generic porcelain teapots and teacups? Check.
However, there are little differences as well. For instance, the Vietnamese & Thai influences along with the predominantly Cantonese fare on their menu.
There is also an open planned prep area behind glass, showing off their barbecued goods which they produce in-house. A display case to drool over as you wait for your order of Peking duck (served in two courses) or crispy skin suckling pig, among the usual selection of roasted chicken and BBQ pork.
Yum cha is available during the weekends for those that feel so inclined. This time around it was strictly a dinner affair, a la carte.
Anyhow, onto the food. Allez Cuisine!
Bang a gong, we are on!
Dinner starts off with a complimentary light meat-based broth, which is not a bad way to whet the appetite.
I’ve always been curious about the contents of such broths but never have the heart to ask, or a floor reporter to conveniently throw the question to. It feels like one of those “don’t ask, don’t tell” sorts of situation where I feel I’m better off not knowing.
For what it’s worth, it tasted like a light chicken and/or pork broth with a subtle sweetness to it. There was also a hunk of meat that looked much like beef which was left untouched, forever to remain a mystery.
Shangtung style chicken ($19.80) – crispy skin roast chicken (half) served with a light vinaigrette sauce.
The shangtung chicken is one of the better renditions of this dish I’ve had. The chicken is moist and tender, even the breast portions which tends to succumb to dryness. The skin has a wonderful crispness to it without the greasy after taste that some versions of this dish I’ve had in the past have had.
The vinaigrette provides an accent of soy, vinegar and garlic flavours without overpowering the taste of the chicken itself.
Wok fried king prawns coated with duck egg yolk ($30.80) – Man alive! These golden nuggets are like crack.
You know that they probably won’t do great things for your health. However, once you’ve had that first springy bite of prawn sealed in a crisp deep fried batter, coated with rich, salty duck egg yolk, you’re hooked.
If I read one of the supplementary menus correctly, the duck egg yolk treatment is available for all seafood items at a premium of $10 per Kg. Hello soft shell crab coated in duck egg yolk!
Back on to the prawn dish. Though it’s quite pricey, I can certainly see myself ordering this again, if not some other seafood variant. Just so long as I can get my salty duck egg yolk fix.
One great thing about a lot of Chinese restaurants, especially the more upmarket ones, are the complimentary desserts.
However, the Iron Chef doesn’t just offer one complimentary dessert but three – a sweet, bean soup which is served warm, some slices of fruit (watermelon in this case), and some small pastries.
Though they do have a number of dessert items such as durian pudding, pan fried red bean cakes and the Iron Chef’s steamed volcano bun (whatever that is) on the menu, with the generous amount of complimentary desserts provided, I almost wonder whether there would be room for anything else.
All in all, a good meal that, at the very least, upholds the goodwill that comes with the Iron Chef name.
Iron Chef Chinese Seafood Restaurant
84 Broomfield St, Cabramatta
(02) 9723 6228
Mon-Fri: 10am-3pm, 5:30pm-10:30pm
Sat-Sun: 9am-3:30pm, 5:30pm-11pm