An evening of fine dining at Jade Temple is an extravagant experience worth the expense.
Prepare to be transported to another era at Jade Temple. A time when dining was a glamorous and an exclusive affair, the wait staff were seen but not heard and the ambience was subtle and refined.
I was struck by the mood at Jade Temple the moment I walked up the grand sandstone steps, leading into the historic heritage-listed site on Bridge Street. This was the same site that used to be occupied by the three-hatted institution, Eleven Bridge. In fact, the same spot has gone through many incarnations under its current Culinary Director of Rockpool Dining Group, Neil Perry. Prior to Eleven Bridge, the site housed Rockpool Est. 1989. What do all these restaurants have in common? Fine dining, with a Neil Perry twist.
If Jade Temple sounds like a familiar restaurant name, you might be getting confused with its sister restaurant, Spice Temple. Spice Temple is a Sydney institution that serves food inspired by cuisine from across Mainland China. They both offer shared, banquet style dishes and yes, they have a similar name. But Jade Temple focuses on classic dishes from Hong Kong and southern China. This was inspired by Neil Perry’s childhood trips to Haymarket and eating takeaway from suburban Chinese restaurants. As a result, you will find dishes like prawn toast and lemon chicken nestled beside haute cuisine like abalone and roast peking duck.
The décor at Jade Temple has been thoughtfully put together with a nostalgic colonial theme resonating throughout. The high ceilings are accentuated by bamboo shades to resemble sails and the wall space is taken up by large-scale traditional brush paintings. The remaining space is filled with paper screens and long tables lit with candles. It’s excessive but tasteful. We could probably do without the waitresses clad in traditional cheongsam dresses though and have the same impact.
Take a seat downstairs and look up. You’ll notice the second floor ideal for pre- or post-dinner drink. Perhaps a tiki-inspired cocktail from the menu which is based around mythical characters of Chinese folklore and crafted with Cantonese flavours.
There is a lot to take in but cast your eye to the menu. There is a good balance of meat, seafood and vegetables. We settle on a selection of dishes among the six of us and start with the not-to-be-missed Peking duck pancakes ($48). We quickly ran out of pancakes and had to order more. The duck wasn’t too greasy and the pancakes were paper thin.
Next, a selection of dumplings including a mix of vegetarian, seafood and pork options arrived. Whilst the lunch menu features a more extensive range of dim sum, for dinner they only offer a selection (chosen by the kitchen daily). “Dumpling master” Moon Kuen Ngb joined Jade Temple late last year, the chef was spotted by Rockpool alumni in Macau. His dumplings alone are one reason to return for yum cha lunch.
We ordered both the pipis (live from the tank $45 for 500g) and steamed snapper with ginger and shallot ($39). While the steamed snapper was on the small side for the price (and not easily shared), the Pipis were a fun dish to dive into.
Next came the heavier dishes including the stir fried cumin lamb with red and green chili ($39) complemented by a big bowl of pork and prawn fried rice ($19). To balance out the meat we also shared a side of vegetables, snowpeas with chinese black olive dressing ($16).
We could have skipped the lamb but the fried rice and veggies are a must. Two seemingly simple dishes which I get the feeling would be impossible to replicate at home. (My home at least!)
For dessert, we shared the incredibly rich chocolate and cherry mouse cake with hazelnut ice cream ($19) and fried ice cream with caramel sauce ($15). The Fried ice cream was the stand out with the caramel sauce arriving in a jug waiting to be poured over the ice cream.
To round the evening off, we finished with a selection of teas, an enjoyable part of the Jade Temple experience. The menu comes complete with the tea leaves showcased in the menu itself and a range of bespoke tea cups.
An evening of fine dining at Jade Temple is an extravagant experience worth the expense. There is tough competition for Chinese dining in Sydney (particularly as Mr Wong is right next door) but the décor, atmosphere and service makes dining at Jade Temple one to remember. Make a booking and be prepared to settle in for a long and enjoyable evening – we were there for 4 hours and time flew by.
11 Bridge Street, Sydney
02 9252 1888
Open Monday – Thursday: 12 – 3pm, 6 – 11pm Friday: 12 – 3pm, 5:30 -11pm Saturday: 5:30 – 11pm Sunday: 5:30 – 10pm