After more than 15 years of power lunches and refined dinners on Bligh Street, Spice Temple still serves some of the finest examples of regional Chinese food you’ll find in Sydney. This luxurious underground spot is a world away from the unfussy Australian-Chinese joints cast in crime noir cinema. Dark timber tables, lipstick-red banquettes and dramatic lighting create a sense of occasion, which up to 12 guests can really dial up in the intimate private dining room.

While Cantonese cuisine is the focus for many Chinese restaurants in town, executive chef Andy Evans looks to the provinces of Yunnan, Hunan, Jiangxi, Guangxi, Xinjiang and Sichuan. Here dried spices and fiery chillies (perhaps salted, pickled, brined or fermented) add oomph to dishes – the hottest of which are printed on the menu in red. As well as temperature, the menu is a balance of textures, from slippery prawn wontons bathing in black vinegar, to crisp fried chicken wings with heaven-facing chillies.

One of two banquets is the best way to experience the breadth of the menu. Likewise, a wine pairing informed by the restaurant’s versatile cellar – anchored mainly by French and Australian varieties – is a good idea. But if you’re keen to start strong, a Sichuan Negroni or something from the Zodiac-inspired drinks list will put you on the right foot. However you choose to explore it, this is one temple that deserves devotion.

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Updated: January 17th, 2024

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