In addition to the triumph of his sandstone-enshrined restaurant, Rockpool (now in its 25th year of operation), executive chef Neil Perry and head chef Andy Evans have launched a yum cha menu at sister restaurant Spice Temple next week.
Until now, the menu – a wholeheartedly modern-Chinese affair – has focused on an interest in regional cooking, featuring dishes native to a handful of provinces. Avoiding standard Cantonese fare, the provinces of Sichuan, Yunnan, Hunan, Jiangxi, Guangxi and far-western Xinjiang provincial inflections all appear like the billing for a Hollywood blockbuster.
With the introduction of a lunchtime yum cha menu, however, Perry’s avoidance of commonly seen Cantonese fare has given way to a reinvigorated approach. Head chef Andy Evans is equally excited. “As much as yum cha is a Cantonese concept, I think what we're trying to do here at Spicy T is not to make it the same as every other Cantonese yum cha that's around,” he says.
With a saturation of Chinese food in Sydney, Perry and Evans hope to remodel a traditional Cantonese practice with a little less of the grease. “The last time Neil and I went to Honkers, everything kind of screamed freshness,” says Evans. Indeed, the pair have instituted some key changes to what Evans describes as his favourite dish: barbecued pork. “Instead of using lots of chemicals and lots of food colourings, we've relied on getting some really amazing free-range pork belly,” he says.
“We consider Spice Temple to be one of the best examples of modern regional Chinese cooking in Australia,” adds Perry, “this new yum cha menu will demonstrate the skill and diversity of our chefs and give our customers more reasons to return.” Head down for lobster siu mai, hot and fragrant prawns, Hunan-style BBQ pork buns and the perennial favourite - prawn toast.
The new yum cha menu – just like in the culture from which it takes its cue – is designed to be shared. “That's not to say that our [yum cha] is going to be the best in Sydney,” says Evans, “It's just really to say that ours is different.”
Spice Temple’s lunchtime yum cha menu launches on Monday June 23. Find out more at rockpool.com/spicetemplesydney/food