For a long time, the only specialty dishes from north-east China readily available in Sydney were crispy bottom dumplings, sweet-and-sour-sauced meats and cumin-heavy lamb dishes. Then The Northeast Restaurant opened, exposing us to the diversity of fare from this northern corner of China.

The menu is a tome of dishes that have received precious little airplay in Australia. What about a platter of smoked pork – heart, tail, tongue and brain all included – with Chinese corn bread? Or maybe a salad of jelly-like mung bean noodles with shredded cucumber, carrot and pork, covered in a tahini-esque soy-and-sesame sauce? There are more straightforward options too – we like the braised eggplant, and the pork and cabbage dumplings.

If there are a few of you, tackle a hotpot. It’s hearty, enormous and poured into a giant bowl inlaid into the table. Add whatever extras you want to the soup, and get a canned herbal tea on the side. Don’t expect the best service though – the wait for dishes can be long, and if you don’t speak Mandarin ordering can be tricky.

The fit-out is kooky, replete with vintage electronics, quirky murals, loud pink wallpaper and indoor straw-roofed huts. Some aspects borrow from China’s north-east, the rest is just a bit of fun.

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Updated: February 9th, 2021

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