China Doll’s Chinese, Japanese and South East Asian menu may sound like a melting pot, but this isn’t fusion cuisine. The talented team of chefs come from right across the Asian continent and give due respect to the heritage of each dish.
The fine-diner is in a prime location on the Woolloomooloo Finger Wharf looking out over the harbour and twinkling city skyline. It’s operated here since 2004.
Equal parts sleek and informal, you’re just as likely to spot an old friend as a celebrity. White tablecloths are juxtaposed against generously portioned share plates. A distinctive blue-willow pattern – detailing a Chinese fable of an eloping couple transforming into doves – is a repeated motif, appearing on every plate and on the back feature-wall.
Head chef Frank Shek and his team deliver robust flavours to satisfy but not overwhelm the palate. Shek started working at his parents’ Chinese restaurant in Scotland at the age of six, and he’s been with China Doll since it started.
Although constantly evolving, the menu has several staple items that have earned a permanent place including the ocean trout sashimi; crispy pork belly with chilli caramel; Penang curry; and tea-smoked duck with tamarind and plum.
Fun-looking cocktails incorporate seasonal fruits and Asian ingredients. They’re always a good order. Otherwise there’s a decent wine list built around mid-price Australian bottles.