Our beloved Silk Road is no more, we try this new Yunnan style offering and it comes up trumps.
Spring River has popped up where Silk Road was on Thomas St, Chinatown. Gone are the vine leaves, replaced with koi wall decals and a bright new interior. While we are very sad to see Silk Road closed, the new space has some interesting new tastes from the Yunnan area of China.
The little side dishes on the menu are worth exploring to add some variety or just to snack on while you wait for your mains. Shredded uncooked (or even a little lightly cooked) potato might seem odd, but the bite and crunch of the thin shreds works well. $3.50
Tofu skin strips, lightly coated in sesame oil and mixed with bright coriander leaves, $3.50. This is a refreshing dish, perfect with a chilli hit or as a snack on a hot day.There's an excellent recipe here that we will be trying at home over summer.
The house speciality as written up on the front windows. What a great way to entice people in to try new dishes, it worked on us. Yunnan Cross-Bridge Rice Noodle Soup, also known as 'crossing the bridge noodles' is one of those fabled dishes with multiple stories on it's origin.
Lots of different meats and vegetables are laid out on little dishes to throw into the steaming pot of soup to your taste. The same deal as a hot pot except the soup isn't on a burner. Don't forget to add the quail egg first.
Spoon out the rice noodles at the end, the soup gets more flavoursome as the different ingredients mix together.
Pancake with extra crispy pancake inside and sliced sausages, like frankfurters. This reminds us of the breakfast pancake we had in Shanghai (which we now know was not Taiwanese, we got confused as the street where we ate it was called Taiwan Street!)
Yunnan pork. The 'on rice' dishes are good value and a generous size for a quick lunch or dinner. There's plenty of shredded vegetables, black fungus and shreds of thinly sliced pork, even a few chopped up yellow noodles thrown in too.
Handmade noodles with sweetbean paste and cucumber. An extra dash of vinegar goes well on this dish. Mix it all together to taste.
Sometimes there's one dish that screams out to be tried, even though it defies all your eating sensibilities. Fried sweet corn - and man is this sweet. It is fried in a thin batter and then coated in sugar! When mixed with the sauce from the shredded pork there was a great caramel effect. One for the sweet tooths.
Handmade noodles with chilli. Room temperature noodles served with a coating of chilli and fresh veggies to lighten the spice load. Not overly spicy for our tastes.
Lamb Skewers, 6 for $13.50 or $2.50 each. Good sized hunks of lamb, you can order with or without chilli.
East Beijing pork pancake, a flat patty of pork mince with layers of pancake in between. Dip it into anything saucy you have ordered for extra flavour.
Beef noodle soup, a good hearty beef broth with large chunks of beef and a good mix of vegetables.
It's not too often we order a spicy soup and it's just too much. Even the waitress here tells us she eats it less spicy when we admit defeat, it's just too chilli red hot for us. The pieces of fish and the slices of luncheon meat work well, like a spicy hotpot, but the soup is a burner. Order at your own risk.
Lamb cumin pancake, classic fare.
Egg and leek pancake, fried egginess with fresh green onions inside.
Mixed pickles vegetables, a crunchy assortment of carrot, radish, cabbage, ginger slices and pickled little green chillis for $3.50 . Etiquette tip: when biting down on pickled chillis, don't squirt chilli juice into your partners eye. Sorry Shawn.
Shredded pork in sweatbean paste with pancakes. The paste makes the pork quite salty, but mixing together with the shredded green onions and rolling one up cuts the salty levels down and balances the flavour.
Serving suggestion. Dollop, scatter, roll and munch.
Steamed fish on a bed of tofu $14.50. There's a fifteen minute wait for this one, but the result is worth it. Tender flaky white fish fillets steamed on top of slices of tofu. The sauce has a squirt of oil and soy which adds to the fish for a wonderful sauce.
Spring River is at Shop 2/203 Thomas St Haymarket. Phone 02 9211 5881.
First thing you know I'll be back in Bow River again...