We follow up on a reader tip (thanks Jack!) on Gourmet Terrace in Ultimo, only to discover it has changed hands and changed name to Chang Chun Restaurant. It still looks pretty much the same, a hole-in-the-wall restaurant in a crumbling terrace.
We suspect many readers won't share our excitement for this place, but fellow China travelers will fall instantly in love with Chang Chun Restaurant. It reminds us vividly of the little mum'n'pop restaurants we've been to in China. It's run by a lovely couple who speak not a word of English. The lovely chef lady wears one of those red cheque aprons that restaurant ladies wear in China, with full length sleeves and pockets on the front. On our second visit hubby sat outside with a tops old Chinese uncle, playing Xiangqi, Chinese chess, on a rustic hand carved wooden set, slapping down pieces with the traditional gusto. On a still afternoon it was just like being in China. The only thing missing was beer in tiny little plastic cups.
Unlike China the menu is in English, complete with pictures and some breathtaking Chinglish. Sometimes there's a younger bloke helping out who speaks restaurant English, between bouts of Dota on his laptop.
While we're on the subject of restaurant English, we get upset when we read restaurant review sites such as Eatability (whingability) where people complain that the staff don't speak English. What are they crazy? We find in general that the less English is spoken, the more 'like home' the food is.
Chang Chun Restaurant is named after the city way up in China's north-east, hence the food is northern in style, with handmade noodles, dumplings, cold salads, stews and stir fries. There's quite a few dishes we have never tried before, nothing gets us more excited than that.
With one lady doing the cooking the food can take a while to come out, but it's worth the wait. And it's a bit disorganised too (twice we've visited without managing to get served), but there's plenty of smiles. If Chang Chun sounds like your cup of cha then we recommend trying it now because it's the kind of joint that could disappear overnight. We're planning several revisits but we're putting this post up now to give them a plug.
Now and again we wonder why we bother writing this blog, food blogging is a ridiculous hobby. But if at least one person out there gets the same kick out of Chang Chung Restaurant that we do, then it's all worth it.
Seafood facial lump soup - about $8. The soup is equally as wonderful as the name.The white cloudy broth is plain and subtle in flavour, perfect for a bloke with a winter cold. It has some little pieces of squid and dried prawns, veggies and black fungus.
The 'facial lumps' are little doughy clumps, a nice change to noodles. Again these are plain but cooked just so. This reminds us of something you might find in a little mum'n'pop shop somewhere in the boondocks of China, simple and homely but perfectly cooked.
Coke chicken wings - $14.80. This is another dish we order for because of it's name. We've read this is a popular home dish in China, soy sauce and Coca-Cola cook down into a lovely dark, sweet, thick sauce.
Stir fried dry tofu with capsicum - $9.80. Tofu skins tossed with plenty of garlic, salt, capsicum and a few bitey chilis. This has a nice clean flavour, it's a good counter to the Coke chicken wings.
Chang chun takeaway menu - click to enlarge.
Chang chun takeaway menu - click to enlarge. Sorry it's crumpled.
Chang Chun Restaurant is at 12 Mary Ann Street Ultimo (a couple of streets back from the UTS). If you are so inclined a bevvy at the nearby Lord Wolseley Hotel is recommended.
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