27 August 2013

Master Bowl Chinese Restaurant ~ Chinatown

We fight the queues and get a feed or three at the very popular Master Bowl Chinese Restaurant, Dixon Street Chinatown.

We've been walking past Master Bowl for months waiting for the crowds to clear but they never have. So we've resorted to visiting in off-peak times when we can get a table pretty much straight away. The big spicy 'Master Bowl' dish is the drawcard here. It's kind of like a hotpot without soup: choose your meat'n'veg and how spicy you would like it (or not at all). It is served in a wok style bowl which is made for sharing.

You could argue that the prices are steep for what you get in your 'Master Bowl', but it is freaking delicious and there is so much value in the experience. Sitting outside with with friends, chatting and picking out of the communal bowl is fun and relaxing. It's only a small restaurant and the tables turn over slowly, but the staff have never rushed us no matter how big the queue is. We love this place.

The Master Bowl starter package is $5 which is a base of onion, ginger, garlic, shallots and coriander. Choose how hot you want it in the first column in the top right corner, from no chili to to super hot. In the next column choose how much tongue numbing Szechuan pepper you would like. Below that choose what extras to put in. Fill it in and hand it to the wait staff who will check your homework before handing it to teacher.

A 'master bowl' with loads of veggies and some finely sliced pork belly. We end up paying around $35 a bowl which is plenty for two, you could easily stretch it between three or four people if you get rice and sides.

Here's a short video to give you an idea of what it's like in steaming real life! Warning: Watching this just makes you hungry.

Half the fun is picking out the goodies from the red chili wasteland at the bottom of the bowl. This is real social, folks sit around and pick'n'chat.

On an earlier visit we mixed up squid and veggies, a winning combo.

There's also a bunch of soups to try. This is #2 on the menu, it has no English name, only a list of ingredients: noodle (or rice noodle) soup with pickled veggies, bamboo shoots, spiced tofu skin, coriander, stewed beef in beef soup. It's nice and beefy with a real heat kick from the chili oil. $10.80.

House special Sichuan Dan Dan noodle - $9.80. This is a killer soup. It's quite spicy with chili oil and Szechuan pepper, and made creamy with some (we guess) peanut or sesame paste. The spicy sauce works wonders against the plain rice noodles. Fattening but utterly fantastic.

Hot and sour sweet potato Vermecilli - $10.80. This is a cold noodle dish made with translucent fat noodles, peanuts, a pile of raw minced garlic and a good splash of chilli oil. Leaves a smear of Sichaun chilli red lipstick over your lips as you eat.

Pot stewed egg - $1.50 per googie. A good little extra snack to throw in if you are really hungry. A nice scent and taste of soy in the egg white.

Sichuan style cold noodle with bean sprout and chili sauce - $8.80. Thin wheat noodles served cold, topped with shredded cucumber and crunchy peanuts. Mix the noodles around to get them coated with the sauce hiding undeneath, transforming them from simple cold noodles to a flavour wow. This is a generous serve of noodles, a great addition if you are really starving or good with the next dish...

House special spicy middle chicken wing - $6.50. We expected these little wingettes to be deep fried but they turned out to be more braised, with the meat falling off the tiny chicken wing bones. A good chilli base in the sauce perfect for mopping up with...

Deep fried green onion pancake - $3.60. More crispy than soft, share a few of these to add some stodge and for mopping up the juices.

Master Bowl Chinese Restaurant Menu - click enlarge...

Master Bowl Chinese Restaurant Menu - click enlarge...

Master Bowl Chinese Restaurant is at Shop 42, 1-7 Dixon Street, Chinatown, next to the intriguing N2 Extreme Gelato.

Sit outside unless you want to listen to a whole series of songs not uncommon on 'Love Song Dedications'.

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Master Bowl Chinese Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Master Bowl Chinese Restaurant

N2 Extreme Gelato on Urbanspoon

N2 Extreme Gelato


  1. That first master bowl looks friggin delicious. Lovely colours and exciting textures. mmm. Sounds like a fun concept too... few mates, few beers, kicking back over a steaming wok of goodness. Bliss.

    Did that hot and sour sweet potato vermicelli dish have much flavour other than garlic and chili? Those fat noodles have me intrigued (I'm imagining fat slippery Japchae-noodles ooh boy)

    Welcome back to the motherland, btw.

    1. That's exactly how this food should be eaten - with company and beers! Bliss indeed.
      The noodles had a pool of liquid on the bottom that was flavoursome, but the overwhelming taste was of chilli and garlic.
      Happy to be back, dreaming of the next trip already.


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