Mr Wong is yet another Sydney institute that needs no introduction. The golden child of the Merivale empire, it sits in a back alley near Bridge St, where it famously pumps out modern Cantonese fare with enough of an international slant to be universally appealing. The beautiful decor makes it as much a place to be seen as it is, a place to dine. If you’re lucky, you might spy an A-lister celebrity at the next table over, chowing down on a dumpling or two.
Hiramasa kingfish (gifted)
I’m here on a Sunday afternoon with the usual suspects and their significant others. It’s a meal that required two weeks of notice before the stars can finally align. First off the bat is the hiramasa kingfish. It’s wonderfully fresh and plump, with an understated seasoning of sweet wasabi, soy and ginger dressing. Truly a strong reminder that good kingfish should never be subservient to salmon, its often more popular sashimi cousin.
Wild mushroom dumpling $12 for 3 pieces
You really can’t do Mr Wong without sampling some of their dumplings. While they’re comparatively pricey little parcels, the error is in thinking they could even be compared. The workmanship that goes into these, coupled with the quality of the ingredients, makes these dumplings unlike any other in Sydney, (that’s right, it’s a different league to your go-to family yum cha joint). I’ve had the wild mushroom dumplings many times in the past and the filling is always so meaty and flavoursome, even a carnivore would overlook its vegetarian status.
Sea scallops (gifted)
Another raw starter made its way to our table, in the form of these scallops, with pickled daikon, green tomato and white soy. It was interesting how it has a very similar vibe to the kingfish, but utilised different types of savoury and sour condiments. We were surprised at how plentiful this portion is, with enough for seconds, and even thirds for some of us.
Lobster & scallop dumpling $15 for 3 pieces
The march of the dumplings continue with decadence, this time with two heroes from under the sea. A bit of a riff off the usual har gow (prawn dumpling), these are a definite notch up with a much more pronounced fresh seafood crunch in each bite that isn’t gummy, which some har gow can be. Being the hopeless glutton I am, what I like most is that they are a generous size that is so much more filling than skin.
Pork xiao long bao $12 for 4 pieces
I didn’t have this but as informed by the rest, the filling is much tastier than the famed Din Tai Fung however, the skin isn’t as thin.
Deep fried eggs (Price forgotten)
Our foray into mains territory is off to a tremendously good start with this xxx. Where is the support group for people who can’t get enough of fried eggs? I definitely do not mean the cooked so hard the chicken that would have been resurrected at the injustice, only to die again (a la my boarding school’s cuisine), but ones that are fried at such high temperatures, with full wok dexterity, to deliver something that can be so fluffy and so cripsy all at the same time.
This deep fried behemoth is soaked in XO sauce, spanner crab and is then also gifted with the presence of yau char kwai (or yoo tiao, depending on what kind of Chinese you are). So many elements at play, yet they play so nicely together, creating a flavour and texture explosion. Loong tells me he is fast about to remove this item from the menu, only because no one is ordering it. Guys, order it.
Stir fried snow peas and broccoli $22
We never pass up a good opportunity for vegetables. Besides, they’re nice to nibble on while you’re taking a break from the heavier dishes on the table. These stir fried greens that are coated in garlic and rice wine, absolutely hit the spot for us and made us feel better for a deep fried life choices.
Steam fish fillets with black bean, chili & Shaoxing $38
It was hard to hide my disappointment when we weren’t able to get a whole fish for the table, but fillets may be the next best thing. These were tender and the good kind of flaky. Portion-wise they are a little small but this goes mostly unnoticed because of how much we had ordered.
Egg noodle lo mein with truffle and enoki (gifted)
I’ve spent so much time editing this blog post (and it is so delayed) but my jaw still drops every time I scroll past this photo. The truffle phenomenon seems to get more and more obnoxious every winter, but this dish brings it back home and adequately captures the spirit of the season. Simplicity firstly, to allow the sophisticated aroma of the truffle to shine through. Innovation next, because Australia is nothing without its diverse East meets West cuisines. I also rather liked how dispersed the enoki mushrooms were, almost as to play hide-and-seek amongst the noodles so you never know if you’ll get an al dente bite or a slightly earthy and stringier one. I’d love more mushrooms to be included into this!
Roasted Angus beef shortrib “Shandong style”, soy, chilli & shallot dressing $49
We ordered the beef as a bit of an afterthought, unsure what else to pick, and thinking we needed a token red meat dish. The end pieces are bit tough, but inch in closer towards the middle for better fat to meat ratios. I’m not particularly enamoured with this dish but I’m not usually one for red meat anyway. Even priced at that amount, it’s still a huge serve, one that takes true strength in our teams to finish.
It’s hard to not want to buy in to Merivale businesses when they all look so damn good. But the beauty in Mr Wong is that it’s not just skin-deep, the cuisine is genuinely great. Even amidst the cacophony, the flagrant bacchical nature of the patrons that occupy the spaces around you, one only needs to nibble thoughtfully at one of its artfully made dumplings, before the room is reduced to quiet humming, and it is just you and the food.