Raised above street level, behind Burger King and New World Metro on Swanson Street in the CBD, is a new eatery calling itself "affordable luxury Asian fusion." And that's not too far off the mark.
Chamate takes the idea of quick lunch break to a whole other level — you can forget about eating that $15 sandwich in the lunchroom. The long dining room is bright and modern; natural light spews in from a massive glass window that overlooks the street and the roof displays a mishmash of sparking chandeliers. The furnishings look Scandinavian and the soundtrack of choice is soft inoffensive jazz. It's very pleasant. In this instance the entire dining experience was complete within half an hour.
With more than 20 years of cooking experience, the chef incorporates flavours from all across China. His menu includes beef noodles from Lanzhou, water boiled fish from Sichuan, big dish chicken noodles from Xinjiang and dim sum from Guangzhou and Shanghai. You'll also find familiar classics like mapo tofu, kungpao chicken and spicy Chinese hamburger.
Hand-pulled noodles are the big drawcard and every so often your meal will be interrupted by the sound of long, stringy dough being slapped against the kitchen bench. The engine room is completely open so you can also see the action unfold — offering diners both lunch and a show.
Lunch sets start at $10.80 for a loaded plate, including your main stirfry choice, plus rice, egg and vegetables. The signature Chamate Chicken is listed as 'butter chicken' but this isn't your average florescent orange slop. The dish comprises fried chicken morsels in a sweet, spicy and buttery sauce. The egg comes scrambled in a tomato relish, the vegetables (currently: onion, courgette, celery, peanuts), are chilled and serve as a nice palate cleanser from the spice of the chicken, and the rice is rice.
Elsewhere on the affordable daytime menu there's peppered lamb rack, spicy boiled fish and curry chicken with pickle. Whatever your choice, the turnaround will likely be lighting quick. We're talking 10 minutes from ordering to arrival.
It's not just lunch on offer at Chamate; the restaurant is also open from 10.30am for breakfast through until 9.30pm everyday for dinner.