If you're used to frequenting Spice Temple, shed any preconceived ideas you might have of Neil Perry's newest Chinese venture. At Jade Temple — located a mere 500 metres from its sister restaurant — you won't be sweating over Sichuan-spiked hot pots. You won't need your iPhone light to read the menu. And you'll probably recognise a significant number of the dishes from your trips to suburban Chinese restaurants.
Jade Temple's gold and red-accented grandeur is breathtaking — two floors elegantly fitted out with dark polished floors, huge Chinese art prints, modern bamboo lanterns and a yellow-hued mood so relaxed you could have sworn you'd just walked into a meditation class by mistake. The menu? Expect dishes you'd see at your favourite Cantonese local, but with a Neil Perry twist (and higher price tags).
If you go for lunch, yum cha is on the menu, and it offers all the classics: pork xiao long bao ($12), pork and prawn siu mai ($12) and egg tarts ($12). If we had to pick one dish, though, we'd go for the BBQ pork puffs ($15). The pastry is delicate and flaky, and the sweet and savoury pork filling moreish. A word of warning: they're addictive. There's three in a serve, so if you're not good at sharing you might want to order a plate to yourself. And if you can't yum cha without duck, looking to the Peking variety with pancakes — it'll set you back a cool $48.
Mains are the usual suspects: honey prawns ($36), kung pao chicken ($34) and fried rice with pork and prawns ($19). All very tasty and presented beautifully. Their tank options are worth trying, too. If you don't usually order from the live menu, here's how it works: choose your seafood, pick a sauce and add steamed or fried noodles ($4) if you wish. The 250 grams of fresh pipis ($25) cooked in XO sauce and served with fried noodles is a dish you'll want to steal and replicate at home. The noodles are crisp and the pipis are huge and meaty. If decisions aren't your strong point — we don't judge — look to the banquet options (starting at $75pp).
Need a drink to wash down all those noodles? The cocktails will impress. But, unlike the food, don't expect to find the classics. Named after Chinese fables, Jade Temple's cocktails are fruity and refreshing. Our favourite is The Huli Jing ($18) with lychee and lemongrass soda, gin, yuzu sake and pineapple. If you've got the cash to splash, try the Swiss Trois Pepins Sec cider for $95 (from 750ml). Otherwise a Tsing Tao ($11) will do just fine.
Jade Temple is a welcome addition to Bridge Street — it's flashy, tasty and the perfect place to schmooze clients over lunch — but with Haymarket mere kilometres away, it'll be interesting to see if Sydneysiders choose to fork out for the luxury of fine-dining service and more refined fare over the cheaper, Chinese favourites up the road.
Images: Tom Ferguson