The Gardens by Lotus
This teahouse in the Chinese Garden of Friendship serves dumplings and tea during the day before switching to a Sichuan menu at night.
Visiting the Chinese Garden of Friendship is one of those Sydney activities you probably don't do very often — if at all. But that might soon change now that the garden's traditional teahouse (yes, there's a teahouse hidden in there) has reopened. It's been taken over by Sydney's Lotus Dining Group and boasts a new menu of dim sum, dumplings and drinks. And, in a new addition, it's open at night, too.
Previously the teahouse had a basic offering of dumplings, salads and sweets, but, with the Lotus team in the kitchen, things have been taken up a notch. The daytime menu features the group's dependable dumpling menu — scallop siu mai, pork and prawn wontons and steamed shiitake mushrooms included — alongside Hainan chicken and a salt and pepper tofu salad. The eight-piece dim sum platter ($24) could be a good mid-meditation snack. Coffee, dessert and booze are all available as well.
Excitingly, the eatery is also open for dinner from 6pm. This will see the venue switch from teahouse to full-blown Sichuan restaurant, supplementing the dumpling offering with more substantial meals including cured duck and fried chilli mud crab.
The teahouse itself is heritage listed, so it hasn't undergone as extensive renovation — just a few minor refurbishments. Nab a seat on the terrace for an ultra tranquil dumpling experience, or inside at the bar. There is also a new private event space, which can seat up to 24 of your closest mates.
We'd rank this as a pretty great way to escape the city without leaving it — especially now that top-notch dumplings are part of the equation.