When you’re at Crown Casino in Melbourne on a Saturday night, you’re pretty spoilt for choice on where to eat. You have all the big names nearby – Nobu, Rockpool, Guillaime and so many more. However one dining option that caught the attention of Carly, Liz and I on this night was Spice Temple, Neil Perry’s dedication to Asian and all things chilli.
I’ve read the reviews, and I have to say I can see why there’s some confusion from diners. This is a non-Asian chef cooking traditional flavours and promoting the restaurant as a yum cha venue. However luckily for me, I went for the dinner experience which was a more interesting menu that offered a diverse range of dishes to choose from.
In case you haven’t picked this up from my previous posts, I love chilli. Love the fire burn in my mouth and the way the heat can subside bit by bit as you continue to eat. This place should have been perfect for me but alas my dining companions are not chilli fans at all so we stuck to the milder side of the menu. But that was okay, we still were here after all.
We start our meal with the Tea Smoked Duck with Mandarin Pancakes, Cucumbers, Spring Onion and Hoisin Sauce ($45). Excuse the terrible photos, this place (like Rockpool, another Neil Perry creation) is ridiculously dim in lighting which makes taking photos almost impossible.
This dish normally needs 24 hour notice for pre-order but on this occasion we’re lucky enough to have it as a special for the evening.
Similar to peking duck, this is a dish where you wrap the meat and vegetables in the wafer thin pancakes with hoisin sauce accompanying. The duck is juicy and you can definitely taste the tea-smoked element; the fresh spring onion and cucumber offering an alternate flavour and texture profile. This is the dish of the night and it is highly recommended if you ever come down here.
Liz suggests for we try the Stir Fried Grass Fed Beef Fillet with Wok Blistered Peppers and Black Bean ($45) which comes out steaming and smelling incredible. The beef is tender and wonderful quality; the black bean flavour incredible. It is a somewhat small serving though considering the price but I guess that’s what you expect from a restaurant at the casino.
Carly and I are both craving vegies so we settle on the Chinese Broccoli with House Made Oyster Sauce ($12). They’re cooked just right and have a nice freshness to their rather plain flavour. However the oyster sauce is too bland and there’s definitely not enough in the serving. For something I eat often, I have to say I’m pretty let down by this dish.
For three people, we ordered just the right amount of food with some rice accompanying ($3pp). The flavours for the most part were really enjoyable but I do have to question if it’s worth the accompanying price tag. However that said, I do want to come back here next time I’m in Melbourne with someone who loves chilli because there are some menu items (those in red are the extra hot ones) I really want to try.