The Hong Kong Diner has Cantonese-style Hawker cuisine specializing in yum cha dining. The pork buns are light and fluffy with an ample serve of sweetly spiced barbecue pork. The prawn dumplings were fresh and delicate, the prawn and chicken shui mai dim sims were bright and spicy and I enjoyed the hearty, fresh wonton soup, chock full of wontons in a tasty broth. Although the crab meat spring rolls were oily the pastry wrapping was crunchy crisp.
Alex Lee’s Kitchen, which has restored my love of roti, is at the opposite end of Spice Alley. I recommend the roti beef rendang combination. The beef is well seasoned but not overheated with light flakey roti served in one piece to be torn up to your liking. The combo includes half a boiled egg, a small serve of veggies in a mild coconut curry and a sweet chutney side. Delicious! The chicken curry in the same combo is also great if you don’t mind a few bones. A regular “today’s special” is salt and pepper squid which cooled down too quickly in the open air to be really enjoyable. The ginger and shallot chicken, although not mouthwatering, was tasty though a tad mild, and I would have liked more vegetables. The gado gado is satisfying vegetarian fare with a delicious satay sauce and lightly cooked vegetables although the reheated potato was a disappointment.
A downside to Spice Alley is that it’s located in a secretive back lane behind Kensington Street and nearby parking is limited. Additionally the Kitchen’s popularity makes it difficult to get a table particularly at busy times.
Value: Great. You can feast at either vendor for $25 per head.
Staff/ambience: Staff don’t really figure in the equation but the venue is HIP. Rumours are that Shepard Fairey, the Contemporary American street artist and the creative force behind the OBEY label, graced the walls with samples of his work while in Sydney recently.
With family: Kid friendly, bright and colourful with many options.
With friends: At 6pm on a cold winter night it’s a definite yes. At 7:30pm on a warm Friday night finding a table for a group might be difficult.
With a date: A definite YES but do a solo visit first or you could look awkward.
Summary: Can’t wait to try the other vendors. The fragrances drifting from neighbouring tables had my head turning and I’m planning on becoming a regular.ny hunger pangs particularly before a big night out.