Din­ing per­fec­tion to a tea

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - FRONT PAGE - Graeme Phillips

WRIT­TEN ON TEA – CITY

135 Bathurst St Li­censed/ BYO; lunch and din­ner daily from 11.30am to 9.30pm. Take­aways. 6234 9989

WRIT­TEN on Tea has gone up­town and up­mar­ket in all but its prices. In an elegant cream and black makeover of a pre­vi­ously non­de­script store front, the ta­bles are well spaced, each with an at­trac­tive Chi­nese ta­ble run­ner, the chairs are com­fort­able, there’s a large func­tion room which dou­bles as a ta­ble ten­nis and karaoke room when not in use, a much more spa­cious kitchen than in the Sandy Bay es­tab­lish­ment and Re­becca Cong’s pride and joy – three beau­ti­fully ap­pointed in­side toi­lets. And, in ad­di­tion to her smile, you are now greeted at the door by a cou­ple of Chi­nese stylised li­ons, part of the as- yet un­com­pleted restau­rant dec­o­ra­tion.

While Sandy Bay is as good and pop­u­lar as ever, the new city chef, Mr Chen, from Mel­bourne, has in­tro­duced an ar­ray of new dishes to dis­tin­guish the two menus.

For 13 of us shar­ing what­ever dishes Re­becca brought, our meal started with what she said was a tra­di­tional Chi­nese nib­ble, peanuts boiled with salt and star anise – so good they were ad­dic­tive, and fi nished with an off- menu spe­cial of stir fried mus­sels in a lip­stick­ing black bean sauce.

In be­tween came Writ­ten on Tea’s sig­na­ture dish of dry- fried beans with minced pork and spicy sauce, a beau­ti­ful hot pot of eg­g­plant and beef, duck three dif­fer­ent ways, chicken and crispy salted wings, slip­pery buns, and pork and cab­bage dumplings, plus dishes of as­sorted veg­eta­bles and fungi in their own gar­lic and bean sauces.

Al­to­gether a fab­u­lous feast and, work­ing out at $ 23 a head with­out wine, surely one of the city’s ex­cep­tional bargains.

On a sec­ond visit, four of us dou­bled up on those peanuts, beans and mus­sels and added stir- fried cab­bage with shred­ded duck, a del­i­cate Can­tone­ses­tyle steamed “snap­per’’ served whole in a gin­ger and spring onion sauce and won­der­fully salt- crumbed and crunchy, per­fectly cooked king prawns.

And the dishes on those two vis­its were only a sam­pling of the ex­ten­sive 43- item menu run­ning from dumplings, noo­dles and soups through chicken, duck, seafood, pork, lamb and beef hot pots, vegetarian and fi ve dif­fer­ent fried rice dishes, plus a cou­ple of desserts.

The lun­cheon menu is shorter and cheaper and the ad­e­quate wine list even in­cludes a sweet­ish Ital­ian Lam­br­usco, which Re­becca says is per­fect with some of the salty, spicy

menu dishes. I’ll take her word for it. But cer­tainly a slightly off dry Tas­ma­nian reis­ling and a young, fresh Tassie sauv blanc were ideal through­out both meals.

Price guide: Dumplings 12 for $ 12; soups $ 6-$ 15; fried rice $ 14; and the re­main­ing dishes be­tween $ 7 and $ 25, with the snap­per $ 35; fi ve pieces of Pek­ing duck $ 20; and a half/ whole Nan­jing duck $ 26/$ 46. BYO cork­age $ 3 a glass. No credit cards.

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