Old Town on Barangaroo

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

With the opening of the new tunnel connecting Wynyard to Barangaroo, it's now a whole lot easier to access Sydney's newest harbourside precinct. The dining and retail portion of the area is marketed as 'The Streets of Barangaroo', and walking through the clean, modern streets gives rise to the exciting feeling of exploring a newly developed community.

Barangaroo is home to a score of new restaurants, which are scattered around the area's few main walkways. I was recently invited to dinner at the new Old Town on Barangaroo as part of I Ate My Way Through's month-long 10th birthday celebrations. 

Old Town on Barangaroo is located on the main strip of Barangaroo Avenue, at the end of Mercantile Walk. Unlike it's sister Chinatown restaurant, Old Town on Dixon, this dining venue has a slightly more modern, open feel to it, with floor to ceiling glass windows that allow natural light to flood in during the day. The menu here offers more innovative, contemporary dishes that appeal to the Barangaroo market, as well as traditional Cantonese dishes and BBQ meats.

Behind the glass-fronted kitchen hang glistening whole roasted ducks, soy sauce chickens and Char Siu pork. Cooked fresh every day, these are offered on the menu in a number of different ways - as a half or whole serving, with a side of rice (a la your local Cantonese BBQ shop), in homemade lotus buns, or tossed in a noodle stir fry. 

Old Town Peking duck in homemade bun
Peking duck has a shiny, shard-like golden skin that protects a relatively chunky piece of meat, with little to no fat in sight. The skin is paper thin and crunches upon first bite, a tell-tale sign of good Peking duck. Unlike other versions I've had, there is no skimping on the meat here, with a very high meat to skin ratio. It's served in a fluffy, pillow-like bun with batons of spring onion, cucumber and a special homemade special sauce that is made from a concoction of 6 different sauces. 

Pan fried pork dumplings in bird's nest
Pan-fried dumplings arrive disguised under a golden web of caramelised pan juices

Flip the delicate nest over to reveal plump, pork-filled specimens that have a little bit of soup hidden inside. 

Chrysanthemum bean curd soup with pipis in shell
Clear chrysanthemum soup is imbued with the subtle flavour of pipis, goji berries and herbs. Lurking in the nourishing broth is a delicate, soft bean curd blossom that is hand cut to resemble a flower. I find great amusement in the fact that it wobbles with slightest nudge. The soup is very cleansing, and the taste of the chrysanthemum is not overpowering at all. Dig around to find a couple of pipis in their shell, which you can gleefully suck out and devour. 

Pan fried scallops
Scorched scallops come with a fresh watercress and beansprout salad and peppery, tangy sauce. The sauce is is good enough to keep aside and dip almost anything into! 

Pan fried diced beef in red wine sauce
Succulent beef pieces are stir fried with the unusual pairing of red wine, which permeates the meat and is cooked out to leave behind a subtle richness is really quite delicious. The meat is coated in a glossy sheen and piled into a paper-thin, battered basket that softens upon contact with the full-bodied sauce. It's a thoughtful presentation that adds a nice layer of texture to the dish.

Old Town Crispy Chicken
This fried chicken is a winner in my books. Don't mistake it for the Korean variety; Old Town's version has a thinner, lightly seasoned batter that forms a protective casing around the most succulent, moist chicken meat. The bite sized pieces some piping hot, with a fiery, sweet and sour dipping sauce. So. Darn. Good. 

Stir fried chilli prawns in wok
Prawns, calamari, octopus and capsicum are tossed with the numbing hotness of dried whole chillies. It's not a wet stir fry as such, and not as spicy as it looks, but the aromatics do create a tongue-tingling sauce that coats every piece. Spring onion and capsicum adds body, and it would be quite nice with a bowl of rice. 

Diced seafood in sauce on baked pumpkin
This culinary innovation was a highlight of the night, consisting of a half baked butternut pumpkin stuffed with fried rice. If that's not enough to tickle your interest, the whole lot is topped with a creamy, vibrant yellow seafood sauce that is cooked using the baked pumpkin flesh. It most certainly looks like a grand centerpiece, but the flavours are far from over the top. 

The cooked pumpkin flesh is scooped out and mixed with a touch of cream to create the most luscious, smooth, thick sauce that is laced with nuggets of soft prawn, calamari and diced scallops. 

Underneath this thick blanket is a layer of smoky fried rice. It's very good eaten as is, and even better when mixed in with the sweet, comforting pumpkin sauce. The pumpkin has been baked just enough so that the skins softens and becomes edible, but still provides a sturdy base for the mountain of fried rice. Eaten all in the one mouthful, it translates to a luxurious, comforting sweet mess that is oh so addictive. A unique dish perfect for sharing among a bigger group. 

Mango pudding
Classic mango pudding has a yakult-like flavour and a light, smooth texture provided by the addition of evaporated milk. 

It's a crowd-pleasing dessert that you really can't go wrong with.  

Mango pancakes
Dispersed among a beautifully array of hand-sculpted fruits are plump, folded mango pancakes. The pancake itself is perfectly thin, smooth and slightly stretchy (as all good mango pancakes should be), although I would have loved a bit more mango inside. 

Old Town on Barangaroo embodies the atmosphere of and philosophy behind the new Barangaroo precinct. It's draws upon traditional roots to reinvigorate Cantonese cuisine in a way that celebrates the unity of old and new.


Old Town on Barangaroo Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

I was lucky enough to dine as a guest, however all opinions are my own.

You Might Also Like