Situated just off Bondi Beach on vibrant Hall Street, China Diner is much larger than its inner-city counterparts, seating 200 and serving up some of the best modern Chinese food in Sydney. There are two sections to this Bondi Beach restaurant, a relaxed and social front bar with high top tables and booths, and a more formal dining area at the rear. There’s no right or wrong way to enjoy China Diner, as long as you’re there with a healthy appetite!
The cocktail list is strong and modern with a playful Asian twist. We couldn’t say no to the Jaded Buddha; with whisky, poached pears and lime juice. It was perfectly tart and really revved our engines for the feast ahead.
You see, the menu at China Diner in Bondi is most certainly a marathon, not a sprint, so it’s best to settle in with a nice bottle of wine from the extensive offering and work your way through the food menu, which is split into smalls, mediums, bigs, sides and desserts; so we definitely had our work cut out for us.
If we learnt anything from Maria Vonn Trapp, it’s that there’s no better place to start than at the very beginning, and we worked our way through the menu with the power of seven strong men. It would have been rude not to dabble in some of Sydney’s best dumplings, and the mixed steamed dumpling basket was the perfect way to get our fix. It was a close call, but the pork shu mai with scallop and nori was the standout. On the lighter side, the steamed QLD scallops with Vietnamese shallot dressing were zesty and moreish in the kind of way that you want to inhale at least twenty more.
Moving on to the mediums, we kept it light at first with the Filipino ceviche of kingfish with coconut, chilli and lime. It’s a dazzling mix of fresh and creamy, with that delicious hint of zest from the kaffir lime. And then we opted for the not so light in the form of incredibly succulent Indonesian sweet soy chicken wings with ginger, peanut and kaffir lime. It was the perfect balance of crunchy, sweet and zesty and there was not a care in the world about a face covered in sauce.
When the time came for mains, there was a combination of saintly and sinful, because everyone knows a healthy dish cancels out a decadent one. The Hainan chicken breast with ginger-shallot and chilli dressing was so perfectly silky and just the light taste we needed in between bites of what we can only describe as the best pork belly dish in Sydney. Seriously, these guys know how to do it: the masterstock pork belly with Thai chilli caramel and lime is a testament to the chefs at China Diner, and we would happily polish off a plate of this before casually asking for seconds. It’s just that good.
You could (read: should) totally top it off with the lamington for dessert: deep fried vanilla and strawberry jam ice cream with crunchy morsels of coconut and chocolate, washed down with Chinky’s espresso martini.
We suggest rolling home after this (not that you’ll have much choice), happily full and fantasising about your next visit to Bondi’s China Diner.
Image credit: Lisa Brooke