Cuisine: Asian, Chinese, Fusion
Location: Northbridge, Lake St (near the piazza)
If you eat out a lot and use Dimmi, you start to rack up a lot of points and $50 vouchers. Fortunately they’ve expanded the list of restaurants you can use the vouchers at and I was keen on trying Darlings Supper Club so I booked a table there. Darlings Supper Club are a late night eatery offering a fusion between Asian / Chinese cuisine with Australian elements. An example is dumplings paired with kangaroo. A unique concept but still sticking to the roots of Asian cuisine, the menu is designed for sharing and follows the mantra of many restaurants nowadays – a menu for sharing. This is another restaurant by Andy Freeman, who also owns Varnish on King where I’ve enjoyed some excellent meals. The venue is really lovely and relaxing and the service was excellent, in particular, the lady who took care of us for most of the night. We placed our order and the dishes start being served in no particular order which is fine by me (why didn’t I ask for dessert first?).
King prawn, ginger, shallot, kaffir lime, vinaigrette (deep fried) $10
First up were the prawn dumplings which presented a lovely crunchy deep fried exterior, slightly chewy pastry giving nice texture before encountering the soft prawn flesh. The flavour was enhanced by the dipping sauce which had a nice emphasis on citrus, a slight sourness balanced by a touch of spiciness. This first dish is really authentic and channels Asian cuisine to a tee. They’ve really got the balance right and the dipping sauce is a major part of that.
Kangaroo, fig, black pepper, plum sauce (steamed) $10
The kangaroo steamed dumplings were also delicious, soft, meaty, maybe a touch gamey, but tasty. They were served with another delicious sauce, this time plum, nicely balanced, not too sweet, complimenting the dish well.
Sweet & Sour Pork Bao buns, Asian herbs, seasonal leaves, smoked aioli (each) $8
The sweet and sour pork contained nice soft tender pork but the flavour was a little muted. Dipping it on the plum sauce added a touch of oomph which made the dish more enjoyable. The bun is a little like steamed buns but not sticky. It’s very soft but firm enough to hold together. I’m seeing more of these types of buns since eating them for the first time at Mr Bun.
Darlings roast duck & king prawn nasi goreng, fried egg – wok, rice $28
The initial spoonful of nasi goreng carried a delicious flavour but towards the end there was an overpowering flavour at the back of the mouth which impacted the dish. It also was a bit salty which detracted from the flavour. A squeeze of lemon would have been good. I might have missed out but I didn’t get any roast duck nor prawns.
Soft shell crab, quinoa, green paw paw, nahm jim $23
The soft shell crab is a personal favourite and this version was pretty tasty with a lovely fresh Asian salad. Each of the salads has been different and the flavours unique. The crab isn’t rich but the salad is perfect and nearly steals the show.
Indonesian spiced corn fritters – perkedel jagung $18
The corn fritters were unique and carried a lovely flavour, crunch, and richness. They’re very large in size and were significantly enhanced by a squeeze of lime providing much needed acidity to balance the richness. A really tasty green papaya salad was also present which had lovely fresh flavours and was a welcome addition. A very cleverly balanced dish.
Darlings dangerous “kung pow” chicken, hot chilli & peanuts. Extra spicy! $26
The kung pow chicken is supposed to be really spicy but I didn’t find it that hot, till I got an extremely hot chili which burnt the back of my tongue, for a long time. By then I was pretty full and I didn’t exactly look forward to more eating. The dish contained different flavours to what one might expect giving a unique flavour profile. Unfortunately, it was let down by being considerably over salted. Some parts of the dish and particularly the tender chicken, were perfect, others, overpowered by saltiness which is a shame.
Miso pana cotta, salted caramel foam & peanut praline $14
Lots of crunchy, chew for long time, caramel peanut brittle. Eventually you get down to the panna cotta which is served in the bottom of a cup so you can’t see if there’s a wobble. The panna cotta is more like a hybrid cheesecake which had that slightly rich flavour but isn’t heavy like a cheesecake, rather smooth. The miso adds a nice flavour contrasted with a slightly gooey but more runny caramel which adds a nice touch of sweetness without going overboard. It’s one of those yum / yuck dishes, can’t say I’d go back again for it but it’s worth trying out.
Darlings Supper Club Food Review Summary
Verdict: The Darlings Supper Club offers a fusion of Asian cuisine but the dishes offered still stay close to it’s roots. The balance and execution of the dishes were generally excellent, complemented perfectly with a dipping sauce or salad. These latter elements were crucial to keeping the dish in check, the perfect balance of acidity, sweet, sour or spicy helped compliment or counteract any richness or strong flavours. A few of the dishes were over salted which was disappointing. While I enjoyed the food and the service, if you’re going to set up shop in Northbridge you’re going toe to toe with all the other Asian restaurants. Darlings Supper Club matched them on flavour, but failed miserably on price. A yum cha restaurant a few blocks away would not charge $10 for 4 prawn dumplings. A typical nasi goreng wouldn’t push $14, half the price of Darlings version, albeit with roast duck, at $28. Darlings is not your typical Asian restaurant, it’s proposition is different but I felt the pricing is on the high side for comparable dishes available close by at other Northbridge restaurants. The total bill was just under $150, just under $100 after the voucher.
Darlings Supper Club Restaurant Details
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