Good Luck Pinbone

Restaurants, Chinese Kensington
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Luck has nothing to do with the cheap, delicious thrills happening at this new Chinese joint

Hearing that the Pinbone team have opened a new venue is good news. Finding out that this time around they’re doing Chinese food makes it great. Discovering that it’s BYO and you can walk away for less than $50 a head and still order the most expensive thing on the menu makes it just about the best news we’ve had this year (seriously 2016, you were not a good time).

Before you go bursting through the jaunty red door at Good Luck Pinbone demanding all the pippies in the land, first you need to take a walk up the road to the Doncaster Hotel, which is the closest bottle shop on this thundering stretch of Anzac Parade. Kensington might not be the most fashionable corner of Sydney for a hot new casual diner, but at least you don’t have crowds lined up before service begins (there are no bookings) – refreshing in this age of gastronomic early adopters.

Having said that, get here as soon as you can, because the food is excellent, the service is genuinely welcoming, and you’re going to want to fit in a lot of repeat visits before they redevelop the building in 2018. 

The short-term lease might go some way to explaining why the interior looks like an RSL canteen painted by a year-six art class. The walls have been sponged red up to hip height, there’s a glossy faux awning mounted on the wall and a lot of bamboo out the back. But you’re not going to even notice the décor once the eggplant sambal arrives. The creamy flesh of the vegetable is cooked in oil until it is so tender you could spread it and has sucked in a king’s ransom of garlic; chewy fronds of black mushroom firm up the mix; and a liberal dose of fresh red chilli, coriander and green onion stems gives all those earthy flavours a bright wakefulness. When you’re in the middle of a kaleidoscopic flavour mandala like this, the fact that you’re sitting on shitty plastic chairs won’t matter – hell, we’d eat this sitting out on the curb.

Cleanse your palate with a serve of pickled cucumber rounds that start off cool and sweet before building a slow chilli burn, and then order the pippies. Nope, they’re not bathing in a funky XO sauce – here they’re popping the little molluscs out of their shells and cooking them up with young garlic shoots and celery. The meat has good chew, but is not chewy, and the sauce is like a soft, savoury sea gravy.

Fried rice goes from rags to riches here with the addition of fatty pieces of pork jowl, and just because it doesn’t need extra flavour doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use it to mop up the sparky white pepper sauce that comes with your fried blue swimmer crabs – we assume this is what lighting a cigar with a hundred dollar bill feels like. We don’t get any special tools for the crab – it’s more a hand-to-hand combat kind of meal. 

When chefs Mike Eggert and Jemma Whiteman finished up their tenure at their Woollahra restaurant in mid 2015, Sydney’s brunch scene took a serious hit. But our breakfast loss has proven our dinnertime gain with this new venture that’s all about good times and no bullshit. Live large, order the crab (it’s the most expensive thing on the menu at $30) and bask in your good fortune that you live in the same city as Good Luck Pinbone. 

By: Emily Lloyd-Tait

Posted:

Venue name: Good Luck Pinbone
Contact:
Address: 121 Anzac Pde
2033
Opening hours: Thu-Sat 6-11pm; Sun 11am-5pm
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