A smart, ambitious Cabramatta local
Ancient Chinese proverb: it's hard to eat trees with chopsticks. It's not so much a proverb as the problem you're faced with if you order the steamed gai lan with oyster sauce from Iron Chef in Cabramatta. It may be tasty, but each branch is the size of a sequoia.
Everything comes out big here – big servings, big menu, and a big four-tiered fish tank in the welcoming front entrance. It all points to big ups for the folks at Iron Chef. The fit-out is so far removed from fish sauce-stained Laminex you'd think it had been plucked from the streets of Hong Kong (or Chinatown, at the very least): elegant high-backed chairs arranged around tables dressed in crisp, white tablecloths.
It's fair to say that Cabramatta is known more for beef noodle soup than sweet and sour pork, but this restaurant brings the flavours of Vietnam, Guangdong and Thailand together under one roof. Wandering in early on a weeknight, we're swooped upon by eager staff waiting to seat us. The service is efficient and attentive, albeit over-zealous at times.
Iron Chef calls itself a seafood restaurant, but they might consider sticking with poultry, just for the salt-and-pepper quail. Three entire quails, halved and fried, are served with soy sauce and a salt and pepper powder. The crisp skin gives it some bite while the juicy meat is the worthy prize for manoeuvring through fiddly bones. Dried scallop and fish maw soup gets too fishy too fast, but the beef mince and egg-white soup is a deft balance of beefy and peppery. Plump, fried king prawns encrusted with roast garlic and spicy herbs are punctuated with spells of nuttiness that both comfort and intrigue. This is aptly complemented by aforementioned hulking gai lan (though it's pricier than expected). The stir-fried-then-salted pork with dried prawns and garlic chives is cooked in sweet soy, but the flavours are in danger of being overwhelmed by random fingers of pork fat.
The restaurant features a decent range of wine, but with very few by the glass. The list is predominantly Australian, with Champagne and a South African rosé thrown into the mix. If you like your green tea, however, the sau mei goes down a treat.
Iron Chef is a smart, ambitious local and given time should stand to make a big mark on the Cabramatta dining scene.
|Venue name:||Iron Chef|
84 Broomfield St
|Opening hours:||Mon-Fri 10am-3pm, 5.30-10.30pm; Sat-Sun 9am-3.30pm, 5.30-11pm.|