Feel like a change from Ashfield’s Shanghai dumplings scene? Take a walk on the wild side…
Dumplings, handmade Chinese noodles and baos are no longer exotic, novelty dishes. Sydney has well and truly embraced these delicious morsels. And they’re definitely not a ‘trend’, unlike froyo and even Mexican, these cheap and cheerful eats are staying.
Ashfield is one of the suburbs credited for the rise of the dumplings. But, what if you’re on Liverpool road and feel like something different?
Step inside Known-Best China Cuisine.
I’m sure the name is poetic in Mandarin but something’s definitely lost in the translation. Though it has a charm of its own in English, too. The food is from Shaanxi region of China home of the Terracotta Warriors, near the Yellow River (not to be confused with the Eastern neighbour Shanxi region).
I’m a little excited to step inside this new Ashfield restaurant. The descriptions on the menu doesn’t give away much but the anticipation is alluring: beef hot pot, beef dried handmade noodle, beef tripe noodle, lamb soup with vermicelli, fried pork offal with chilli. Known-Best China Cuisine’s picture menu helps to place the taste and texture – lots of meat with earthy flavours.
Known-Best China Cuisine is a fun adventure, a reminder of what it’s like to be overseas again, where you don’t speak the language and each meal is an intrigue.
The beef dried hand made noodle sounds simple enough. It comes out looking all sexy, begging you to get rough and dirty. The lively, thick beef pieces, bean sprouts, thin cut celery and coriander sit on top of thick, white wheat noodles. Stir it all up and they gain a delicious light brown gloss. It’s the chilli garlic sauce that combines everything, sending off each mouthful with a head-rushing flavour explosion. Each mouthful makes you salivate even more. It’s one of the best noodle dishes I’ve had in a while.
The beef soup with vermicelli had an earthy rich punch, thanks to spices, Chinese mushroom and thick cut radish. It makes a nice change from the more accessible clean broth you get from many noodle eateries in Chinatown. Vermicelli might take some getting used to, it’s a completely different texture, the strands are much thinner and they don’t feel as hearty as wheat noodles. I like the contrast of thin strands and rich broth, but you can also choose handmade noodles.
Then there’s the special lamb soup with handmade pancake. You know you’re in for an adventure when this monster hits the table. A huge bowl, the clear broth reveals Chinese bread sliced into cubes, dried Chinese mushroom, bamboo strips and thick pieces of lamb. Stir a little more and you’ll find clear vermicelli noodles. It’s a more standard stock which you can supercharge with fresh coriander, chilli paste and an entire pickled garlic, which all comes on the side. The small cubes of soaking bread takes a little getting used to, I’m used to thicker, bigger torn pieces, but you adjust quickly.
This regional execution of cucumber salad is much plainer than you’ll find in a Szechuan establishment. There’s no chilli and the use of garlic is much more sparing. This version is plain and on the sweeter side. It might be too plain for some, me included.
The traditional Chinese pork burger looks the part, but it’s more a tease, the flavour is dialed down. Which is a shame because the lovely bread works best with contrast.
Judging by this experience, Shaanxi soups are larger than life while the other dishes are much more restrained. Known-Best China Cuisine is a fun adventure, a reminder of what it’s like to be overseas again, where you don’t speak the language and each meal is an intrigue.
Oh, and if you’re looking for a bargain, right now, they have daily specials, 30% off!
Known-Best China Cuisine
241 Liverpool St, Ashfield NSW
(02) 9799 5663