Latest Darlinghurst hot spot Ginkgo Bar & Dining brings a unique and authentic North East Chinese dining experience to the drinkers and diners of Sydney. Carly Jin and her husband Tim have taken their passion for honest, handcrafted and authentic food of Harbin (in North East China) to the Eastern suburbs of Sydney, to offer up a late-night dining menu that includes handmade dumplings, small and large plates and Northern Chinese inspired cocktails.
With a sit down dining room with moody romantic feels and a more casual bar room, it is surely soon to be a popular date venue, and who could resist fresh cocktails, yum cha snacks and tasty Harbin style delicacies.
Cocktails include the Ginkgo's Bamboo Spritz (Mancino Bianco, sherry, cranberry bitters, chrysanthemum, sparkling, $16), the cheeky Ping Pong Kong (Strawberry Top, Beefeater gin, cherry brandy, rose, rhubarb bitters, $18) and Jaded Buddha (Monkey Shoulder, Becherovka, honey dew, citrus, orgeat, $18).
A Tang Mi (Ocho Blanco, mezcal, apricot, beer agave, pepper, chilli, $18) packs quite a tequila and spice punch (we love it) and is a great refreshing complement to the fried yum cha entree snacks such as Vegetarian spring rolls (3 pieces, $10) and Prawn and Cheese triangles (3 pieces, $10). They also have a range of wines, a selection of mostly Australian beers and an extensive liquor cabinet.
The seasonal yum cha menu reflects an array of multicultural influences, such as the unmissable, deliciously flakey Ginkgo Sausage Puff (2 pieces, $9) and a collection of dumplings such as Sea Urchin and Baby Spinach Dim Sum ($9).
We suggest giving the somewhat bland Prawn and Cheese Triangles ($10) a miss and heading straight the signature Harbin style Chinese wine sausage ($24). This Harbin delicacy is hand-made air-dried lap cheong in Chinese white wine and it is full of flavour and a touch of spice. Definitely takes good old lap cheong to new levels.
For those who don't shy away from a little chilli, do not miss the Harbin style Spicy Smoked Tofu Skin Salad ($16) - hand made smoked tofu skins and onions in chilli oil. Carly Jin tells us with a smile that the chilli oil is a beloved family recipe that has been passed down to her. It is a deliciously spicy, slightly sour, flavour packed dish that takes this Scoop writer back to memories of travel in China.
While there is certainly somewhat of a chilli theme, there are plenty of non spicy options too. Vegie San Choy Bao is a simple dish of stir-fried minced veges (4 for $16), or try the Roast Duck version ($20).
Larger dishes on offer include Harbin style Smoked Pork Knuckle, Pork Belly with Taro (each $28) and the Sweet & Sour Crispy Pork in Flaming Pineapple - indeed served in a pineapple ($30).
Salt and Pepper Squid ($26) is always a crowd pleaser, and if your crowd can handle their chilli you must add in a serve of Hot and Spicy Chicken Popcorn ($24). Just keep the cool drinks within arm's reach.
It is great to see the growth of regional Chinese cuisine in the heart of Sydney.