Whisky Dinner @ Eaton Chinese Restaurant

Jackie McMillan
9th Sep 2023

Just Liquor Cellars gave me cause to return to Eaton Chinese Restaurant for another of their good value whisky dinners ($110/person). This price included a shared banquet of dishes starting off with giant, gently steamed oysters and scallops piled on vermicelli dressed in XO sauce. Before we tucked in, we were taken through 7 independently bottled Scotch whiskies originating in 4 of Scotland’s 6 regions: Highland, Speyside, Lowland and The Islands. With bottle prices ranging from $100 for a 16-year-old Port Dundas offering (Drink Whisky Makes You Rich) to a cool $600 for the 28-year-old Old Rhosdhu distilled at Loch Lomond, these dinners are a way to try whisky that is well outside of your budget. 

The whisky that impressed most was Secret Orkney ($220/bottle), a single malt whisky from The Islands (Orkney) that tend toward salty, maritime notes. It’s 17-years-old and lightly peaty: the kind of whisky that begs you to sit with the bottle open on the table, slowly sipping away. One of my table companions, Kyle Zhao, the man behind Stanmore Cellars, told me if I like this one, I would also like Highland Park 18-year-old and the hard to find Bruichladdich Octomore 7.3. 

Kyle’s standout was the Kung Fu Turntable ($200/bottle), a 14-year-old whisky from Glen Elgin. It had a strange nose that wafted aerated heat down your throat. It was also quite meaty and savoury, common with Speyside whiskies -like the well-known Glenfiddich - which use “worm tub” condensers. It suited cold portions of tea-coloured, free-range chicken ($59.80/whole). If you’re partial to the bird, Eaton also make lovely satay chicken fillets ($25.80). 

BBQ roast pork ($26.80) had a hint of sweetness that contrasted nicely with whisky. We ate it with pan-fried hunks of bean curd stuffed with prawn paste ($28.80) nested in broccoli. In terms of fishes, we enjoyed deep-fried ling ($30.80) in silky corn sauce, and steamed whole barramundi ($58) served up by the efficient floor team. Stir-fried king prawns with garlic ($34.80) had good bite-through, though the standout (once again) were the tender beef cubes with wasabi ($28.80) kept nicely pink in the centre. These went best with the peatiest whisky we tried: Ruadh Maor ($185) a ten-year-old whisky made at Glenturret in the Highlands. Highland whiskies, by the way have dryer peat that adds campfire smoke flavour, while Islay whiskies get a mossy, seaside peat note. 

Salty fish and chicken fried rice ($18.80) helped soak up any remaining alcohol before we put our palates back together with tiny tubs of Dassai sake ice cream (available at Just Liquor). Farewelling our newfound whisky-loving table of friends, we stumbled to our Uber with only a modicum of regret that this was a school night.