It's literally been years since our last visit to Marigold. In fact since our last visit, it's now changed it's name to Marigold Regal instead of Marigold Citymark. Marigold Citymark used to be our Chinese restaurant of choice, mainly because the food was good and the decor was nicer than your average Chinese restaurant (I find Golden Century's food is great but the decor isn't as nice) and the free parking for dinner guests always made my father and husband happy. Yes, we're the type of family where the men will greet each other with "Where did you park?" and the park closest to the restaurant wins and gets a fleeting moment of pride. Please tell me we aren't the only ones.
The decor has been spruced up with warmer reds and oranges instead of austere blacks and whites. The fish tanks have been moved further down but other than that, everything is fairly similar. What we notice is back are the silver spoon and chopstick rests which is what we liked about dining here in the first place. Yes I know it may make me sound like a complete brat, and at times I am, but it's the little details that help set a place apart and these were the details that my sister and I noticed and liked. So when they didn't put them out 3 times in a row and we had average food we stopped coming here.
Tonight we're here with my uncle, cousin, my family and my cousin's wife who is over from Singapore. We order a slew of dishes including Peking Duck plus a whole lot of new dishes we've never tried before which I hope comes out quickly as I am very hungry. I am relieved with they wheel the duck out.
I always love it when they carve it at the table (although I know this would horrify my vegan mother in law who could not believe that they would do such a thing) and they show the duck off to us before slicing off the skin with a cleaver and placing them in 12 pancakes with the requisite spring onion and cucumber.
Curiously I notice that there is still a lot of skin remaining on the duck after it is carved and even though there are 7 of us, they don't give us 14 pancakes. I wonder where the rest of the skin goes? It never seems to turn up in the second course and it's a suspicion of mine that they use the skin for other dishes. I'd love to know whether this is true or not!
The pancakes have a little too much meat in them for my taste and the pieces are smaller than I'd like. For me, I love big discs of glossy, crispy skin and it's a good sign when the sauce and oil run out of the pancake. My ideal version is not for the faint hearted or diet conscious.
The sang choi bau course arrives and they plate it into the lettuce cups. It's nice and crunchy with the water chestnuts although we have to ask for the Hoi Sin sauce as it is bland without it.
The rest of the dishes arrive in quick succession. The pork ribs in champagne sauce ($18) are circled by orange slices and the sticky orange glazed champagne sauce is a lovely match to the deep fried ribs. It's unusual and very moreish and a hit with the table.
Steamed egg whites, fried bean curd with assorted seafood and meat ($24) comes out next, with the bean curd sitting on the edges of the plate surrounding a melange of meats, seafood and egg whites. The scallops and prawns are plentiful and whilst the mixture is soothingly soft, it lacks punch or a distinct flavour.
The Spicy Fish fillets with Mermaid's Tresses ($28) resemble the deep fried cornflour dipped salt and pepper fish but with spice and less intensity of flavour than the S&P variety. The spice comes in the form of some sliced bird's eyes chili and the mermaid's tresses are deep fried seaweed shreds. It's alright but not particularly stunning.
The last dish, Four vegetables baked in creamy taro sauce ($21) comes out, the purply grey creamy taro mash coating the vegetables with some satisfying blistering on top. Scooping out the vegetables we are rewarded with large chunks of broccoli, whole mushrooms, asparagus and snow peas. It's the most comforting of comforting Winter food and the buttery scent of the sauce beckons you to eat more than you really should.
At this stage we're full but they bring out the fruit-sliced watermelon and rockmelon as well as a large tureen of sweet red bean and black sticky rice soup. It's only the most robust of us that can finish a whole bowl of the sticky, sweet and delicious soup. Completely full, we rest for a little and then get up to leave whilst the men continue to debate who got the closest "parking spot".
Levels 4 & 5
683-689 George Street, Haymarket Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9281-3388
Parking from 10am-6pm:
0-1 hour - $2.80
1-2 hours - $7.20
2-3 hours - $11.60 3-4 hours - $16.00
4-5 hours - $20.40
Over 5 hours - $30.00
Free parking for dinner guests (otherwise my husband noted that parking is $50 an hour so don't make the mistake of parking there unless you are eating!)
Lunch (yum cha)