Its been literally years since I visited Chinta Ria, at least 5 years to be exact, so when Gina, Teena and I go there for a girl's weekend lunch we're all curious to see whether things have changed. Walking through the heavy wooden doors with the sashes of colourful cloth and a large smiling buddha with incense and pineapple offerings for the gods, it appears that little has changed. As its a glorious summer's day, we are sitting outside amongst the little garden under large umbrellas. As with all girls' lunches, we take a while to decide what to order as catching up seems more important and the patient waiter comes several times to see whether we're ready to order.
As its hot I feel like a salad but the menu doesn't have any salad or cooler offerings. Fair enough, after all its Malaysian hawker food. What the menu does have are funky sounding names such as "Satchmo's Squid", "Blakey's Beef", "Ikan Melody" and "Sassy's Duck". We're steered towards an entree item that always has us laughing, Parker's Gems. And I don't mean to offend, you do see, but Teena's husband's last name is Parker and we always have a giggle that we're consuming his "gems" ;) . Along with these, we order one of the specials: Udang Merah aka Red Prawns ($28) as well as the Fried Kway Teow ($17) and the Ayam Blues ($22.50).
Its not long before our Parker's Gems (bite sized pieces of minced chicken with potatoes, coriander, silver thread noodles and special spices, lightly battered and then snap fried) arrives. I am not sure if its my dirty mind but I recall these being rounder in shape, more testiclé like, not the square fried objects we have before us. I'm sure that Your Honour, the shape was what originally made us think of "Parker's Gems" as something a little tawdry. In any case, we try these and are disappointed. Bizarrely, the minced chicken has a distinct fish taste, much like the asian fish paste that you can buy by the tube. Certainly not chicken like and as we're given 4 of them, the last one is left behind as if it were radioactive.
Our mains come out together, the first I try is the Udang Merah aka Red Prawns (fresh prawns sauteed with red spiced sauce with chili, garlic galangal, lemongrass and tomato paste). The prawns are very fresh and butterflied (just the way I like them) and the sauce is fairly interesting although it seems to lack something. Its not bad by any means, but not something we'd be dying to order again.
The Ayam Blues (light battered chicken fillets wok tossed in a subtle tangy mayonnaise coating infused with lemon juice and tomato paste) is a much more successful offering. The small chicken pieces softly tender and perfectly coated with the slightly sweet mayonnaise sauce. This is a dish to order again and again and again.
Lastly we try the Fried Kway Teow (wok fried rice noodles with fish cake, prawns, eggs and bean shoots, lightly spiced). Its fairly good and they're generous with the king prawns and it has the requisite "breath of the wok" which is compulsory with good Kway Teow but its a touch underseasoned in parts. The fish cake is perfectly delicious but the noodles lack some flavour.
Temple of Love I'm not quite sure but Temple of Ayam Blues, I'll say a definite yes to that.
Chinta Ria, Temple of Love
On the Roof Terrace of the Cockle Bay Wharf, next to the Pyrmont Footbridge entrance
201 Sussex Street Sydney
Tel +61 (02) 9264-3211
Fax +61 (02) 9264-1411
Dinner: 6pm-11pm (except Sundays 6pm-10.30pm)
Reservations taken for lunch only