Sunday, March 18, 2012

Spice Temple - Some Excellent Dishes, Some Average Dishes

I had read some good reviews of Neil Perry's Spice Temple so had wanted to go and see how his take on Sze Chuan food would be like. It was much reported when the restaurant first opened about how Neil searched through China to find the best dishes for his restaurant. I rustled up 6 other friends and off we went, to sample a huge selection of food.

The restaurant is located in Crown, in the prime location facing the river. I have to say that I really dislike dark restaurants, and while Spice Temple does look really cool, it was hard to find your way around the restaurant or the menu for that matter. Each table had spot lighting but it was really hard to see when you weren't right under a light.

For entrees, we tried some Chili Wontons, Stir Fried Liver and Beef Ribs. The wontons were good, with a good kick from the chili. The liver dish was a bit bland and the ribs, which I expected to be sticky, sweet, spicy, was also a bit muted, but still quite nice.

For mains, the Crispy Spicy Chicken was really delicious, with super crispy skin and moist meat. I like how Neil hasn't held back on the spiciness of the dishes and lets the numbing Sze Chuan peppers really hit your tastebuds.

The Pork Belly Stir Fry was another dish I had high expectations of. It was a good dish, but slightly let down by the pork which wasn't soft and gelatinous enough. A Spicy Steamed Fish was perfectly cooked and excellent.

The Tea Smoked Duck and Crispy Spicy Duck were totally awesome dishes. The subtle flavours of the tea smoked duck worked so well with the condiments and pancakes. I also thought this dish was excellent value. The crispy duck was at the other end of the spectrum and the flavours were in your face, but amazing. The only bad savoury dish was the Wagyu Ma Po Tofu, which was so full of Sze Chuan peppers that it was so bitter in flavour and not edible by anyone.

Desserts is where I felt the meal really lifted. The Mango Granita was so refreshing and zingy. The Swiss Banana Roll and Caramel Parfait were so additively good that we had to order seconds.

The service was very professional and excellent. The waitress looked after our table without any fuss and was also fun enough to make some jokes. The ambiance is very nice in the room, with most tables feeling like they were separate, yet still part of the room. It's that perfect balance between having space to chat in private while not feeling like you're stranded on an island. I would definitely recommend coming to Spice Temple as there are some excellent dishes if you order the right things. It is also rather good value for a meal in a fine dining environment.

Overall Rating: 15/20, Some excellent dishes and good value.

Scores: 1-9: Unacceptable, don't bother. 10-11: Just OK,some shortcomings. 12: Fair. 13: Getting there. 14: Recommended. 15: Good. 16: Really good. 17: Truly excellent. 18: An outstanding experience. 19-20:Approaching perfection, Victoria's best.

Spice Temple on Urbanspoon


  1. we have a Spice Temple in Sydney too. did the menus also have beautiful model women on them like Sydney does?

  2. So nice to meet you at last in Sydney! Btw the duck looks yum here.. as does the pork belly (thought you liked that less).

    Hope to catch you around in Melbs one day.

  3. My parents had their anniversary dinner here and really liked it :) They had a meal which they said numbed their mouths, which I thought would've been due to spice but it wasn't a hot dish, it was a element of the meal. I really want to try this restaurant :)

  4. I didn't think much of the hot and numbing dishes. What was the point of killing off all your taste buds so you couldn't taste anything else for a while?!

    The caramel parfait though... OMG! I want to go back just for that.

  5. I've been wanting to go to the one in Sydney but I supposed there's a lot more other things I'm wanting to try. With all the dishes that you did tyr it all looks so good and tasty.

  6. That parfait seriously rocks!!!

  7. Simon, the menus were quite normal, although I think they should change it to be like the Sydney one :-)

    Thang, so nice to meet you as well. We must catch up when you're in Melbourne.

    Emma, it's probably the Sze Chuan peppers. They're not like hot but really numb the mouth.

    April, it's nice to have a little bit of numbing but too much is awful. The parfait is sensational.

    Tina, there's always too many options.

    I-Hua, the parfait does rock.

  8. Stunning restaurant with great reviews.