Dining Room Chinese Restaurant
8/223 Calam Rd, Sunnybank Hills
As unfortunate as this sounds, I don't get excited by the Chinese restaurants in Brisbane. At best, you get 'good food' but even this pales in comparison to mediocre restaurants I've been to in Shanghai. Sure it's unfair to compare like that but the fact is, there doesn't seem to be a lot on offer that fulfills all aspects of authenticity, price, service, range and consistency.
This is why Dining Room blew me away. My family and I have been twice now within the space of a couple of weeks. The first time, my parents' friends invited them out for dinner and as I am occasionally lacking in things to do (quite often actually), I tagged along.
The second time we went, it was mum's birthday. In terms of food, we ordered some repeats because they were just that good the first time that we sacrificed the opportunity to try something new (this is a rare occurrence for me since I'm all for food exploration but in this case, I didn't even think twice about ordering repeats).
I'll start by saying that visit no. 1 occurred on a Saturday night and it was so extremely busy that despite having a booking, we waiting in a line outside (dodgy organization?) and service throughout the meal was rushed. I'm talking rushed to the maximum, as in... waitstaff (who I think are also the owners) bounding through the small space like a hurricane. Napkins pounded on tables. Complimentary soup was left for us to serve ourselves. The attitude of waiters wasn't actually rude because you could tell they weren't being intentionally inattentive, just very short-staffed, but it did make me feel uncomfortable.
Visit no. 2 was on a Thursday night and an entirely different story. The owner/prime waiter was friendly, attentive, made recommendations and swirled around chatting with each table.
Now, onto the food... I find it hard to stay focused writing posts for Chinese restaurants because there are so many dishes to cover and I end up getting impatient about reviewing each one. Instead, I'll summarize.
The crab noodles were AMAZING. Crab = awesome. Noodles = mind-blowing. They soak up all the (for want of a better term:) "crab juice" and just slip around saucily in your mouth. Delicious. Mmm... this is a dish we had on both visits.
We noticed a lot of people ordering this tofu dish so we got it too. It's a bit like Japanese agadeshi tofu in that it is deep fried and crispy on the outside but beautifully soft and silky on the inside.
It's something that is simple so must be done well to excel and here, they did it very well. The top is a crunchy fried prawn. Yum! Again, we ordered this dish on both visits.
I also really enjoyed the fried fish (described it to Byron as KFC fish) and the Shichuan-style chili fish.
Other dishes were good but less memorable.
Dining Room is now my FAVORITE Chinese restaurant in Brisbane. It's not flashy or huge and the service is inconsistent but at least when they're hasty, it's because they're busy, not because they are just rude sucks. Most importantly, I've had two wonderful experiences with the food.