Thursday, June 10, 2010

Dining Room at Sunnybank Hills

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.

My favorite dish of the month

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.

Complimentary broth

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.

Mud crab with noodles

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.

Fried tofu

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.

Tofu 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.

Fried crispy fish

Shichuan chili fish

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.

Seafood clay pot

Pork in plum sauce clay pot

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.


  1. i saw ur blog and insta got a crab craving, so off we went and got the crab dish at the dining room the nxt day! It was reallly yummmmy and flavorsum too bad im such a noob at picking out the flesh, even manage to get a piece flying onto the INSIDE of my glasses haha. The counter main guy was funny too, i thought his canto accent was very cute :p

  2. Hi Cora, accidentally bumped into your food blog while doing some web surfing looking for good food in Brisbane to bring mt parents to. I've tried this "dining room" restaurant just the week after you and my parents love the place too. You probably haven't tried the pigs trotters yet which is also extremely tasty!! I was actually trying to bring my parents to "ya hoo" restaurant when we realised that it was not opened, hence we tried "dining room" and I must say that it is really a blessing in disguise! I will try the crab noodles the next time! Cheers!


  3. Fantastic Restaurant - do not eat from the English Menu, ask for Chinese Chinese and wow even better - never been any where else.
    Chinese New Year is even better - fantastic night had by all.
    I take my family in total 7 adults and 3 children, take my friends when visiting they rave about it the next day.....

  4. we got tke away from there tonight owner was rude even though not busy
    the food had batter and way to much ginger even though i did say no batter i am allergic to it.
    tasted completely different to how it should be so phoned them nd they didnt really care
    so i will no longer go back and i go there usually once a month

  5. Yummy Yummy food even for a British blonde