Sunnypark Plaza, Sunnybank
Anyone who's part of the Chinese population in Brisbane will acknowledge that there's NOTHING in the way of good Chinese restaurants. Sure, there's the odd passable yum cha restaurant (which is a type of Cantonese cuisine) and plenty of eateries that target uni students but at a restaurant level, choices are severely lacking.
This might explain why my parents were so keen on this new restaurant they read about in the local Chinese-language newspaper. We rushed to the location one weekend, fighting heavy confusion because the place where the restaurant was supposed to be was actually a different restaurant. It turns out that this new venture they read about was so new it hadn't even opened yet. Not to be deterred by such a minor detail, they went back the following weekend. It STILL wasn't open. So they tried again the weekend after that and bingo, Lunar Cuisine had launched and my mum and dad made it as part of the pioneer lunch crowd.
On one of the previous failed attempts, my mother had scored herself a menu magazine (I say magazine because it seriously looks just like a magazine) so she had plenty of time to study the dishes. They ordered a few things on that first visit and were pleased enough to book a dinner there another week later, in celebration of mine and my grandmother's birthday.
And that, is how I finally ended up tasting the food at Lunar Cuisine.
We got there around 6:30pm on a Saturday, which I think of as early for weekend dinner but judging by how busy the restaurant was, I may be alone in that thinking. The rest of my family had beaten us to the table by 5-10 minutes and predictably, dad had ordered all the dishes already. That was a good thing for me because I'm always clueless about what to order at Chinese restaurants and we were also hungry and grateful that food was on its way.
Rather than going through all of the many dishes we tasted, I'll list them below and cast a summary at the end.
Cold cucumber marinared in chili and garlic oil
Stir-fried snake beans
Soy braised duck
Spicy numbing chicken
Sweet and sour crispy cod
Spicy numbing beef shin
Sizzling garlic prawns
My family was quite pleased with the taste of the majority of the food on the table. Standouts include the cucumber starter, the soy duck and my favourite, the garlic prawns. I normally don't like garlic or prawns but I couldn't stay away from that plate. Lunar Restaurant had a promotion on that month for the sweet and sour cod. It was fairly good in that the fish itself was crispy but I thought the sauce could have been more multi-dimensional. It tasted a bit too much like sweet and sour straight out of the jar. I liked the chili chicken and chili beef but in essence, they were the same dish. We would have been better off just ordering one of the two.
The stir-fried noodles had a nice, charred wok aroma. What I didn't enjoy at all was the spicy numbing chicken. Not only did we have to wait quite a while for this dish to arrive (so much so that I forgot to take a photo of it), the chicken pieces were minuscule and mostly comprised of bone. The flavour was unexciting and it was hardly spicy at all. Considering that the translation for the Chinese name for this dish is 'so spicy it makes you crazy', it was definitely disappointing.
Mum and dad are grateful for this new offering in Chinese cuisine in Brisbane. The dishes are fairly tasty on average and they're at extremely affordable prices too. We like the ethics of this restaurant because they don't charge extra for tea or for takeaway boxes. I can only hope that they manage to keep this up long term.