Spice Temple

Special people require special celebrations.

So when my mum’s (actual) birthday rolled around, there was only one place to go.

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If you haven’t already noticed, we ventured to Neil Perry’s Asian offering Spice Temple.

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The menu is massive, and helpfully labelled with the hottest dishes.

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Everything is very dark, with enough lighting to see each your company but not the whole room. It’s intimate, and the table setting is beautifully simple.

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We started with cucumbers with smashed garlic and ginger ($9) and fried eggplant with spicy ginger and garlic dressing ($19)

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I’m normally not a fan of eggplant but this was amazingly soft and flavoursome. It did not taste like eggplant at all! We washed it down with cocktails (all $18), based on our Chinese zodiac year.

They were surprisingly accurate in matching our birth year with our preferred tastes. The year of the monkey was spicy ginger beer, lime and ketel one vodka, my spirit of choice. Mum was born in the year of the rabbit, so her cocktail had granny smith apple, jasmine soda, citrus and hendricks gin, which also happened to be her spirit of choice.

Finally, Dad’s cocktail was the Tiger, with pistachio washed johnnie walker, cognac, orgeat, chartreuse and bitters. Perfectly suited for him!

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We needed them for the next course – spice fried chicken wings with heaven facing chillies ($25). The outside was crunchy and full of flavour while the inside was soft and very (temperature) hot!

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My brother and dad tried the chillies and claimed they were harmless. We discovered they were wrong, after trying them for ourselves. Turns out the tail was a lot hotter than the stem!

Luckily, the duck pancakes cooled our palettes down ($45). The tea flavours in the duck were subtle and aromatic, while the sauce got the thumbs up from all four of us!

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Our mains included hot and fragrant prawns ($42), stir fried grass fed beef fillet with cumin and fermented chilli ($45) and steamed chinese broccoli ($12).

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Everything was perfectly seasoned, with delicate flavours and fresh produce. Best of all, it was light but filling, and didn’t sit heavily afterwards.

With a large variety of teas on offer, it would have been silly not to try at least one!

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My brother and I shared a lychee granita with dried strawberry and hazelnut praline ($14).

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The service was fantastic. Everyone was very attentive, and knowledgeable. Our water glasses were constantly full, and the dishes came out in good time, with long enough to digest but not too long to get hungry again.

I probably wouldn’t come here any old night, it’s a bit of a special occasion place. The food is probably a little pricey, but you can’t put a price on my mum!

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