Friday, July 3, 2015

Shayan Quarter @ Cafe Mix - The Rocks

Hawker-style food in a five-star hotel. Who would have thought?
I feel like Shangri-La has gotten lots of good publicity recently with their food market stint at Vivid, and from when their famous pastry chef (Anna Polyviou) created that epic-looking carrot cake on Master Chef. But until a good friend of mine decided to host their 30th birthday lunch at the Shangri-La, I had no idea that Cafe Mix (the awesome seafood buffet venue) changed into the 'Shayan Quarter' by day, serving up hipster done-up hawker foods.

I have to say, as the birthday boy organised the whole thing, I don't know exactly what each dish was, nor the intricate details of each dish, but I'll do my best to explain.
First up, there was a chilli squid dish. A lot of spices seemed to have gone into coating the squid and it was cooked pretty well - super tender, not tough and chewy at all. Enough to set my mouth on fire when a red chilli accidentally ends up attached to the squid, but without the chilli, it was tasty also.
Baos are everywhere nowadays and they definitely made it onto our table. As there was a vegetarian amongst us, he got a tofu bao which he seemed to enjoy muchly. The rest of us got some pretty tasty sticky chilli caramel pork belly baos. It was a good proportion of bao to meat to veges - and ample of yummy sriracha mayo.
Next up were the playful dishes. Green papaya salad bagged with 'Shake me Up' written on top. Have to say - there wasn't much papaya in each bag but we had fun anyway mixing the papaya with a hot, sweet and sour dressing. More shaking was involved with the numbing chicken wings. You put the numbing szechuan salt in with the chicken wings and shake shake shake (kind of like maccas shake shake fries... remember those?). The small arm work-out aside, the chicken wings were actually quite tender and juicy.
We also got some greens - just some beans in a belacan-ish sauce? Nothing really to write home about - they were OK. And some fried rice which had quite a lot of ingredients. I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed this humble-looking fried rice. The right texture, great flavours, good dryness.
Some soft tacos came also - some with a pulled pork type filling, and some with a slow-roasted goat filling. I'm not really a lamb/goat fan but everyone seemed to enjoy the soft meat filling.
There were also some lamb shoulder skewers and some mushroom skewers. The lamb skewers were nicely cumin flavoured (or at least that's what I tasted when I accidentally had a bite) but the winners were the mushroom skewers, which were really really tasty! Mushroom sweetness with a good sweet ish, salty ish, moorish sauce. YUM!
The fish came all deep fried with individual fish pieces deboned and skewered for ease of eating. It was good. The fish was fresh. It was easy to eat.
I feel like, apart from the mushroom skewers, the desserts really stole the show. Not only did my friend have an awesome birthday cake (made presumably by Anna Polyviou's team), but we also got 2 plates of complimentary desserts - which looked really amazingly appetising! There was this bitter chocolate tart with banana, salted peanut caramelised clusters and sesame cracker, fried coconut icecream magnum and some macarons. Looked pretty damn good! My friend's birthday cake was also pretty awesome! I don't exactly know what is it. It was sweet, caramelly ?, crunchy biscuit base with popping candy? Whatever it was, it was pretty tasty :)

So Shayan Quarter is up-scale hawker food. Playful elements - tick! Wonderful atmosphere - tick! Amazing desserts - tick! Hawker flavours - sometimes tick?

Food - 7.5/10
Ambiance - 8/10
Service - 7/10
Value for money - ?
Overall - 22.5 + ?/40

Shayan Quarter @ Cafe Mix
Shangri La Hotel
176 Cumberland Street
The Rocks, NSW 2000
Tel: (02) 9250 6206

No comments: