Cantonese restaurant

Silk Review Barangaroo Review 2022

Level 3 1 Barangaroo Avenue
Barangaroo,
New South Wales
2000

See the map

Opening hours Lunch Thu-Mon noon-3pm; dinner Thu-Mon 6pm-10pm
Features Accepts reservations, Licensed, Long lunch, Romance-first date, Business lunch, Private dining, Views
Prices Expensive (mains over $40)
Call 02 8871 7171

So far so international, upscale Chinese hotel restaurant. There’s harmless music, plush carpets, fine china, dazzling harbor views, an array of private rooms, and all the understated elegance of a classic Cantonese menu.

Welcome to my happy place. While I really miss the street food experiences of the trips, I also miss those splendid palaces with prestigious chandeliers and their craftsmanship.

They have people who can turn the skin of a chicken into a crispy gossamer, shape delicate crab and lobster balls, and fillet and serve a whole steamed fish in 30 seconds flat. It’s a level of skill that can only be maintained and guaranteed by a large organization that makes its money from something else.

Plate of trio of barbecue meats. Photo: Edwina Pickles



So here we are at Silks at Barangaroo, owned and operated by Crown, facing a menu of wagyu steak, whole green abalone, southern lobster, snow crab and truffles, and a wine list full of Grange Hermitage. There’s also noodles and barbecued meats, but it’s not the kind of place you go to for a bite to eat on your way home.

When Silks opened in early 2021, I found the midday dim sum crowded and the service scattered. It’s better now, with apparently 28 people per square meter tending to well-spaced tables on several levels.

Even the dumplings on the dim sum trio from the dinner menu ($28) are light, plush and well done, especially the siu mai topped with scallops. Note to self: it’s safe to come back for lunch.

Clams sautéed with XO sauce and crispy noodles.

Clams sautéed with XO sauce and crispy noodles. Photo: Edwina Pickles



My table marks the restaurant’s cunning manager, Amy Wang, who helps organize a meal that begins with dim sum and barbecued meats, and ends with an old favorite, beef hor fun, from executive chef Sebastian Tan.

Silks’ barbecue platter ($58) is a must, and the roasted lacquered duck breast and five-spice honey-glazed pork belly char siu are just ridiculously good. The roast pork, cut into small cubes and topped with a cracker crunch, is a direct descendant of the great Hong Kong dishes I remember.

But then I want to cry, because the family next door ordered XO pee with a mountain of crispy fried noodles ($88 for 500g), and I didn’t.

The dim sum trio from the dinner menu is light, luxurious and well done.

The dim sum trio from the dinner menu is light, luxurious and well done. Photo: Edwina Pickles



Instead, Canto’s high-end palate psychology kicks in, and I feel compelled to order something incredibly expensive, like lobster. But what? In truffle spring rolls? Instead of pork in a clay pot of “ma po tofu”? (Very tempting). Stir-fried with ginger and spring onions, XO sauce, or salted egg yolk and chilli?

What the heck, how about the house specialty of blood choy bao – a single leaf of cos lettuce topped with thinly diced southern lobster with the sweet crunch of water chestnut and bamboo shoot ($28 a head). It’s exorbitant, but hey, you know the price of lettuce these days. It is also quite delicate in taste and keeps falling off the leaf.

Instead of desserts – which look rather dramatic – I end with noodles, feeling nostalgic for good old beef hor fun. This is a flash version, with tender slices of wagyu – so much wagyu – tossed with silky white rice noodles and bean sprouts.

Wok-fried flat rice noodles with wagyu slices, ginger, onion, bean sprouts and garlic.

Wok-fried flat rice noodles with wagyu slices, ginger, onion, bean sprouts and garlic. Photo: Edwina Pickles



You can play it straight up like a dry, smoky stir-fry, or add a thick, smooth egg sauce ($48), which the noodles soak up like a bath sponge. Either way, the best thing is the silky, stretchy freshness of the rice noodles themselves, handcrafted on-site by dim sum chef Ming.

The wine service is equally fluid, moving from a balanced, citrusy Coldstream Hills Chardonnay ($20/$98) to a lush, crisp, and layered 2019 Oakridge Pinot Noir ($80), both from the Yarra Valley.

Silks is completely over the top in its opulence, use of luxury ingredients and expense. But the world that has traditionally supported these restaurants is changing rapidly. Although it’s a slightly surreal setting for really good Cantonese food, I’m glad it still exists.

Sang choy bao - a single leaf of cos lettuce topped with diced southern lobster.

Sang choy bao – a single leaf of cos lettuce topped with diced southern lobster. Photo: Edwina Pickles



The lowest

Bristle

Vibe Big on lobster, snow crab, wagyu, and sparkling chandeliers

Essential dish Trio of barbecue meats, $58

Drinks Classic cocktails and distilled Chinese spirits, with plenty of Penfolds Grange and chardonnay on the Australian/French substantial list.

Terry Durack is Chief Food Critic for The Sydney Morning Herald and lead examiner for the Good food guide.

https://www.crownsydney.com.au/