Restaurant News

Neil Perry is hosting two Chinese dinners, where native Australian ingredients play a shining role

Expect warrigal-greens dumplings and wallaby-tail soup at Spice Temple’s one-off events.

By Yvonne C Lam
Rockpool Dining Group culinary director Neil Perry (Photo: Supplied)
Neil Perry wants to set the record straight. The upcoming banquet dinners at his celebrated Spice Temple restaurants (in Melbourne and Sydney) will re-work Chinese classic dishes with Australian native, but it's no gimmick.
"Australia's food culture dates back 60,000 years, and we've been using native ingredients at Rockpool Bar & Grill for the last few years," says Perry, citing freeze-dried Davidson's plum, used in the restaurant's kingfish entrée, as one of his favourite ingredients. "They add flavour and complexity to dishes, and are absolutely delicious."
With Andy Evans (Spice Temple's executive chef) and Neisha Woo (head chef of Spice Temple Melbourne), Perry will co-host two dinners that marry Chinese regional dishes with Australian flavours.
Spice Temple Melbourne (Photo: Supplied)
Cantonese sweet-and-sour pork is re-imagined with tart quandongs, while Xinjiang-style cumin lamb is transformed into a kangaroo stir-fry with macadamia nuts and fermented chillies. Har gow dumplings are stuffed with warrigal greens, and served with a piquant finger-lime dressing; and wheat noodles float in a spicy wallaby-tail broth. To finish, Spice Temple's Chinese-style pavlova of Sichuan-pepper meringue with lemon-myrtle cream and wattleseed.
The dinners are a boon for Sydney and Melbourne. With the pending closure of Billy Kwong, whose chef-owner Kylie Kwong (a Neil Perry protégé) championed the cross-pollination of Cantonese and Australian flavours, the dinners are a harbinger of Spice Temple's new direction.

Perry, who will be celebrating Spice Temple's 10th anniversary this year, says saltbush, desert limes and muntries add "new dimension" to the restaurants' menus. "These dinners give us the opportunity to experiment with native ingredients," says Perry. "We plan to add the dishes to Spice Temple's menus afterwards."
Native Dinner at Spice Temple, Monday 8 April, 6.30pm (Sydney), Tuesday 9 April, 6.30pm (Melbourne).
Tickets are $99, with an optional wine pairing for $55. For bookings, visit spicetemple.com.au