Tuesday, September 1, 2009

temple of chuang mu

neil perry's latest joy-striking string to the bow for any eastern love deity's heart is spice temple. located beneath bligh street in the CBD [right under rockpool bar & grill], this oriental oasis will appease the most fussiest of cult goddesses.

overseen & beautifully crafted with meticulous care by old friend [ex longrain] the ever lovely crimson-framed baci moore, the expansive basement at the base of the stairs solicits secret fu manchu-like corners where dark mystery shrouds the mixed corporate crowd who visibly lurk beneath the compartmentalised shadows. but stay awhile & marvel at the william gibson-esque street door which harkens of cyberpunk neo-tokyo in heavenly waves of silken eroticism before making the descent into this modern day opium den where food is sacrilegious porn.

no province is left unturned and scant attention & research with visits to sichuan, yunnan, hunan, jianxi, guangxi and xinjiang results in a traditionalist philosophical approach blending exquisite & distinctly specific produce into a distinctly modern yet harmonious fusion which is a one way road to the altar of the deliciously divine with red signposts en route to highlight the spicier routes.

under baci's gentle direction we chose a simple path & started with pickles: cucumbers with smashed garlic & ginger. despite the implied violence of the dish the overall result was a delicious subtlety that i could never have guessed that any garlic had been abused in the making of this dish. somewhere after we ate stir fried scallops on a bed of minature square velvet noodles & chilli paste.

steamed flathead, jiangxi style with pickled mustard greens and turnip with chilli followed as a reluctant compromise to my ubiquitous lunch date john as his palate isn't quite as fiery as mine. this came to complement the piece de resistance which was the incredible hot pot of fresh shiitake, oyster, enoki and wild mushrooms, yunnan style which was cooked at the table before us.

i ordered this dish in homage to new friend ron, whom i met recently in sydney for the possible worlds canadian film festival, when he was here to promote his wonderful documentary know your mushrooms [these shrooms are for you, and fantastic they are]. this dish was highlighted red but i didn't find it particularly spicy at all so next time i'm definitely exploring the more vibrant components of the menu. and there will be plenty of those occasions.

i should say something about the wine -- there's lots of them [list of 100 on revolution], the chinese astrological cocktail menu [being a monkey i ordered one, it was delicious but the snake won the eye candy award]. then the complimentary rickshaws that we were treated to with perfect glaced cherries & lychee reflected rum lapping the rim of ice-filled tumblers but then there was dessert and that's why there are so many photos & other eye candy today... even the green tea was sublime.

the goddess spent, the people can rule for another day.

to the ruler, the people are heaven; to the people, food is heaven - chinese proverb

spice temple from punk monk propaganda on vimeo.

magic mushroom bowl from punk monk propaganda on vimeo.

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