Modern Asian Restaurants: Red Spice Road
Red Spice Road
Upon the recommendations of my sister, I made sure to go out of my way to try Red Spice Road. What better way to try it, than with a banquet ($65pp) on my 21st birthday? The RSR staff were lovely and very helpful over email whilst I was trying to organise this dinner. They even had a separate vegetarian banquet that I could order for one of my guests.
But the most horrible thing that could happen to me (ME! The one who never stops eating!) happened that night. I had a stomach ache!!! I tried to power my way through everything, but by the last mains, I was struggling.
Once again, this post will not cover one trip but several visits – which should already indicate that I’ve given this place a thumbs up. The starters for my banquet (above) included Betel Leaf with Smoked Chicken, Prawn, Chilli, Mint and Lemongrass and Chilli Salt Lamb Ribs. The betel leaves were refreshing and the lamb just the right level of saltiness, making the crispy ribs even more addictive.
I can’t go through every single banquet dish due to my memory, but let’s just say despite the high price, I definitely found it worth it. By the last round of mains (the infamous pork belly, which I will get to, was in the first round), we were still surprised there was food coming out and really struggling! The service at RSR (McKillop St) was also very prompt and attentive.
The above dessert from the banquet is some sort of pandan/coconut dish, which I can’t give a clear judgement on due to my dislike for coconut. To be honest, on my other trip (only several days later), we ordered the below desserts, and I can’t really judge any of them due to pandan/coconut being in everything! The one on the left was slightly more bearable as it included mango, and was in some glutinous rice pudding I think. This was earlier in the year though, so they’ve since changed their menu and I wouldn’t mind trying some of them (rosewater meringue and lychee sorbet, chocolate delice or banana dumplings!)
I was also impressed by their drinks. Mocktails such as their pineapple freshca (below) proved their subtle Asian influences work well. I mentioned in an earlier post that you will learn I don’t like a lot of things – including pineapple. However the pineapple taste was not strong due to the crushed ice and the addition of mint leaves just made it almost as refreshing as a newly squeezed lemonade – but better. Sadly, I’m not sure if it’s still on the menu as it’s not on the website!
I admit, what we really go back eagerly for each time is the Pork Belly with Apple Slaw, Chilli Caramel and Black Vinegar ($35, bottom right). Ask anyone who has been to RSR, and this will be their top dish. When we heard they changed their menu we were horrified until they said “….except for the pork belly!” The caramel and vinegar ensure that it’s slightly sweet, but also that the sauce is rich and sticky. It also has just the right amount of greens. You’ll see that there’s extra sauce on the side in the picture, always comes in handy!
If you’re not already sick of my rant and wondering how I have the stomach to eat all this, I still have a few more dishes to go. The top picture (which was at Red Spice Road QV) includes mushrooms wrapped in calamari and some special BBQ chicken – I can’t remember the exact menu name and it’s not online, but the menu made it sound like some exotic BBQ chicken. Sadly, it tasted pretty average and didn’t have much flavour, I was expecting something slightly chilli or a smoky BBQ taste. The calamari was good but a small serving and we were so hungry we…ordered another serving of the pork belly. Why not?
On another trip to the McKillop St branch (I don’t have good photos, sorry) we had some dishes, which I would recommend over the above ones. This included a Beef Massaman Curry ($37) and Wild Barramundi with Cucumber, Herbs and roasted Shallot smashed Pork Green Nam Jim ($38). My friend prefers the Chin Chin Massaman, but I prefer this version as it’s not as thick and full of large chunks of vegies, but is served with potatoes, which works better in my opinion. I enjoyed the fish in it’s light Thai-insipired sauce, and I appreciate the amount of greens and herbs that RSR provides. Herbs aren’t always to everyone’s taste, but perhaps it’s the Asian in me.
A few more points about RSR, I prefer the original McKillop St branch. Never fear, the pork belly is just as good in both venues, but their menus slightly vary. The QV branch has individual tables, which is better than yelling across communal tables at the McKillop branch, thus they have some smaller dishes. Their McKillop St menu seems to reflect the seating, listing large dishes to share. However, I just enjoy the atmosphere, the service and the menu a bit more at the original venue. If you’re lucky enough you might not end up on a communal table and somewhere nice and comfy like the spot in the above picture!
The pork belly will continue to bring us back, so each time we will just order a few more dishes (like sides to our pork belly) and I can keep testing out their menu!
Red Spice Road McKillop St is open for lunch 12-3pm and dinner 5pm-late Mon- Sat and is located at 27 McKillop St in the CBD.
Red Spice Road QV is open for lunch 12-3pm everyday, dinner 5pm-late Mon-Fri and 6pm-late on weekends. They are located at 31-37 Artemis Lane QV.
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