New bar/restaurant in the inner city
My friend Jane’s husband is currently working overseas so during his absence Jane and I regularly try new restaurants mostly in Canberra but also in Sydney and Melbourne. Last last month she told me about a new bar/restaurant in the inner city called Sanya Bar so we decided to try it out.
We went there on the week of its soft opening and arrived when it opened as couldn’t make a reservation either through the website or after Jane physically went to the bar. Which meant we got good seats when we arrived. The cuisine is Beijing fusion. So what is Beijing fusion you might ask [as I asked the same question), well it’s just a different take on northern Chinese food. The restaurant’s menu is a mix of traditional dishes including the renowned Peking Duck pancakes but then it also has other interesting dishes. For example crispy banana chicken wings and blue cheese, pear and walnut wontons and deserts like fried cheesecake with toasted coconut. Interesting!!
The restaurant is so lovely; intimate and dark with several tables near the bar and a few more smaller tables down a long corridor whose wall has many framed Chinese black and white prints. We sat next to the bar (in the best seats I say) which has gold grout between the tiles [never seen gold grout before] and enjoyed some champagne whilst catching up on our lives.
The owner, JJ Chen was a public servant in Canberra for some time and then moved to Beijing and the head cook is her mum who has been a cook at Parliament House and the Hyatt Hotel in Canberra. I also did some research and found out that the head chef’s grandfather was a cook in China’s Imperial Palace and he had passed down his recipes and taught his granddaughter how to cook.
The name of the restaurant is the same as a beautiful beach on Hainan Island in China and the menus, which are pretty cool, have pictures of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army troupes being entertained by Marilyn Monroe and a caricature like cartoon of people in Tian’anmen Square, [certainly not a picture you could have on a menu in China). Both are by renowned Chinese-Australian artist Guo Jian, who is a friend of the owner.
There are also great murals on the walls which match the menus.
When Jane and I finally stopped talking [we hadn’t caught up for a while] we decided to order dumplings; mine vegetarian and Jane’s meat filled. They arrived all wrapped up nicely and matched with a spicy sauce. The sauce was delicious but Jane and I found the top of the dumplings a little dry; guess it was the soft opening so will make allowances. But the contents were good.
We also ordered a plate of vegetarian wontons which I found were pretty much the same as the dumplings but a different shape. Looked great in the dish but still a tiny bit dry on the top.
The official opening was a couple of weeks after we dined and I have heard the owner is going to make the entrance to the restaurant more like a Beijing Hutong so I will have to go back to check it out and give those dumplings just one more try.