Located on the beautiful Southbank waterfront, Spice Temple has always been on my must try list. After much anticipation we finally headed here mid-week to see if it really did live up to all the hype.
The food here is contemporary Chinese, with dishes focusing on the backgrounds of Sichuan, Hunan, Guangxi, Jiangxi, Xinjiang and Yunnan. Bright colourful menus were placed down in front of us and couldn’t wait to turn the page to see what we were in for.
Before we could even look at the food, we were drawn into the cocktail list that is created based around your zodiac sign. With a very unique style of cocktails, we each had to order our own personal cocktails including the ‘Rat’, ‘Tiger’ & ‘Rooster’!
Havana club 3 year rum, lime, fresh mint and lavender soda
Tanqueray gin, mandarin juice, fresh lemon, maraschino liqueur
Aperol, limoncello and fresh passionfruit
Once we had our animal drinks in hand, it was time to get down business. The menu is outlined in a way where all spicy dishes are written in red to stand out. With the restaurant known of their spice, it was a must to try at least one of their ‘numbing’ dishes. To start we went with the ‘Hot and Numbing dry Wagyu Beef’ and the ‘Caramelised Pork Spare Ribs’. The spare ribs were divine, with fall off the bone sweet pork. The famous numbing pork was quite disappointing as it wasn’t numbing, overcooked and had very little kick. The rest of the flavours of sweetness were fantastic, just missed the kick we anticipated.
Once entrees were cleared, a range of different shared mains started coming out. The ‘Three shot Chicken’ was amazing! A hot plate of chicken was brought to the table with 3 shots including beer, chilli and soy. The shots are all poured in the skillet and taken away to be cooked. Once returned, the sauce had turned to a lovely thick sweet and salty mixture which worked beautifully with the juicy pieces of chicken.
Next was the ‘Red Braised Pork’ which was shredded and served in a chilli, ginger and black vinegar mix. Again another stunning dish with extremely tender and juicy pork. The mix of spices worked wonders with the pork and on a bed of rice, was sensational.
The last main to be served was the ‘Stir fried grass fed beef fillet’, with wok blistered peppers and black beans. It’s no surprise that the beef was cooked to perfection and the peppers were incredible. Nothing to fault here!
Since everything ordered was meat, meat and more meat, I had to get a little something extra just to break it up. Being a huge lover of mushrooms, the ‘Stir Fried Mushrooms’ were a no brainer. An assortment of baby king brown, oyster, shitake, enoki and white funghi all mixed together with spring onion was amazing! I could have eaten just this and would have been satisfied.
Dessert consisted of a ‘Caramel Chocolate and Peanut Parfait’ which was another knock out. I would have liked to have a little something on the side of the dish as it looked quite boring and empty when brought out to the table.
Being a fine dining restaurant, I would have expected the service to be slightly better than what we had received. Although the host was friendly and attentive, the waitress who took our orders seemed to be on the ruder side and unfriendly. She didn’t really seem to make an effort or to work on a personal level and rushed us while ordering.
The space is dim with a very intimate feel to it. With a beautiful entrance area the dark hardwood floors lead you into the main dining space. The seating is quite comfortable with dark wooden tables and authentic crockery on the tables. While walking through the space, the ceiling lighting is very dim, however once seated, there is a small hanging light that shines just over your table.
This laid back space has quite the character and definitely lives up to the South Bank lifestyle. The space is quite versatile to be enjoyed from a casual dinner with friends to an intimate dinner for two.
Overall, the space is fantastic with an intimate, relaxed atmosphere, the service is a bit scattered, and the food is sensational. Although Neil Perry does know how to take this beautiful cuisine to the next level, it did lack the heat and spice that they are known for.
I’d love to head back here for Yum Cha so that I can try a few more dishes and search for that perfect fiery dish that I missed out on this time around.