I have had the worst luck with flights to Melbourne in recent months. I fly down there relatively frequently to visit family and friends, and for the past two or three trips, I’ve been stuck sitting next to smelly people. Whether it’s body odour, or an overwhelming smell of alcohol, or a pack-a-day smoker, there’s been way too many instances where I’ve been trapped in a smelly environment because of a less-than-ideal travel companion. Good old Jetstar.
It’s a lot easier to get through those unpleasant flights when you have something to look forward to though, like dinner at Two Sticks Yunnan China after getting picked up from the airport by your husband!
We started with ordering one of their famous mini-pots – small pots of delicious soupy noodles designed for a single serve for one. The Braised Beef Mini-Pot Noodle Soup is ridiculously tender, and the soup is equal parts rich and beefy and spicy. For only $9.80, this is an incredible meal for an incredible price for all the UTS and USyd students in the area.
The Deep Fried Chicken Bites are scarily more-ish. They pack a residual spice and heat that you don’t really begin to notice until you’re two or three bites in, and by that point, you reason with yourself that you’ve already started so you may as well keep going. That ladies and gentleman, is how you end up eating the whole plate of deep fried chicken all by yourself. Honestly, it’s scarily addictive.
You’d think that a fresh salad would help to cleanse the palate and relieve some of the heat of the deep fried chicken, but this is a Dai-style Walnut and Fungus Salad – and the Dai people of China prefer spicy and sour flavours. This salad is deceptively spicy, and I struggle to eat more than two mouthfuls before I start reaching for a soothing glass of water. I loved the crunch of the fungus though – it’s a texture that a lot of people struggle with, but which I just adore.
Luckily, we ordered at least one dish that wasn’t spicy! The cold Tofu Noodle Salad was absolutely delicious. Though it doesn’t look like much in the above photo, once you mix it all up, it’s actually a delicious mix of cold silken tofu, peanut crumbs, sweet sauce, fresh herbs, and slippery cold noodles. It’s super duper refreshing, and would be a fantastic choice on a hot summer’s day.
I was insistent on ordering dessert as I was still distraught from having an absolutely terrible flight back from Melbourne…hey, any excuse will do alright?! I liked the sound of the Paoluda, though I was really surprised when it came out of the kitchen. I pictured something served in a bowl as a dessert, rather than a drink in a mason jar. Wouldn’t you expect that, especially given the inclusion of “black sticky rice, coconut jelly and crispy biscuit”? Appearances aside, the dessert was delicious – creamy but not too sweet.
We finished our meal with the Iced Congee in a brown sugar syrup. I’d never had congee in dessert form before, hence my interest. It was a bit strange actually – the syrup was not unlike what you might get in tofu pudding, but the grains of rice felt strange because my mouth kept expecting a smoother texture rather than individual grains. I wouldn’t rush back to order it again, but I am glad that I tried it.
I was so impressed with the pricing at Two Sticks – for under $35, K and I had an absolute feast and were completely stuffed by the time we left. I’m a little bit jealous of those who are lucky enough to work or study within easy reach of Two Sticks – the prices are so reasonable that I would be tempted to go there for lunch every week because it might actually be cheaper than bringing in lunch every day the way I currently do!