Review: Chatswood BBQ Kitchen, Chatswood

Chatswood BBQ Kitchen

There’s nothing that quite beats the taste of Chinese style barbecue pork. The marinade that it’s roasted in, the texture of the meat that works so well on both noodles, rice, and other meals. The sight of hunks of pork hanging in a restaurant window waiting for a buyer, with the butcher behind the window ready to slice up the pork on request. It’s the type of culinary experience that defined my childhood, and I still consider barbecue pork a treat whenever I go out to a Chinese restaurant.

The closest BBQ restaurant to me is Chatswood BBQ Kitchen on Victoria Avenue in Chatswood. It’s recently moved from a spot further down Victoria Avenue close to Chatswood Chase to a space near Westfield. In the process, they’ve renovated the space so that it looks a lot more modern and upmarket compared to the older restaurant, and done really well in the process. The prices remain the same, so the renovations haven’t affected the cost price per plate – which is great!

Chatswood BBQ Kitchen

K and I recently dined there and ordered:

  • An iced lemon tea each
  • A BBQ combination on rice – we chose BBQ pork, roast pork and roast duck
  • A tofu, chicken and salty fish hotpot

All the barbecued and roast meats were done near perfectly – the roast pork and duck were tasty (especially with the accompanying sauce), though the barbecue pork wasn’t quite chargrilled enough. Unfortunately, I don’t think I’ve had fully barbecued pork for years now – though I hope I’ll get to have some in Hong Kong when I’m there in a few weeks time!

The lemon tea was perfect for that hot day we went as it wasn’t too sweet and the lemon added just the right amount of flavour. The hotpot was also really well done – flavoured simply by the salt fish and some chicken stock, it was a nice simple dish which went well with some steamed rice.

Because the servings are quite large, I would consider applying a $10 per person rule to ordering at this restaurant. For example, the BBQ combination plate was $13.50, and was too large for one person, but too small for two. If it had been accompanied with a $6 vegetarian entree, it would have been about right. Similarly the hotpot was $17 and was nearly enough for two people if there was some rice on the side.

Overall, I rate Chatswood BBQ Kitchen a 7.5 out of 10. It’s fantastic value if you’re looking for a simple, tasty meal like you would find in a traditional Chinese kitchen. However if you’re looking for bells, whistles, and service with a smile, it’s not the type of place you want to go.

Chatswood BBQ Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Review: Nha Hang 5 Sao Chinese & Vietnamese BBQ Vegetarian Restaurant, Springvale

I’m spending the next few days in Melbourne visiting friends and family – oh, and to officially graduate from my Masters course with a fancy hat and dodgy staged photos and all. After the actual ceremony yesterday, my parents, brother and I went to a new restaurant that had recently opened up near our home in Springvale for a celebratory dinner.

Eating out with my parents generally guarantees two things – it will be a Chinese restaurant (or something similar), and it will be cheap and tasty. Even though they don’t eat out all that often, they have a real knack for sniffing out the good places. The main attraction at Nha Hang 5 Sao Chinese & Vietnamese BBQ Vegetarian Restaurant was that it had advertised a cheap four-person set menu of their special dishes.

The restaurant was nearly empty when we arrived at 8pm, we were clearly the last customers of the day. Not unusual in this part of town, where the cultural background and habits of most residents tend to lend itself to early starts and early dinners. After some guidance on menu choices from the owner, we ended up ordering the following dishes.

The lemongrass pork chops were really lightly battered, and done well considering that it is not unusual to find that this dish at other restaurants often has a centimetre worth of batter surrounding it. Great use of a light batter, and the lemongrass was quite subtle as well, and not overpowering.

The barramundi with bitter melon, bean curd skin and black pepper sauce was a surprise – largely because I misheard the order and thought my mother had ordered traditional Chinese shallot and soy steamed fish (my favourite!). I didn’t expect a grilled fish with lots of sauce to come out! Despite my initial surprise, I really enjoyed this fish. The skin was lovely and crispy, a nice complement to the softer and silkier flesh. I’m not a fan of bitter melon, but the bean curd skin was really nice because it was quite porous, and had soaked up a lot of the sauce.

The king prawn and vegetable vermicelli hotpot was cooked really simply. There were no overwhelming spices – the chef simply added some simple broth to help start the cooking process, then let the natural flavour of the prawn soak through to the vermicelli noodles. Sometimes, simpler is better, especially when the prawns are as fresh as these were!

The chilli beans with spicy pork mince were lovely and crunchy. I thought the dish could have done with a tad more chilli – however, the level of hotness was just about right for my brother who can’t eat chilli. I do have a personal bias towards the hotter the better!

All the above dishes, with rice for the table, a starter soup, and a fruit plate finisher, cost the four of us $65.30. It was really an incredible price, and not one that you could easily find elsewhere. You’d be hard pressed to feed four people a great and substantial meal (with leftovers for the doggy bag) for under $70 elsewhere – or even to buy all the ingredients to cook the dishes yourself.

It was very much a family-run business, with the mother taking our orders (suggesting some good dishes along the way), the teenage son delivering dishes to our table, and a younger son playing on some portable device behind the counter. The whole situation was actually not unlike my childhood spent growing up in a Chinese takeaway shop, when my father would be cooking, my mother would be taking orders, I would be serving, and my brother would be playing on his Gameboy Advance.

Overall, I rate the food a 8 out of 10. While the food was really quite good (I couldn’t point out a fault if you asked), I’m afraid that my sense of what constitutes excellence in Chinese food has been warped by my mother’s excellent cooking. If I rate my mother’s home cooking a 10, there’s no way I could rate any restaurant meal above an 8.

Nha Hang 5 Sao Chinese & Vietnamese BBQ Vegetarian Restaurant is located at 4-4A Balmoral Avenue in Springvale, Victoria. 
Nha Hang 5 Sao Chinese & Vietnamese BBQ Vegtarian Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Recipe: Wonton Noodle Soup

I recently made Wonton Noodle Soup for the first time. While I have made dumplings before, making wonton was new for me.


Wonton skin (egg-based), 500gm fatty pork mince, 2 bunches of garlic chives, dark soy sauce, aged Chinese vinegar, chilli sauce, sesame oil, sugar, egg noodles, chicken soup (of your choosing).


  1. Create your chicken soup, whether it’s from a stock cube, directly from a chicken carcass, or a can. Whatever works for you, but ensure that it is a clear broth, not a thick soup. Keep it on a slow simmer on the stove.
  2. Finely chop up the garlic chives, and mix it in with the mince. Add two dashes each of soy and vinegar, a pinch of sugar and chilli sauce and sesame oil to your liking. Mix thoroughly.
  3. Start making your wontons. Use a small dab of the pork mixture in the middle of a wonton skin, then seal the skin with some water and wrap it to your liking. Just ensure that you keep quite a bit of skin free, as cooked wonton are characterised by a longer trailing skin.
  4. Once you’ve finished making your wontons, boil a pot of water. Drop a handful of egg noodles in the pot – one handful for each person. Depending on whether you use dry or fresh egg noodles, cook them for two or three minutes.
  5. Use tongs to take the cooked noodles from the pot, and place in individual bowls. Make sure you don’t take too much of the water with the noodles.
  6. Drop the wonton into the boiling water. Cook for approximately three minutes. Once done, use a straining ladle to take the wonton out of the water and divide evenly between the individual bowls.
  7. Pour the hot chicken soup over the wonton and noodles, and serve with condiments on the side for diners to help themselves (chilli sauce, extra sesame oil, chopped herbs, etc.).

These quantities should feed approximately five or six people, presuming a handful of egg noodles per person and around ten small wonton each. Total cost is in the region of $12-$20AUD, presuming you already have all the sauces at home and depending on what kind of chicken soup you choose to use.