The Bennelong: Cured and Cultured

The Bennelong restaurant at the iconic Sydney Opera House is a perfect place for an upmarket birthday surprise…

There are a number of potential seating arrangements, including at the bar, ‘the circle’ (scanning the dress circle brings to mind upmarket thoroughbreds at an equestrian event) or casual bar stools with a birds eye view of chefs preparing ‘raw, cured and cultured produce’ for counter service.

The harbour views were magnificent but more interesting was the view of the chefs preparing our meals…

Carrots on carrots on carrots (otherwise known as salad of organic carrots, sherry caramel, almonds and sheep’s milk 

if emotions were palatable this dish would taste like the happiness you feel at the beginning of spring in high definition colour

For non vegos the red claw yabbies with lemon jam, cultured cream and buckwheat pancakes (particularly light and unbuckwheat-like!) is a must…

A delightfully surprising drink for this non-alcoholic punter was the honey thyme kombucha (made especially for Bennelong) unexpectedly floral with more highs than lows..served in cut crystal with a slice of dehydrated lime made me feel like a real (alcohol drinking) grown up

‘Chocolate cake from across the water’ (yes that is the name of the dessert…) was 7  layers of textured chocolate. This was an Australian Masterchef challenge some time ago…(along with Gilmore’s signature ‘snow egg’)

It looks inconspicuous but don’t even think of trying this one on your own…

WARNING: A little something to note: try and sit upwind of the hot plate and you won’t be subjected to burnt butter smoke in your eyes


Jo (in absentia): 3 stars (based on photos only. Open to revising rating with future actual tasting).


Din Tai Fung (World Square, Sydney)

Din Tai Fung Review 

Shanghai Drunken Chicken & Vegetarian Delight: All the elements you need for a perfectly balanced cold starter  – seaweed & tofu & rice wine & poultry.


Number of dishes required = 3 * p

p = number of people: p  = 2

number of dishes required = 3 * 2 = 6

BEST DISH: Spicy Pork and Vegetarian dumplings

NB: when dining with reformed engineers be ready to include equations in blogposts

Added value is you get up and close to the craft of dumpling making…and the precision of perfectly weighed, wrapped and presented dumplings

More steam than the Hilton gym sauna: please give us free membership…

Jo: I’ve got something to say about dessert…If you think high-carbohydrate root vegetables are boring, think again. This is tasty mauve magic (taro-based), I actually think this is the best dish.

Dena: I’ve got something else to say about that…for gluten free, dairy free, vegans with food intolerances this is a nightmare dish (she says blowing her nose…)

Jo: I wondered where all the serviettes went…


Din Tai Fung are a chain that started in Taiwan. While they weren’t the first dumpling place in Sydney, they were novel and ahead of their time. There are other great dumpling places in Sydney. Chinese Noodle House (Fake Grapes) in China town have been around for over 2 decades, have a shorter menu of rustic dumplings (Jo: excellent lamb and cumin pot stickers), but few vegetarian dishes – though you have to try the Sichuan eggplant dish.

Jo: 4 stars

Dena: 3.5 stars