Dec 19, 2012

Back Online. The Century, Pyrmont.

A skinny mocha, the one thing my Apple Genius couldn't conjure up at Chatswood this morning.

And just like that, I'm back online and fully wireless.  The Apple Genius at Chatswood Chase plugged every Apple item I own into his magical diagnostics machine, re did the partition on my external hard drive (whatever that means) and now everything is working, faster than ever before.  I'm considering it to be my first miracle of the season and it's given me a burst of blogging energy to boot.

My nephew L is loving Sydney, thank you very much.  He's just over a year old and already a budding foodie.  His favourite foods include mangoes, avocados, ricotta and spinach cannelloni, San Choy Bow (minus the lettuce leaf cup) as well as steamed jasmine rice with fish steamed in ginger and shallots.  I know all of this because I've seen him in action this week.  Look at the size of him!  Where does all that food go?

The mango is mine, all mine.......

This photo was taken the evening he touched down and discovered the mangos Mr SSG and I had bought his parents and grandparents.  Unfazed by jet lag, he latched onto that mango, inspected it for ripeness before clinging onto it with all his might.  He politely declined all offers of floor time or cuddles because he didn't want to let that particular mango out of his sight.  My sister in law was telling me he finished the entire fruit after a good effort at some cannelloni.

Nephew SSG joined us for lunch the next day at The Century, a fancy outpost of The Golden Century (an institution in Sydney's Chinatown) at the recently refurbished Star Casino.  The Star looks rather glamorous these days.  The entry area is all high ceilings and glass windows which let in lots of natural light as well as affording spectacular views out onto the water and the city.

There are still a few 'casino decor' interior design features inside, though.  Lots of glitzy gold, geometric flower bed arrangements and draped fabric awnings greet you at the lifts on the way up to the gaming area.  The gaming area open to the general public is much the same as the last time I walked through it which was coincidentally for another family get together at a casino restaurant.  I'm not exactly The Star's most lucrative client...

But back to The Century.  The restaurant is actually outside the main strip of fancy eateries and down an escalator at the Pirrama Road entrance.  Inside, it's all dark wood tones, white linen and dozens of ear pieced wait staff. The main dining room is concealed from the entrance by a bank of fish tanks containing the famed live seafood.  Prices for these are per kilo and according to market price.  Standard procedure for Chinese seafood restaurants.  Behind the main restaurant are a series of private dining rooms.

The family and I were so busy catching up, I didn't get to photograph the decor but rest assured, it's very discrete and tasteful.  There's plenty of space between tables (which all have lazy susans), the tables themselves don't wobble and their matching chairs are solid and well upholstered.   Service is polite and efficient.  The finicky dishes are presented before being divided into individual serves at a side table.  Chilli oil, chilli sauce as well as fresh cut chillis in soya sauce are all provided on request.  It's the kind of establishment my mother would refer to as a 'proper restaurant'.

As an entree, we ordered sauced egg plant cubes ($7) which I pretty much ate on my own as everyone else was pacing themselves.  Each cube was lightly battered and fried in such a way that the flesh remained a lovely white colour with just a little crunch.  The sauce is hard to describe but its slight sweetness was the perfect foil to the eggplant.

The appetites of the whole table of 7 adults and nephew SSG were stirred at the appearance of the Peking Duck (a whole duck contains 8 serves, $73).  This was our early Christmas lunch and we were going to overindulge in a manner true to the spirit of a Yuletide feast.

Retro duck pancake, complete with a real prawn cracker!!!!!
Hooray for a prawn cracker garnish with the duck pancakes!!!  The Century serve the duck skin with a generous layer of duck meat.  Pancakes are prepared by the staff and delivered to the table already garnished with spring onions, cucumber and hoisin.  The meat was very moist, fresh and perfectly seasoned. The skin was every bit as crispy as it looks in the photo.

Duck San Choy Bow.
The second course, san choy bow was a densely packed serve of pine nuts, duck meat and bamboo shoots.
Live pippies with XO sauce and fried vermicelli - Market Price.
Live pippies with XO sauce and fried vermicelli is the dish to order at The Century.  I didn't eat my pippies mainly because I couldn't stop eating the vermicelli cakes.  My mother in law and I both had more than our fair share of the noodles.  They were the perfect texture to soak up the heavy XO sauce spiked gravy.

Shredded beef, Peking style.
The dish I ordered was the shredded beef, Peking style ($27).  It was the perfect blend of fancy Chinese restaurant food - fried, sweet yet sour, crispy, so wrong (health wise) yet so right (taste wise) and very moreish with jasmine rice.  The kind of dish you'd never cook at home.

Front - crispy skinned chicken with ginger and shallots, rear - live red Morwong, steamed with ginger and shallots.
Another dish along that vein is crispy skinned chicken.  We ordered the version with ginger and shallots ($21).  Like the duck, the skin was crisp, the flesh moist and the only oil I saw was that which made the skin and gravy glisten.

It went without saying that we ordered from the fish tank to round out our selection of dishes.  Our waiter suggested that the Red Morwong steamed especially well and he was right.  I'm often a bit underwhelmed with steamed fish at restaurants but The Century know how it's done.  It was also lovely to be served my individual portion of deboned fish, ready to be attacked with my chop sticks and eaten with my rice.

Nephew SSG also loved the fish.  At first he was quite content to be fed spoonfuls but soon decided that it was a dish he just had to feed himself in order to truly appreciate the flavours.  He tried with a spoon held backwards and then with his hands before ending lunch with a performance of peek a boo from under his face washer.  He did well to not get any rice grains stuck in his hair.

Lunch was rounded out with a platter of orange segments and a selection of European style butter cookies (to go with tea and coffee, I presume).  I only had room for a few slices of orange.

A brisk walk around the casino was definitely in order.  Aside from a row of high profile restaurants, the revamped Star is also home to a string of fancy boutiques as well as a miniature food court including favourites like Din Tai Fung dumplings and Messina gelati.

Is this not the ultimate snow globe?  I know it looks like it could be life size from this photo but it was actually only about 20cm tall.  It was in the front window of the Chanel Beaute store within the casino. It was possibly a good thing that it didn't have a price tag on it because it would have found its way home with me if it were available for sale.

The Zumbo store was all aglow for Christmas and I had convinced myself that I still had room for a Zumbo treat or two...

My sister in law read my mind and presented me with a Zumbo chocolate and hazelnut tree.  Sadly, it hasn't survived to see Christmas Day in one piece.  It looked too delicious not to make a start on for dinner last night.  I love how Christmas is an excuse to throw sensible eating rules out the window!

The Century on Urbanspoon


  1. Lisa @ Blithe MomentsDecember 19, 2012 at 2:36 PM

    Christmas eating rules are the best, however they do have consequences. Just this morning I hopped on the scales so that in a couple of week's time I can see how much damage has been done.

    It is forever since I had good peking duck, those pictures had my mouth watering. And I always love following it with san choi bow. What an awesome lunch all round.

  2. ooooh, is that a chocolate crackle I see?????
    Merry Christmas and buona fortuna with everything. :D

  3. Leanne Shea LangdownDecember 21, 2012 at 10:03 AM

    Well, I for one am very pleased to see you back on line. Thanks for a great bloggy year SSG. The blogosphere is a much better place with you in it.
    Have a very Merry Christmas and a fabulous New Year.
    Thanks for your support and 'friendship'.
    We all know that 2013 is going to be a lovely year with a SSG baby in the mix.

    Leanne @ Deep Fried Fruit

  4. Look yummy and delicious. By the way, Merry Christmas to You and Your family.

    Everything 5 pound

  5. sweet ,delicious diet.Happy Christmas!


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