Chinoiserie, Mt Albert
The term chinoiserie refers to European interpretation and imitation of Chinese and East Asian artistic traditions, so the restaurant is completely upfront in that respect. At Chinoiserie, once you’ve navigated the challenge of a table, you can enjoy well presented, mostly flavourful dishes that are real crowd pleasers. Christina and Kristina joined me for our catch up dinner and there’s some solid eating but there’s also some hiccups and dishes that need to transition from mimicry to masterful. Menu is narrow. No doubt it’s a fantastic addition to Mt Albert and I do hope to see it grow from here.
Our first choice of Kiss Kiss was too popular, so we took a drive over to Mount Albert to their sister restaurant, Chinoserie. We called ahead to get a table and found something near the front upon arrival.
We started off our evenings with some Gua Baos ($8/$10 each). The ladies had the Coconut crusted squid (below). This was contained with chilli mayo, num-dim, carrot, daikon and coriander (held). Mine was for the braised pork belly in five spice soy reduction with cabbage and peanuts. I wasn’t enamoured with my order. The pork didn’t have a sauce or the right tenderness making for a dry, thick bite. I would have loved the crackling and the peanuts were a consolation prize. The baos are big (too big) and almost burger-like, the meat was chewy so it make for an shaky start to things.
Our first order of the Erk’s sticky chicken nibbles ($12) in spicy sauce was tasty and well presented, up to the point where I bit into a strand of hair. The staff member swapped it for a new one (not especially apologetic, but she did it) and our second order got us plenty full. Not quite as spicy as mentioned but a good soy, sweetness and satisfying to eat.
To keep the calorie count in check we had a serve of the glass noodle salad ($12). This contained a mix of the said noodles with cucumber, carrot, mushroom and spring onion. Coriander on the side because of Christina. Exactly as described, nothing exciting or different here. Okay to eat but lacked a flavour. Not doing much but okay when soaking up the sauce from the ribs and the wings.
Our last dish to share was the pork spare ribs ($15) slow cooked in black bean sauce. There’s a lot of meat here and the sauce is nice enough. Being fried in nature, there’s a nice crispiness and you get quite a lot for the price, which makes it an easy choice for group sharing. The garnish replicates the one from the chicken wings and whilst visually appealing, not sure if it did much for the dish in taste.
Chinoiserie by name and appearance is going for a fusion-Asian market and the offering is more than fair. It adds a lot of vibrancy to the area and there’s some good food in the mix. The menu is rather small and a few more choices would make a return visit more enticing.