I don't consider myself an expert in Chinese cuisine (especially Southern Chinese cuisine), but I feel that I've been to enough Chinese restaurants in Sydney to give a somewhat balanced review. But, by all means, take this with a grain of salt :D I wish I could say that I have a 'cultured palate' (whatever that means), but the truth is, I'd pretty much eat anything put in front of me when I'm hungry. And, oh boy, I was so hungry when I stepped into The Eight that I gulped down two bowls of the complimentary starter broth and a handful of peanuts...and immediately regretted it when I felt my appetite wane.
When we dine at Chinese restaurants, we very rarely consult the menu; instead, we ask the waiters for recommendations. On this occasion, our waiter did an exemplary job of picking dishes which showcased what The Eight had to offer. However, I did make it a point to ask for the roast suckling pig and crispy pork belly platter.
I had to stop myself from drooling all over the table cloth when the waiter set this down on the turntable. GAH, I'm salivating just thinking back on it now. The horribly-lit photograph really doesn't do justice to the perfectly crisped pork skin, and the tender, succulent, fatty meat underneath. The pork came atop a bed of pickled jellyfish (also a favourite of mine), and plates of various condiments: granulated sugar, mustard, and hoisin sauce.
Next to arrive were the gigantic steamed oysters with XO chili sauce and vermicelli. There was plenty of sauce, which meant that the vermicelli was thoroughly infused with the XO and chili flavour. Cooked oysters don't sit well with some people, but I personally enjoy both the raw and cooked variety. These ones were cooked quite well - very tender!
I think this next dish is the braised vegetables in clay pot. It had edible fungi, carrot, snow pea, fried bean curd and tofu skin. A nice, vegetarian touch to an otherwise animal protein-heavy meal.
And then all the rest of our dishes seemed to arrive at once! Not that I was complaining. Why is it that the more I eat, the hungrier I get?!
There was The Eight's special fried rice with crab meat, fried scallop and salmon roe. It was "special" all right. The price was very "special" too :D
The deep fried crispy duck topped with minced taro was my second favourite dish of the night (the favourite being the pork platter). The crispy duck was covered by a thick layer of buttery taro mash, and then the whole thing was coated in what tasted quite similar to tempura batter, and then deep fried. My dining companions all complained about how rich and fatty it was, but I tuned it all out and simply savoured each, blissful bite.
When we dine out at a Chinese restaurant, we always get one fried rice and one noodle dish. Yet another of our many idiosyncracies, I suppose. For tonight, we chose the stir fried ee fu noodles with mixed mushroom in abalone sauce. Wish there was more mushroom.
The sweet and sour pork with pineapple and lychees is another 'must'. The glaze was beautifully caramelized, and the pork underneath pleasingly fatty. The lychees were nowhere in sight, though. Maybe it was used in the sauce? Or, er...metaphorical???
The wok seared diced beef fillet with foie gras paste was recommended to us by our waiter, and I'm now recommending it to all you out there! Beautifully cooked beef, rich, flavourful sauce, and crunchy string beans providing a nice, textural contrast.
We were so stuffed at this point, but who can refuse complimentary dessert? :D It was the standard fare: fruit platter, dessert soup, and various Chinese pastries.
I walked out of The Eight with the waistband of my skirt cutting uncomfortably into my now rotund midriff. I try to practice mindful eating in life, but when the food is good and all your dining companions are chowing down...well, it's hard not to eat until you feel like a little porker yourself :D
Level 3, Market City, 9-13 Hay Street
Sydney NSW 2000
Tel: (02) 9282 9988