Thursday, 26 February 2015

Marigold, Haymarket

Back in January when my parents asked me where I wanted to go for my birthday, I thought long and hard. As I child, going out for meals was a treat and it'd always be at a Chinese restaurant. But as we've grown up we've branched out to try different cuisines and have been a little more creative with where we go. So with the urge to reminisce and having a huge hankering to eat squab (pigeon), we decided with Marigold, somewhere I knew my parents would take initiative when ordering while I sat back and anticipated. 

Fresh pippies with XO sauce, 855g for $58.14, extra noodles $10.00
An oldie but definitely a goodie, a classic dish that is always so satisfying and delicious - this was no different. Every morsel of pippie is sweet and plump. The small shells are just big enough to hold some sauce, allowing every mouthful to pack a punch. The XO sauce is probably home made, using plenty of garlic, chilli, dried scallop and dried shrimp (but this isn't strong as only its saltiness that is present). Plenty of spring onions are scattered all over, giving it an extra kick of its own fresh zing. For a bit extra, you can add some vermicelli noodles that that is partially fried, making it crispy, and with the other side remaining soft, soaking up all the saucy goodness. But of course if you're already having plain white rice, the sauce can easily be mopped up that way too.

Squab, $26.80
Whenever I tell friends that I love to eat pigeon, they always make a funny face and ask if I eat the ones that fly about in Hyde Park. I understand that this is not to everyone's taste, especially since many see them as scummy rats with wings roaming around the streets. But I assure you that if you like the taste of roast duck, you might appreciate my love for eating squab (it sounds slightly better).

Dad kindly asked the waiter for the squab to not be divided and cut up, since I wanted to eat it whole, all to myself. I must admit, I was demolishing it in most unlady-like manner as I used both hands, all ten fingers and pulling it apart bit by bit. But it was certainly the most satisfying way of eating it. It was rather disappointing when I discovered the meat was dry which really didn't do it for me. The meat wasn't juicy or succulent and the flavour wasn't enough to make it up. 

Sweet and sour pork, $22.00

I must admit, I actually didn't eat one piece of pork as I was busy eating away the pigeon. There's actually two versions of this dish that can be ordered, differing by the cuts of the pork; one is spare ribs and the other is more like a pork belly. We think they must have gotten it wrong because Mum had ordered the spare ribs which usually is leaner but juicier as it's usually still attached to the bone. However when I eventually got around to it, Mum told me not to bother trying since it was fatty with hardly any meat on it, along with being cold since I left it too late. This is also disappointing since this is usually Mum's favourite and it's another miss for the evening.

Stir-fried gai lan with ginger, $18.00
Gai lan is quite a bitter vegetable so by stir-frying it with a lot of ginger, it helps counteract the bitterness and makes it really tasty. The gai lan is still crunchy so it's easy to munch on and gives your mouth a flavour break from all the other dishes. 

The beauty about ordering at Chinese restaurant is you can ask what vegetables they've stocked up on for the night, see what tickles your fancy and then decide how you'd like it prepared; stir-fried with garlic, cooked in chicken soup, add fresh seasonal mushrooms or take on whatever the waiter suggests might go with the veg, depending if they're the bitter or sweeter kind. It ensures what you eat is the best and of your own choosing.

Complimentary fruit and dessert
Most Chinese restaurants provide complimentary food and dessert at the end of the meal and Marigold's miniature pineapple buns are certainly a favourite of ours. Everything is better when it comes in a mini size as it makes it super cute but also easy to eat, leaving you wanting a full-size one. It's warm, soft in texture and just melt in your mouth. There's a little bit of the usual sweet filling inside, a one-mouthful dessert that is just sweet enough. The sweet cake is nice, spongey, light and also not overly sweet.

The fruit is fruit, it's usually not bad since it's whatever fruit is in season but of course there's the occasional dud watermelon. I'm not a huge fan of the sweet potato in sweet ginger soup, not because it's bad but I find it difficult to enjoy vegetables in a sweet gingery broth as a dessert. The dessert that Chinese restaurants usually make is red bean soup, or if you're really really lucky, glutinous balls with black sesame filling in ginger soup, which may sound a bit odd but I can associate more as sweet dessert flavours. But of course I get a slap on the wrist for complaining about complimentary dessert.

There's something about eating at a Chinese restaurant that holds a special place in my heart. Whether it's the grand decor, the rude (not always intentionally, it's just part of their efficiency) or sometimes quirky service from waiters, the complimentary soup (if you're lucky, which we were not this time) and dessert, or the flexible 'made to order' dishes, it's a truly unique dining experience that differs from any other cuisine.

Level 4 & 5
Citymark Building
683-689 George Street 

9281 3388

Marigold Citymark on Urbanspoon

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