The Gasworks Plaza at Newstead has suddenly become one of the trendy hang-outs in Brisbane, and it’s no surprise that when a new addition opened at the venue, it would turn out to be a fabulous wining and dining establishment.
Peng You China Kitchen + Bar is that new addition. Opening its doors only a few weeks ago, Peng You provides a fresh breeze through your usual ideas of a Chinese restaurants. Think boring white walls, round timber tables with a Lazy Susan placed in the centre and the oh-so-westernised sweet and sour pork or lemon chicken. Well, my friends, Peng You (meaning “friends” in Chinese) is NOTHING like that!
The moment when I stepped inside this establishment, I was taken away by the old Shanghai inspired décor. The dark paved floor walkway leads to two different sections in the restraint; a street style section which is decorated with red lanterns and colourful cushions placed on wooden seats, providing a more casual atmosphere and a second, which is where one owner, Joyce Chiu would like to call “home”. It’s positioned a few stairs above the “street” level, with warm lights sparkling from the crystal chandeliers. The walls are painted with old Shanghai poster girls, adding that touch of vintage flair.
So inevitably, I was excited about the dinner party that Peng You had arranged.
The food at Peng You is all about traditional Chinese cuisine mingled with a modern twist, and it sure stands out from the crowd. The plates were decorated with fresh garnishes such as mint leaves and lemon wedges or even lettuce cups to bring uniqueness to the presentation of the dishes.
We started off with some Asian Tapas. Being one of Peng You’s specialities, the griddle-cooked house made dumplings were well received. It seemed like we just couldn’t get enough of the dumplings, especially when they had been dipped into the spicy dipping sauce. My personal favourite was the house-wrapped pork and vegetable spring rolls. I loved the fact that when I took my first bite into the spring roll, the crunchiness of the lettuce cup and the crispiness of the pastry created a sensation in my mouth and then I was hit by the tastiness of the mixture inside. Hmmm… it was so tasty that I didn’t even need the sweet and sour sauce for any additional flavour.
Before the mains arrived, we also devoured crispy pork with salad and spicy sauce, Taiwanese street-style fried chicken and Peng You crispy marinated chicken wings with cucumber (which I also highly recommend). Each dish was unique and fun to eat.
When they brought out the big guns (i.e. the mains meals that left all of us at the table going “wow”), I was impressed. The Peng You exclusive slow-cooked pork trotter and the steamed baby barramundi with black bean, chilli and Shaoxing were nothing like what I’ve seen at any other Chinese restaurant. The presentation of the dishes was vibrant and so inviting. The flesh of the baby barramundi was soft and had layers of different flavours due to the mixture of ginger, chilli and Shaoxing, which is fermented from rice and yet the mixture wasn’t so overpowering that you couldn’t taste the fish.
Other main meals such as the Malay-style curry roast duck with eggplant, Sichuan-style minced pork with dried chilli and eggplant as well as the Peng You special fried rice with Chinese sausage and prawns were also tasty and popular among the other guests. The pork trotter was no doubt my favourite of all the main dishes. It was slow-cooked for 10 long hours until the skin became almost glutinous and the meat, which had sucked up all the juices and flavours from the cooking process, tasted so tender that it literally melted in my mouth.
The night was finished with sorbet and deep fried ice cream. I found the lime sorbet to be slightly too sharp for my liking (albeit a great palate cleanser), which is why I devoured the lychee sorbet (a flavour which I’ve never had before!) and the deep fried ice cream.
I love the fact that Peng You doesn’t drench their dishes in soy sauce but rather focuses on using fresh ingredients and garnishes to really bring out the flavours in each dish thereby creating a new twist on Chinese cuisine.
PS. For those of you who appreciate some wine when you dine, Peng You offers wines on tap!
Disclaimer: DolceBunnie was invited as a guest of Peng You China Kitchen + Bar.