I told the guys at work that I was having a fancy long weekend in the city and wanted suggestions for places to go. Of the places mentioned, the Chinese restaurant Spice Temple at Crown Casino in Melbourne was very highly recommended.
We walked around Crown Casino for a bit, looking at places to eat and eventually decided that Spice Temple did seem to be the most appealing. I had walked by there earlier in the day and it looked very nice inside. We were aware that it was the type of place you needed a reservation for, but we decided to try our luck anyway and asked the reception staff if they had any tables available.
There were two tables for two in the bar area. The nice waitress offered to show us the bar area so we didn’t have to commit to anything, we went downstairs to the bar and though the tables were tiny and we were sitting on stools, the atmosphere was still quite nice and we accepted the spot.
The bar area was very dark and moody, a theme for the whole restaurant. When we sat, the waitress cloaked our jackets, which was great as it was sufficiently warm and there was no seat back to hang it.
First we ordered drinks. The drink menus are worth mentioning. They have a wine menu with 100 wines on the list. Whenever they want to add a new wine they must remove another, keeping it as a very well curated selection of wine. We didn’t get any wine but I thought this rule of theirs was interesting.
The cocktail menu was interesting too. They had cocktails for each Chinese Zodiac sign plus a guide to figure out what sign you are if you weren’t sure. Whilst I don’t care for Zodiac signs I think it is a good prompt to help people choose a drink and a conversation starter, eg. “Oooh which one is yours? Year of the Dragon? That sounds nice”, “Nah I’ll get the monkey one”. Rather than just not knowing which to choose you can start by considering the one for your birth year and then comparing it to others to find something better. It’s just a small touch but it compliments the theme of the restaurant and shows that someone has put some thought into their menu.
I love alcoholic ginger beer. This was nice and spicy and set the tone for the rest of my meal. We also got free water, which got topped up regularly, which was good service.
When we were ordering we originally planned to get the Hot and Numbing Duck and Kung Pao Chicken plus some $12 fried rice. The waitress suggested we don’t get two spicy dishes… Which was thoughtful, but I kind of regretting replacing the Kung Pao Chicken with the less hot chicken dish as it included a lot of vegetables in it compared to the duck and it was a similar price. When you’re paying about $40 a meal you kinda want as much meat as possible. It was still great though.
So first we got the Hot and Numbing Duck, the waitress warned us of a numbing sensation caused by the flavour. I couldn’t really notice it too much, it was maybe similar to when you eat a cough lolly but with a totally different taste. This duck was amazing. It was a little spicy but nothing intolerable. It came with our rice and once we ate all the duck we used up the sauce on the rest of the rice, the sauce was so good we couldn’t waste it.
There was a bit of a wait before the chicken came, we ordered another lot of the rice because the first lot was so good and we’d eaten it all. I also ordered a gin and tonic, I forgot what brand it was but it was good. They had about 6-7 to choose from.
$10 gin, was nice and well presented.
The Spicy Chicken was good as well, but I think we would have enjoyed the Kung Pao Chicken a bit more. This wasn’t very spicy. It was still nice, but the duck was better.
The bill came with some shortbread.
Would I come back to Spicy Temple?
I would definitely come back. I need more of that Hot & Numbing Duck in my life and in my mouth and stomach. Next time I’ll come on a quiet week night or make a booking so I can sit in the main area.