405 Sussex St
Haymarket, Sydney

Waitan is simply spectacular. They spent over $10 million renovating this classy place and it shows. Yet the prices are not crazy considering it's like stepping back in time to the 1930's in Shanghai. This place is different. It doesn't fit the typical Chinatown feel - and this is deliberate. The fit out is opulence from top to toe and for a bit over $10m you can see they have spared no expense here.

This is a big place too - just over 2,500 square metres spread over two floors. A guided tour by Waitan Group Chief Operations Officer Aaron Ching and Chief Finance Officer Patrick Tian highlighted that the idea here is that guests will forget they are in Chinatown and step back in time to another era of style, sophistication and elegance. Even the dinnerware has been hand made specifically for Waitan - and why not!

The opulent O Lounge was one of many impressive areas inside Waitan.

Named after the Opium Lounges of other places and other times, it offers something quite unique and magical.

You can lie back in your own private day bed (or lounge) and eat and drink away - with curtains to give you a bit more privacy!

We started our meal - or feast if the truth be told - and we were so fortunate to have Aaron Ching joining us and ordering for us! Our first course was the 12 hour slow cooked shaved pigs tongue with jelly fish, heirloom tomato and a lovely smoked paprika dressing. It was a light fresh dish with ingredients that complemented each other nicely. The pigs tongue was very thinly shaved and was delicious.

We then moved on to a plate of freshly shucked oysters.

Who doesn't love a nice fresh oyster?

These were a little different though as they were dressed with nam jim - a hot sour sauce that is most commonly associated with Thai food. I love nam jim so it probably wasn't a surprise that this tasted great!

One of the most popular entrees at Waitan is the Asian tapas plate. You get eight pieces on this lovely platter and they are all great. The long thin prawn spring rolls with tom yum dipping sauce are crisp and so tasty. The crab croquettes with chilli basil aioli were also unique and delicious.

Then there's the dumplings - prawn and pork and squid ink - which were both impressive as well. It was all so good!

We then moved on to some of the more substantial dishes - starting with steamed snapper fillet with ginger and shallots.

The snapper was beautifully done - so lightly steamed that it gently fell apart with warm juicy flesh greeting us.

The sauce went well creating a lovely mix of flavours in this delicate dish.

In keeping with mixing up the tastes, textures and flavours we then had a lovely light dish of baby spinach and garlic in supreme stock.

Supreme stock is the broth that the baby spinach and garlic was submersed in. It's always a complex blend of flavours with each restaurant having its own recipe and this was delicious.

Then the dish of the night arrived - Royal Peking Duck. This is a dish with a rich heritage and history of around 300 years. The ducks here are hung and covered in a special syrup made from spices bought from Duck Master Yuejin Ma in China. The ducks are then baked in the open wood fired oven - that was purpose built here from bricks imported from China. The Duck Master himself was still here preparing these treats!

The first course was the crispy duck skin which we dipped in white sugar. It was absolutely lovely! Our second course was the duck meat wrapped inside handmade pancakes with fresh shallots and cucumber which we bathed in their special hoi sin sauce. I could eat this all day - the duck was so juicy and tender! The third course was again duck meat with skin - this time wrapped in a handmade bun with the accompaniments of fresh shallots and cucumber and of course the sauce. Just delicious!

Our next main was a surprise - as it had elements of patatas bravas which was quite unexpected in an Asian restaurant!

It was thinly sliced Serrano jamon resting on a bed of diced potato bathed in a slightly spicy smoked paprika sauce and surrounding two slow cooked 62 degree eggs.

This was a really great dish - expect the unexpected here!

A lot of Asian restaurants are not strong when it comes to dessert. However the dessert tasting plate here has a combination of three desserts that are all excellent.

The miso baked cheesecake with black sesame ice cream was a tasty blend of east and west.

So was the cherry and coconut pavlova with lychee and logans.

The dessert of the day though was the black bean fudge brownie sundae with red bean ice cream. This was amazing with a great blend of flavours that we just couldn't stop eating. Mlady said it was the best Chinese dessert she'd ever had!

While you can order each of these desserts individually, the tasting plate allows you to get three great desserts at once.

Waitan is more than just a dining experience. It's a time warp in Chinatown - a step back to a bygone era.

It's surprisingly intimate for a large restaurant and well worth visiting for a unique evening that you wont forget in a hurry.

Waitan is a diamond in the rough.

Patrick Tian (left) and Aaron Ching (right)
Sir and Mlady dined as guests of Waitan. Special thanks to Aaron Ching for the wonderful company during our meal and also to Patrick Tian. Thanks also to Krissie Vitasa and Jasmine Jabbour from HK Strategies for arranging our visit.

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