GINGKO BAR & DINING has recently popped up in the old BAR BROSE spot on Victoria Street in Darlinghurst. We knew it’d be different to BAR BROSE, with the Asian focus and the mention of Harbin-style food in a Broadsheet article I came across. However, we still held out hope that perhaps it could become a neighbourhood local. Alas, it wasn’t the case.
We already got a sense that things weren’t quite right when we were shown to a table by one waitress, only to be told immediately by another that that table was actually reserved. No biggie, but your wait staff should really be across your reservations for the night. Once we were seated, we didn’t actually receive our menus for 10 minutes. At this point we started to feel a bit uncomfortable. We tried to order, but were told by a passing waitress she’d be right back. In fact, she wasn’t ‘right back’ and another 15 minutes later we finally got to order. A couple of minutes later, another waitress passed by to check if we had ordered…I feel like there is some lack of communication going on. She finally brought us some plates and cutlery. 20 minutes later, no food. Then they bring us some dumplings we didn’t order.
Eventually we got our first lot of dumplings 45 minutes after we’d initially sat down…
The menu is quite large and is divided into smaller dishes and main dishes. Everything is designed to share, so we got a couple of the ‘yum cha’ dishes (never mind the fact that yum cha is in fact a lunchtime meal, sometimes even a breakfast meal, and we were dining at night!). The Cordyceps & Nokin Dim Sum ($9) was by far our favourite. Cordyceps are a type of fungus (best not to look it up…) and I don’t actually know what nokin are. Essentially the dumpling tasted like a delicious mushroom dumpling!
The Vegie Wonton Soup ($12) was also delicious, but I was a bit put off by the fact that the wonton look like little brains floating in your soup…sorry to put that image in your mind. You do walk past the partly open kitchen on your way in and see them making the dumplings, so it’s comforting to know they are actually fresh veggies!
I had heard that the Gingko Sausage Puff ($9) was their signature dish, so we tried it. DS and I really love Chinese sausage but unfortunately we couldn’t really taste it! Bit of a shame. Maybe I was expecting a Breadtop style sausage bun?
At this point we got the feeling other customers were also dissatisfied. We overheard the table next to us sending a dish back as it was cold. They also ended up speaking to the manager and making a further complaint. Our wait continued with the mains – we waited an hour between our first dumplings and our mains! They did bring out the Combination Vegetable ($18) by itself without any rice, so we’re sitting there just munching on some greens while we wait. It’s not difficult to bring out some Jasmine rice for the table!
Finally our Sweet & Sour Dragon Finger Fish ($30) and I must say, it was very disappointing. You know when the fish tastes extra fishy because it’s not fresh? We were pretty sure this wasn’t fresh and we couldn’t get through the whole fish. This really ended our meal on a sour note (no pun intended), but the most jarring part was that upon asking for the bill, it arrived within 1 minute. I guess you can see where their priorities lie!
Overall I think our experience at GINGKO BAR & DINING really cemented the important role that good service plays in a pleasant dining experience. The waitress apologised for the long wait times but nothing was done to compensate for this. She also didn’t explain what caused this delay – again, we overheard another table being told that they had some power issues in the kitchen. I don’t think we’ll go back again, we can get similar if not better Chinese food elsewhere, but I wish them best of luck!
GINGKO BAR & DINING
231A VICTORIA STREET