Sydney harbours a plethora of amazing experiences.
Some are well-known, others are truly hidden away and known only by the initiated, and there are those in plain sight yet missed by most.
China Diner, not to be confused with China Doll in Woolloomooloo, or China Lane in the CBD, is the Bondi Beach franchise of this delightfully delicious chain of modern Chinese restaurants.
Where do I start with China Diner? The exquisite cocktails, the delicious food, or the adorable chef, Jack Steer, who lists his boyfriend and glowsticks among his likes on the restaurant’s website? What’s not to like?!
I usually start with a refreshing drink, so let’s talk cocktails first. They are delicious. The Dragon’s Breath with a chilli infused tequila base is one of my favourites, but their share cocktail jugs are also divine. We never got one we didn’t like but the China Rose, which we had the very first time we visited and many times since, had become our favourite.
If you are not into cocktails, no problem. China Diner has a good wine list and an expansive selection of spirits, including some excellent whisky. The Japanese Tokinoka is certainly worth a try, and so does the Hudson Manhattan Rye from the US. There is also a good selection of rum, tequila, mescal, and gin, so you are unlikely to go thirsty.
Then there is the food. Delicious, delectable, and perfect for sharing from two to twenty, or more.
While the restaurant is large, can seat around 200, it’s still wise to book as the place fills up quickly, especially at night and on weekends, but the bustling environment only adds to the vibrant atmosphere.
Admittedly, we had wondered in here a few times without a booking, and the wonderful host almost always managed to find us a cute little spot for two, but I wouldn’t try that with a larger table.
When it comes to food, it’s worth checking on the daily specials first with your waiter as there is always something delicious on offer.
From the ‘Dumplings & Bao’ selection our favourites are the sweet and doughy Crispy lamb dumplings with cumin and chilli, the spectacular crunchy Prawn and bug ‘dragon ball-z’ with sweet chilli sauce, and the Crispy pork bao with apple and carrot kimchi and sriracha mayo.
The Steamed Goldband Snapper with Chinese broth, shiitake, bamboo shoots and celery from the ‘Seafood’ selection will be a party for your taste buds.
From the ‘Meats’ selection we can never go past the delicious Five spice duck pancakes with hoisin, shallot, and cucumber, and the delicate yet impressively impactful White cut chicken with ginger and shallot.
Over time we visited China Diner from romantic dinners for two, to tables of four, and up to twenty, and the service has been consistently good. The staff is down to earth with a sense of humour, and there is an enjoyable breezy casualness to the service that blends with the Bondi Beach vibe, and helps to relax and enjoy the food and the drink.
If I had one complaint about China Diner, it would be its relatively early closing times, especially when the late night cravings hit. Although, these days in Sydney we just have to be grateful that venues remain open at all …
75-79 Hall Street
Bondi Beach, NSW, 2026
Monday to Friday from 6 till 10pm
Saturday from 12 till 3.30pm and from 5 till 11pm
Sunday from 12 till 3.30pm and from 5 till 9pm