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It’s the end of an era at St Martin’s Anglican Church, with the Tonks family moving to the Parish of Sutton Forest, in the Southern Highlands. This Sunday is their last service at church, followed by a farewell lunch at Chao Praya in the Spot.

But as we dearly love our wonderful friends, mum and I thought it only fitting to take them out for our own farewell dinner. In the seven and a half years that we’ve known them, we have had the pleasure of sharing many delicious meals with the Tonks at their place, our place and various fine dining establishments (such as Galileo, Tabou and Restaurant Balzac).

Last night we went to China Doll. It’s a little gem of a restaurant tucked in about a third of the way down the Woolloomooloo Wharf. Lots of Beautiful People of course, and moneyed folk, and a few normal people like us just out for a night of good food and good company. It has an unusual but captivating view of the city, and is especially delightful on nights like last night, when it was cool but not cold, with a clear and starry sky.

My brother works at China Doll, and although I love sharing a meal with him, I also love being served by him. Not, as you might imagine, because of some older-sibling-hierarchy or anything, but because he is genuinely good at his job, knows his stuff, and is inordinately charming when he’s working the floor. I think he is at his best when he is describing food, or matching wine, or just ‘taking care’ of you during a meal. I wasn’t very well, but was determined to enjoy the food and being looked after.

I think that’s the best part of it; not even having to open a menu but knowing you will get a perfectly balanced selection of dishes with the perfect drinks…and a nice cuddle from your loving brother (that’s only for me – nobody else gets that). I didn’t take any photos of the food (sorry K), mainly because I was too busy enjoying it (and also Nic probably would have clipped me around the ear if I had so embarrassed him). But here is what we had:

  • Drink: the awfully-named (but delicious) ‘Lindsay Lohan’ cocktail – raspberry, fresh coconut, sake, and other things that I forgot to note when I read the cocktail list
  • Kurobuta pork and peanut san choy bau
  • Tempura of zucchini flowers stuffed with prawn, enoki and asparagus, with soy mirin
  • Free-range Thirlmere duck pancakes with shallot, cucumber and hoi sin (my mum especially requested we have these, if nothing else…I highly recommend them too!)
  • Drink: I was driving so didn’t have any wine, but had a delicious watermelon and guava mocktail (I hate that word)
  • Steamed Suzuki jewfish with soy, shiitake and XO broth
  • Crispy master stock chicken with yellow bean sauce
  • Steamed broccolini with oyster sauce and ginger
  • Drink: a palate-cleansing Asian-style limoncello made with fresh lemon, sugar syrup and infused with star anise
  • Dessert plate for four people: sago pudding with vanilla coconut cream and passionfruit coulis; banana ice cream, mango sorbet and strawberry sorbet; warm black sticky rice with mango (I really can’t describe how good this was; you’ll just have to trust me)
  • Drink: a short black

All in all, an exemplary meal. Danielle sighed at one point and said, “I love flavours”, which made Jeremy grin and say, “I love being married to her.” This morning mum said, “I wish you could take nights like last night, put them in a bottle, and take them out to look at again later.” Well, it’s not much of a bottle, but this blog will have to do.

Get thee to China Doll. Take some people you love. You won’t be disappointed.