Market City’s 1909 Dining Precinct at its Level 3 is the current crowd-puller at Haymarket. So much so that much life has been sucked out of Dixon Street, Sydney Chinatown’s erstwhile main drag, now reduced to a pale shadow of its former, bustling self as restaurants and shops closed down, many to move into Market City, besides to Sydney’s other burgeoning “Chinatowns” in suburbs like Ashfield and Chatswood.
Over at 1909 Dining Precinct, one-year-old Beijing Impression was our dinner venue last week. The restaurant started off in Ashfield, and was successful enough to open an swankier branch at Haymarket, which remained the epicentre of the Chinese community in Sydney. Beijing Impression offers Northern Chinese cuisine, and a pretty authentic one at that, something unimaginable in Sydney as recent as 20 years ago when Cantonese cooking held sway.
I met up with a couple of Sydneysider friends who suggested this place for dinner, but were otherwise unfamiliar with Chinese cuisine, leaving me to do the ordering. Caught totally unprepared, I didn’t order the restaurant’s signature dish, the Peking duck!
Anyway, these were what we ended up having:
Beijing appetiser platter - this platter included some Beijing classics, such as Napa cabbage in yellow mustard & sesame, pork aspic with beans, candied hawthorn and chilled deboned chicken feet. Absolutely loved each & every one of those.
Lion’s head dumplings - less greasy than the ones I find in Beijing or Shanghai, these finely-minced giant pork dumplings nevertheless maintained their authentic flavours.
Crispy shrimps - I find these caramelised, crispy shrimps irresistible. One complaint - the shrimps do seem overcooked, and the flesh had gone dry/stringy. But then, Beijing cuisine, reflecting its landlocked origins, have always been weak where seafood is concerned.
Squirrel-shaped mandarin fish - this sweet-sour fish dish is one of China’s classics, originating from Jiangsu cuisine (江苏菜), one of the Eight Culinary Traditions of China. The version here was as good as any I’d had in China - it’s common in Shanghai, more so than in Beijing.
Hot, candied sweet potatoes - not so much a dessert, as a side-dish served together with the rest of the savoury dishes.
Service was outstanding here, by its young, earnest wait-staff. Definitely coming back here for its Peking duck the next time I’m in Sydney. A testament to the authenticity of its cooking, I think our table was the only one with non-Chinese customers.
Beijing Impression Haymarket (瓷器)
1909 Dining Precinct Level 3 Market City
9–13 Hay St, Haymarket NSW 2000, Australia
Tel: +61 2 9188 8945
Operating hours: 9.30am to 11.30pm daily