China Lane is a stylish yet relaxed dining experience in a funky inner city lane way.The shared menu is driven by Head Chef, Ben Haywood who is blessed with a remarkable history of experience.
Time spent with Raymond Blanc (Petit Blanc & Manoir), Nico Ladenis (Chez Nico) & Heston Blumenthal (Fat Duck), combined with recent years engaged in Asian fare, have inspired a fresh approach to a well known style of cuisine in Sydney.Not surprisingly there will be few twists thrown in the mix.
The wine list is compact and accessible with 88 lucky labels tailored towards wines which are versatile with Asian flavours and our cocktail list is fun and fresh with weekly specials to delight the palate.
China Lane is a perfect place for intimate tables or large groups with banquet menus to suit groups and there is a secluded Private Room for up to 10 guests. The design could be described as Shanghai meets Mad Men? well let you decide.
To most people, Angel Place is known as that small alley with lots of empty birdcages suspended above. And this was exactly my answer until a friend of mine took me to China Lane, located exactly where these birdcages are.
China Lane is a high-end restaurant serving Asian fusion dishes. The place might not give a hint of the food offerings, as its atmosphere resembles more of a modern lounge room with low lights and light ambience music on the background.
The dishes offered are designed for sharing, and are of small portion sizes. Out of several dishes that we ordered, the ones that impressed me the most were the usual duck pancakes and silken tofu with tomato based sauce. Although they were beautifully prepared and were delicious (and the waiting time was also very minimal), the small portion sizes and the high price range pretty much gives away the idea that you are here for the atmosphere rather than anything.
It also strikes me that the restroom area consists of several tightly spaced toilet cubicles resembling airplane lavatories with the exception of colours.
The staffs were attentive, professional, and informative although a bit more of a courteous friendly service would have had been nice too.
We visited China Lane on a Wednesday night with a couple of friends and managed to make a reservation for four the night before we went. We were planning to just rock up unannounced but were glad that a booking was made. The restaurant was buzzing for a Wednesday night and people were being turned away.
The waitstaff were lovely, didn't mind a bit of a banter, but never got in the way. They were pretty keen to get us going on drinks and came back a couple of times to check on me before I'd made up my mind. We ended up going with the easiest option which was to get a couple of bottles of wine for the table to share.
The menu swings toward Chinese (as you would expect), offers a good selection of dishes, but isn't overwhelming. There are a couple of banquet style options which I would have been happy to go along with, but my husband and friend were happy to choose our dishes so we left it up to them.
We ordered some wontons with black fungus which was amazingly presented, but agreed that it needed some sort of a sauce or dressing to accompany. Prawn dumplings (har gao) was nicely done - the prawns inside were big and juicy and definitely not pre-frozen. The Peking duck pancakes were great - served with perfectly cooked duck breast. A few other spectacular dishes came by - a fish dish with a creamy, slightly spicy sauce, slow cooked lamb, and salt and pepper prawns. There were a couple of slight hiccups with dishes being brought out (certainly nothing we would have complained about), and staff were extremely apologetic and gave us a couple of free dishes to make up for it, along with complimentary digestifs to finish the meal.
Maybe it was the company we were with or the perfect evening out on a Sydney laneway, but China Lane made a great first impression. Definitely worthy of a generous tip and a second visit.