AWU Delicious Food

Licensed/BYO $
1/50 Hunter Street, Hobart
03) 6234 4200
Open: Lunch Wednesday to Saturday noon to 3.00pm, Dinner seven day from 5.00pm. Takeaways.

Visiting and reviewing the trendiest and newest restaurants, good or bad, is fine. But the real pleasure comes when you visit a place that, for whatever reason, you’d written off, was never on your radar and find how mistaken you’d been.

Such was the case when having dinner last week at AWU Delicious Food – eight years after its opening. And, with only a few exceptions, delicious food is exactly what we got. AWU is a large franchise restaurant operation based in the Henan province in Central China’s Yellow River Valley, the province widely recognized as the place where Chinese civilization originated.

Managed and part owned by the delightful Kathy Wang, Hobart’s AWU is the only franchise outside of China. The place is relatively small, possibly seating fewer than 40 people at tables for two and at antique-style round tables for foursomes. Happily free of the garish gold and red lantern decorations typical of many Chinese eateries, the walls are hung instead with Chinese lithographs and posters along with a wall of various certificates of excellence. A corner TV scrolls images of the menu items which in the Asian way the food photos are duplicated in the menu handed to you.

While not excessively large by Chinese standards, the menu runs from spring rolls and duck sang choy bao through soups, dumplings, hot pots, duck, beef and pork dishes, seafood, stir-fried vegetables, noodles and onto braised whole abalone and specials of rock lobster, crab and live whole fish.

We started with puff pastry triangles filled with BBQ duck, bamboo and onion which were nicely crisp and generously filled with duck meat subtly spiced with star anise. Next came beautifully textured and flavoured steamed pork dumplings followed by a prawn wonton soup which tasted of seaweed but was otherwise disappointingly bland.

Then came one of the night’s highlights, the most perfectly fried and seasoned salt and pepper prawns of my experience. Crisp-crusted and crunchy with a mouth-watering salty tang, they were great. Accompanying the prawns was a traditional dish of fried green beans with crisp pork scratchings, garlic and dry chillies, almost as good as the dish for which Sandy Bay’s former Written On Tea was famed.

A dish simply listed as “hand split cabbage” was a lot less simple than it sounded coming as it did crisply stir-fried and lifted by the delicious mild tingle of Szechuan chilli sauce. A very generous pile of fried noodles was creamy with egg that had been tossed through it and was chock-full of diced prawns, BBQ pork and vegetables all gently spiced with the vibrancy of a sweetish Singapore curry.

The English-speaking Chinese staff were excellent, the wine selection adequate and – a small thing but one that added to the enjoyment of the night – although we ordered all the food items at once, the chef, Rock Chen, was to be congratulated on the timing and sequestering of each dishes’ delivery.

Duck puffs (3) $10.80, steamed dumplings (8) $15.90, green beans $17.90, Singapore noodles $19.90, Kung Bo chicken ($22.90), salt and pepper prawns $33.90

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