There’s no shame in admitting that we all love the gritty chaos and clamour which can be found in a standard food court. Generally, the plastic plates and questionable surfaces are tolerable for long enough to slurp down your huge bowl of delicious noodles before you move on to a classier venue with change from your $10.
Stepping through the doors of the newly renovated Chinatown Plaza I can instantly see that this is not your average humble food hall. Glowing umbrellas, rainbow lanterns and caged chandeliers shine down on a funky communal space filled with a seemingly endless variety of hawker style vendors. Against a backdrop of artistic graffiti the spotless tables and varnished wooden pagodas are filled with customers happily slurping down silky rice noodles and savouring the gluttony of finishing the last morsel of what once was a large plate of freshly steamed dumplings, doused with lashings of soy and chilli. This is a place to sit and savour your meal; where quick business lunches or friendly catch ups can be hosted in modern Asian style.
The Plaza provides a variety of seating, from private tables nestled in the lamplight towards the back of the room, eight seater pagodas which feel like gastronomic cubby houses and long communal tables where you can watch the gentle hubbub of the room between succulent bites of fragrant steamed chicken and fluffy rice.
After walking slow laps of the space to take in the huge assortment of mouth-watering options we decide it is far too difficult to settle for one choice, and agree the best way to experience the venue is to sample a collection of dishes, which are ready to take to the table within minutes of ordering. The Plaza is incredibly friendly to the wallet, with practically every vendor $10 – $15 dollars will easily get you enough food for even the most voracious of appetites.
Settling into our pagoda we devour the banquet of colour and flavour. Succulent pork with glistening caramelised skin, tender tea smoked duck, Cantonese prawns delicately perched on forests of perfectly steamed bok choy and savoury wontons bobbing in rich pho broth. No craving is left unsatisfied.
If you fancy a beverage of the alcoholic variety to go with your meal the Plaza has a wide range of beers and quality local wines, such as Adelaide Hills icon Tomich Wines. Their chardonnay is perfect with our delicate prawn dumplings.
Chinatown Plaza also offers a change from your typical weekend brunch. You can trade your avocado toast for Yum Cha, served on Sundays from 11am – 3pm. Bamboo steamers filled with delicious bite sized delicacies start at just $4 each.
As we rest, satiated and relaxed, the couples, friends and families around us happily share meals in which all tastes have been catered for. There’s a real feeling of connection in the hall as people enthusiastically exclaim to each other about their chosen selection from the accessible range of authentic side street flavours.
If you’re looking for a few more frills with your next meal in Chinatown I highly recommend the marvellous flavours and numerous textures of Chinatown Plaza’s delightful convergence of dining, community and culture.
Words by Danielle Clarke
WHERE: Moonta St, Adelaide