Gin Long Canteen had an immediate impact on O’Connell Street when the doors opened back in 2014. The unique personality of the place is created by a number of factors: the canteen-style layout of wooden tables, the buzzing open-kitchen, the zesty cocktails, and of course the traditional-made-contemporary Asian favourites. It’s an experience that is simply unrivalled right across town, with a vibrancy and culture that doesn’t quite conform to any particular theme. But needless to say, 5 years on and the restaurant has successfully retained its reputation as the hub of premium Asian cuisine.
However, we predict that the gleaming response from locals is on the rise as Gin Long update their menu yet again with both familiar and innovative mouth-watering dishes. Earlier this week, we were invited to try the latest additions to see what foodies could expect from the team this Spring—and there was little disappointment. While the original crowd-pleasers like Pomegranate Chicken and Dragon Beef Curry still stand front and centre on the menu, the restaurant has added a delicious range of starters, light meals and mains that pack just enough punch to keep you grasping for sips of your fruity cocktail before returning for more…and more.
As customers started rolling through the doors, we took in the atmosphere before tucking into our first dish: the crumbed 3 Cheese Spring Rolls served with mustard mayo. They were every bit as delicious as they sound, with an oozy salty centre and outer crunchiness that couldn’t possibly be replicated by any other food combination. From there, we simply had to go to a familiar favourite—the Pomegranate Chicken. This dish is definitely a staple if you’re a first timer, with tender chicken that boasts a crispy outer-layer, drizzled in a sweet fruity sauce.
The Crab Noodle Clay Pot came next, which is made up of fresh crab meat, glass noodles, black fungus and carrot. It was absolutely packed with flavour; offering and a hint of mild spice topped with the delicious saltiness of fresh seafood. While it’s an old school recipe, Gin Long reinvented the dish by throwing in the bitter sweetness of black fungus for exclusive edge. Following the Clay Pot, we tried the Kingfish Ceviche which was definitely one of the more interesting dishes. The Kingfish is served with coconut cream, chilli and coriander root. It’s plated with a pile of crunchy sesame crackers to pile the mixture onto; making it a nice light, fresh starter before moving onto the heartier meals.
We then tried the Kuey Teow; a popular noodle dish that derives from South East Asia. In simplest terms, this meal was epic. The bold combination of flavours and textures that stem from the beef, chinese sausage, flat rice noodles mimicked exactly what you’d expect to receive on the streets of Malaysia—and their reputation is effectively built on good food. To spice things up a bit, next we tried the two curry variations: The known Dragon Beef Curry, and the Lychee Duck Curry. The most notable part of both dishes was the tenderness of the meat. The beef basically melted in your mouth before the tastebuds were reignited by the spiciness of the red curry base which came with Thai eggplant, and lime leaves for maximum flavour. The Lychee Duck Curry was a slightly different experience, as the sweetness of the lychees and pineapple cut-through the spice to pair beautifully with the creamy coconut broth.
Returning back to the slightly milder dishes, the next meal on our list was the Crispy Rice Cake —a cake-like omelette served with Papaya and Pickled Carrot with a sweet soy sauce on the side. This style of dish is particularly popular in Japan, and it’s easy to see why it’s incorporated as a staple side when you experience the sweet and savoury elements which are nicely complemented by the crispy edge. In between more sips of our fruity cocktails, we finished up the new menu with the Wok Tossed Pepper Wagyu served with garlic shoots and baby king oyster mushroom. The beef was cooked to absolute perfection—left medium-rare to absorb the rich flavours of the sauce. Buttery flavours and silky textures introduced by the mushroom were the perfect contrast to the coarse, yet tender beef.
If you’re a fan of Asian cuisine, you’re in for the culinary experience of a lifetime. Find Gin Long Canteen at on O’Connell Stree in North Adelaide, and experience their unique spin on all the traditional favourites!
Words by Kimberley Goodman
WHERE: 42 O’Connell St, North Adelaide