Friday, March 17, 2006

Gung Ho done gone and went

Ultimo-Haymarket, at the southern fringe of Sydney’s CBD, is populated with a never-ending supply of cheap, quick café’s. And there’s good reason: two University campuses, a large TAFE complex, the ABC, and several massive apartment blocks, so there’s plenty of opportunity to provide nosh for the masses of students, workers, and residents in the area. Against this backdrop I went with Helen (you can read her review here) to check out a sparkly (literally) new spot on Quay Street.

Helen had walked past a few times and, dubiously drawn like a moth to a flame (or like a foodblogger to a new eatery), would look in and regard the menu. I imagine a bit like driving past a car crash when you feel you shouldn’t gawp but can’t resist because you might witness something truly awful. I could understand why when I arrived to meet her. With the luminosity of a small supernova, the tiny but bright, mirrored interior sheds light on the pavement during daylight. At least we’ll be able to see what we’re eating. We toyed with the idea of aborting the mission, but I argued that now our pupils had adjusted, we could end the pain of curiosity there and then. So we sat and pondered our illustrated, laminated broadsheet menus.

The term ‘gung-ho’ is a pidgin English derivative originating from Mandarin Chinese (kung meaning work and ho meaning together). A dictionary will tell you it means ‘intemperately and naively enthusiastic”. This knowledge arms us with a reasonable understanding of the place and the food. Gung Ho, their literature extols, are “Eurasian Cuisine Innovators” whose motto is “makes life so much more”. Wow! all this within three square metres (excluding pavement chairs). Without wondering too hard about “… more what..?”, we take them at their word. From the lists of bedazzled finger food, fatbuster salads, a body + soul section, spice up your life laksas, light + easy fried rices, fast + furious stir fries, ying + yang soups and work + out grills, we are spoiled for choice and I feel more like I’m choosing a day spa treatment than ordering lunch. We try to choose something that looks like a Eurasian cuisine innovation that will raise our lives to new spiritual and corporeal heights.

We find our zenith in the form of mango chicken spring rolls (4 large at $7.80, pictured above), fried chicken with passionfruit sauce ($10.80) and a more regular sounding pepper and lemongrass calamari ($10.80). Frankly, we can’t find too much Eu in the Eurasian, but they do have deep fried fish & chips, curiously placed in the grill list. Whatever.

Snappy service with woks aflame and our bedazzling spring rolls materialise. Apart from Helen enduring a mouth numbing attack of molten mangoes, they are … an interesting flavour. The accompanying “mango sauce (home made)” takes me back to my childhood because it tastes like the liquefied outer coating of a Splice ice cream, except sweeter, and makes me wonder exactly whose home it was made in. Maybe Mr Streets is involved and channelling energy into our lives even as we eat. Trippy.

With trepidation we await the passionfruit chicken (pictured left and above left), realising we’ve unwittingly turned - or maybe subconsciously willed - lunch into something which is a paper umbrella short of a tropical luau. And it’s right on the money. Lemon chicken in fancy dress, studded with little black seeds and imitating Carmen Miranda with a shoestring grated carrot hat (hang on, they ALL have the same hat!). But passionfruit? Maybe there’s a world shortage and it’s mock passionfruit hidden in lemon sauce with extra sugar. Well there is a war on, you know. The two mains come with rice and a cleansing (and, mercifully, not sweet) clear soup. The calamari (left) is pretty tender and has a salty spicy chilli garnish and almost no sugar.

Our bodies + souls are now well and truly drenched in hydrogenated vegetable fats and sucrose, so we figure it’s time to seek enlightenment elsewhere and pass on the desserts.

You may find your acme of existence here at Gung Ho, Grasshopper, and there are extensive budget priced, lifestyle-branded menu selections to suit your unique consumption and karmic profile, all served within three minutes for the lunch time-poor. Your journey of innovation awaits you ….

Gung Ho, open for lunch and dinner 7 days
Shop 9 107-121
Quay St.,
Haymarket.

4 Comments:

Anonymous helen said...

lol. Well captured... you've almost made me wistful at the memory! =) Er, maybe not.

I keep meaning to post on this. Hopefully sometime this week.

10:25 PM  
Blogger Reb said...

Well it was an ... experience!

8:21 AM  
Anonymous cherryripe said...

I arrived via Helen... and i have to say, i couldn't try the chicken/mango springrolls. I mean, i went Gung Ho tonight - having been a Quay Street resident for about four months, it was about time. But chicken and mango... erm... pass. ;-P

9:47 PM  
Blogger Reb said...

I don't blame you! But there has to be brave diners that go where no others go!

7:26 AM  

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