MY Voice colleague David Bell has been raving about Uncle Billy’s in China Town for years, so I finally acquiesced and went there for a pre-theatre dinner.
Like many of the neighbouring restaurants, Uncle Billy’s is not salubrious, the decor is haphazard and the service efficient but perfunctory.
When I mentioned to the waitress we only had 45 minutes to eat our meal she looked confused, then wandered off to check with the manager and never came back.
But in record time our vegetarian spring rolls ($5.50) arrived.
They were crisp, piping hot and actually had flavour; something that is often missing from this perennial favourite.
Our tongues had barely cooled when a cashew chicken ($17.80), sliced fish with ginger and spring onion sauce ($18.80) and a choy sum ($12.80) arrived in quick succession.
Clearly getting in and out of Uncle Billy’s in time for Summer of the Seventeenth Doll was going to be a breeze.
Billy’s menu is authentic and includes lots of traditional dishes like steamed mixed intestines ($15.50) and jelly fish with shredded chicken ($20.80).
“There’s some very interesting dishes on this menu,” my friend opined with some alarm as she read the chef’s recommendation at the front of the menu.
But she was totally won over by the chicken in her dish.
“It’s soft and tender and melt-in-the-mouth, with really good flavours,” she said.
My fish was also tender and the sauce redolent of ginger, with plenty of just-firm spring onions.
We both loved the choy sum, and wondered how it’s possible for something to be so tasty when it consisted of bok choy.
“It’s the oyster sauce,” my friend reckoned. And she was right.
Uncle Billy’s is licensed and I was pleasantly surprised to find the house wine ($8) was a decent sauvignon blanc from New Zealand.
by JENNY D’ANGER
China Town, 66 Roe Street,
open 7 days 5pm to 4am