How good is the Entertainment Book??! I can’t think of a single reason why every family shouldn’t have one of these. Even if your ultimate dining experience consists of a Big Mac and and a chocolate sundae, you can’t go wrong. Only costing $60, with all the 2-for-1 and 25% off deals it only takes a couple of meals to get your money back!
With no better excuse other than to make use of our shiny new Entertainment Card, we thought we’d have dinner at one of Hobart’s more recently established restaurants, Mulan.
Our last Chinese meal had been at the incredible Me Wah about 6 months ago. This didn’t bode well for Mulan as a point of comparison! At best, we were hoping for something of equal (if not, dare I say it, better) quality, at worst, it would be just another average Chinese restaurant, here today, but gone in another 12 months time with nary a whimper.
Stepping off the North Hobart sidewalk and into the dining room of Mulan, I was very impressed! Differentiating themselves immediately from the raft of other Chinese options in town, it was clear that these guys were looking to make their mark as a modern and progressive establishment.
Forget the massive circular tables that seem to grace the dining rooms of countless Chinese restaurants across Australia, put away your steel framed, plastic ‘upholstered’ chairs, dim the lights, and step into the new age of modern Chinese dining!
This place looked sensational, with subtle lighting (albeit a photographic nightmare due to the conflicting temperatures in light that resulted!) and modern décor mixing seamlessly with a hint of tradition, as evidenced by the traditional rice bowls and black lacquered tables.
Our waiter was very friendly, but did take a little longer than we would have liked to return and take our order. In the end a second member of the staff came to take our order, expressing her sincerest apologies when she realised how long we’d been waiting. From that point on though the service was faultless; good timing between meals, and appropriately attentive.
My tastes can be a little eclectic, yet Karen was still a little surprised when I announced that I was going to try the salt and pepper tofu as an entrée! You know those times when you get a craving for something particular, but you can’t quite put your finger on it? As I ran my eyes down the menu and I saw the tofu dish on offer, it just felt ‘right’. So forget the man boobs, tofu it was!!
Karen, meanwhile, had decided on the wonton soup.
In hindsight I’d have to say that the wonton soup was the pick of the two dishes. Made with diced prawn, pork mince, ginger, Shaoxing wine and seasoned with white pepper, these wontons were incredibly moist and bursting with flavour!
While my salt and pepper tofu was good, I felt that it was a little large for an entrée. I was absolutely starving when I walked in, but found myself doubting whether I’d be able to finish my main meal after finishing this dish off! The fact that I did manage to clean up every last morsel though was a fair indication of the good flavours they’d managed to pull together. The texture of the silken tofu was top notch, and the accompanying sauce tasted great. Some may say it was a little on the oily side, but it didn’t bother me overly much.
For the main course I decided to go with an old favourite; beef in black bean sauce. But this wasn’t any old BiBBS, this was eye fillet, braised in a ‘Luo Ding’ black bean sauce with sun-dried shallots, garlic, coriander and cayenne pepper.
‘Luo Ding’?? A brief conversation with the manager revealed that Luo Ding is a region in China renowned for the quality and taste of their black beans. The difference was evident! Most of the black bean sauces I’ve tried in the past have been overly thick, heavy and salty on the palate, but I found Mulan’s black bean sauce to be much lighter, lifting and enhancing the flavour of the tender beef strips magnificently. If only they could all be this good!
On the other side of the table, Karen thought she’d try the Kung Pow chicken.
While elements of this dish worked, the chicken was overly floured for our liking, with a starchy texture that detracted significantly from the rest of the dish. The vegetables and cashews worked very well together, so it was a massive shame that the star of the dish failed to turn up on the night!
It was a meal that ticked the ‘Chinese’ box admirably. While not in the same league as Me Wah, if the owners and head chef of Mulan can achieve the same level of quality and innovation that was demonstrated in the eye fillet dish with the rest of their menu, then with a little time and refinement I’m sure they can reach the same lofty heights!
As I mentioned earlier, the aesthetics of Mulan are just gorgeous, and I’d thoroughly recommend it as a great venue for a dinner with your significant other!
Taste – 3/5
Menu – 4/5
Atmosphere – 5/5
Service – 3.5/5
Value – 4/5
Overall – 3.5/5