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Celebrate Chinese New Year at Chairman and Yip.

The Chairman’s New Clothes

Amanda Whitley and Michelle Brotohusodo

There are few more enduring and colourful characters in Canberra’s food industry than Josiah Li.

Opening his first restaurant—Window on The Orient—several decades ago with friend Danny Yip, Li’s name has become synonymous with some of the city’s best Asian cuisine: China Tea Club (North Lyneham), Madam Yip (Dickson), The Chairman & Yip (Canberra City), Lanterne Rooms (Campbell), Malamay and Lilotang (both Barton).

The Chairman & Yip has become something of a Canberra institution, its original Bunda Street digs the scene of many a power lunch since it opened its doors nearly 25 years ago; so it came as a surprise to many when its move to Barton was announced in early 2016. But the transition of Chairman into the space formerly occupied by Malamay—and into an eatery which brings together the best elements of the two plus the added international spice of the Group’s Hong Kong restaurant, The Chairman (HK)—is a smart move.

The large disused balcony space adjoining the former Malamay has been reinvented as an airy covered ‘Chinese garden’, windows sporting transparent panels of red which make the whole section appear like a lantern. It’s the perfect spot to while away a balmy summer night.

THE ‘NEW’ CHAIRMAN

We dine at the ‘new’ Chairman in its first week of operation; the doors have just sighed shut on the Civic space, but the combined kitchen and floor team are already working as a well-oiled machine.

Venue Manager, Sascha Gallinat, was lured from the Yarra Valley to head the floor team and is a brilliant host; our Chef’s Tasting Menu is presented with passion and knowledge. Glasses of interesting, boutique wines appear in front of us, beautifully matched with a meal comprised of some old favourites and impressive debuts.

Oysters with ginger lemon jelly.

Oysters with ginger lemon jelly.

We start with Oysters with ginger lemon jelly, punchy and fresh with an intriguing mouth-feel. Then it’s on to a Malamay favourite with a twist: Spanner Crab and Chives Croquette with minted kumquat sauce. Another new addition is plump dumplings filled with pork, prawn and dill—a sauce of black vinegar, sesame and soy adding a salty kick. Yum.

Dumplings filled with pork, prawn and dill.

Dumplings filled with pork, prawn and dill.

Things get interesting when Chinese Brioche Lobster Rolls hit the table—it’s perhaps the most Western of tonight’s dishes, and they.are.delicious. We all lick our fingers with satisfaction once we’ve picked the last morsels off our plates.

Chinese Brioche Lobster Rolls.

Chinese Brioche Lobster Rolls.

Two sentimental favourites neatly demonstrate the evolution of the Chairman Group’s cuisine—and perhaps the sophistication of Canberra’s palate—over the past couple of decades: Chairman and Yip’s Scallop and Beef Pepper Hotpot and The Chairman’s Oxtail Stew with Spices and Port (first seen at Malamay’s Great West of China event).

Scallop and Beef Pepper Hotpot.

Scallop and Beef Pepper Hotpot.

The former (above) is traditional Cantonese cooking with bold bursts of black pepper, and just as appealing as it was back in the late 90s when it first burst onto my tastebuds; but the tender meat with complex spices of the latter dish (below) has a depth of flavour that’s hard to top.

Oxtail Stew with Spices and Port

Oxtail Stew with Spices and Port.

A playful dish of ‘Lamington’ with Green Tea Ice Cream rounds out the night, but instead of sponge cake, the inside is rich chocolate—mousselike and moreish. It’s a memorable end to our first night at the ‘new’ Chairman, and we feel at home already.

‘Lamington’ with Green Tea Ice Cream.

‘Lamington’ with Green Tea Ice Cream.

Keep an eye out on Facebook for the Chairman’s Friday Night Wine Club, coming soon.

The Chairman & Yip | 1 Burbury Close, Barton| 02 6162 1220 | thechairmanandyip.chairmangroup.com.au | @thechairmanandyip

CHINESE NEW YEAR AT LANTERNE ROOMS

Across town, another Chairman Group restaurant, The Lanterne Rooms, continues to impress with its innovative Malaysian food, under the guidance of head chef Daniel Mark. To celebrate Chinese New Year, however, there’s another star in the kitchen—Chef Aravinth from the 5-star Capella Resort in Singapore.

Mirroring the relationship between Josiah Li and Danny Yip, Daniel and Avarinth have been friends for years, and say being in the kitchen together is like being kids in a toy shop, playing and experimenting with different techniques, foods, and flavours.

Lanterne Rooms in Campbell. Photo: Facebook.

Lanterne Rooms in Campbell. Photo: Facebook.

The menu’s theme ‘Red Earth and Ocean’, comes from Capella, which features two heritage listed colonial buildings known as Tanah Merah (red earth), situated on Sentosa Island. Two options are available: a full-blown feast or a more delicate degustation, and we opt for the former, which includes traditional Malaysian Chinese New Year dishes and twists on other favourites, like tandoori and pork.

Yee Sang (Longevity Noodles).

Yee Sang (Longevity Noodles).

We start with the Yee Sang (Longevity Noodles), the traditional entrée for Chinese New Year in Malaysia—diners have to toss the noodles and other ingredients into the air with chopsticks. The height of the toss reflects the height of diners’ growth in fortune, so the higher the better—fun and also really, really delicious.

Popiah (Fresh Malaysian Duck Rolls).

Popiah (Fresh Malaysian Duck Rolls).

Next up are Popiah (Fresh Malaysian Duck Rolls), served with accompaniments of chilli, peanuts and pickled cucumber—fresh and fragrant. Then comes Tom Yum Infused Crispy Prawns with Rockmelon and Apple Slaw—an unconventional combination but mind-blowingly good.

Tandoori Fish, Yoghurt & Tamarind.

Tandoori Fish, Yoghurt & Tamarind.

Onto the mains—Tandoori Fish, Yoghurt & Tamarind; Ayam Panggang – Five Spice Roast Chicken, Bok choy with Miso Soy, Nyonya Style ‘Char Siu’ Pork, and Slow Cooked Wagyu Beef Curry ‘Kampung’ Style—simple dishes but with intense flavours infused through the protein and oh-so-tender.

Pineapple Pillow

Pineapple Pillow

The meal finishes with a wonderfully elegant dessert, the Pineapple Pillow—Pineapple Marshmallow served with chilli chocolate, mango sorbet and kaffir lime. Such an unusual pairing may flounder in less experienced hands, but here it is a fitting and delicious finale.

After the Capella Chinese New Year promotion is over, Lanterne Rooms will be hosting Capella Fridays @ Lanterne Rooms. The theme for  the event will be ‘Bersahaja Kenduri’, which translates to ‘relax and feast’, and the chefs will be creating specials every Friday night—big, bold and delicious plates in a Malay Market style. Check Lanterne Rooms’ Facebook page for details.

The Lanterne Rooms | 3 Blamey Place, Campbell Shops | 02 6249 6889 | lanternerooms.chairmangroup.com.au|  @Lanterne-Rooms

AND THEN THERE’S LILOTANG

If you love sake and robata, you’re going to love Lilotang’s new Sake Bar. Launching in March, you’ll be able to sample sake (and other drinks) from the bar and enjoy a tasty bar menu, including seasonal specials.

Lilotang's new Sake Bar

Lilotang’s new Sake Bar extends outside.

The new bar boasts striking red and black furniture and Manga-topped tables, and sees Lilotang spill out into Burbury Close with a delightful outdoor area on the edge of Realm Park.

The menu will feature classic Japanese after-work fare, such as Tokyo Chilli Chicken wings, Seaweed Seafood taco and Braised Beef Cubes, with the highlights of the drinks menu Japanese sakes, beers and whiskies, along with Japanese-themed cocktails

Pop over to Lilotang’s Facebook page for weekly specials.

Lilotang | 1 Burbury Close, Barton| 02 6273 1424 | lilotang.com.au | @lilotang2014

This is a sponsored post but opinions are the author’s own. It complies with the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission’s guidelines on Online Reviews. Read our Sponsored Post Policy if you would like more information.

The authors received their meals free of charge from The Chairman Group.

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Amanda Whitley

Amanda Whitley is the founder and director of HerCanberra. In her 'spare time', she instructs zumba, loves to cook (and eat), and wrangles two gorgeous little girls. She's done everything from present the tv news to operate a stop and go sign and is passionate about connecting Canberra women. More about the Author

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Michelle Brotohusodo

Michelle moved to Canberra vowing to stay for two years, tops. 10 years later, she’s a bona fide Canberra convert. When she’s not working in her day job as a public servant, she’s enjoying Canberra’s culinary delights or finding fun things to do/see in and around town. More about the Author

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