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First taste: native-Australian x Chinese menu at Natural Nine.  

HerCanberra Team

We turned up dressed to the nines, we ate for the sixes and sipped on number one wine.  

Earlier in the year, Natural Nine switched up their menu to Pop Chinese, a term they dubbed to denote their modern take on traditional Chinese cookery. Now they’re switching up their Asian heritage even further, with the incorporation of native-Australian ingredients.  

We sampled this unique Aussie twist to the menu with a six-course banquet and Nick O’Leary Wines pairing at the Casino Canberra restaurant last week…and it was as delicious as it was intriguing.  

On arrival, was edamame beans and deep fried pork crackling to snack on while sipping on Nick O’Leary’s 2017 rosé. 

As a popular Japanese appetiser, edamame beans are hardly a new taste sensation, but at Natural Nine they are sprinkled with what can only be described as a magical pink fairy dust. But for the sticklers, the pink seasoning is actually ground riberry—it makes the snack slightly spicy with subtle clove and cinnamon notes.

Based on anecdotal evidence (the best chit chat occurs around a plate of friends sucking the soybeans from their pod, paired with a deep fried pork crackling chip) the new menu was off to a good start. 

Undoubtedly, the crackling chip was always going to be good. Each enthusiastic crunch provided a citrus kick—and the pièce de résistance? The bowl was seasoned with a generous sprinkle of ground Tyrant ants.   

natural-nine-oysters

Next up, the South Coast oysters with Geraldton wax, lemon drop granita. If ever you wanted to get into oysters, this icy cold, slightly-sour experience was notably the best fun of the night. A majority of the foraged Indigenous flavours found on the new menu are a variation of lemon and lime, pairing exceptionally well with seafood.  

The hot and sour soup was the first real sense of both East and West cultural influences coming together: a traditional Chinese soup, with eggs and bean sprouts throughout, mixed with mountain pepper leaf (essentially native spinach). The 2016 Tumbarumba Riesling was crucial to this dish—the thick soup was a flavour explosion and the wine cut through the peppery notes. All in all, a soup worth missing The Bachelorette for.  

By this stage, it was evident that the ground up ants and native-infused leaves balanced the pop-Chinese menu like yin and yang. Though it wasn’t until the paper bark-roasted trout arrived at our table that you really became aware you were eating bush tucker.  

At first, the giant piece of bark was confronting, however, when peeled back, the whole rainbow trout fell apart and imparted a woodsy smoked flavour. Forget enclosing your catch in foil wrap, this is obviously where the method all began.

natural-nine-bark

Well past half way and we were onto the reds. Quite literally, drinking 2016 Seven Gates Tempranillo and eating sweet and sour pork smothered in Davidson plum and native cranberry.  

Our last savoury dish, was old skippy—Tanami fire-crusted kangaroo with rosella sauce. After I got through the guilt of enjoying our national emblem, I began to wonder, ‘how did our Indigenous communities eat kangaroo without the 2015 Bolaro Shiraz?’.  

natural-nine-beef

Post-six glasses of wine and pre-dessert cocktail, chopsticks became hazardous and I was thankful to be presented with dessert which required a spoon. Strawberry gum with quandong and macadamia praline was a native, fruity finish to the night.  

natural-nine-dessert

After a night of native-Australian food presented to us in a way we hadn’t experienced before, we bid one question; where does this leave meat pies and Vegemite toast in our country’s culinary evolution?   

The new native-Australian x Chinese menu is available at Natural Nine, open from 12pm – 10pm, with a condensed menu available until 2am.

For more information visit natural9.com.au or call 02 6257 7074 for bookings. Located in Casino Canberra, 21 Binara St, City.  

This is a sponsored post. The author dined courtesy of Natural Nine but her opinions remain her own.

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