Emperor’s Garden BBQ & Noodles Restaurant, Haymarket (21st August 2011)

Sundays are usually for sleep-ins and you will hardly find me getting up early for the sake of going to the market but since living with Ken and watching his passion for cooking, I think some of it has rubbed off on me and I've promised myself to be a better cook (more fresh ingredients, less instant stuff) so I can make yummy dinners for Jono and I at home. So up I was at 7.30am to get ready for a morning of food shopping and accompanied Jono to work, leaving him at the end of Pyrmont Bridge where he headed to his office while I went to my first stop of the day, Sydney Fish Market.

Fortunately I had my backpack with me - by the time I finished all my shops (fish market, Coles supermarket, Asian grocery store, Sydney's Paddy's Markets fresh vegetable and fruit section), I had a full backpack and two bags of groceries to carry. Hmm, I either need a bigger backpack or one of those shopping trolleys I see the older Chinese ladies drag around in the markets. There are so many things to buy but I don't have the ability to carry them all on my own! At least I got all the ingredients I need to make laksa for dinner tonight. Mmm, looking forward to it :)

Ken texted me partway through my shopping expedition and we caught up in Chinatown for lunch. We ended up in Emperor’s Garden BBQ & Noodles Restaurant on Thomas St, a restaurant owned by the same folks who own Emperor's Garden Cake & Bakery on Hay St (in fact, they own all the Emperor's Garden businesses in Chinatown). Ken and I have passed by the restaurant a couple of times, often stopping to stare at the window strung with glistening strips of BBQ pork, whole roast ducks and quails, soy chicken, chunks of roast pork and an assortment of cooked offal to choose from. So much to see and no way would you miss it if you were in the area. Entering the restaurant, we were immediately greeted by the friendly staff and showed to a table. It was still early for lunch (it was just 12pm) so only few tables were taken. The decor was as I expected, the typical look and feel of a mid-range Chinese restaurant like the ones in Malaysia with staff in uniform, white walls and neon red lights on the white ceiling.

We ordered Chinese tea and flipped through their much dog-eared menu to decide on what to have for lunch. "Look, pigeon on the specials board," I said to Ken and he immediately went, "Shall we?" with a gleeful smile. Camel last night, pigeon today - my crazy food adventures never end! We settled for the baked pigeon in BBQ sauce special, and minced chicken and salted fish fried rice to share. The idea of eating pigeon has never crossed my mind - eek, I can't believe I'm having it today! "I do not even want to discuss where the chef sourced them," I warned Ken as he began telling me we could possibly be eating one of the many 'rat with wings' from Central Station. Zip it, zip it, I don't want to hear any of it!

As we waited for our food, we caught up with the what has been happening over the past few weeks and I'm really happy to hear that Ken's move to Sydney has been very positive to date. He has made more friends than I have in his short 2 months in the new city - no fair! But I'm glad he has got a great bunch of friends who sounded like really cool people. I've heard so much about them and look forward to meet them in person soon :)

Ugh, they serve the head as well!!! Our dishes arrived promptly and the whole pigeon was quartered and served with its decapitated baked head in full view which was highly unappealing to me. Why do they need to include the head anyway? I don't think anyone eats it...Well, there was no mistake this was the bird we ordered:

Ken very kindly hid the head under a serviette so that I would actually have some of the pigeon - thank you! Hmm, tasted rather similar to quail actually...The pigeon was baked through with crispy skin and like the quail, it doesn't have a lot of meat so eating with hands was easiest to remove the meat and sparingly coat with the spiced salt. One pigeon was enough of a sampler for two and with the large fried rice we ordered, it was just right. Oh, and you can't go wrong with chicken and salted fish fried rice - it always taste good, regardless the restaurant! Cost us $37 all up for lunch ($22 just for the pigeon) which was pricey though I'm not sure if other Chinese restaurants in town serve pigeon on their menu. It's not everyday that I get to have pigeon for lunch!

Emperor's Garden BBQ & Noodles Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


  1. OK. Seeing my name 2 times in one sentence is scary....


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