Bianca: Despite living in the inner west for more than half of my life, Balmain has remained one of those virtual bubble’s I have somehow managed to avoid. Which really is a crying shame, the dining options are limitless, fantastic Thai, Italian, Middle Eastern – and that’s really only the tip of the iceberg.
Bursting with stories of a European honeymoon my former ‘BTB – Bride to be’ is no longer in waiting, she’s a fully fledged housewife so we shall now refer to her as Gina – after her favourite Housewife of Melbourne. Whilst food played second fiddle to this overdue catch-up, it was still important.
‘Blue Ginger’ has been one on those Balmain stalwarts, having opened in 1996 they offer South-East Asian food with a main emphasis on Thai. Our booking was a late one 7:45pm and they were literally bursting at the seams, our table wasn’t ready but they pointed us towards some booth seats separating the front and back dining rooms. Which is a nice touch, beats standing around like a weirdo.
After a general perusal before being shown to our table, we had a rough idea of what we felt like. Gina and I both love dumplings so we couldn’t help ourselves and so ordered the ‘Steamed pork & shiitake mushroom dumplings’ – w/black vinegar dressing (5 to a serve) $15. Perfect harmony of filling and the dumpling casing, with it being perfectly unobtrusive allowing the filling to shine through, I really enjoyed the addition of the crispy fried shallots.
We also shared a serving of ‘Sang Choy Bao’ – w/ free range chicken, baby corn, water chesnuts, lap chong, & crispy glass noodles (2 to a serve) $16. This I found a little disappointing, for two reasons. The first – I’m lazy, I don’t want to be assembling my own meal at a restaurant and secondly, flavour wise it was pretty mild and disappointing. I’d go with another entrée when I return.
On to the mains, Gina (god, I’m finding that hilarious!) had the ‘Pad Thai’ –w/Rice noodles, free range chicken breast, bean curd, tamarind, palm sugar, dried shrimp & ground peanuts. $20. I’m usually a sucker for pad Thai but when I saw crispy pork belly on the menu I knew nothing would steal my attention away, whilst it all came together quite nicely. I found it a little dry and it looked very anaemic with no pops of colour. Certainly wasn’t good enough to distract me from the main event.
And behold my choice for the evening ‘Crispy Braised Pork Belly’ – stir fried w/house chilli sambal eggplant & beans. $26. Now I know their Pad Thai is popular but when this is on the menu I don’t know how people can bypass it. My love for pork belly just doesn’t want to quit and this is without doubt the BEST pork belly dish I ate in 2014. A big call I know, the interplay between the soft eggplant and the crispy pork and the gelatinous fat was simply glorious. I know I want to go back and try other things on the menu but I have a sneaking suspicion ill wind up with this again.
Almost 2 and a half hours later we thought we’d better take our leave before they asked us to wash the dishes for loitering… Hence the empty restaurant in the pictures above, it didn’t look like that when we arrived.
So Balmain, you have certainly got me interested, can’t wait to explore a little more.