24 Jan China Spice, Melbourne CBD
China Spice is tucked on the corner of Little Lonsdale on Sutherland St, so could easily be missed on the way to the little sweets oasis that is Shortstop, N2 and Raw Trader. It doesn’t seem to garner rave reviews online, but sometimes ratings are misleading. My parents and a number of our family friends like it here so I was brought along for lunch one day. I noticed some menu items were more Malaysian, which was a bit odd. Perhaps the chef is Malaysian, but in any case we steered clear and focused on the Chinese dishes.
Our first was a steaming bowl of chicken soup with fresh mushrooms. It’s large bowl that looks deceptively small in the photo due to the oversized spoon that comes with it. We also ordered a bowl of rice to soak into the soup. Delicate, comforting and herbal, it would be perfect for winter, but was still very enjoyable in the warmer weather. A variety of different mushrooms, goji berry and sweet wombok accompany the chicken, adding more nutrients and subtle flavours that work very well together.
Mum particularly likes the noodle soups here so we picked one she hasn’t tried yet – the Pickles and Pork Ribs Noodle Soup. To be honest, the flavour of the pickled vegetables wasn’t very prominent, but to make up for it, there was a very generous portion of pork rib for $9.80. The soup in this was also herbal, but more punchy, making it quite different and more complex than just the average spicy broth. Surprisingly this is only rated as ‘one chilli’ out of three. I do like my chilli, but this definitely felt like it deserved a higher rating than one. Maybe they were just being liberal with the chilli today.
So yes, the tables can be a bit sticky, but being brought up with sticky-tabled restaurants both in Melbourne and Malaysia, there are certain places where I don’t mind putting up with it. This is one of those places. There were little touches like a slice of lemon in the water, and mixed grain rice as standard. The service was decent, the servings are large, and most lunch specials are around the $10 giving you great value if you pick well!
280 Little Lonsdale St
Melbourne, VIC, 3000
(03) 9600 3989