Tingha Chinese Restaurant – Sydney Markets
I met some of my best friends in the world at uni. We bonded over ridiculous deadlines, early-morning typography classes, soporific avant-garde film lectures, a mutual love of marsupial tennis, and of course a mutual love of FOOD!
These days it’s harder to gather everyone together to share a meal. But after I told them about the crab special at Tingha Chinese Restaurant at the Sydney Markets, it wasn’t too hard to rally the troops. All 14 of us!
There’s apparently another Tingha Chinese Restaurant in Parramatta, but we went to the one adjacent to the Sydney Markets in Homebush. It’s inside the Tiger’s Club there, and as such looks quite unassuming from the outside. But walk past the pokie rooms and you’ll find a bustling Chinese restaurant – filled to the brim with families eating platters of crab.
Crab definitely seems to be the thing to order here. And no wonder! The special is communicated to us through a laminated piece of paper placed on our table – all of the text is in Chinese (which I can’t read) except for the giant $8.80 written in big letters. That’s right! Tingha somehow manages to sell mudcrab at $8.80 per half kilo (that’s $17.60 per kilo for those like me who are mathematically uninclined) – which is apparently under market price (or so the waiter tells me). For that reason, the restaurant accepts cash-only for the special (don’t worry, there are ATMs available in the Leagues Club).
With 14 people at the table, I order us 6kg of crab. Each crab weighs a little bit over 1kg (though of course a lot of that is the shell). You can choose from a few different ways for it to be cooked – XO Sauce, Ginger & Shallots or Salt & Chilli Pepper. We go with Ginger & Shallots.
It’s awesome. Perfectly cooked and the sauce is deliciously savoury. Our noisy table descends into utter silence – except for the occasional cracking of shells and the squeaking of the Lazy Susan.
We’re definitely here for the mudcrab, but I decide to order us an assortment of other dishes too:
Pippis cooked in XO sauce with crispy noodles ($43.80). The waiter recommended we purchase 2 servings for our table of 14, but we decide to go with just one. I’m glad we did because it’s ginormous! Everyone likes pippis, but I really love the crispy vermicelli noodles underneath! It goes great with the XO sauce.
Shantang Chicken ($17.50 for a half chicken) - twice cooked crispy skin chicken in a sweet soy and vinegar sauce is definitely moreish. The chopped garlic, shallots and chilli give it a bit of a kick, and the chicken is nice and tender, with crispy skin.
Salt & Chilli Pepper Pork Ribs ($16.50) - Super succulent pork covered in a crunchy spiced batter. My absolute favourite favourite dish of the night (besides the crab) are these deep fried pork ribs! So much so that I ordered 2 plates, just to make sure everyone could have some (and that I could have 2 pieces haha). I don’t know why these are so good, but they are (If I were to guess it’d probably the liberal amount of 5-spice and MSG… mm-mmm!)
Salt & Pepper Whitebait – crispy little morsels of fish in a light batter. Our resident spearfisher & seafood expert pronounced these to be “wicked”.
Salt & Pepper Tofu ($14.80) – … are you sensing a theme yet? This time it’s big pillows of soft tofu in the same light salt & pepper batter. A nice change from the seafood & meat heavy dishes.
Mongolian Beef ($15.80) – I didn’t try this as I was quickly reaching extreme fullness, but a sizzling plate is always very impressive…!
Special Fried Rice ($12.80) – arrives a bit late in the game when everyone was a bit full. But seeing the giant prawns perched on top tempted me into eating at least a little bit! Seriously… I haven’t seen such big prawns in a fried rice anywhere else I can think of! There were the normal little prawns mixed in there too, along with ham, chicken and egg.
We also ordered a platter of Stir Fried Chinese Vegies ($13.80) and a plate of Salt & Pepper Calamari ($18.80) which I didn’t manage to take a photos of.
Of course, as is customary at many Chinese restaurants, our giant feast was finished with a platter of orange wedges and bowls of red bean soup (I ate a lot of the former, and not so much of the latter)
Completely satisfying meal – and best of all, the price came to less than $24 each per person, including our mountain of crab at the beginning. At that price we’ll have to organise some group meals more often
Tingha Chinese Restaurant Sydney Markets
Shop 16 Markets Plaza,
Markets, 250 Parramatta Road
Homebush West NSW 2140
ph: 8789 3636 (I recommend booking on weekends as it gets quite packed. And the waiter recommended calling up before you go just to make sure the crab special is still available)