Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Barrio Chino, Kings Cross

Kings Cross isn't really the first place you would have in mind when deciding where to go for dinner. But in the last few years, they have opened numerous restaurants that have been raved in food mags and best restaurant guides (e.g. Ms G's, Gastro Park, Concrete Blonde). During my younger days, my uni friends and I have made crazy night outs to World Bar for their teapot cocktails. Barrio Chino is located right next door to World Bar so it's no surprise that with it's very social atmosphere and outdoor seating, it's a popular place to go before (or even after) a heavy night of partying.

There is so much that I want to try on the rather extensive menu with a generous selection of "Botanas" or tapas-style starters ranging from taquitos to the Spicy Albondigas (meatballs - something I would usually see at a Spanish restaurant).

Complimentary salsas (L-R: Chipotle, Habanero, Verde)

I remember coming here a few years ago in its early days during my Mexican food phase to try out some dishes. One that I really loved was the corn chips that were absolutely crunchy and they are made from tortillas rather than your average corn chips from your supermarket.
On this occasion, it wasn't so. Gone were the crunchy tortilla chips and ended up getting a bowl of generic corn chips. While it still have that decent corn chip taste, some of the chips weren't as well cooked as I liked however I really loved the salsa and wanted more of that. Not sure if it's currently like that but I'm missing the tortilla chips for sure.

Salsa and chips ($6)

One of Barrio Chino's great starters is their tostados. They are such adorable, little, quick to eat bites with the fillings lying neatly on a crunchy tortilla corn chip like a canape (now THAT corn chip is what I'm talking about!). It's also fairly spicy with the chorizo meat and the pickled jalapeno lying on top of a milder mayo. So much flavour packed onto the plate. I did think that $12 seems to be somewhat steep when you consider the servings (if you get the tuna tostada, it's $14). Would love to try more of this.

Chorizo tostadas ($12)

Time for tacos! And what a feast they offer! Barrio Chino's taco menu alone boasts at 9 different fillings to choose from with prices ranging from $5 to $7. All tacos are served on two layers of soft corn tortillas (so that it is less likely to fall apart when you leave it too long) with a good amount of salsa that bursts out when you take a few bites. The lime on the side is very helpful in bringing extra flavour to the tacos.

I thought this was an interesting combination of ingredients containing braised pulled lamb (yummm!), cabbage, tomatillo salsa and cinnamon! Nevertheless, these combinations work well especially with soft, pull-apart lamb and the zesty tomatillo salsa.

Lamb Barbacoa ($6)

This is definitely my favourite from this restaurant. While it is a Carnitas taco, it tasted just like a Taco Al Pastor that you get in a food truck back in USA with its smokey pulled pork flavour and sweet pineapple with a sprinkle of coriander and chopped onion on top. When you bite into the taco, red (chipotle?) salsa drips onto the dish and you can just taste the smokey flavour in this sauce. Everything about this is just so good.

Carnitas taco ($6)

The Carne Arrachera taco is also a surefire hit for me. This is filled with well cooked and marinated steak, caremalised onion, shavings of horseradish as well as a dollop of chimichurri rojo. Like the Carnitas above, the horseradish in this one reminded me of the taco trucks in the States where soft corn tacos are served with slices of radishes, a heaping of coriander and various salsas.

Carne Arrachera ($6)

While I wasn't keen about the corn chips, I'm genuinely surprised at the Urbanspoon rating for this restaurant. In my opinion I thought that Barrio Chino has some of the most authentic tacos that I've found in Sydney. Not to mention that the service was attentive during my visit. Although when you consider the portions for some of their food like the tostadas, it can be a bit pricey if you want to fill yourself up. The good thing is that they do daily deals such as tacos for $3 on Sunday evenings. They also run till late with a smaller late night menu to check out for a post-clubbing feed. I would definitely recommend to give this a go if you are looking for more variety than what Guzman Y Gomez (on the same street!) usually offer. Will definitely still come back to try more of their morsels from their menu.

Barrio Chino
28-30 Bayswater Road, Kings Cross NSW 2011
(02) 8021 9750

Barrio Chino on Urbanspoon

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