Chi and Co, Canley Heights

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Chi and Co is tucked away from the main strip of res­taur­ants on Canley Vale Road. D and I had long spoken of hav­ing din­ner there at one point after he’d tried their deli­cious drinks menu over din­ner with col­leagues. Its loc­a­tion and my office in the city, though, made it a logist­ic­al night­mare to organ­ise. But after a long week of D work­ing night shift, we man­aged to vis­it a couple of days before Chi and Co exited Canley Vale (to be reopened else­where in 2016). It’s not a sur­pris­ing move — the items and prices on the menu and fit out of the res­taur­ant are the sort you’d expect of a res­taur­ant in the City. That said, they have a firm fol­low­ing and book­ings were essential.

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How does one res­ist a cock­tail inspired by one of my favour­ite cakes, the straw­berry water­mel­on cake at Black Star Pastry? One doesn’t. The Berry Rose cake ($16) is ‘muddled straw­ber­ries and water­mel­on, vodka, straw­berry liquer fin­ished with a rose foam’. This cock­tail cer­tainly does the cake proud — it’s refresh­ingly light in its sweet­ness and cream­i­ness. The water­mel­on, straw­berry and rose fla­vours as bal­anced beau­ti­fully as in the cake. And even the cream­i­ness of the cake is trans­lated across in the smooth, slightly thick­er con­sist­ency of cocktail.

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With the carafe of lychee tea (see below) we’d ordered, D passes on the lychee based cock­tails and goes for the Guava Martini ($16). It’s an ‘Asian bal­ance of guava, cit­rus and flor­al notes’ made with guava, Cointreau, St Germain eld­er­flower, fresh lemon/​lime and fin­ished with rose foam. This was deli­ciously refresh­ing with a crisp, pleas­ant very subtle flor­al taste. It’s a ridicu­lously easy easy cock­tail to drink — I’d likely choose this one over the Berry Rose Cake if judging on taste solely, although that one is more inter­est­ing and complex.

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To drink gen­er­ally, we ordered a carafe of Lychee Tea ($12). The lem­on is very pro­nounced, which is not how D enjoyed it the first time. The tea base is a jas­mine green tea with the flor­al notes of the jas­mine being the second most evid­ent fla­vour. The lychee fla­vour wasn’t really there, even though I saw lychee flesh in the carafe, although I may have con­fused the jas­mine notes with the lychee notes because the menu men­tioned only using green tea, and D didn’t have trouble tast­ing the lychee behind the obvi­ous lem­on notes. Either way, it’s easy to drink and sweetened just right.

We were really here for the drinks, and every­one knows you shouldn’t drink on an empty stom­ach. So we order a couple of dishes to share.
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We start with Japanese grilled egg­plant with pea­nuts, fried shal­lots, cori­ander and Vietnamese dress­ing and black ses­ame crack­ers ($12.90). The fla­vours in this dish bal­anced beau­ti­fully: the dress­ing gave a punchy acid­ity, while the pea­nuts gave a nice crunch, the egg­plant was tender and fla­vour­ful, and even though I don’t usu­ally like the green parts of dishes, it went sur­pris­ingly well together.

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These black ses­ame crack­ers that came with the egg­plant were a deli­cious vehicle for soak­ing up the sauces from the egg­plant while giv­ing a pleas­ant crispi­nessto the dish. This egg­plant dish was the def­in­ite high­light of the food we had.

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Next up we had the House Duck Spring Rolls with mush­rooms and water chest­nuts served with sweet plum sauce ($12.90). The spring rolls tasted pretty ordin­ary by them­selves, although the plum sauce went some way to elev­at­ing it. The plum sauce had a sweet fresh­ness and was a clear unlike the opaque stuff you get in jars from the Asian gro­cery. Even so, the spring rolls were not worth $4 each.

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Spicy chick­en wings are some of D’s favour­ite foods, so the Devil Wings ($12.90) are an obvi­ous choice. While fried until the chick­en wings have a crispy skin, the wing were sur­pris­ingly not oily although they were really quite salty. The spi­ci­ness did not come from the wings at all, but from the red hot sauce drizzled over. I have a rather sens­it­ive tongue so even the mild hot sauce was already quite spicy for me, but D would’ve liked it hot­ter. Then again, he thinks most spicy foods we eat aren’t hot enough. So…!

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Finally, we fin­ished off with some hand made curry puffs with beef, potato and peas served with cucum­ber and mint yogurt ($12.90). This was the most dis­ap­point­ing of the food we tried. While the puffs came out pip­ing hot piled on the plate, the pastry quickly absorbed all the steam and became very soft, and not flaky or crispy as you’d expect from a good puff. With the mashed filling, which didn’t taste much like curry, it was just a mushy puff.

We were there for the drinks, and they were good! And the staff were attent­ive and friendly and staggered the arrival and remov­al of the dishes well.

Chi and Co was at 3/​264 Canley Vale Rd, Canley Heights NSW 2166.