Chef proves ambassador of fine food
BEEF cheeks at the start of summer? Yes please, if they're cooked by Chef Brendon Barker at Embassy XO.
Braised in rock sugar, soya sauce, chilli and black bean sauce, these melt-in-mouth beauties stay on the menu winter, spring, summer and autumn. Customers demand it be so.
And I'm in full agreement. Already a huge beef cheek fan, I'm now a passionate devotee of Brendon's Chinese/Asian version.
The exotic flavours are deeply infused into the meat and the slow cooking process makes the cheeks so tender and moist, they fall apart the moment you look at them.
This is just one of the dishes we got through on Embassy XO's banquet menu. At $55 per person, it presents 12 dishes.
Great value aside, the real advantage of the banquet menu is experiencing Brendon's talent.
That talent, teamed with knowledgeable and attentive service, a Hong-Kong-meets-Sunshine Beach decor, and a wide-ranging wine list, is a formula for triumph.
I've gushed about Brendon's work before - his Yum Cha especially - and I think you will too when you've tried his food.
His devotion to his craft recently took him deep into the heart of China where he experienced as much as possible including cooking and eating with locals, absorbing knowledge to bring back to Sunshine Beach to create a Chinese/Asian menu for us.
Embassy XO management is fortunate to have him in the kitchen and it shows with a pleasing number of bottoms on seats every night of the week and a packed houses for Yum Cha on Saturdays and Sundays.
The three entrees on the banquet menu include pork dumplings with chu chow and black vinegar; crispy chicken ribs, and light-as-air spanner crab and prawn spring rolls.
The entrees come out together so there's a lot of dipping and sharing going on.
Every dish has its own character and (I believe) it's best to enjoy each one individually, to fully enjoy the nuances and flavours.
The mains included those sublime beef cheeks which I tried (and failed) not to hog.
I savoured them on their own, not even wanting the steamed rice to share the bowl with them.
Then it was on to barbecued pork loin, layers of thinly cut meat with a pile of salad: peanuts, red onion, coriander and mint. The palate went wild in appreciation.
Rice-crusted snapper braised in Yanjing beer made up the final dish in the mains section. Moist fish in a sour broth - great contrast to the other dishes.
If you think you know your noodles, you don't.
Forgive the assumption, but Brendon's hand rolled sesame hor fun noodles will introduce you to an entirely noodle experience.
White, super soft and rolled to look like little spring rolls, they too had to be enjoyed just on their own.
Side dishes included a mixed leaf salad with a zingy green chilli mayo, a dish of beautiful wok greens with Brendon's homemade oyster sauce and of course, steamed rice.
Well, what a feast it was, and the grand finale of steamed chocolate buns took it to another level.
Poke into these soft white balls with your chopsticks and out flows a puddle of chocolate.
It's entertainment enough, but when you coat the lot with the chilli raspberry sauce that comes with it, you're on your way to an experience bordering on the divine.
The seafood banquet ($75 per head) includes smoked ocean trout, Moreton bay bug dumplings, spanner crab, Mooloolaba prawns... all given Brendon's magical Chinese/Asian treatment.
The a la carte menu features many of the above dishes, in entree and main form.
The sticky Kilcoy beef with Chinese broccoli sounds like one worth going back for, as does the red roasted duck with candied garlic, ginger and lychees.
This is cooking of a standard you'd expect in Melbourne and Sydney, yet the prices are very Noosa.
I've gushed enough; it's time for you to discover if Brendon's talent lives up to my praise. I think you'll be very happy.
- Address: 1st Floor, Cnr Duke and Bryan Sts, Sunshine Beach.
- Telephone: 5455 4460
- Fully Licensed
- Open for dinner Tuesday through Sunday