Let’s get straight to it, Manly Eat Well Chinese is delightful, delicious and by far the tastiest Chinese in Manly that we have discovered. I personally can’t believe it has taken me thirteen years to finally uncover this little gem.
The Hubby & I walked in just before 7pm and snagged the last table at the back of the restaurant… it was packed. Out of nine different sized tables, there were only two tables still waiting their reservations to arrive. Eat Well might not be in walking distance from our apartment, but we could tell that the Ocean Beach Precinct locals took advantage of having this gem in their backyard. The atmosphere was alive with chatter from a wonderful range of diners including young families, a few couples to mates and retiree groups. Many knew Henry, the manager, by name and we came to learn that he and the restaurant have been there for 20 years! The friendly and familiar atmosphere reminded The Hubby of Chinese restaurants growing up…it was common to know the staff by first name and you would run into friends without planning a meet up. It is a unique and even comforting feeling to see this habit still in action.
On to the menu. It was hard to turn away from the Chef’s recommendations on the opening pages, and we immediately decided to go with the Lamb Pancakes (six pieces) – marinated shredded lamb with shallots, onions and spicy sauce served in homemade pancakes. Also from the Chef’s recommendations, we selected the Shantung Chicken – half bird deep fried and braised in delicious chilli, garlic and vinegar sauce. We also opted for the special of Steamed Scallops – in ginger and shallots sauce and we can never have Chinese without Spring Rolls…our order was in!
Being at the back of the restaurant, we were located just in front of the Waiter’s preparation table which allowed us to witness the final presentation of the food. The Hubby marvelled at how perfect the lettuce cups were for the Sang Choy Bow that Henry was dishing up…to his frustration, our lettuce cups never seem to cooperate when we prepare this at home… not sure if any tips were uncovered though. But the highlight was seeing the Pecking Duck come out. The Pecking Duck is only available if it is pre-ordered and does not even appear on the website or take-away menus…hot tip! Henry presented it to the table who ordered it and then came back to delicately slice the duck and prepare the pancakes. DROOL! Next time, we will have to come with a group of friends and organise the duck!! Can’t wait!
Our spring rolls arrived and were lovingly dished out onto our plates, a very authentic touch that was preformed on each dish that was served. Half way into eating these delicious pieces of yumminess, we realised we forgot to take a ‘before photo’ snap for the blog…ooppps! Rookie error…although can you blame us, the duck had us salivating! Ha ha. Spring rolls generally look the same from the outside anyway but once we took our first bite, the flavour and freshness alerted us to the fact that these were head over heels above the normal spring roll. I was in heaven!
The scallops were next and beautifully presented in their six individual shells. We almost didn’t order this special but glad we took Henry’s advice in the end. The sauce was soy based with an invigorating balance of ginger and shallots that gave it a delightful zing.
The Hubby left me in stitches when one of his scallops slipped through his chop sticks and splashed back into the shell sending the sauce everywhere! Miraculously, he managed to only get a few drops on himself but the white tablecloth didn’t fare so well, he he.
Our table was also positioned close to the register so we were conscious of the active take-away business that Eat Well does. There was a steady flow of people coming in to order and collect their meals, we even saw and chatted to our Chiropractor as he waited to place his order. In fact, it also reminded me of a former colleague that use to live on Smith Street directly behind the restaurant and had the awesome set up of opening her back gate when she heard the bell ring and collected her dinner straight from the back of the kitchen. Love it! The best was when Manly Sea Eagles legend Steve Menzies came in to collect his order. The little boy, sitting at the front of the restaurant with his family, eyes just lit up! It was so cute! And by luck he was even wearing a Sea Eagles jersey. It was such a pleasure to witness the interaction between the rugby legend and his young fan and to watch him acquire the autograph on his jersey with the help of his father. Bless!
Our lamb pancakes and Shantung chicken mains were both worthy of high fives… we had ordered well! The homemade pancakes were the highlight of the lamb dish for me, I could just smell the flour as I took a bite providing the first clue they were freshly made. And the menu didn’t lie for the Shantung chicken…that chilli, garlic and vinegar sauce WAS delicious and immediately had us analysing how to recreate it at home. Just as we were about to polish off the chicken, we realised we did it again and forgot to snap a before photo. So instead it seemed appropriate to capture the plate just as we were about to finish it as a fitting end to our meal and experience of Manly Eat Well Chinese.
For the meal we spent a total of $73 which did not include any drinks, although you can bring your own wine and next time we certainly will. It goes without saying that we will be back and have added another eatery to our go-to list, this restaurant is certainly the stuff of legends 😉 Woot woot!