An Asian tea house restaurant in Waterloo? The setting sounds unfamiliar but somehow it works. Situated within the same vicinity as Devon on Danks, Kepos Street Kitchen and Mojo By Luke Mangen; it is surprising to hear that Puer has actually been around for a good number of years. Yet I've only heard about it late last year. While Waterloo is hard to get to by public transport (not to mention delays from trains, trackwork and weekend traffic that day), I was excited to check out Puer after receiving an invite to sample their extensive menu.
While it has some of that fancy decor that you may spot at other Modern Asian restaurants, there is a dominance of wooden furnishing throughout the venue for that olden tea house appearance. Surprisingly, the wooden chair were actually comfortable that I didn't notice the material until I stood up at the end. Teapots could be found throughout the venue including bear the front door with tea leaves laid out in a petite bowl.
Taiwan All Season tea ($9.00)
There's a generous selection of teas, which made it hard to choose which one to try. Eventually we went with the "Taiwan All Season" based on the waiter suggesting that this tea was a suitable match for a variety of dishes. The waiter advised us that this was a two step process where we wait the tea to steak for about two minutes before pouring the leaves into one smaller teapot then filtering the tea into an open teapot and finally serving it in a small cup in its clear form. It had a pale yellow appearance with a bold, smooth, floral flavour that makes it unique compared to the complimentary tea you would get at most other Chinese and Vietnamese restaurants.
Peach and Phoenix ($17.00)
The Peach and Phoenix cocktail was not your average peach ice tea. There's that slight liquor boost from the various Phoenix tea infusions mixed in the drink. This was certainly an ideal fruity drink to have on a warm Autumn day.
Spicy Prawn Dumplings ($8.00)
Choosing the dumplings was even harder when you just want to eat them all. The spicy prawns were actually quite mild but still had that slight kick that excites your senses. The bold red colour in the chilli pastry makes these dumplings look aesthetic pleasing to the eye before you pop them into your mouth.
Scallop Dumplings ($9.00)
The scallop dumplings were just as colourful, plump and juicy as the spicy prawn dumplings. They weren't as flavoursome as the former so we made good use of the soy sauce and chilli sauce on the side. Still very tasty nonetheless.
Wagyu Tacos ($16.00)
From reading many reviews, I knew that the wagyu tacos were actually more like steamed buns but that still got me keen enough to try. Out of all the dishes, this was definitely my favourite out of the lot! You just can't resist the tender, saucy, 9+ Oakley Ranch wagyu beef with house-made chilli paste and four leaf greens sandwiched in a flatter yet fluffy steamed Chinese 'taco' bun. Would order this dish again just for myself.
Hong Kong mini burgers ($15.00)
While I really liked the taste of the crispy panko crumbed pork with the house smoked chilli paste and hoisin, the bun was a bit too oily for my liking. Thankfully, the fillings and the crisp texture of the bun made it worthwhile for us to chow down this dish.
Three cup drunken duck ($26.00)
We liked the sound of drunken duck and Pu'er didn't disappoint. The duck meat was tender and easy to pull apart due to its slow cooked method. This was well complemented with veggie garments and shiitake mushrooms on the side. It's a really huge serving size with one massive duck breast per person.
Caramelised Berkshire Pork Belly ($24.00)
Ok I was struggling by this point but V was encouraging me to keep going with my share especially since its pork belly. I was awed by the look of that crackling on top. So want that crackling all for myself! The pork belly tender and fatty and matched well with the spice-infused, boiled eggs. This actually reminded me of the dish I usually have with my folks except mum always takes the fatty bits out. So delicious even though I was in food coma mode by then.
Steamed rice ($3.00)
Didn't expect to enjoy the rice but I liked the texture of this short-grain variety. It was not too hard and not too soft, which was what I prefer in my rice. This went really well with the meaty juices from both of the main dishes.
Chocolate brownie, banana, spiced wine jus, palm sugar ice cream, salted almond praline ($10.00)
I intially thought that the desserts would be the death of me but that second stomach was there for this brownie. Topped with a salted almond praline, this had that fudgey taste but it actually wasn't as rich as I expected. The palm sugar had a decadent, creamy and buttery flavour which tasted well with the banana slices.
Coconut and caffir lime leaf sorbet ($10.00)
The coconut sorbet was lighter than expected, which worked well with the surprisingly warm weather that day. It was served in a young coconut, which I thought was quite adorable and neat. Wasn't sure what the black sticky rice was doing on the side but it worked well with the creamy sorbet.
All in all, the dining experience at Pu'er was pleasant. The staff were friendly and accommodating to all customers inside the restaurant at the time of our visit, which was a bonus. It also seemed family friendly since many of the other diners brought their kids with them. With most Modern Asian restaurants like Mr Wong, China Doll, LL Wine and Dine and the like, the food was on the more expensive side such as the dumplings priced at $7-$10 with only 3 servings in the basket. Despite that, I'm keen to head back to try more of the dumplings and the tea next time I'm in the area.
DISCLAIMER: The Random Foodie dined as a guest of Pu'er. Opinions are however, my own.
20a Danks Street Waterloo NSW 2017
(02) 8399 1331
Tues-Fri: 12:00pm - 3:00pm, 6:00pm - late
Sat-Sun: 12:00pm - late