Vera Chu, formally Vera Cruz, has undergone a change recently, with the owner Annette Zubanki introuducing Chinese to their 15-year-old Mexican restaurant… and voila, Chino-Latino fusion! Think Peking duck tacos and pulled pork san choi bow – yes please!
With prime real estate on busy Military road in Cremorne, the stark white walls are brightened by macrame covered bench seats, multicolored chopsticks, kitsch Mexican and Asian masks and a shelf filled with an assortment of bottled chilli sauces and oils.
Sadly its empty, but two busy schedules mean my gorgeous friend, Am, and I are eating at the old-folks hour on a rainy Wednesday night. Works for us, and we’re given the staff’s full attention.
The ‘chilli rellenos with coriander, feta and guajillo chilli oil’ ($15) – that’s those big red chilles, chargrilled and stuffed with the feta mix then tempura fried – sounds yum. Next time…
We have the ‘san choi bow of pulled tamarind pork with roasted tomato salsa and cucumber’ ($16.50) to start. The pork shoulder has been slow cooked until it falls off the bone, then reduced in the tamarind sauce. We’re given extra napkins and warned that it’s quite possibly the messy dish to eat. Am tackles it with a knife & fork but I go in hands first… it’s worth all the delicious juices that drip down my arms.
The ‘char-grilled Yacatan fish, corn taco with guacamole and salsa’ ($19.50) is like a giant crispy fish taco that makes a fabulous crunch as we split it in half. The beautful fresh guacamole is piled on and topped with ripe salsa – if only all Mexican was this tasty.
I’m loving the ‘Chino Latino baked fish with chilli, ginger, rice and salsa verde’ ($27.50) – it just feels like I’m eating goodness. The fish is Ling, lovely and soft on a bed of pilaf-style rice with fresh corn and roast papitas. Am loves the sauce of shallots, garlic & olive oil and I’m also loving the weathered dark blue enamel serving spoons.
It would be rude not to look at desserts and Am reluctantly agrees to share the ‘Mexican ice cream with honeycomb , chilies, roasted almonds, pumpkin seeds and raisins’ ($13) with me – a decision neither of us regrets. The waitress clears our plates and asks if either of us got a big hit of chilli – the chef makes the ice cream and honeycomb from scratch and you never know who’ll end up with the chilli – but sadly it was neither of us tonight… I was looking for it, but my tongue is warm and tingley so I know it was there.
Fun, fresh and tasty, I’m now a big fan of Chino-Latino fusion, and Vera Chu. I wish this place wasn’t north of the boarder from me so I could frequent it more often – at a normal dinner hour on a busier night of the week.
Vera Chu – 314 Military Road, Cremorne NSW 2090 – 02 99045818