Park Lok - back to Canto originals

Park Lok is another Chinese restaurant in Chinatown, however sits slightly off the beaten track on Grote St in the former site of J Restaurant. We decided to try this place after I had read a favourable review in the paper that Saturday morning. As you walk in the d├ęcor is typical of that for larger style Chinese restaurants, lots of red, shiny ornaments, chandeliers and “look then pick to eat” seafood tanks – think T Chow but on a slightly smaller scale. Interestingly, I had read that morning the owners of Park Lok were previous owners of T Chow but had sold the business back in 2009. Park Lok is the creation of their partnership with one of the current owners of Mamak Corner. With a track record like that I was seriously in hope of some tasty authentic Canto food!
As it was an early dinner, and we expected to be able to digest enough by bed time, we decided on ordering three main dishes between two. These were the Park Lok Speciality Duck, Crispy Beef Strips (from the paper specials stuck to the wall) and the Combination Seafood Hotpot.
We were tossing up whether we should order the Taro duck (a favourite) so we could compare with Wah Hing. However, it only seemed logical on the first occasion to go with a dish that was named after the establishment. Expectations were subsequently high. The Park Lok duck is boneless, sliced and comes in a dark soy stock that the duck was braised in. Additional Chinese vinaigrette with garlic is provided on the side. The duck was tender and full of flavour with the right amount of fat that wouldn't result in a grease headache. As the stock was quite salty it definitely needs some rice to balance the flavour. Fondly, my boyfriend said the dishes authenticity reminded him of Hong Kong – I don’t think you could get a higher recommendation. Although the dish was nice enough, I couldn't help feel a little regretful I didn't choose the Taro duck. Lesson learnt.
Crispy Beef Strips were crispy with the right amount of sweet and sour. I wouldn't rave about it but worth ordering if you had a hankering and needed some solid crispy beef flavours. Sometimes when I eat too much crispy beef my mouth starts hurting from the crunch – does anyone else get this problem?
Last to come out was the Combination Seafood Hot Pot. This dish was delicious! Unlike other watery, tasteless seafood hot pots I have had, this one was rich with a thick broth. It was a stronger colour than I was expecting but I'm thinking along the lines of colour meaning flavour! Fish slices melted in the mouth and prawns were fresh. Tofu has soaked up the dishes flavour without getting overly soggy. Only minor issues were the squid tasted a slightly rubbery and I could only visibly find one scallop in the dish.
All in all, Park Lok came out with a solid effort and delivered tasty, familiar Cantonese food. So much so that the family will be heading back on Wednesday night to try more of what they have to offer. Keep you all posted! I should also mention that while prices very reasonable (most dishes had prices below $15) the service was both attentive and friendly. We were served a jug of water and a basket of prawn crackers upon taking our seats. I find this very rare for Chinese restaurants these days. An added bonus! Jess gives Park Lok 8/10 chops on the chopping board. Park Lok Chinese Restaurant on Urbanspoon


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