Lantern Fish, Manly
New fave restaurant in Manly
There are plenty of Asian restaurants in Manly, but not plenty of exceptional ones, Lantern Fish is one of these, along with Sunset Sabi and Queen Chow, but Lantern Fish is a) way cheaper than the others and b) doesn’t make food for anyone but themselves. The chef is still young and experimental, but his resume reads like one of the greats; previous cheffing gigs include Restaurant Hubert, Lotus Dining Group and Sergeant Lok. They maybe a Chinese restaurant but are influenced from greater Asia. The staff are wonderful, the cocktails are exceptional and so cheap – lookout over summer, Sunset Sabi and Queen Chow are going to lose a lot of their market share to this sensational Chinese eatery.
Located in the previous venue for Four Olives Cafe Lantern Fish has really embraced the area. They designed the venue to embrace light, bright walls and kind of beachy decor. Being under a huge Norfolk Pine tree, they have shade and the entire main wall has folding windows, of which caused me grief, much to everyone’s amusement Nathan pushed me into the table when moving the windows but it was worth it – it opens the entire venue up and lets in air, something we loved.
They have tables and booths and a glass kitchen window to watch Kevin and his kitchen minions at work. Above the booth I thought they had a light sculpture of mushrooms, more amusement, it was a lotus design. It has a great bar of which they are superb at making cocktails.
First, let’s talk about my people, I went with school besties, Michelle and Tony, and then Nathan, Michelle’s son popped in and stayed. He fit in so well, he can pay you out as good as his mum, we were all in hysterics all night.
Now, the venue’s staff, we only met Carly and Kevin. Carly is the owner with Kevin the master chef. Carly spent a lot of time with us, explaining each meal and putting up with us as we got inebriated. We were very friendly with Carly, so much so Michelle and her are going to the gym together haha.
Kevin Un is Carly’s work husband, she is talkative and extroverted, he is extremely quiet and introverted, a great match!
Kevin has worked at Restaurant Hubert, Lotus Dining Group and Sergeant Lok, all of these venues have strict menus to follow, the beauty of Lantern Fish is he can experiment and not be as stifled, something that is doing the venue wonders in Manly.
“I would describe my food as Malaysian, Indonesian and Chinese. It is my heritage combined with my experience,” Kevin said when interviewed by Concrete Playground
What we were served…
Hirasama kingfish ceviche
Granny Smith apple, jalapeño, coconut lime dressing / F / GF / NF
Spicy tuna tartare
Nashi pear, kombu jelly, sesame rice cracker / DF / GF / NF
Curry butter prawn fritter
Sweet corn, fennel, royal gala / NF
Twice cooked Fremantle octopus
Fermented chilli, leek, heirloom tomato / DF / GF /NF
Perfectly crisp eggplant
Roasted peanuts, sweet and spicy glaze / F / NF / VG
Sichuan fried chicken
Pickled daikon, piparra pepper / DF / NF
Crispy skin duck pancakes
House-made hoisin, cucumber, leeks, melon / DF / GF / NF
Kung pao chicken
Crunch-soft free-range chicken, dried chilli, peanuts / DF / NF
Ginger Murray cod
Steamed cantonese style with ginger, shallot and soy / DF / GF / NF
Roasted sovereign lamb rump
Pickled cucumber, chermoula, spicy peanut sauce / DF
XO Crab fried rice
Blue swimmer crab, flying fish roe, egg, corn, asparagus / DF / GF / NF
Hearing me describe Lantern Fish as my new favourite venue in Manly let’s you know what I think of the food – it is exceptional!!
I will go through each individual dish……
The Kingfish Ceviche was marvellous, the apple and jalapeño were perfect additions and we all loved it.
The Tuna Tartare is probably my all time favourite tartare, everyone agreed. The Nashi pear addition was mind blowing!
The Prawn Fritter was a let down for me, I found it quite bland but after the two heavy hitters served previously this should have come out first, Tony and Nathan really liked it however.
The octopus was super tasty and was presented beautifully, and always a yes to fermented chilli and leek.
The eggplant was an absolute winner, one of my favourite dishes. Tony doesn’t really like or ever order eggplant, at 50yrs old Lantern Fish changed his mind on eggplant, and he ate three pieces and insisted I mention this in the review haha.
Sorry I am going on and on
The Sichuan fried chicken was one of my favourite dishes, a wonderfully tasty chilli dish, spicy, but not offensively so. I will have it again.
The duck pancakes split the table, me and Nath just loved it, the other side of the table not so much. I thought it was the best duck I have ever had, the crispy skin was perfection, Tony didn’t give much thought but he did say he didn’t love it, Michelle wanted chilli in it – but not many restaurants serve chilli with duck pancakes – the essential items are plum sauce, cucumber and spring onion. And the presentation of this dish is just WOW!!
The kung pao chicken was nice but not my favourite, it is meant to be an amalgamation of savoury, spicy, numbing, slightly sweet, tangy, and nutty flavours. But there was no spice in it – it didn’t make my mouth tingle. The Sichuan fried chicken was more spicy and I preferred it, like the fritters, this would have been better served before the Sichuan chicken.
The ginger Murray cod was sublime, so subtle and exceptionally cooked – I need this again!
Nathan lost his shit at the lamb, Michelle doesn’t like lamb and so never cooks it at home, we were literally talking about it and then 5min later, Carly appears with the lamb dish, cooked as a gift by Keith, so bloody good!!
And the XO crab fried rice was a brilliant rice side, nice and salty with egg row, just yum!!!
Lantern Fish is one of my favourite venues of the year the food, the venue, the drinks, and the people were exceptional. The food wasn’t perfect, but the dishes I loved were so good I can easily overlook the lack of spice in a kung pao chicken. The tartare is my favourite tartare of all time and the eggplant and cod were perfection! I will be going back ASAP!
SCORE BREAKDOWN: 3/3 food, 2/2 service, 1/1 drinks, 1/1 venue & ambience, 1/1 cost, 1/1 toilets & 1/1 bonus
*** Spooning Australia was invited, with thanks, by the venue ***
All photographs are Copyright by Spooning Australia and Jason King – please feel free to share with full credit provided.
Lantern Dish Deets
Shop 5/2-8 Darley Rd, Manly NSW 2095
Medium – most expensive dish on their website is the Whole Duck Crispy Skin Duck for multiple people – it serves 2-4 people
Tuesday – Sunday: 12pm – 3pm
Tuesday – Thursday & Sunday: 5pm – 9pm
Friday – Saturday: 5pm – pm
Yes – limited
Full Licensed Only