84 Archer Street Chatswood, NSW 2067
|Opening hours||Daily 11.30am-9pm|
|Prices||Cheap (mains under $20)|
|Phone||02 8065 2876|
This cute hole-in-the-wall is a hole-in-one for fans of the deep-fry. The majority of the menu is made up of bite-sized morsels plunged into hot oil. The crisp and crunchy smorgasbord ranges from tofu to chicken hearts, with a few soup and rice dishes adding an element of wholesomeness.
The Hu's Inn concept is inspired by the street food stalls of Taiwan selling xiaochi (snacks) akin to Spanish tapas and influenced by cuisines from around the world. The restaurant itself is a tiny space where you order and pay at a counter tucked underneath a sweet shingled awning. There are only about 20 seats; a little over half in an indoor area made to look as if it's outdoors and the rest actually outdoors.
Top billing on the picture menu goes to salt-and-pepper chicken, which according to our super speedy and enthusiastic waiter, Arthur, is one of the house specialities. We order it as part of a main meal set, served in a bento box with sides including rice and a sweet carrot and potato curry. The sides underwhelm, the rice seemed overcooked, but the bite-sized nuggets of chicken hit the mark; they're well-seasoned and addictive.
Next time we'll skip the meal deals and order more from the "fried delights" list; these are consistently good. Sweet potato fries are given a liberal sprinkling of plum powder – one tangy twist away from cinnamon sugar – while jalapeno cheese sticks have only a faint hint of heat and ooze cream cheese as you bite through their lightly battered shell.
We pass on American corndogs zigzagged with tomato sauce in favour of tian bu la, spongy fish cake cylinders. With no distinct flavour the appeal is the texture, although each table is topped with help-yourself chilli oils and soy sauce if you feel so inclined.
The latter comes in handy for wonton soup: silky parcels of prawn and mainly pork mince in a light broth with fresh coriander. With an extra chilli-kick it’s a heart-warming comfort, and a cleansing counter to all the fried food.
The drinks list is limited to green and sweet black iced teas but the fried food begs to be washed down with an ice-cold beer. Which is hopefully something that will be added soon – Michelle Hu and Ken Yu (finance industry workers turned restaurateurs) have applied for a licence. The crowd of who's in Hu's Inn is sure to swell even more.
Do ... get in quick, the small space only seats 20
Don't ... forget cash – cards aren't accepted here
Dish ... salt-and-pepper fried chicken, sweet potato fries and jalapeno cheese sticks
Vibe ... smiley street food stall