Sweet Sour Salt, Orange, NSW

I’m going to tell you about a restaurant that’s a four-hour drive from Sydney, and how the people of Orange are extremely fortunate to have a local restaurant serving such incredibly good food.

The humble exterior

The unassuming exterior

While we were driving from Sydney to Orange for our weekend mini-break, I googled restaurants for where we could have dinner.  I came across Sweet Sour Salt and really liked the sound of the modern Asian menu.  I phoned and made a booking for 6.30pm.

Old-school styled blackboard with specials written in chalk

Old-school styled blackboard with specials written in chalk

However, we had a few delays and realised we would be arriving a lot later so I phoned to ask if it would be possible to instead have a 7.30pm booking.  The person who answered the phone was very understanding and even though Sweet Sour Salt is usually heavily booked due to not only the quality of the cuisine but also because it seats just 35, we were able to change our booking.


Sweet Sour Salt is located on the main street of Orange in Summer Street.  As you drive down Summer Street the restaurant is fairly nondescript with little signage and being a small restaurant, it’s easy to miss.

Old-school styled blackboard with a shelf to house your wine

Old-school styled blackboard with a shelf to house your wine

The interior is modern and minimalist with banquettes along one side, small tables for two along the other side and two communal tables in the centre.

Realising we had made it to the right place, we walked into a smallish space where there is a large blackboard reminiscent of my school days along one wall with specials written in chalk.  On the opposite wall is an enormous modern mural that gives the restaurant a very slick and contemporary look which is fitting for the modern Asian cuisine that is served.

Love the mural!

Love the mural!

We were shown to one of the two communal tables.  It was a very cold night but there was adequate heating so it was warm enough for me to be able to remove my jacket.

While the waitress was very efficient she could have had a little more warmth and looked more interested in what she was doing, however that’s going to be about my only criticism of what was an incredibly good dining experience.

Kung Po Chicken:  $28.00

Kung Po Chicken: $28.00

We were given the drinks’ menu and it was wonderful to see it supports of lot of locally produced wines.  I ordered a glass of the Mayfield Vineyard Pinot Noir Chardonnay Sparkling because we had booked accommodation at that vineyard.  I do love a sparkling salmon-pink drink and I liked this sparkling wine so much I ordered  few bottles of it the next day from the vineyard.

Drinks to get the night started

Drinks to get the night started

Archie, being Archie, ordered a rum with tonic water in it.  And made me have a sip.  Vile.  The little guy had a lemon, lime and bitters and Drew sat on his water.

The menu is limited but it reads like a dream come true and there were so many dishes we wanted to try but that would have meant ordering them all.  We started with Son in Law Eggs that are twice cooked free range eggs with shallots, peanuts, fried onion and chilli with a caramel tamarind sauce.  The presentation was gorgeous and the eggs looked stunning with their bright yellow yolks that were still slightly runny.  The mixture of flavours and textures was beautiful and we all wished for more.

Son In Law Eggs:  $16.00 for 2 eggs, halved

Son In Law Eggs: $16.00 for 2 eggs, halved

We ordered an entree-sized portion of Salt and Pepper Squid that came with a Vietnamese style green chilli dipping sauce and cucumber salad.  The outer coating was very crunchy and the squid was delightfully tender.  The dipping sauce had a lovely hit of chilli and there was plenty of it.

Salt & Pepper Squid $20 entree, $30 main

Salt & Pepper Squid $20 entree, $30 main

Our final entree was handmade Steamed Pork and Prawn Dumplings dressed with salmon roe, shitake mushroom, vinegar, chilli oil, chives and fried onion.  These were very popular with Archie who questioned why we hadn’t ordered more.

Steamed Pork and Prawn Shao Mai $18.00 for 4

Steamed Pork and Prawn Shao Mai $18.00 for 4

There would be less than a dozen main courses on the menu but even so, they all sounded so good it was a dilemma trying to decide.  Eventually we were all in agreement and started with Kung Po Chicken that was thinly sliced boneless chicken breast with soy sauce, black vinegar, chilli, peanuts, garlic and ginger.  This was an outstanding combination of flavours, colours and textures and I particularly liked the kick of black vinegar.

Kung Po Chicken:  $28.00

Kung Po Chicken: $28.00

Next we had the Mongolian Braised Shin Beef where the beef is slow-cooked to produce the amazing tenderness and flavours of a re-born Chinese classic with bean sauce, shaozing wine, soy sauce, five spice and fresh herbs.  I don’t think it would be possible to have beef that’s more tender.  The star anise flavour from the five spice complimented the richness of the beef.

Mongolian Braised Shin Beef:  $30.00

Mongolian Braised Shin Beef: $30.00

Our last dish was Deep Fried Soft Shell Crab that was soft shell mud crab with green papaya, cherry tomatoes, dried shrimp floss, herbs, palm sugar, fish sauce and lime.  This was another faultless dish that was totally devoured with oohs and aahs from around the table.  The crab had the right amount of crunch to give the dish some texture and the green papaya with the fish sauce and lime juice gave a salty sour dressing to the soft shell crab.

Deep Fried Soft Shell Crab:  $34.00

Deep Fried Soft Shell Crab: $34.00

On special there were dishes like ‘half BBQ duck with button mushrooms and Thai chilli basil sauce’ and ‘Roast suckling pork marinated in soy and black vinegar with star anise and spring onion’.  We would have loved to have tried both of these dishes.  It’s amazing that a menu that fits entirely on one page has so many tantalising offerings that you wish there was a way you could taste them all.

We did make room for dessert.  There are just two desserts on the menu, a spiced sticky date pudding or the mango creme brulee.  We ordered the creme brulee that came with almond tuilles.  The brulee was a very smooth custard and the tuilles were amazingly thin and light.  And it was so lovely to have some tropical mango while outside, it was beginning to snow.

Mango Creme Brulee $16.00

Mango Creme Brulee $16.00

Orange is a country town with a population of around just 40,000.  When people think of country towns they often think the dining opportunities will be rather limited however, Orange is definitely the exception with many restaurants arguably as good as what you will find four hours away in Sydney.  We found Sweet Salt Sour to be unassuming in appearance but with food that amazed.  The cost of each dish is at the higher end of what is normally charged at Asian restaurants, however, the execution of each dish, the flavours and the presentation and above all the taste, is outstanding.

It's BYO during the week but fully licensed on weekends

It’s BYO during the week but fully licensed on weekends

Verdict:  You’ll want to visit more than once.

Sweet Sour Salt:  116 Summer Street, Orange NSW

Ph:  02 6362 5191

Comments

  1. This sounds absolutely incredible!! I love soft shell crab so much. 🙂

  2. That sounds fabulous! I want to take a bite out of everything you tried!

  3. I always love reading about the different foods you try. Nothing like anything I’ve ever eaten, mostly. Sounds like a really good place to dine.

  4. Makes my mouth water!

  5. Sounds absolutely wonderful Charlie. What a pity I live so far away.
    Have a lovely day.
    🙂 Mandy xo

  6. What a cute concept, nicely executed. I may have to create some mango brulée I feel so inspired!

  7. You have the most amazing outings … wonderful meal and a vineyard visit the next day. I’ve always wanted to do a vineyard tour … even locally though the Niagara area would be my dream destination. At least in Ontario. No one is interested in going, not even my SIL who’s the adventurous one. 🙁

    I’m curious what was in the little cup on the mango creme brulee plate besides the tuiles, and of course, the ramekin with the creme brulee?

  8. I heart Orange. We spent Easter there but I don;t recall seeing this little gem. That soft-shell crab looks all kinds of phwoar.

  9. i like the look of those eggs! and i too love pink sparkling. nothing better! and soft shell crab? yummo. it all looks so good. great isn’t it how country towns are getting so trendy and full of great places for food and drink these days?

  10. With so many of our regional centres being in dire straits it is so heart warming to read a positive fragment coming from one which is burgeoning . . . great ‘city’ food in a beautiful country setting. Actually Matt Moran in his great “Paddock to Plate’ series did already draw our attention to the wealth and beauty of the Orange area . . . well worth visiting, even if initially ‘virtually’!

  11. Annie Potts says:

    After reading another of your entertaining reviews and seeing these wonderful plates of food , Orange and this particular restaurant are definitely on my bucket list ! Now for somewhere to stay !!

  12. OMG that look of that food is just about worth doing a trip from NZ to over there…..lol

  13. We have always enjoyed the food of Orange – had an Aunt and Uncle who lived there and so visited quite often when we lived in Australia and even back then there were some good restaurants but this place does look interesting and delicious.

  14. Charlie I’m so glad that you had a good meal after you had that strange situation with your accommodation!

  15. I love Orange! Glad you all enjoyed this experience as you have been having a not so good run of things re food and accommodation eh Charlie!

  16. salt and pepper squid is a personal favorite!

  17. sounds like a fun evening – glad you enjoyed your meal after the accommodation left a lot to be desired – hope it was nice and warm in there with the snow outside

  18. This sounds like a great find in a small town location! The dishes look very well crafted and delicious. Your sparkling sounds perfect too. I do love a good bubbly. The prices do seem at the high-end, but like you said, likely appropriately so with how well they made everything.

  19. That restaurant sounds like a real gem so glad you enjoyed all the dishes and had a wonderful time. Did you learn why the dish was given the name “Son in Law Eggs”?

  20. Such Fun! Good to hear you enjoyed the feed. Orange has some stella restaurants, will have to get back there, haven’t been back since school, I went to school there, it’s such a pretty part of the world.

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