In the heart of the city’s Chinatown, in a small laneway off the northern end of Little Bourke Street.PROFILED BY DE GROOTS MEDIA
Follow a trail of red ants along Corrs Lane to Ants Bistro, an unpretentious little restaurant secreted amongst Chinatown’s laneways. The decor is simple but effective – brightly painted red walls and a huge cascade of paper lanterns dominate a roomful of people enjoying the classic northern Chinese dishes on offer. Those who judge a Chinese establishment by its hot and sour soup will find Ants Bistro a strong contender for their affections, while chilli and Szechuan pepper proliferate in northern style dishes such as Szechuan chicken or the appropriately titled “pungent beef,” which comes to your table still bubbling away in its own little flame-warmed pot.
Naturally, the bistro’s namesake of “ants climbing trees” is a speciality here – an appetising mix of pork mince, green beans, chilli and red peppercorns clinging to vermicelli noodles. Other enticing items include Hunan pork ribs, fisherman’s eggplant, garlic chicken and the tea-smoked duck – aromatic, moist flesh and crispy skin served in a delicious sauce with bok choy. Unlike many restaurants of this ilk, the dessert menu extends beyond the obligatory fried ice-cream and banana fritters to some interesting traditional dishes. Try the deep-fried almond jelly with black sesame sugar for a different sweet treat. On busy nights service can be a bit stretched but this little place has more atmosphere than similar restaurants in the area, and you will leave feeling warmed from within, with lips slightly numbed from Ants Bistro’s hot and delicious offerings.