Canton Lake is like, no sorry, is one of those dodgy looking chinese restaurants in an asian dominated suburb. Make no mistake, it isn't glamorous. You would know, as you are a dedicated reader of my blog, that I've raved about this place on many many occasions. We discovered it by chance, when we wanted a quick meal somewhere in Box Hill, but was sick of the usual places we would visit as they were becoming very underwhelming.
From the outside, you can't really see in, other than from the usual fanfare of peking duck, roast pork, charsiu (BBQ pork) and the like hanging in front of a glass window that severely needs cleaning. Upon entering the restaurant, again, underwhelming. A tank with live crustaceans and barramundi floating around, hanging on for dear life. In high summer, the air conditioning desperately and dramatically fails to cool the place, and in deep winter the heating is barely noticeable.
Make no mistake, ladies and gentlemen, at Canton Lake, it is all about the food. The crockerly is worn, with some even chipped. But when we first ate at Canton Lake, we were all very very impressed. As chinese food is all about balance, this place has managed to deliver beyond its visuals. Service is generally good, friendly, and is definitely a place where the locals eat. This place is not a destination restaurant, it is the type of place that you wish was around the corner because the food, just comforts. That's it.
I remember a dish, crisp duck with a sweet and sour sauce, perhaps mandarin duck or something, the skin was like glass and the meat oooooozing with juice. That was not dinner, that my friend, was a memory in the making. As I have ashamedly confessed that I am a sweet and sour fan (yeah, shut up, don't judge me), they do a PHENOMENAL, sweet and sour pork fillet. It is not your typical balls of batter you get at 99% of places, it has a thin, crisp batter coating, and the sweet and sour is just acidic, but not too acidic. I kid you not, this is one of the few chinese dishes I CRAVE for.
Other winners at Canton Lake are their shellfish dishes. Either lobster with ginger, shallots and noodles or mudcrabs with the same. More often than not, it is perfectly balanced. This place, when it reaches its highs, outstrips many of the chinese restaurants around the Doncaster/Box Hill area - and at a fraction of the price. Why pay double for the same thing elsewhere if you're just after a quick feed?
This place also works so so well as a takeaway as well (don't go for the "take away menu" though, order from the proper restaurant menu). Their charsiu (BBQ pork), is also brilliant. Yes, I have waited for their dinner service to start just to order take away. I am one of those people that waits for things to open....
Canton Lake, 529 Station St, Box Hill