Madam Woo serves tradition Chinese and Malaysian hawker stall foods with a modern twist. They have chain restaurants around New Zealand in Queenstown, Dunedin, Takapuna, and Hamilton. We have always wanted to try this restaurant because of the good reviews and recommendations by friends.
The restaurant is not very high end, but it’s definitely a nice dining place with a vibrant and modern setting. The restaurant is conveniently located, just a minute walk from the Octagon.
We made a booking there for dinner to celebrate my boyfriend’s birthday. We went there relatively early around 6:30PM. to avoid the crowd later in the night, the restaurant started to get pretty packed around 7:30PM.
We ordered a banquet menu for two. The menu was simple and looked authentic. We had great expectations.
The first entree was prawn and coriander dumplings, and pork and prawn siu mai. These two are classic Chinese starters that consist of chopped pork, prawns and vegetables inside a thin dumpling skin. These were served steaming hot in a bamboo steamer. Due to the steaming method of cooking, they had very light and clean flavours. The siu mai especially was very juicy and had great texture contrasts due to the chopped mushrooms and prawn pieces. The prawn and coriander dumplings were outstanding, with thin, translucent, and chewy skins, a hallmark of great dumplings.
These did taste a little different compared to the authentic siu mai you can get from Chinese dim sum restaurants. Madam Woo’s version felt more delicate and refined.
A promising start to our meal.
The next entree was Sukor spiced sticky chicken wings. These were deep-fried chicken wings cooked in Malaysian spiced sauce, tossed with black and white sesame seeds, and garnished with coriander. I quite liked these, the wings were well marinated to give a sweet and spicy kick.
We heard someone sitting nearby exclaiming that these were the best wings they had ever had. Probably not the best we’ve ever had, but delicious nonetheless.
We had a choice of two mains, our first main was the fish curry. The fish pieces were battered and deep-fried, and then served in a red curry sauce. It was served sizzling hot in a stone pot, and topped with basil and slices of red chilli. The curry was not soupy, unlike traditional Malaysian curry, but was thick and reduced just enough to coat the fish pieces.The fish was crispy on the outside, and super tender on the inside. The flavours of the curry were a little sweet and savoury, with little kicks of spice. I quite enjoyed it, the dish was executed well.
The second main we ordered was the Kum Heong style soft shell crab (in the bottom centre of the picture). It is a very popular dish in Malaysia. I love soft shell crab, and I remember having it with salt, pepper, and chilli back in Hong Kong.
The crab was deep-fried, and tossed with fried basil leaves and scallions with a little chilli. I liked the rich flavours, and the outside of the crab was addictively crunchy. However, it started to get a little salty for my taste after a few bites. The waiter explained that they may be salty from the salt water from inside the crab. The kitchen was more than happy to give us another dish to try, and the waiter highly recommened the honey and soy tossed squid.
The squid was deep-fried and coated with honey and soy glaze, and topped with cashew nuts. It was a sweet dish, and I wish the sauce could have had been less sweet. However, the squid was nicely cooked.
The mains were served with steamed bok choy, salad, rice, and roti. The sides were fine, but nothing too memorable. However, I did enjoy dipping the roti in the curry, the pastry was flaky, warm, and delightfully crunchy. The portion size was also quite generous for just two people.
Overall thoughts: We loved the great atmosphere and kind service at Madam Woo. However, we felt that the mains would’ve been more enjoyable had they been a little lighter with the seasoning. I would definitely be curious to try their other dishes such as the Hainanese chicken and laksa. I would recommend getting a variety of their excellent entrees if you plan to visit.
Address: 115 Stuart St, city centre, Dunedin, NZ