98 Aroma brings refined Northern Chinese dining to Chinatown. The neighbourhood's restaurants are, for the most part, not known for their romance or mood lighting but that's not the case here.
You could do a lot worse that starting a meal with their Summer Breeze ($9.99) - a salad that comes with a base of shredded lettuce, carrots, and purple cabbage before garnished with fried taro shavings and a sweet vinaigrette.
The Griddle Stir-Fried Cauliflower ($12.99) is packed with garlic, Chinese chives and chilies so there's no shortage of spice. Anthony Rose should come check this out.
Dumplings are a staple of Northern Chinese cuisine, and the Pan Fried Pork Buns ($9.99) here are worth a try. They are so incredibly and literally juicy that they remind me of oversized xiaolongbaos , albeit with a nice light char at the base.
If you prefer your dumplings to be more akin to potstickers, order the similarly-named Pan Fried Pork and Chives Dumplings ($9.99). I could eat these for lunch everyday by the dozen.
The Steamed Garlic Shrimp ($19.99) is fresh with just the right amount of garlic, though the shrimp are a bit on the small size.
The Royal Kung Pao Chicken ($14.99) is sweet and spicy thanks for the generous helpings of Szechuan peppercorns. Make sure to pair this with a heaping mound of steamed white rice.
The Fried Salt and Pepper Calamari ($15.99) might be my favourite item on the menu. The calamari is fried perfectly crisp on the outside while still tenderly chewy on the inside.
The Steamed Tilapia with Chopped Bell Chilies ($29.99) is a gargantuanly impressive dish where the tender bone-in fish is bathed in sauce - but it's a bit tricky to eat because of all the small bones.
For drinks we try the Blue Hawaii and Sex on the Beach ($8), both of which could easily get you drunk.
For dessert, the Coconut Milk with Sweet Rice ($4.99) is rich and indulgent, but I wish it was sweeter.