Restaurant and food reviews from Perth, Australia

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Blackbird Restaurant, East Perth

Blackbird Restaurant East Perth review, photos and blog
Strolling along the serene East Perth redevelopment I noticed the whole range of eateries beckoning me to come in and enjoy their treats.  However, I got a recommendation (Thanks Mans!) to try Blackbird Restaurant - and boy did it not disappoint.

Blackbird Restaurant isn't a big venue, but it does have indoor as well as al fresco seating with a view of the East Perth waterfront.  The restaurant fits in to the modern waterfront redevelopment and offers a fine dining experience in a casual atmosphere.  The atmosphere is enhanced further by waitstaff that on the night we went were friendly and helpful, and not at all arrogant or of the "backpacker" variety.

The menu is a constantly changing menu, which as far as main courses are concerned, generally contains a few meat dishes, a fish dish, and a vegetarian dish.  Prices of mains generally range in the mid 20s to mid 30s.  Blackbird Restaurant is also licensed but offers Cellar Night Tuesdays where you can bring your own bottles of wine.

Amuse bouche - gnocchi

After ordering our dishes, we were advised that we would be receiving an amuse bouche for the night - a piece of gnocchi.  Whilst I wouldn't normally think of gnocchi as an appetiser to excite the tastebuds before a meal, it was a good piece of salted gnocchi - pan fried and like a light pillow that kind of melted in the mouth.

Black angus sirloin - $36

On the menu, this dish was described as "Black Angus Sirloin" without the word "steak" - perhaps a negative confirmation that I shouldn't expect a 250g+ slab of steak.  However, for a beef dish, it was attractively presented.

Ordered medium rare, the Black Angus Sirloin was cooked perfectly.  Served sliced on the plate, the browned exterior encased a pink medium rare interior.  Seasoned with noticeable salt, the slices of black angus sirloin really let the quality of the black angus shine through with melts-like-butter tenderness.

The steak was serviced with a bearnaise sauce, lightly battered and fried enoki, and crunchy triple cooked chips.

Gold band snapper - $37

The gold band snapper was served with beans, salsa and brussel sprouts.

Like the Angus sirloin, the fish was also cooked perfectly and seasoned with salt.  Having been cooked to the point where it was just cooked, the fish was tender and almost juicy.

The fish came with vegetables (such as beans and brussel sprouts) which were all lightly cooked, retaining a light crunch and a still vibrant colour.  Also on the plate was a light salsa, half a soft boiled egg and potatoes.

A well executed fish dish, though I still preferred the Black Angur Sirloin dish above.

Date creme brulee - $16

This creme brulee was very creamy, like it had been made with a thick or whipping cream, with the centre having a thick cream like texture as opposed to being closer to a more solid custard.  It was nicely balanced in sweetness so that it wasn't like candy, though the sweetness was sent soaring with the soft dates planted at the bottom of the creme brulee.

The caramelised sugar topping was great with a hard and crunchy texture.

We liked: Very well made food with good flavours and combinations; friendly and helpful service.

We didn't like: Given it's located right up against a man made water body, insects can be an issue at night (but Blackbird Restaurant uses deterrents); not a big menu, but normal for a restaurant of this size and what they do make they seem to do it well.

Other things to note:  Look at their website for special events such as Tuesday bring your own bottle of wine

Blackbird Restaurant
4/10 Eastbrook Tce (Lakeside)
East Perth WA 
(08) 9225 7880

Trading Hours
Lunch: Wed to Fri, and Sun - from Noon
Dinner: Tues to Sun - from 6pm

Blackbird Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Sake House, Applecross

Sake House Applecross reviews, photos and blogs
When I'm not sure what I want to eat, but want variety, Japanese izakaya (tapas) style dining quite often does the trick.  Those small almost tasting size dishes let you share and try different dishes with your fellow diners, though requires a bit of sharing out or fighting over the more popular ones on the table.

On this occasion, we made our way to Sake House in Applecross for some izakaya dining but ended up finding that many of their dishes were a little larger than small sharing dishes.  However, price wise the dishes weren't exactly cheap either but many were reasonable for the size of servings.  We ended up being very satisfied with some pretty decent servings of generally good tasting food.

The interior of Sake House is nicely decked out with large wood tables and chairs, and is quite spacious and modern.  However, I have the feeling that the interior hadn't been properly thought out with a cold atmosphere with relatively bright white lighting (as well as the viewable portion of the staff only area appearing to be quite messy.

The menu of Sake House reflects the izakaya style of dining (i.e. Japanese style eating where you order lots of little dishes to share).  Many favourites such as beef tataki, chicken teriyaki, karaage (coated and deep fried meat), tempura, sushi and sashimi were on the menu along with some other more unusual selections such as butterfly prawns.  However, overall the menu wasn't exactly inspiring and tended towards the usual Japanese dishes.

Beef tataki - $20

Beef tataki is typically thin slices of a good cut of beef cooked rare and served with a ponzu sauce (and often garlic, sping onion and ginger).  In comparison, this beef tataki of medium thickness seemed overcooked (like a puzzling well-done), with no part appearing rare and the entire slice being cooked through.

The beef was seasoned with spices including a noticeable amount of salt and pepper.  Whilst it was overcooked, the beef had a lot of marbelisation running through it helping to make it nearly melt in your mouth (which it probably would have been if it was cooked rare).  The beef was served on a place surrounded by a lot of light ponzu sauce.

Compared to other beef tataki I have had, apart from the quality of the beef, this dish seemed a little disappointing.

Beef teppanyaki - $26

This beef teppanyaki (a type of grilled on a hot iron plate beef dish) was apparently made with grade 7 wagyu.  It was seared teppanyaki style such that it was medium rare and tender (no doubt being grade 7 wagyu helped make this dish).  Again, the beef was seasoned, and served with a light side sauce.  Whilst the beef was served lightly seasoned it was quite simple in terms of flavours allowing the beef to shine through.

The beef teppanyaki was served with onion and garlic chips.

Karaage chicken - $12

The karaage chicken (a deep fried chicken dish) was tender - not dry, but not moist either.  The coating wasn't a common lightly crunchy batter, but still nicely coated with starch before frying.

The chicken pieces marinated giving the dish a bit more flavour and overall this wasn't a bad deep fried lightly coated chicken dish.

The karaage chicken came served with the usual Japanese mayonnaise (though for some reason this mayonnaise was off white) which helped add more flavour.

Sushi moriawase - $22 (large)

This large sushi moriawase set had three types of sushi - a pretty typical california roll (this one had crab meat, egg, avocado and cucumber), a reverse california roll (pretty much the same but the seaweed is on the inside, and in this case avocado slices and flying fish roe/tobiko were placed on top), and a salmon and avocado roll.

On the surface, the sushi looked decently made.  However, biting into the sushi the rice was a little stale - dry and hard, but still edible.  A little disappointing as this made the sushi seem unfresh.

Mixed seafood tempura - $26

This mixed seafood tempura (a deep fried dish with a very light batter) had prawns, fish, and a nice surprise - soft shell crab.

The tempura batter was light and crunchy, giving quite a nice feel that balanced the seafood.
The prawns were long, but thin and overall not a huge size but perhaps a tad overcooked.  The fish was tender and almost fell apart, whilst the soft shell crab crunchy and a nice addition that I hadn't seen in a mixed seafood tempura plate before.

We liked: Despite the different approach to Japanese food, which offered their own versions of some popular Japanese dishes, the resulting tastes of many dishes were pretty good

We didn't like: The sushi we had wasn't fresh; the restaurant atmosphere is a bit directionless and messy

Other things to note: Licensed; takeaway available

Sake House
Unit 3/4
3 Kearns Crescent
(08) 9364 8887

Trading Hours
Lunch - 11am to 2:30pm, Wednesday to Saturday
Dinner - 6pm to 9:30pm, Wednesday to Sunday

Sake House on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Stones Pizza, North Perth

Stones Pizza North Perth review, photos and blog
I have to say that the number of times I hear "Perth's best pizza" or some other variation confuses me as to whether there really is a "best", different people with different tastes have just called it the "best", or perhaps it's just sales puff.  That aside, I guess there's no harm in trying different pizza places to work out your own "best pizza" place.

Stones Pizza in North Perth was the bronze medallist for the America's Plate in New York back in 2008.  It has also been a finalist of the Dairy Farmers Best of the Best Pizza Challenge between 2006 to 2009.  So with those sorts of credentials, you would be expecting some good pizza.

The menu includes a range of meat and vegetarian pizzas along with a gluten free option at an additional cost, and pizza sides such as garlic bread, a couple of salads, and Stones Wings which are chicken wings with a choice of hot sauce, barbeque, honey chilli garlic, or sesame maple soy.  The pizzas tend to range from about $10-25.  To finish, they offer a cheesecake or a cinnamon fingers pizza which contains maple syrup.

Over the many pizzas I have had from stones, I have found the quality to be good but it can vary.  One thing that sets Stones apart is that their pizzas are made with fresh ingredients (eg fresh cut pineapple as opposed to tinned pineapple, and real honey roast ham sliced up as opposed to ham that comes in a pre-cut caterers pack).  This already puts Stones Pizza above many of the rest of the pizza places and you can taste the freshness just to support that.

However, as a minor negative to the numerous Stones pizzas I have had, I found on the odd occasion that the topping proportions can be wrong or sparse leading to bland pizzas or on one busy occasion the pizza wasn't cooked right as the pizza dough was bready.  Though aside from that, the pizza quality is generally pretty good.

Similarly, service wise things can be varied.  Generally the service is fine for a pizza joint but I do recall one occasion of being told there would be a 15 minute wait on a pizza, only to emerge with a pizza after 45 minutes and no apology or acknowledgement that they got their "15 minutes" very wrong.

Garlic and cheese bread - $6

Thick slices of bread were coated with garlic butter and a thin layer of cheese, and grilled to get the cheese lightly brown.  It didn't have a huge garlic taste (though I'm sure my breath smelt otherwise), but the garlic and cheese bread had enough topping to leave you with a tasty entree.

Stones chicken wings with BBQ sauce - $14

This consisted of a dozen pieces of chicken wings that were thickly coated with BBQ sauce.  The chicken wings were tender and moist, and the addition of the BBQ sauce (which a good mix of sweet and savoury) made this a tasty treat.

Though chicken wings aren't something I normally associate with a pizza place, the juicy and well-sauced chicken wings were good though nothing out of the ordinary.

Coat of arms - $24.50

The pizza that Stones Pizza singles out as having won awards, the "coat of arms" pizza is named the coat of arms by its use of a Margaret River smokey emu and kangaroo chorizo (both of which are featured on our coat of arms if you didn't already know).  The nice chorizo was salty and meaty, dry but not too tough, and a great addition to pizza but personally I can't say that without being told I would be able to tell it was emu and kangaroo.

However, it isn't just that emu and kangaroo that makes this pizza.  On top of the pizza base is a thin layer of rosemary roasted potato that adds a lot of herbed and roast potato flavour that I personally think gave the pizza a great core base packed with a very nice roast potato flavour.  Adding to that were sundried tomatoes, fetta, spring onion, and garlic butter each adding even more complementary flavours to this pizza.

I really enjoyed this pizza, it's probably my favourite one from Stones Pizza (at least so far).

I should also note that the pizza bases are thin and not oily.  Personally, I prefer the thinner pizza base - it has a slight crusty/crunchiness to it and lets you eat more pizza without feeling heavy or worse still - greasy.  However, I personally think half a pizza is just about right for me for a decent but not overfilling meal - means leftovers for the next day!

Brie chicken - $22.50

This pizza is another favourite.

Pieces of free range roast chicken are added with brie and pesto to make a great combination that is the core of this pizza.  Fresh tomato is also added to the pizza and the pizza is finally drizzled with quince balsamic.

I have to say I think the combinaton of ingredients is unsurprisingly great on this pizza.  Delicious roast chicken with melted brie is almost always sure to be a winner and the pesto adds a great herb flavour to the pizza.  The quince balsamic also adds a sweetness to the pizza making an all round great chicken pizza.

Devine lamb - $22.50

Having a Greek feel to this pizza, the Devine Lamb pizza contains pieces of marinated lamb, tomato, olives, red onion and haloumi.  Of course, the pizza is finally drizzled with Tzatziki sauce.

A good combination of toppings (though the Greek style lamb pizza concept is not unique to Stones) the Devine Lamb definitely had a meaty Greek taste to it. My main issue with this pizza was the only time I ordered it, the toppings (largely the lamb) were too sparse for my liking resulting in lots of relatively bland mouthfuls.

The Carnivore - $22

For the chronic meat-eater, this pizza makes the top of the list.

Pepperoni, bacon, braised beef, free range chicken and honey ham are sure to satisfy most pizza loving meat lovers' tastebuds.  Add a bit of roasted red onion and a good amount of stretchy pepperoni cheese and you get one of the best meat pizzas out there that doesn't leave you with the same level of greasiness as some cheaper ones out there.

You can really taste each of the elements of quality ingredients that make up this pizza and the freshness and relative leanness of the meat really makes this meat pizza a good choice.

Sir Guinness - $22

With a name like Sir Guinness, one would expect Guinness beer to be involved in this pizza - and it is.  Guinness jus is one of the ingredients that make this pizza distinct, but Guinness alone can't be enough to make a pizza could it?  Braised beef, caramelised shallots and mushroom also top this pizza and all match the Guinness like a Guinness pie.

The taste of the pizza is that of a relatively meaty beef pizza, with shredded beef lined quite liberally along the pizza.  The Guinness jus adds a Guinness flavour that comes out bitter compared to the flavour of any other pizza.

I'm sure many people will love this pizza for the Guinness, but based on pure taste it didn't do a lot for me.

We liked:  The thin base, the use and taste of fresh and quality ingredients (as opposed to pre-packed catering packs), some pizzas with great combinations that help set Stones Pizza apart - all of these reasons help to make it one of our favourite pizza places in Perth.

We didn't like:  There are the odd occasions where the quality drops, toppings can be on the scarce side or slow service can leave you (or maybe just me) annoyed.

Other things to note:  The North Perth branch has a couple of al fresco tables but most people take-away; gluten free bases available at an additional cost; credit cards incur a surcharge.

Stones Pizza
400 Fitzgerald Street
(08) 9228 1877

Trading Hours
Saturday to Thursday: 5pm to 10pm
Friday: 11:30am to 11pm

Stones Pizza on Urbanspoon

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Chapels on Whatley, Maylands

When I get asked to go out for breakfast, I typically think of the Aussie (or variations of English) breakfasts that are becoming an increasingly popular pastime in Perth.  But what happens when you mix a bit of Asian influence into this Aussie tradition?

Chapels originally started out as an Asian furniture store, stocking many unique items from antique furniture through to very intricate and detailed furniture.  As Chapels renovated and turned part of the venue into a cafe, they cut back on the furniture floor space and created a fusion brunch cafe experience to set itself apart from other cafes in the area.

Chapels' heritage as an Asian furniture store is seen throughout from the furnishings (such as short seated chairs with straight-vertical backs), its Chinese tea section available for retail sale as well as in its menu, and some Asian inspired menu selections.

The menu offers a variety of breakfast/brunch type options sure to cater for many tastes.  You get your usuals such as a "big breakfast" right through to Asian influenced options such as kim chi pancakes - something which makes me curious to try.

Also available are a variety of European style cakes, devonshire tea, and even a tea appreciation experience.

 Ozzie Breakfast - $22.50

The plate initially seemed small for what was on it, with no room to manoeuvre - I found it difficult to move any of the ingredients around including the bread and I decided against trying to put the poached eggs on the slanting bread which were on the stack of mushrooms.  Not a big issue, but noticeable for someone like me who likes to move around what's on my plate and break my runny egg yolks on my bread.

Other than the logistical issues, this was a decent breakfast but on the higher end of pricing for what I would have expected for a breakfast (many big breakfasts tend to scrape in just below $20, but perhaps the ingredients such as the distinct sausage - see below - were justification for this).  Going through the elements on the plate, there were:
  • Princi bacon – the bacon was getting towards being crispy, but otherwise nicely cooked;
  • A sausage – fat and meaty, the sausage was a bit dry to eat by itself and not seasoned  as much as other sausages – perhaps this was a healthier sausage as opposed to the usual high fat content ones;
  • New Norcia bread – nothing too special about the taste and texture of bread but it was a nice normal sandwich bread that was toasted well enough to get that toasty crunch;
  • Eggs (I ordered poached) – the eggs were cooked perfectly, gooey inside – just unfortunate that without significant rearranging the egg yolks just ran onto the plate rather than say on my toast;
  • Mushrooms – sliced thinly and sautéed lightly;
  • Tomato – half a lightly grilled tomato; and
  • Condiments – butter and a sweet and sour salsa that tasted like barbecue sauce mixed with tomato chutney, which added a bit of welcome “sauce” especially to the sausage.
Bacon and egg flatini - $14.95

This 'flatini' which seemed like panini that had been flat-press-toasted was filled with bacon, fried eggs, and tomato.  I didn't try this but was told it was very nice.  The flatini did look and sound good in concept with the bacon, eggs and tomato combination conveniently constructed into a neat 'toastie'.

Cappuccino - $3.90

For someone who likes to buy organic coffee, I find it increasingly hard to find places that sell it these days with some places going out of business or reverting back to non-organic beans.  Chapels proudly states that they use Yahava organic coffee beans in their coffee which are roasted down South.  The price is on the high side of 'normal' coffee prices (actually, I think it's comparable to many other coffee shops as it's increasingly difficult to find places that do $3.50 or below these days) but considering organic fair trade beans cost more, the price is very reasonable.

The coffee itself seemed just ok - smooth, but a bit on the light side compared to what I'm used to.

White monkey tea

With the Chinese teas being served in a nice see-through teapot that appeared to magnify the tea leaves, Chapel's has a 'bottomless' tea policy.  Good for the tea drinkers, not so great for weak bladders.

We liked: The uniqueness of the decor, with oriental furniture; the healthier approach to the menu (but still far from being a health-food cafe); bottomless teapots.

We didn't like: Slightly pricier than other similar offerings around.

Other points to note: You can book ahead - weekend breakfasts can get very busy; Chapels is also an Asian furniture store.
Chapels on Whatley Cafe Maylands reviews and photos

Chapels on Whatley
196 Whatley Crescent
(08) 9272 7738

Trading Hours
Wednesday to Monday: 8am - 5pm

Chapels on Whatley on Urbanspoon

Dusit Thai, Northbridge

Dusit Thai Northbridge reviews, blogs and photos
You may have already noticed that when I go to a Thai restaurant, I am almost certain to order a Thai curry - a curry where I tend to ensure most if not all of the sauce is not "wasted".  On this occasion my Thai curry eating led me to Dusit Thai, a long standing Thai restaurant with a good reputation.

Dusit Thai has won quite a few awards since opening in 1988, including no less than 10 Gold Plate Awards since 1997.  The number of people I have heard talk about Dusit Thai as their favourite Thai restaurant in Perth or for being one of the best Thai restaurants in Perth only gave me more encouragement to try out this restaurant.

Dusit Thai's menu, unsurprisingly filled with a good range of Thai dishes, covers meats and seafoods, a variety of curries and non-curries, vegetarian dishes, and entrees and desserts.  As many of the dishes are spicy, Dusit Thai gives you the option of having it the standard way or else mild or extra hot.

To accompany Dusit Thai's fine dining experience is a wine list offering wines that range up into the Grange.  Other drinks are also available including some Thai named beverages, a small selection of cocktails, and there is also an option to BYO wine at $10 per bottle (which is the welcome option I chose).

Ma hor (Galloping Horses) - $15

Forgive my food-cultural ignorance - I don't know about you but "galloping horses" gives me thoughts of something big and something that packs a punch.  When this colourful dish arrived I realised this wasn't the case.

These galloping horses started with a slice of fruit (strawberry, orange and kiwi fruit) which was then topped with the savoury-nutty mixture of ground chicken, shallots, peanuts, palm sugar and coriander roots.  The mixtures' ingredients were finely ground; the taste was a combination of sweet and savoury infused into a nutty mixture; and the texture was a pronounced crunchiness of the peanuts.

Overall, this was quite a different and light entree.  It didn't pack a big flavour punch as an entree for me, but the flavour and texture combination was interesting.

Satay chicken sticks - $15

These chicken satay sticks were pretty standard fare in so much that marinated chicken was grilled on sticks and accompanied by a satay sauce.  An addition to this was a cucumber relish that was a sweet and vinegary sauce that had diced cucumber and red onion.

The satay sticks were good in so much that the chicken was decent and grilled quite well, but it wasn't grilled like those Malaysian or Indonesian satay sticks I've had where you get that yummy grill-infused taste and texture to it.  The satay sauce was also comparatively not as nutty and full on with flavour either.  However, if you aren't comparing to those satay sticks, these were well made.

Larb Gai - $24.50

This meat salad, the Larb Gai, was minced chicken with red onion strips cooked with spices giving each of a chilli, sour and savoury (fish sauce) flavour.  We ordered "mild" and the level of chilli was noticeable but still relatively light.  However, it would be very noticeable if you struggle with spicy food.

In comparison to curries and dishes with sauces, this meat salad was relatively light (including the level of seasoning) on the palate with the flavours of each of the components of the chicken and spices working together.

Gang peg (red curry) roast duck - $28.50

I ordered this dish mild and unfortunately for someone who doesn't eat a lot of chilli this was on my more adventurous side however still edible without reaching for water.  Not necessarily an unwanted level of spice, but surprising given it was ordered mild - maybe I just have delicate taste buds!  Beyond the level of spice, I thought this was a nice rich and creamy curry with a great blend of curry-spice flavours that made the sauce worth soaking up at the end.

The curry was made with diced tomatoes, peas, lychees, pineapple pieces, and kaffir lime leaves helping to further enhance the complex depth of flavours in the dish.  The roast duck was nothing special (I found it didn't quite have the full flavour of roast ducks I have eaten before and the skin was a little soft and bland), but still I enjoyed the rich and complex curry flavour of this otherwise well made curry dish.

Kae tord (lamb shanks) - $32.50

The lamb shanks dish was slow cooked with herbs and spices, then lightly fried and topped with Dusit's spicy tangy sauce.

The lamb shank was cooked so that the meat easily came off the bone.  The meat was tender though not quite up to melt in the mouth.  The spicy tangy sauce was like a chilli infused sweet and sour plum sauce.  Combined, this was a strongly flavoured meaty dish, largely with the strong flavours of the generous amount of sweet, sour and spicy plum like sauce.

Kao phat (Thai style fried rice) - $20.50 (chicken)

The fried rice was fried with eggs, spring onion, and chicken.  In my opinion a pretty ordinary (but well made) fried rice, I personally thought this was overpriced for a fried rice.

A place of larb gai (front), with red duck curry and fried rice.

Mor gang - $6.50

This "mor gang" cake was made with mung beans, palm sugar and coconut cream.  Rather than a moist baked flour cake, the mor gang was very moist - like a warm baked custard slice with a texture made grainy with mung beans, and a sweet taste completed with the flavours of the egg and coconut cream.

Filling the large plate that could look a little boring with just the mor gang, Dusit Thai also drew a flower on the plate with chocolate and strawberry topping.  I'm not sure if the "topping" flavours really matched the mor gang but it did add some colour to the plate.

Park thong sang-ka-ya kao-neow - $9.50

This was also a "custard" dish made with pumpkin, palm sugar and coconut cream.  The custard was served with sticky rice.

Though the menu described this as being a custard, it was far from being an English custard. The dessert started with a base of a sweet egg cake, similar to the mor gang above but with a smoother texture, topped with thin sticks of pumpkin on top.

The sticky rice was cooked soft, though not mushy.  It was both sweet and salt in flavour and had a coconut cream taste.

Again, the plate was decorated with a flower drawn using chocolate and strawberry topping.

Fresh mango with sticky rice - $12.50

This dish was pretty simple - fresh mango slices, served alongside sticky rice.

We liked: Rich flavours without being too heavy; well made and nicely presented dishes with attention to detail; many ingredients seemed fresh; BYO (wine only - $10 a bottle).

We didn't like: Some dishes seemed quite pricey for what they were.

Other things to note: If you can't eat very spicy food, watch out for the level of spice in the dishes; vegetarians are catered for with a separate page of offerings including vegetable and tofu version of dishes.

Dusit Thai
249 James Street
(08) 9328 7647

Trading Hours
Tuesday to Sunday - from 6pm

Dusit Thai on Urbanspoon

Friday, October 28, 2011

Dragon Palace, Northbridge

Dragon Palace Chinese Restaurant reviews and photos; Dragon Palace dim sum reviews and photos
Dim sum has become an institution in Perth, with many restaurants to choose from and many of them being packed full of people on weekends further supported by queues at some of the more popular ones.  People who enjoy dim sum generally have a few or a single favourite they like to go back to time and time again.  Though personally I have found places in Hong Kong and even Sydney that have made me almost weak at the knees for dim sum, Dragon Palace has probably become one of the most well known for serving some of the best dim sum in Perth.

(I'm going to assume you know what dim sum is, otherwise think of it as a breakfast/lunch place that serves Chinese dumplings of all sorts where you get to pick and choose a variety of tapas like dishes to eat - generally sight-seen as you order them from waitperson manned trolleys that stroll up and down the restaurant)

Although Dragon Palace is a Chinese restaurant that offers typical Chinese cuisine (eg rice served with various Chinese sharing plates such as stir fries, deep fried dishes and steamed dish), it is most known for its dim sum.  Though if you're after something a bit different, Dragon Palace also has a late night karaoke bar upstairs - one I haven't been to, but one I can say I've heard some drunken tunes emanate from late on weekend nights.

Like most dim sum places, each dish is categorised into a size - a size which then corresponds to a price.  In Dragon Palace's case, this equates to: Small - $4.20; Medium - $4.90; Large - $5.60; XLarge - $5.90.  Sounds simple enough, and in a way similar to a sushi train with those coloured plates - and interestingly the "Dragon" chain of Chinese restaurants (which currently consists of three restaurants run by the same hard working family who started Dragon Seafood Chinese Restaurant many, many years ago) has recently branched out into a dim sum train under the Woodside bulding, offering the same quality of dim sum in the CBD.

Prawn dumplings - $5.60

These prawn filled dumplings, the first item listed on the written menu and one of the most popular dishes of dim sum, were pretty good.  The prawns, wrapped in a thin and light layer of rice flour pastry that didn't distract from the filling, were crunchy and overall seasoned mildly.

Inside the siu mai (left - and see below) and prawn dumplings (right)

The dumplings were a moderate size and all up, each dumpling was like a bite sized burst of prawn goodness with hints of sesame oil.

Steamed crystal dumplings with scallop and sweet corn - $5.90

Similar to the prawn dumplings, these dumplings were steamed with a rice flour pastry enclosing the filling (it said with scallop but I mostly found prawns - unless we got the wrong one).  The dumplings were also topped with fish roe before steaming.

The filling, consisting largely of prawns, was also mildly seasoned, bringing out the inner seafood taste though the sweet corn kernels added further sweetness to the dish.  The taste was quite similar to the prawn dumplings above, but with a lighter taste and a tad less crunch.

Siu mai of prawn and fish roe - $4.90

The siu mai (or shumai), which is another very popular dim sum dish, was filled with mostly pork wrapped in a wonton pastry (perhaps the closest dish to the "dim sims" we get at other places including fish n chip stores).  Added to the pork filling was prawn, and the dumpling was topped with flying fish roe before being steamed.

With the pork and the heavier egg (as opposed to white rice flour) pastry these dumplings were meatier and less delicate than the dumplings above but felt more substantial in the belly.  The pork fat in the classic pork-lovers dumplings did help to keep the whole dumpling moist and gave it a slight crunch.

Chicken feet with spicy sauce - $4.90

I didn't actually try these - I am not a fan of chicken feet as the combination of chewy skin and fat flavoured with that pungent chicken feet taste doesn't really do much for me.  But don't let me stop you!

Steamed spare ribs in black bean sauce - $4.90

These fatty spare ribs (though not more fatty than the next dim sum/yum cha restaurant) were steamed with black bean and had a savoury taste mixed with a slight acidic taste.  Given they were basically chunks of meat on bone, you would expect this to be quite filling - but it isn't really.  This dish seems to be more about the flavours coming from the fatty pork, infused with sauces and flavours from the black bean, sour preserved vegetables and chilli.

Shanghai steamed dumplings in chicken broth - $5.60

These small steamed dumplings were dumplings surprises filled with a small amount of meat and soup-like chicken broth.  A little small compared to other Shanghai dumplings I have had before but nonetheless they were still enjoyable with each dumpling giving not only a pork filling but also a burst of well seasoned chicken broth that oozed into the mouth (as long as you manage to get the dumplings into your mouth without breakage and thus leakage of the chicken broth).  Quite unique really.

Bean curd rolls with oyster sauce - $5.60

These steamed rolls had a bean curd exterior enclosing a filling of pork mixed with some vegetables such as carrot and mushrooms.  This was then steamed with an oyster based sauce.

The bean curd exterior had a tofu like taste to it, only cooked and coupled with the sauce which for me made this tastier than any ordinary tofu.  The rolls, being largely a meat filling with a bean curd/tofu like wrapping, were in themselves meaty and dry so the sauce really made this dish all the much better.  By allowing the whole roll to be soaked in the sauce before eating, I have to say these rolls make an almost staple non-dumpling dim sum.

Chilli pepper squid - $5.90

Another extremely popular dish at many dim sum places is this chilli pepper squid dish.  Squid tentacles were battered and deep fried in this dish, and then tossed with the chilli pepper and salt seasoning.

Unfortunately the oil used to cook the squid in this dish seemed a bit unfresh - this caused the battered squid to have an unfresh oil taste with various flavours infused (which detracted from the core flavours of the dish and reduced the lightness of the batter), and the batter was not as crisp as it should have been.

Barbecue pork buns

Served on a plate of three, these barbecue pork filled buns were brown on top with a shiny sweet sticky glaze on top, sticky enough to be annoying on your hands.  Apart from the browned upper part, the dough was white and uniform, sweet, and a softer texture than your typical wheat bun.

Inside the bun, after consuming a large amount of bun and no meat as yet

The bun I had unfortunately was mostly bun and only a tiny portion of barbecue pork.  This spoilt my impression of this dish as most mouthfuls were just slightly sweet dough with sweet glaze.

We liked: The generally (and usually) high quality of the dim sum which has made this one of the most popular and talked about dim sum places in Perth.

We didn't like: The use of unfresh oil for the deep fried food on this occasion; given the prices, if you order a lot you can expect to pay a lot quite quickly; given how hectic it gets (especially on weekends) the service can get somewhat lacking.

Other things to note: The weekends are very busy - go early or expect to have a long wait before you are seated; licensed.

Dragon Palace
66 Francis Street
(08) 9228 2888

Trading Hours
Dim sum: Monday to Friday - 10:30am to 3pm; Weekends - 10am to 3pm
Dinner menu: 7 days - 6pm to late.

Dragon Palace Chinese Restaurant on Urbanspoon