My cousins and I give each other titles similar to royalty that claim a special skill/talent. Actually it’s not like royalty because this title is not a birthright…it is earned. For example I have the title of being the baby whisperer. I have this knack of getting kids on planes to like me or stop them from crying. Exhibit A is 4 year old Ryan on the long haul flight from LA to Sydney back when I was 16 who laughed at all my jokes. However, my title is on the line with my cousin Nat winning the affections of a 2 year old on our recent flight to Sydney. I also have stolen the title of beach person from my cousin Nen by going to the beach every day for 2 weeks but she took my title of being the person that attracts free stuff. So as you can tell these titles are taken seriously, you work hard to claim them. So what does this have to do with treating? Well as my followers would know by now my cousins and I meet regularly for breakfasts before work. We take turns deciding where to go. This time round Nen decided we be daring and branch out to Crown Perth for a buffet breakfast at Atrium. So not only do we have to wake up an extra thirty minutes early we are also competing for the title of the best buffet person. The criteria includes how many laps you can do, how much of your plate you actually eat and how many different food combinations you can make. My problem is I fill my plate to the brim and pick at things and only eat what I like. Most things on my plate have only one bite taken out of them. For my first lap I did the traditional scrambled eggs, bacon, mushrooms and hash brown along with some random breakfast options like steamed fish, roasted vegetables and glazed ham. The fish was discarded quite early on…my mind couldn’t comprehend fish for breakfast. The ham made me feel like it was Christmas again but it is no match to the wonderful glazed ham efforts of my Aunty Georgette and the Nigella inspired ham that my friend Nush made for Thanksgiving 2012. I was disappointed that for the premium price you pay for this buffet that poached eggs are not an option. They do make an omelette in front of your eyes but for a majority of the time this was left unattended so I didn’t benefit from this. Another criticism is that they only offer percolated coffee. You have to pay $5 extra for your standard cappuccino/flat white options. You could end up out of pocket by $45 for breakfast. It’s not the best way to start the day. Round 2 I tried the Asian offerings like gai lan, dumplings and stir fried noodles. I’m not afraid of such savoury options around 10am dim sum time but at 7am I was struggling. This round was left mainly on the plate. After the overwhelming savoury options I went for sweets in Round 3. Think waffles, hot cakes, pastries and fruit. The highlight for me was the snail raisin pastry. It was light and crunchy. The hotcakes were slightly cold…unlike the freshly made ones you get at a Hyatt High Tea buffet. Same issue with the waffles. The strawberries were out of season and sour. Overall, the Atrium breakfast buffet has a lot of options. Maybe too many because the execution and quality isn’t always there. It’s that small attention to detail that can raise a buffet from ordinary to exciting and worth the premium price. Would I go back to a buffet before work? No. I should have learnt my lesson after the Miss Maud experience (see Treat 31). But my philosophy is at first you don’t succeed pick yourself up and try it again…and again. I was wrecked for the rest of the day. I think I was in a food coma that required intensive care (a nap) rather than work. Congratulations to my cousin Nen for her five laps of the buffet tables and for scraping her plates clean rather than my poor attempt. I also liked what she did with her pancakes…great choice with the berries. She has officially been crowned the Buffet Queen of the cousins (well between Nat and I at least). If you have time on your hands (before work is not recommended) and want to enjoy breakfast at a leisurely pace with a variety of options then head down to the Atrium buffet at Crown Perth. It is a guaranteed food coma especially with a title up for grabs you will be doing a lot of laps to win. Yes the competitive Monica (from Friends) in me comes out and a buffet becomes a competition. Except I lost…I don’t how to feel. I’ll have to steal back my getting things for free title from Nen or my baby whisperer title from Nat.
THE FOOD JOURNEY
The sweet round – shame about the sour strawberries
Posted in Uncategorized
Tagged Atrium, bacon, buffet, coffee, Crown Perth, danish, dim sum, eggs, pancakes, pastries, roasted vegetables, sausage, scrambled eggs, strawberries, waffles
I hate waiting in line; it’s time you never get back again. I just don’t have the patience to wait similar to Simba in the Lion King who just couldn’t wait to be king. So why I keep heading back to Northbridge for dim sum on Sunday is beyond me. When I used to work Sundays at Myer in the city I would see the lines stretch out on Roe Street. This obviously didn’t stop me from trying my luck. On this stormy November morning the cousins and I were craving dim sum and despite getting lucky finding parking we weren’t lucky at avoiding the queues. Back in the car we went with my cousin Nen in the backseat googling suburban dim sum options. She stumbled upon the Imperial Court in Como so down the freeway we went while the rain bucketed down. After finding the restaurant quickly, easily finding free parking and joining a much smaller queue the food was in our reach. Within twenty minutes we were seated and food was on our table. The first thing that stood out for us at Imperial Court was its cleanliness and comfortable chairs. It was quite roomy despite being packed to the rafters. The star dish was the prawn and bean curd flour rice roll. Usually I order the original prawn flour roll. The bean curd added an amazing dimension to this dish and I will never go without it again. Today was all about trying new things. A friend of mine introduced me to shanghai dumplings in Singapore at Michelin acclaimed Taiwanese chain Din Tai Fung (see Treat 13: Dim Sum in my Tum). The Imperial Court might have trumped them. The delicate broth and orange zest made this elegant dish a pleasure to eat. The pork filling was delicious and I couldn’t help getting a spoon to sip the broth. The least favourite dish was the soft shell crab. It still had a lot of flavour but there was more batter than crab. As my cousins would say…no no no no no no (Nen and Babuna you know what tune this goes to). We finished off the meal with our favourite greens, gai lan. It’s the easiest dish for us to replicate at home…you just steam them. However whenever I buy bok choy or any of the Asian greens family I always forget and it goes mouldy before this 2 minute steam job gets done. As we sipped the last of the Chinese tea and left our table, it was like a ninja effect with the table quickly cleaned and turned over to the next waiting people. The Sunday dim sum lines never stop. I am so glad I am impatient. My ability to not wait in the Northbridge dim sum lines brought me to my new dim sum love, Imperial Court. The cousins and I christened it as our regular dim sum feasting location. It’s in a brilliant location overlooking the Swan River if you ignore the freeway that is in between. I can’t wait to go back just for the Shanghai dumplings. It might be awhile before I even think about joining the Northbridge dim sum lines when ten minutes down the road is the Imperial Court with its easy parking and delicious dim sum offerings.
THE FOOD JOURNEY
Prawn and bean curd flour roll is now officially on my favourite list.
One of the best shanghai dumplings I have ever eaten
Posted in Uncategorized
Tagged bean curd, Como, dim sum, Din Tai Fung, dumplings, flour roll, gai lan, Imperial Court, prawn, Shanghai, south
My sister and brother joined me for lunch in Northbridge on this lovely sunny day. Suzy has gluten intolerance and so we have to be careful where we go to eat. Usually we get sushi. Today she was adamant no sushi for her. I was craving dim sum and my brother is an easy pleaser, he lets me make the decisions. Finding a restaurant that does dim sum at 3pm was hard work. New Moon on James Street was a fail as it closed at 3pm so around to Roe Street we went where more closed restaurants greeted us. China Town was a ghost town so my brother didn’t get the chance to try Uncle Billy’s for the first time. We stumbled reluctantly upon the Old Shanghai food court where we retreated to the first food provider, the Hong Kong Dim Sum Trolley. The photos on the wall captivated us and before we knew we had ordered the following:
• Prawn flour roll (my favourite dim sum dish)
• Chicken flour roll (I’ve never had this version of it before)
• Prawn and spinach dumpling
• Shanghai dumpling
• Lotus loaf (another new item for us)
• Steamed gai lan (another favourite of mine)
The kitchen is very small but it was good to see someone cooking in there using flour, which makes me think they make it fresh. Unfortunately flour is a no no for Suzy so guess what she got instead from the Old Shanghai food court…sushi. I gave her the opportunity to try the very cool Aisuru Sushi on the corner of James Street but no she was stuck with this lacklustre California Roll. It didn’t look very fresh, the rice was gluey and I feared for her life. It’s moments like this that show my mother in me, she’s a huge worrier. As Suzy hadn’t been feeling well I didn’t want to risk it so we left most of it behind. I missed the spectacle of dim sum with waiters passing by in trolleys and trays showing you items to order. This food court version had to do for us starving souls today. It fed both of us for $30, which is the standard for two when I dim sum. Both the prawn and chicken flour rolls were a hit. I am excited to add chicken flour roll to the favourites list. So the next time I take my cholesterol worrying mum to dim sum she won’t complain there are too many prawn options. Apparently prawns increase cholesterol levels; this is not from Google but from my mum so please ignore this fact unless advised otherwise by a doctor. The prawn and spinach dumpling was also a pleasure to eat. I pretty much ate the whole plate of gai lan to myself but I let my brother have a majority of the other dishes. I’m such a kind sister. The shanghai dumpling were not the best, I’ve had better especially in terms of juicy flavour. My favourite aspect of this dumpling is the broth inside, which was lacking here. A new item my brother wanted to try was a lotus loaf, which was this sticky rice in a lotus loaf. This was disgusting and I will never order this again. My brother always likes to try new things, which don’t get me wrong is great but not today. That is the first and last time I’ll be eating a Lotus loaf in my lifetime if I can help it. Overall, the Dim Sum trolley helped tide us over from collapsing. Though it was a last resort I wouldn’t ever say no to going back there. It just won’t be any time soon.
THE FOOD JOURNEY
A selection of dumplings from Dim Sum Trolley.
My dim sum favourites.
Posted in Uncategorized
Tagged chicken, dim sum, dumpling, flour roll, gai lan, lotus loaf, Northbridge, prawn, Shanghai, spinach, sushi
One of my favourite rituals on a Saturday or Sunday morning is brunch so it’s no surprise that dim sum is a-ok in my books. Today’s treat is an array of different places I have had the pleasure of dim summing.
1. New Moon - 63-65 James Street Northbridge
I was first introduced to dim sum as a teenager as I tagged along to my dad’s visits to his accountant in Northbridge. It was a ritual that happened every few months and I have fond memories of waiting in the stuffy reception area for my dad knowing that shortly we would be having a father and daughter lunch. The traditional routine was getting a continental roll at Re Store, which on a Saturday is always full of people getting their ham and prosciutto on. As I got older my dad and I became more adventurous stepping out of our comfort zone and letting curiosity take the better of us. There was one restaurant we would walk by that was in a constant state of busy. One day we couldn’t take it any longer and had to find out why there were so many people and this is where my love affair with dim sum began. It was here at the Oriental Inn (now known as New Moon) that my dad and I had frozen stares as the waiters walked around with all these different dishes. As the waiters came by with an array of squidgy items, unidentifiable meats and luscious greens – the strategy for my dad and I was ask no questions and say yes to any dish that comes around. When we did ask this is what we found ourselves eating – chicken feet, tripe, gai lan (from that point in time dad started growing it in his garden), deep fried squid, prawn dumplings and one of my favourites to this day, the prawn rice flour roll. Since this discovery I have happily introduced cousins and friends to this dining experience and have also been shown new dim sum places to try. I have ventured away from this place as I discovered a mine of dim sum restaurants in Northbridge and so have constantly cheated on the Oriental Inn.
2. Marigold Restaurant
This was introduced to me by my Sydney-sider friend Bron who said this was the must-go dim sum restaurant in Sydney. We arrived quite early at 9.30am and by 10am the restaurant was packed to the rafters. In it’s new premises on George St the restaurant covers 2 levels, one dedicated to dim sum and the second is a restaurant that also caters for the overfill of the weekend dim sum crowd. The waiters come by frequently with an array of dishes – I get my usual prawn rice flour roll and also try new items like a spinach and eggplant dumpling. This dining experience stands out to me because of the gai lan – boy do I love my Chinese broccoli even more now when they steam it right at your table and serve it fresh to you. I have returned three times since and always get pleasure in seeing my gai lan freshly steamed. Another memory keeper is the egg tart – can’t say I have always been the biggest fan but this won me over. The way the pastry crumbled smoothly in your mouth and the gooey egg custard was an eating experience I will never forget. If I lived in Sydney this would be my go to place for dim sum. I haven’t tried any others but if it ain’t broke why fix it so will keep returning there.
3. Din Tai Fung- Canton Road, Hong Kong
This was my first experience of dining at a Michelin star restaurant, yes the one star counts. This Taiwanese chain does not fail to disappoint for an amazing dim sum feast. A special mention to the shanghai dumplings that you sip the soup and then munch on the meat for being an interesting taste sensation. The prices are reasonable considering the reputation that Michelin star restaurants behold. The variety on offer was great for my vegetarian friend. My first experience I was dining in a group of 10 and without much wait we were seated promptly with service and food being top notch. The second experience at the same Din Tai Fung was a little bit mixed, our group 4 did have to wait but waiting is not a new concept at this restaurant. The dumplings were as always delicious and we greedily all ordered beef brisket soups, no longer wanting the dim sum sharing experience. This is where the sad twist happens, as I got to the end of my soup in horror I found a bug. This was promptly taken care of and removed from the bill but it was a reality check for me – even the Michelin star restaurants struggle with the bug battle. This won’t stop me from eating at a Din Tai Fung again if I was in Hong Kong or Singapore for that matter. However, I probably would skip the one in Sydney because it is more expensive and frankly I prefer places like Marigold which has your back to basics dim sum fare.
4. Some random hole in the wall in San Francisco’s Chinatown
I cannot end this treat without mentioning this random place we stumbled upon in San Fran when the hills became too much and we needed a breather and a carbo load. Not only is San Fran’s Chinatown impressive but they do an impressively cheap and delicious dim sum. Normally you could be spending $4 to $10 dollars on prawn dumplings but here they were for the deliciously low price of $1.40. Even with the bad exchange rate at the time (just my luck the AUD conversion was 0.68 USD) it was a cheap recovery meal for all the walking we were doing.
Keep following the treats as I explore the local fare and produce of my hometown Perth. So far it’s been greatly ignored but home is where the heart is and where most of my treating is done.
Freshly steamed gail lan…..just one of a few of my favourite things.