I hate lining up for restaurants. Usually I’ll just go somewhere else (as you can imagine, I have yet to try Perth’s Jamie’s Italian which can still require a 2+ hours wait), but the one food I will line up for is yum cha. If you are not familiar with this Chinese style brunch, it consists of small shareable dishes collectively known as dim sum, which are mostly steamed in bamboo baskets or fried/baked and served on small plates, accompanied by tea. It is indulgent, made up almost entirely of meat and seafood, and absolutely worth lining up for.
I go for yum cha a few times a year with the in-laws or friends, and until recently would always go to places in Northbridge, which usually entailed expensive, distant parking and a long wait for a table. Now a bit sick of the parking situations, we’ve been trying suburban yum cha restaurants which are a little more convenient. We first visited Silver Seas Chinese Restaurant in Morley a few months ago with friends, and were impressed enough to bring The Boy’s parents there over the weekend to celebrate my father-in-law’s birthday.
We managed to get a table within a few minutes, which was just long enough to bump into a few acquaintances there – it seems we’re not the only ones fed up with parking in Northbridge. After deciding on chrysanthemum tea ($2 pp), The Boy’s parents chose various dishes from the carts in rapid Cantonese, which I’m always glad of as I only know the names of a handful of dishes and get a bit flustered when presented with so many choices.
spare ribs, chicken feet, bean curd roll, siu mai
chilli fried squid
Sadly, we were less impressed the second time around – everyone was a bit disappointed with the size of the chicken feet (except me, I can’t stand all those bones), and felt that the spare ribs, bean curd roll and siu mai were average or even a bit below the standard we’re used to. The fried squid was very much overcooked and tough to chew, quite the sin to what is usually one of my favourite dishes. The juicy dumplings were tasty but the skin broke whilst trying pick them up, losing their soupy filling (although this could have been due to us being too rough).
char siu bao (BBQ pork buns)
har gao (prawn dumplings)
My favourite dim sum item, char siu bao or BBQ pork buns, were a bit on the small side and the filling not well balanced, with the sweetness coming through far too strongly, although the outer bun was fluffy as a cloud the way it should be. I didn’t mind the har gao (prawn dumplings), but everyone else agreed that the skin wasn’t cooked well enough.
We finished with egg tarts, which were piping hot fresh out of the oven, and with their extremely flakey pastry and just-sweet-enough eggy filling I felt that they were up to scratch.
In total we paid $72 for 11 dishes, probably cheaper than your average brunch out in Perth and also cheaper than what we used to pay in Northbridge yum cha restaurants.
All up: As much as I’d like to give these guys the benefit of doubt and assume we caught them on an off day, I think we’ll probably be trying out nearby Joyful Chinese Restaurant and Wang’s Treasure House for dim sum rather than returning. With this kind of close competition there isn’t room to let your guard down, even if you do have the highest UrbanSpoon rating of the three!
The restaurant is crowded and the service abrupt, even a little intimidating for someone not familiar with yum cha, but of course that’s all part of the authentic experience that you’ll find at pretty much any yum cha restaurant. The prices are reasonable but the servings are on the stingy side, and the quality this time around was lacking compared to my first try – maybe it will be third time lucky? All three restaurants are gaining popularity, so I’d recommend going early to avoid the queue. Although I stand by my statement that good yum cha is worth waiting for!