This toothfish is crisp with its sweet, succulent flesh coming apart in flakes.
Paired with a special soy sauce, this is the quintessence of good Cantonese cuisine.
There is a long way to go before Chinese restaurants in Western Australia‘s mining city of Perth catch up with the refinement of Cantonese cuisine in the eastern states.
Seek and ye shall find for I believe that in every city, there is always a little gem that might stand apart from most others. So on new year’s eve, Mysaucepan and I are here with my sister, Richard, Milly and Ray to check out one of my favourite Chinese in the suburb of Wembley in Perth. During a previous visit, this humble neighbourhood restaurant serves good Cantonese style cuisine with honest prices to match.
Chen’s Kitchen, Wembley
Prawn crackers in a Chinese restaurant is probably as definitive as focaccia to start a meal in an Italian restaurant.
At Chen’s, these crackers are fresh and crispy, a beautiful snack with beer or red wine.
A 2001 Metala Langhorne Creek Shiraz is minty with eucalyptus notes, generously soft tannins from its age and a lingering finish.
New year’e eve revellers in this restaurant tonight are subdued and probably looking for a quiet evening to share good food with family and friends, us included.
Steamed chicken with ginger and shallots
The steamed chicken with ginger and shallots sauce is flavourful though a little dry.
On our previous occasion here, I remember it to be a lot more succulent with a sauce of its own. Still, it’s one of my favourite dishes for the ginger and shallot sauce is rather special with its fresh and fragrant aroma.
Stewed beef brisket and vegetables hotpot with chu hou sauce
Chunky pieces of stewed beef bristket are swimming in thick chu hou sauce.
There are many variations to this dish and when done well, this is one of my favourite dishes that goes so well with steamed rice or egg noodles.
Chunky brisket can be more tender while the chu hou sauce is rather one-dimensional, lacking in complexity from the flavours of star anise and cinnamon commonly found with brisket recipes from South East Asia.
Wok fried Patagonian toothfish
Patagonian toothfish has to be one of my favourite fish in terms of its texture.
We hardly find this fish in seafood markets in Sydney though they are said to be fairly abundant in Perth as it thrives in the Southern ocean.
This toothfish is crisp with its sweet, succulent flesh coming apart in flakes. Paired with a special soy sauce, this is the quintessence of good Cantonese cuisine.
Stir-fried kangkong with sambal belachan
Stir-fried kangkong with sambal belachan is very popular in South East Asia and this dish has somehow found its way into many Chinese restaurants in Australia.
The hollow stems of this fresh water spinach is sprightly and crunchy. Combined with the spicy and pungent edge of sambal belachan, this dish is popular for its simplicity that brings bold flavours to comfort food.
Steamed stuffed beancurd with prawn paste
The subtle taste of steamed stuffed beancurd with prawn paste comes alive with a drizzle of special soy sauce.
Sandwiched by steamed broccoli sprigs, this is yet another simple dish done well.
Deep fried salt and pepper flounder
Topped with deep dried onions, shallots and green chilli, you can almost ‘see’ the crispiness of a deep fried salt and pepper flounder.
This can be a tricky dish as some restaurants OD on the batter and the result can be doughy. Chen’s interpretation is a crisp and crunchy mouthful with the salt and peppery taste that is so appetizing.
My favourite part of this fish is the tail and bony fins along its side that is so crunchy.
Sizzling Singapore Japanese tofu
Singapore Japanese tofu?
Presumably it’s meant to be deep fried golden nuggets of Japanese tofu sizzling in a rich and savoury Singapore-style sauce with bits of chicken and seafood. This is comfort food at its best when ladled over steamed white rice.
I like Chen’s Kitchen for its simple, yet precise execution of classic Cantonese dishes that hits the mark for taste and flavour.
Service is attentive and friendly. Prices cannot be more reasonable in a relatively more expensive mining city that Perth has come to be known for.
It is honest neighbourhood restaurants like these that I would gladly support time and again.
So dear readers, which is your favourite Chinese restaurant in Perth and which is your favourite dish there?
194 Cambridge street Wembley,
Tel: + 608 9388 0608
Business hours: Lunch and dinner from Wednesday to Monday. Closed on Tuesdays.