In all truth and honesty, I tend to avoid Chinese food in Perth as if it were an ominous disease. If I do ever experience a craving, I'm lucky enough to be able to enjoy my Grandma's cooking when she's in town or I visit a very select few places (or rather, just one place) There is only one Chinese restaurant in Perth that I actually have cravings for - Hawker's Cuisine is infamous in the local food scene and although I've never reviewed them on this website, it's largely because I'm too busy eating to do my usual before meal "stand up" photoshoot. I've been going for years, I've known the lovely family behind Hawkers for even more years and hey, here's one for you - I worked there once when I was 16! I'll be hard tasked to find a better Chinese/South East Asian restaurant in Perth but as with every new place that opens up, I stick to my "I'll try anything once policy."
Mom's Dumpling House in Vic Park is that little place along the big roundabout of Albany Highway that I've always been curious to try. My expectations of dumplings and Szechuan dishes in general has increased dramatically since I returned from Shanghai...their local offerings are delicious! Szechuan food especially has some great classics and I was very curious to see if they would be well replicated in Perth. Knowingly so, some authenticity would have been lost along the way but what we ended up ordering at Mom's Dumplings is actually very similar to what I had in my first night in Shanghai. Oh how I had missed my deliciously cold and spicy saliva chicken!
First thing's first was to try dumplings from this restaurant that appeared to specialise in Dumplings. I am particularly fond of fried dumplings, as the crispy and soft textures are a very big appeal for me. These were a little inconsistent; the second dumpling from the left in the first row (pictured above) probably had the most ideal amount of char but a few of them were unfortunately undercooked. The general consensus around the table were that these were quite one dimensional and unimpressive.
So, this is what "saliva chicken" looks like - the name is a little off putting at first but if you're a fan of spicy food, this is definitely worth trying! Traditionally, the chicken is suppose to be served tender and chilled. Despite Mom's Dumpling House's version being at room temperature, I still really enjoyed the flavours of the hot sauce. The peanuts were also a great crunchy contrast to the soft chicken pieces. Wherever you are in the world, I urge you to try authentic "saliva chicken" (pronounced as co sh-way zi in Chinese) once in your life!
Another dish that I tried whilst in Shanghai was the "boiled fish" - basically, it's fish that has been tenderly confit in chilli oil. I was absolutely raving back in China; I was so impressed how something that was cooked in chilli oil wasn't mind blowingly spicy! This version was milder than what I've tried in Shanghai but thankfully, there was that same sense of satisfaction when biting into the tender pieces of fish!
This rendition was a little more garlic focused as opposed to the original chilli flavours. It's a hard dish to eat since a good 30%-40% of it (spices, dried chillies, fish bones and chilli oil) are usually inedible, but picking out the fish fillets is definitely rewarding!
Zha Jiang Mian (which inspired the Korean version, Jajangmyeon) is a Northern Chinese staple and literally means "fried sauce" noodles. The seasoning was quite out of balance as there were too many cucumbers in proportion to the amount of sauce given. The dish itself was very watery, which could have diluted the sauce and resulted in it's plain flavours.
Even after some thorough tossing, it just tasted like a cold (Zha Jiang Mian is traditionally served cold instead of hot) mess. There was no complexity from the black bean sauce and even with the freshness from the cucumber, the dish overall just tasted really heavy.
Although a large serving of dumplings consists of 12 dumplings, somehow we were given an extra! Of course, we had no qualms with having 13 dumplings instead - I found the chive, pork and shrimp filling to actually be quite pleasant; there was a subtle kick of ginger and it was well seasoned. The only downfall was the thickness of the dumplings skins, which made them unnecessarily tough to eat. It was a shame that the dumplings didn't impress - they are one of my favourite comfort foods. (If anyone has any dumpling recommendations around Perth, I'd be happy to hear them)
The restaurant was relatively quiet for a weekday night, with only three other tables filled by the time we were done eating. The interiors are just like any other regular Chinese restaurant; we speak/order in Chinese to the wait staff and the service was really pleasant and polite. However, the standard for their signature offering, being dumplings does need to be raised despite how I found the Szechuan style dishes to be quite enjoyable. After reading a few other reviews, it seems that the dishes are delicious and quite authentic. Dumplings are probably one of the best food inventions of all time - here's hoping that someone in Perth will soon do them right!