There’s something about my boy Jeremy and I that you might not know… we are closet nerds. On the outside we might seem relatively normal, but on the inside we’re book lovers, video game players and all round devoted to comic book movies.
Over our years together we’ve developed a tradition for whenever a comic movie is released – we do our best to go see it at gold class and make a night of it. So when the new Xmen movie came out, I quickly booked a late Friday night session and told my boy we could either indulge in some sliders there or go out for dinner somewhere before.
He was quick to decide, inspired by a menu I’d sent him earlier in the week for a new place in Leederville that had opened where Hans Cafe used to be. Called Low Key Chow House, the menu boasts food items that wouldn’t be amiss on the likes of Kitsch or Barque’s menus.
We arrive at the restaurant and even though we don’t have a booking we manage to get a table amongst the other diners. It’s quite busy, and I can see some pretty delicious looking dishes flowing out of the kitchen. Immediately we’re presented with menus and some complimentary peanuts with salted fish to snack on.
Placing our order is difficult – there’s a lot of dishes we’re keen to try so we make a promise to come back with a group of friends if we enjoy our dinner. While waiting for our food to come out we keep picking away at the yummy peanuts and fish, and I take note of the aesthetics of the restaurant.
It’s very in vogue. Exposed brick overlaid with white walls. Origami cranes adorning one wall, with prints on another and a fancy lighting display showing the initials of the restaurant. I like the setup of our blue plates and bowls, with mismatched chopsticks that’s echoed on all tables. The only downfall is that where we sat was one side of chairs, and one side of cushioned couch – so downy that I seemed to disappear and the table became too high, even for a tall person like me.
Our first dish to come out is a serving each of the bak hwa brioche ($5 each). Nestled in between toasted halves of a brioche bun is a thick slice of house made pork jerk topped with pork floss, cucumber and wasabi mayonnaise.
When we recently holidayed in Taipei, Jeremy and I ate a lot of pork jerky. This had the exact same taste as the best ones we snacked on – sweet, a little sticky and jam packed with flavour. I felt transported instantly back to my mother’s homeland. It works well with the cucumber which is fresh, crunchy and cool.
While I liked the dish, I have to admit that the bun didn’t live up to the normal standards of brioche I’ve had elsewhere. Instead of buttery and decadent, this one was a little drier than normal. I also would have loved to see more of that wasabi mayonnaise as it was a bit on the sparse side – and more would have been a delicious treat!
One of my favourite dishes for the night comes from the entree “street” plates section of the menu – the “pok pok” wings ($15). Asian inspired buffalo sticky wings are steaming hot, with juicy meat and a sauce that is finger-licking good! It’s sweet, spicy and has a lovely balance. These are definitely worth returning for!
Similar to Jeremy’s all time favourite dish – gua bao, the mantou buns ($15) come out as a set of three fluffy buns with candied caramel pork belly, cucumber and herbs.
The buns are ridiculously soft – I fall in love the instant I pick one up. Keeping the soft pork belly with it’s crunchy crackling and sticky sauce in place, it is truly mouth watering and delicious!
I love that our waitress also offered for us to round the serving size up to four pieces instead of three so we’d have two each. It’s flexibility like this in customer service that can really elevate a restaurant.
Moving to the main section of the menu, we toss up a few options before landing on the whole fish grilled on coal and banana leaf ($35). There’s something about fish on the bone that gets me every time – that soft, flavoursome flesh that tears away glisteningly.
Low Key’s offering is as good as I’d hoped for. A very simple dish but the flavour is true. The skin slightly crisp and smokey from the charcoal grill. My favourite part is definitely the moorish cheeks, while my boy enjoys the eyes. There’s lots of bones but we’re experienced enough at navigating around them.
To go with our fish we order a serving of the noodles ($12) which are flavoured with ginger and spring onion. For the serving size and simplicity, the price of this dish is a little steep but the flavour is great. It screams of ginger, and works in perfect harmony with the fresh fish. I love the texture of the noodles in particular – they’re perfectly al dente!
Coming to the table I can’t help but chuckle at the bowls they use – they’re the same ones we have at my house which I adore! I guess we’re doing something right at our place!
The tofu looks like a pannacotta, wobbling amid it’s home in the glistening sichuan oil. Sitting on top is a pile of crisp shitake, which gives a nice textural change to the softness of the tofu. It melts in your mouth, and is jam packed with flavour from that heady oil. There’s a few unsavoury hard bits on the side of the tofu but once I bypass those I allow myself to really enjoyed this dish. I have to say though, it definitely was the straw that broke the camel’s back – rendering me completely and utterly full!
I’m really keen on returning to Low Key Chow House one night soon. There’s some beef ribs and spatchcock that sound particularly inviting, plus I need to save room for dessert so I can sample their red bean crepes or their deep fried ice-cream with salted caramel.
All up, I enjoyed our visit at this new Leederville hotspot. The prices for the most part were reasonable enough, and the flavours had a nice balance between tradition and fusion. I’m looking forward to seeing what else they produce.