When people think of fine dining, I doubt for many such a reference is synonymous with Chinese cuisine. I don’t necessarily subscribe to such a school of thought after having dined at Michelin star restaurants in Hong Kong and experienced first hand just how phenomenally exquisite high end Chinese food can be.
Here in Perth most Chinese restaurants sit in the low to mid-range of dining but there are a couple fine dining options that are available to try. One of those is the recently one year old Silks restaurant at Crown Casino which I’ve been meaning to visit but hadn’t yet found the right time. Until now that is.
I recently received an email from Silks’ restaurant manager Jeffery, inviting me to dine for dinner on a night of my choosing with a guest. Strangely enough it was only the day before that I had been talking about it with my boy who’s birthday was coming up and I was throwing around some suggestions of venues. I knew he was super keen to go to Silks so I was highly contemplating it.
But luckily enough the invite came which meant we got the best of both worlds – Silks and another restaurant for the birthday venue! Understandably the boy was pretty excited when the night rolled around for our booked dinner. I think we both were truthfully!
Arriving at Silks and meeting the staff and Jeffery, I was really impressed with the decor and consistent theme. It’s oriental without being tacky or overly decorated. Plush, soft textures for seating with accents of gold and red throughout. It’s beautiful and opulent, and most of all, it’s huge!
There’s so much room, with lots of intimate booths, larger function tables and private dining rooms. I can imagine that once people get wind of the size of the function areas it might prove to be a popular wedding location.
The menu is long and varied, with plenty of dining options to suit all tastes. The pricing is definitely on the higher end of things, with some specialty items like peking duck, imperial birds nests and lobster. My mouth is watering as we sit down in our comfy chairs – the aroma of garlic and spices fills the air.
As we chat to Jeffery he offers us the option to choose our own dishes or to allow the chef to send out what they recommend. We’re happy to go with the latter – it’s always a great way to try some of the restaurant’s signature dishes and I love having others choose for me sometimes as often I eat dishes I might not necessarily order.
Looking back at the menu now I can see we were served the porcelain degustation menu, which is one of their set dining menus – this one priced at $128 per person. It was such a generous amount for them to provide us with compliments!
With our food sorted for us, we decide to start things off by ordering a cocktail each. They have a great selection on offer so I let Jeremy choose one for me because I can’t decide!
Our drinks both look so pretty and enticing. Jeremy’s chosen the dragon’s fire ($19.00) for himself which is made up of cointreau, vodka, red chilli, lemon juice, orange juice and cranberry juice. I love how his cocktail had all the colours of sunset, with little fiery slices of chilli floating inside. The seeds are collecting at the bottom and I can tell you the drink packed a punch!
My cocktail is the oriental blossom ($22.00) with chinese spirits, plum wine, vodka, lemon juice and grenadine. It was so good! Sweet, well balanced and jam packed with complimentary flavours. It’s a really great cocktail and while I had been a little worried over how strong the chinese spirits would be, it’s not too heavy handed in it’s alcohol flavouring.
When our first plate is served I immediately sit up to pay attention. It’s not an official course but an amuse bouche of foie gras topped with seaweed is definitely going to appeal to me. It’s a tiny bite, creamy and buttery soft. It literally melts in my mouth, offering a nice kick of salt from the seaweed shavings. It’s delicious and while not something I would expect from a Chinese restaurant, it ticked all the boxes taste wise for me.
The first official course follows quickly and is an upscale version of Cantonese fare. On one side sits two slices of barbecue pork glazed with jarrah honey and on the other, two squares of roasted crispy pork belly with a mount of hot english mustard to use as a dipping sauce.
The barbecue pork is reminiscent of your traditional char siu but the flavouring is less smokey and more sweet, thanks to the use of the jarrah honey. It’s sticky and tender, using pork belly so it has a really good fat to meat ratio.
The roasted pork belly is topped with a paper thin crackling that shatters as my teeth penetrate the surface. It’s a clean taste, the meat soft and unctuous. The mustard is a perfect addition in my eyes – it’s a must add on in my house whenever we have pork so it’s completely at home for me.
My boy really enjoys these while I can say they were good – but not sure I would return and order them again given the difference in their price vs the likes of your local places like Hong Kong BBQ. Don’t get me wrong, the quality of Silks’ dish was extremely high, but I think there’s some much more exciting dishes to try on their menu. That being said, I probably eat Cantonese style meats a little too much so perhaps I don’t get as excited over them as most people!
The second course is chicken and corn soup. This is a staple in my house, something my mum often made for me whenever I wasn’t feeling too well. Piping hot, Silk’s version is full of finely shredded chicken and little pops of sweet corn. The addition of white pepper throughout is very typical of Asian cooking, and with the little pools of oil gathering on the surface of the soup, I enjoy spoonful after spoonful.
I was surprised to see this soup on a fine dining set menu but the taste was comforting and lovely. I always relish when soup is part of a dining experience as I’m such a soup person!
The third course is one Jeffery tells us is inspired by the chef’s mother. Hailing from Macau which has a strong fusion of Chinese and Portuguese cultures, this dish was a baked crab shell with onions and Portuguese sauce.
This was my second favourite dish of the night! Soft, sweet crab meat has become almost creamy from the process of cooking. The Portuguese sauce is fragrant and has a nice combination of sauces, and I like adding the fried noodles in with each bite to get some crunch. It’s such a great dish and was very different to others I’ve had. I can imagine it would be quite a popular menu item.
After our crab the table is cleared in preparation for the ‘main’ portion of the meal. At that point I get another cocktail which is the fleur de cucumber ($20.00) – concocted from gin, campari, apple juice, lime juice and cucumber. It’s light, refreshing and like the other drinks, well balanced. It’s not as tasty as the oriental blossom cocktail I started on, but it still goes down a treat.
The ‘mains’ portion of the evening starts off with Silks’ fried rice made with egg, spring onions, chicken and conpoy. Conpoy is a dried seafood product made from the adductor muscle of scallops – something my mum uses in her home cooking and can inject a great deal of flavour. It’s actually not that common here in Perth though when I was in Taiwan earlier this year it popped up everywhere!
The fried rice is cooked perfectly – the egg fluffy, the spring onions crunchy. The grains are soft but retain some bite, and the dish is well flavoured with sesame oil, salt and white pepper.
The absolute standout dish of the evening comes out with our fried rice – the panfried patagonian toothfish with home style garlic and ginger sauce. It’s four fish fillets, with skin that’s crispy and flesh that is ridiculously moist and soft.
Toothfish is actually my favourite fish and this one does not disappoint even slightly. It’s so flavoursome, elevated further by the moorish sauce that is delicious and the ideal accompaniment. I would have happily polished off a whole plate of this by myself – it was perfect.
Our final savoury dish comes out while we’re still eating the rice and fish, which is sweet and sour corn-fed pork with seasonal fruits. The use of vinegar in the sauce is immediately evident – showcasing the sour component with aplomb. The pork itself has a thin layer on the outside offering textural crunch while encasing the tender meat. It’s not quite watermelon season yet so the melon balls could have been sweeter which would have elevated the dish even more, but they still offer a nice difference in flavour and texture – especially since most sweet and sour dishes focus on using pineapple.
Feeling quite full after the savoury portion of the night I’m relieved to find the dessert end is next. We start things off by trying the complimentary petit fours, which are lychee jelly squares. I’ve only recently started making jubes at home so I’m always curious to find some flavour inspiration elsewhere. These were wobbly, soft and had just the right sugar hit. Very nice!
Our attention then goes to the final dish of the night, the sesame pudding. It looks an absolute treat – layers of coconut gel, black sesame mousse, coconut crunch and caramelised banana ice-cream. Traditionally whenever I’ve had banquet style Chinese dinners, it usually ends in fruit so it’s nice to see that Silks have created an actual dessert dish with Asian flavours.
The dessert is fantastic, way beyond my expectations. The coconut gel at the bottom has a nice smooth texture which reminds me of almond jelly – I suspect they may have used agar agar in the making as is done with other Asian jellies. The black sesame mousse is creamy and flavoursome, but the real standout is the coconut crunch for texture and the banana ice-cream for absolute knockoutness. It actually tastes like the promised caramelised flavour, coating my mouth and rounding out the flavours in the glass. Very, very tasty!
Needless to say when we left Silks we were both feeling extremely full and sleepy! It’s not very often you can say after a degustation that you’re stuffed to the brim since it’s usually smaller more finicky plates.
If you’re looking for a fine dining experience with a difference, perhaps consider Silks at Crown Casino next time. While the pricing is high end, it offer diners something different to what you can get here in Perth. There were some nice menu items, and some truly delicious items – in particular the toothfish and baked crab. I’d be interested to stop by sometime in the future for their Sunday dim sum special ($48 per person) as I’ve heard good things about their dumpling selection.
And if you’re worried about the prices for their dinner menu but still want to go, they offer early bird dining prices (I think around $80 per person for a banquet style feast) Sunday to Thursday 6pm – 7pm. It’s a cost effective way to try their food if you’re trying to avoid paying their higher prices.
A big thank you to Jeffery and the team at Silks who were our hosts for the night and treated us to all food and drink provided! I’ll definitely be reminiscing over that glorious toothfish for days and weeks to come I’m sure.