It’s an exciting time to be living in Perth if you’re a fan of trying something new. It seems every week a different venue is opening up, attracting hoards of diverse and curious customers who all eager to find the newest and most exciting place to be. Print Hall very much seems to be leading the charge, with four eateries nestled inside this old newspaper house which has been revamped into a hotspot in the Perth CBD.
The decor inside is beautiful; the restoration of the building keeping the structural integrity in place but adding new life and excitement.
On our way to the Catch Me fundraiser at Wolf Lane where my extremely talented friend Elise was singing with the equally amazing Solomon Pitt, Jeremy and I decided to make a dinner stop at the Hong Kong reminiscent restaurant inside Print Hall – the Apple Daily Bar & Eating House. Named after a popular daily newspaper in HK, this menu has roots embedded in South-East Asian style food but comes with a price tag much greater than you’d find in Asia. However that said, the quality of the produce used and the flair of the dishes themselves, it’s acceptable. For me, it was very similar to Kitsch Bar but just that little bit more pricier.
The decor is incredible in this part of Print Hall. The walls are lined with actual pages from Chinese newspapers; the lights a dark red. It’s very China-esque and has the opulence meets street feel about it.
The menu is broken into two sections – Street Food Snacks and Bigger Sharings. Since it’s our first time here we ask for a recommendation on how much to order between the two of us. Our lovely waitress (who was incredibly bubbly, attentive and chatty the whole time) advised us that since we were both hungry (and Jeremy’s a big eater) we should get two from the first section and two to three from the second.
We both choose an item from Street Food Snacks, with my eyes immediately going to the Crispy Black Pepper Soft Shell Crab with Watercress, Pomelo and Nam Jim ($18).
The crab is crunchy on the outside and meaty inside. For the price, it’s a pretty decent serving size and the nam jim is sweet but spicy and full of flavour. I especially like the mix of accompaniment ingredients in this. The salad the crab sits on is a great mix of textures and intensity of tastes. For me, this was one of the best servings of soft shell crab I’ve ever eaten and one of the best dishes of the night.
While we’re munching away, we take a moment to revel in our surroundings. There’s no getting around it in my photos, the red lights are intense! But that adds to the whole dynamic of this place – it feels like I’m eating a midnight meal over in Hong Kong just like I was in January this year.
On our table sits a little neat foursome of complimentary condiments – dark and light soy sauce by the look of it, chilli oil and cut chillis. Jeremy goes for a bit of each, but I settle on the chilli oil which has a good amount of seeds and some heat to it. You can never get a good bit of chilli oil past us two!
Jeremy’s choice from the Street Snack Foods is the Pork & Oyster Roll with Prickly Ash ($14). It’s extremely similar to a pork and bean curd skin roll my mum makes us every now and then so for me it lacks that wow factor since it’s a dish I’m very familiar with. That said, the pork and oyster filling is flavoursome and tender; the meat juicy in every bite.
As we move onto the Bigger Sharings section of the menu, we both enjoy a cocktail each. Jeremy’s spied a spiced whisky “man’s cocktail” which he orders. It comes with a fortune cookie onside which breaks open to say happiness is best when shared. Very cute – and he declares it tasty too – one that you can actually sip and enjoy without downing the whole thing straight away. Ie. there’s a lot of alcohol in this! From memory we think it was called the Kung Fu cocktail or something to that effect.
For my drink I see one called (I think) Yes Sensei. It’s a mojito with plum and mandarin flavours used and comes in a nice beer mug with plenty of ice, pomegranate pods and a cute little paper crane perched on top. Like Jeremy’s, it’s pretty alcoholic but it tastes really nice. Very strong fruit flavours and sweet. I especially like picking at the pomegranate as it releases bursts of juice in my mouth.
Moving into the Bigger Sharings part of the menu, we both agree that we’ll choose the Fried Rice with Smoked Trout, Corn and Fried Egg Relish ($22). I have to admit, it is quite difficult to have wow factor in fried rice since I cook it often enough the way my mother has taught me.
But this one was quite nice – it’s completely different to any other I’ve eaten, largely thanks to the presence of the smokey flavour in the trout and the spiciness of the relish. The rice is greasy like it should be; the corn sweet and pops with each bite. If you love fish, this is a dish worth trying for sure.
Jeremy chooses the Stir Fried Diamond Bay Clams in XO Sauce with Rice Drops ($30) from this section of the menu. For the price, this one was definitely on the small size. The clams are a bit on the rubbery side, but full of flavour. The chilli slices have a big punchiness to them which we discover as he eats one whole. Lets just say, things got a bit sweaty for a moment there.
Our final dish of the night is my choice from the menu – the Salt Water Duck with Spring Onion, Flower Bun and Hoisin ($32).
This is my favourite dish of the night by far. The duck is meaty but has that much needed layer of fat between the meat and skin. It melts in my mouth with each bite and works in perfect unison with the soft, glutinous flower roll and sweet hoisin sauce. The spring onions on side are fresh and add a great twist on the other flavours to round out the palate. It’s like a new version of peking duck pancakes – and works so well.
It’s a dish that you need to eat all together. The duck is salty as the name indicates, but when you mix in everything else it all compliments perfectly. I’ll definitely be eating this again if I go back here.
The Apple Daily Bar & Eating House is a really nice element to the Perth eating scene. It’s a funky, noisy little upstairs venue that allows you to watch the suit clad business people of the world conveying downstairs at Print Hall. If you like modern westernised twists on traditional Asian flavours, it’s a great place to try. Just be prepared to spend a bit of coin here.