Whenever I talk to people, it’s no surprise that often the conversation drifts into food territory. Of delicious breakfasts, decadent desserts and cheesy, beefy burgers. But there’s one area I often struggle to reference regarding Perth restaurants, and that’s dumplings. Yes, there are quite a few venues throughout town who offer these bite sized morsels, but after years of travelling through Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore in particular, I find our own city’s offering a little lacking.
I think it was a statement along these lines that led a fellow food obsessed friend of a friend to mention Authentic Bites Dumpling House to me. A venue which has opened in Northbridge only a couple months earlier where they make the dumplings in-house behind a window much like Din Tai Fung’s style. It was hard to get the thought of it out of my mind, so soon enough I found myself heading in there for a weekend lunch.
Arriving just after 12pm on a Saturday, we managed to sneak in between busy periods – landing a table after a five minute wait. Soon enough a long line was formed outside just after us, so it was definitely a case of good timing this time around!
Inside is small and cosy, with limited seating. Staff move quickly and efficiently, bustling about with steaming plates of dumplings and noodles. I was fascinated to watch the owner behind the glass with her helpers hand forming xiao long bao and pork buns to pan fry. They’re definitely generous with the amount of filling they include – and I was pleased to see that there was more meat than other ingredients which is a rarity quite often.
With my resident dumpling expert in tow (aka my mum), we were ready to eat up a storm and dived into ordering.
The first item to come out was a steaming bowl of the spicy and sour soup ($6.00) – a dish that my mum tells me she grew up on as a child in Taipei. This version didn’t have the traditional inclusion of pigs blood slices, but there was a good selection of mushrooms inside to provide depth of flavour and texture.
The soup was definitely sour, and had a pleasant consistency. I thought for the serving size, it was really well priced too.
The pan fried pork buns (3 pieces for $6.50) came highly recommended by our waitress, and after seeing the chefs (a mix of Taiwanese and mainland Chinese immigrants) preparing them first hand, I knew we were in for a treat.
The casing was excellent – thin, glutinous and well formed to hold the plentiful mound of pork inside. Having a jar of chilli oil on the table was the ideal accompaniment for these, offering a nice slick of flavour (though I would have liked it hotter) that lingered in my mouth after I was finished eating.
We found ourselves torn on what tofu dish to order as an accompaniment, with both of wanting something different. So in true form, we ordered one of each! Mum’s silken tofu with century egg ($5.00) was the only dish that really disappointed us – it just lacked flavour and seasoning. It was a bit too plain to really enjoy.
My deep fried tofu ($6.00) was satisfyingly crisp on the outside, with the soft, squishy inside. I would have liked to see a different sauce to the sweet chilli (easily one of my least favourite sauces), but was happy diverting my attention to the chilli oil.
The xiao long bao were impressive as they made their way out to the table. While they have plain pork versions, we decided to opt for the steamed juicy crab and pork dumplings (8 pieces for $13.50).
The dumplings are handmade but all uniform, cooked so the skin is just past al dente and the soup centre flowed out in one bite. I would have liked to see a deeper flavour for the soup, with a touch more seasoning. The crab and pork filling was tasty, but dominated by the crab – I think next time I’ll go for the plain pork version as I’ve heard that is even better.
These are definitely the best version of xiao long bao I’ve tried here in Perth. They’re a tricky dumpling at the best of times, so seeing them successfully executed with only some minor critiques is impressive.
All in all, I thought Authentic Bites is a really impressive addition to Northbridge’s Chinese restaurants. Good dumplings are hard to find, and I think this place has my vote when in the future I need little bites of deliciousness to satisfy my cravings. I hear the spicy dumplings and cucumber salad are a couple other dishes I need to try next time I’m there!