Chinese New Year is becoming a big deal in Perth these days. For me, it’s something I’ve grown up celebrating since my mum is Taiwanese, and though I have no other family except my parents in this state, we band together with friends old and new to mark the entry into a new lunar year.
This year we decided to keep things low key, and had a home cooked meal instead of going out to a restaurant. But I still managed to sneak in a CNY outing after receiving a lovely invitation by Crown to attend a new year banquet at their fine dining Chinese restaurant Silks.
I’ve been to Silks before and was really impressed by the food I tried there, with the Glacier 51 toothfish remaining imprinted on my mind ever since. I was looking forward to what this visit would entail.
The casino looks amazing during lunar new year! Pops of red and gold are scattered throughout, and the chefs from Silks have set up a prosperity toss station out the front of the restaurant.
As soon as the food arrives and they start layering the dish’s ingredients, the crowds flock with excited participants holding their chopsticks at the ready. There’s also a Prosperity God standing by, looking festively happy and ready to pose for photos with eager passersby.
Otherwise known as a ‘yee seng’, this dish is comprised of raw salmon, pickled shredded vegetables, peanuts, sauce and crispy wonton strips. It’s a dish that represents abundance, prosperity and vigor.
You take your chopsticks and toss the ingredients – the higher you lift them, apparently the greater prosperity you will find in the coming year. In Taiwan this isn’t a common practise, as it tends to originate from southern China from my understanding – so I was happy to finally take part in this custom after all these years!
When we’re shown into the private dining room at Silks, I’m transported outside of Perth and feel like I’m overseas. The room is dimly lit and intimate, with a large circular table and opulent plush couches surrounding. It almost feels like a back room to play high stakes poker in an old James Bond movie.
The amuse bouche starter is a delicious way to commence our banquet. Delicate spoonfuls of tuna and oyster each had a distinct flavour profile, and yet worked in harmony so neither was competing as you gulped down one and then the other. They really have such punchy sauces here that are well balanced with just the right piquancy.
Participating in our own prosperity toss soon found us actually eating the dish, and indulging in the texturally indulgent plate. My favourite part was the umami-rich sauce and the generous amount of fried wanton skins which offered crunch in every bite.
And it was definitely fun to use our communal (red) chopsticks to throw the food high in the air!
Silks deluxe appetisers was a plate of four bite sized treats. The steamed scallop dumpling was the standout for me thanks to it’s almost translucent skin and generous filling.
The twice roasted pork belly was teeth shatteringly crisp, the meat tender and melt in your mouth. I loved the little mound of hot english mustard beside it which is the ideal accompaniment.
The roasted duck with lychee jelly had just the right fat to meat ratio – and reinforced just how much I love this meat. I finished on the baked abalone with Silks treasure sauce – it’s not often I eat abalone and the delicate flesh here was well respected, with just enough seasoning to bring out the flavour and reduce the risk of it being bland.
For the main portion of the banquet we enjoyed several dishes – all delicious. The deep fried boneless quail stuffed with traditional seafood paste was my favourite, with the outside coating so satisfyingly crisp and the inside soft and toothsome.
The slow cooked 9+ wagyu beef brisket was the star of the show for most around the table, though for me it wasn’t as tender as I’d expected – and was a little on the chewy side. I did enjoy the fact that it and the accompanying broccolini was covered in a morish honey pepper sauce though – just the right topping for spooning over the outstanding fried rice with Chinese gourmet sausage. I usually don’t really get excited over fried rice since my mum made it as a lazy dinner when I was growing up, but this one was really tasty. Hints of sesame oil and white pepper throughout really reached the heights that an amazing fried rice should.
By this stage we were all feeling quite full and a little sleepy – but dessert after an excessive banquet is a must! And I’m so glad I had enough room to fit it in – pineapple jelly, ginger cream, lime crumble with lime sorbet and pineapple chip.
It was a mouthful to say but it was an extremely cohesive and ethereal dish! Sour and sweet at the same time, each bite was both creamy and refreshing – and the pineapple chip was not just a pretty garnish, it offered a glass like texture that was paper thin. Give me a whole back of these and I’d be a happy camper!
Dining at Crown to celebrate the lunar new year was a really enjoyable experience. It’s no secret that Silks has a strong reputation as Perth’s fine dining Chinese restaurant of choice, and my return here cemented the fact that the chef here really knows his stuff. It was a beautiful, generous lunch – and my little ang bao was filled with chocolate coins for me to snack on that night!