New restaurants seem to be opening in Perth every other week at the moment – though sadly this is often matched by others closing their doors. I think it’s safe to say with the current state of the economy, we’re very much in a time of flux. And it’s never nice to see a venue have to close it’s doors, for the passions of the owners and chefs to be quashed like a candle’s flame being snuffed out.
But new venues opening, well that is something to celebrate – to focus on the positives as our town becomes more and more exciting, and an abundance of choice is blessed upon us.
Wok St Chow House opened in Perth a few months ago, now accompanying the site that once housed Darlings Supper Club. Owned by the same team behind Kitsch, Ria and Foam, there was a great deal of pressure for them to live up to the highs as their sister venues.
I actually visited Wok St not long after they opened, stopping by for a meal after a Wildcats game at the arena. Without my camera in tow I actually was able to relax and enjoy the meal without the pressure of remembering every detail – and I can say I was quite impressed by what I ate. So when I received an invitation to their official launch party, both Jeremy and I found ourselves looking forward to what we felt confident would be a delicious night out.
The night was a long celebration, filled with bloggers, media and industry all there to enjoy the generous free-flowing food and beverages.
With the sun setting not long after we arrived, it was great to stand out on the balcony and enjoy the cooling air, and the canapés that circulated giving us a bite sized insight (though we ate enough to make a whole dish) into some of the popular dishes on the menu.
The kinilaw fish with lime, coconut, sugar cane and vinegar ($16.80 for the standard dish) was my favourite canapé we were treated to. Marked as a ‘one dragon’ item on the menu, this signified just the slightest injection of heat which I actually didn’t notice – I was too busy knocking back spoon after spoon of this tropical sensation.
For both Jeremy and Carly from Perth Munchkin, the silken tofu with mushroom, asparagus, ginger and shallots ($24.00 for the standard dish) seemed to be their pick, and I’m not surprised why as it was so morish. Slightly gooey sauce, melt in your mouth tofu and flavourful veggies made this dish earthy and yet fresh.
The ‘som tum’ green papaya with beans, tomatoes, carrots, dried shrimp and peanuts ($13.60 for the standard dish) was a two dragon rated canapé, but wasn’t too hot for us at all. The papaya had a slight bite to it, and the dish really towed the line between saccharine and sour which made for a pleasant palate cleanser.
The three dragon spoonfuls of miang larb ped ($26.00 for the standard dish) definitely lived up to it’s heat warning! Hot and sour chopped roast duck with rice and herbs (normally served on betel leaf) didn’t feel too hot upon initial bite, but it was the kind of chilli kick that really builds and sneaks up on you! But I still enjoyed it (though my stomach did protest a little later that night) and happily gorged on quite a few of these bad boys.
The launch of the restaurant would not have been complete without a traditional lion dance to commemorate the opening, and bring prosperity into the future trading. It might have been St Patricks Day that night, but Northbridge was brought alive with the rhythmic drumming and festive lions dancing out and inside the venue.
And then, as if we hadn’t eaten enough already, we all made our way to the courtyard out the back of Wok St to sit down and taste more of what the menu had to offer.
It was dark and intimate outside, with a cool breeze starting to waft through. After a quick speech by owner Nicholas Bond (where we learned that there have been teething problems such as them being on to their third chef already, which really surprised me as my two visits now had been deliciously consistent), more food started pumping out hard and fast from the kitchen.
We took a deep breath, a sip of the delightfully fizzy champagne and threw ourselves in with gusto. First up – the Wok St Thai fishcakes with sweet chilli sauce ($14.00). For me, these were one of my least favourite items for the night – but then again I’m never really impressed by fishcakes. My mum makes them, and so I guess I’ve been spoiled along the years – hers are a strong concoction with more mackerel than any other ingredient. And while Wok St’s were pleasant, they lacked the punch and fishy goodness that I’d hoped to find.
The one dragon rated fried chicken wings with nahm prik pao, crispy garlic and lemongrass ($16.00) were a completely different story. Finger. Licking. Good. The meat was tender and just slid off the bone, but was juicy from start to finish. The sauce had just the slightest chilli that danced on my lips, and left my fingers literally begging to be licked clean. These are definitely a must order if you visit.
The crying tiger (yes this is just the name of the dish – apparently one customer rang up in tears after thinking she’d actually eaten tiger) was made of beef flank, shallots and coriander ($18.00). It’s the hottest dish on the menu with a four dragon rating, and so I was very careful just to try the smallest piece. I know my stomach’s limits and while I think I love chilli, my body can often reject it and prove me wrong if I go overboard. It’s all about moderation!
The roti ($5.00) with curry sauce however I was happy to divert my attention to. It wasn’t the best roti I’ve ever had, nor was it the worst. But for me, it definitely needs some work – it was missing the flaky layers with the crisp outside and the soft inside. Who else misses Suzie’s Pratha House from when it used to be in Morley?
The pad thai ($23.00) was a decent rendition of this traditional dish – fried noodles with egg, chicken and prawn. Sadly there was only two prawns inside which I would hope normally is not the norm given the price. It’s hard to know if this is the standard given we were there for a launch banquet, and serving sizes may vary accordingly.
The noodles though had a nice smokiness imparted by the wok, and there was a generous amount of egg throughout. Jeremy felt that this dish was a bit too sweet, though my sugar worn tastebuds didn’t notice – I liked it!
The massaman lamb curry with potato, onion and peanuts ($28.00) was a real standout in the evening, even despite the fact that my jeans were feeling particularly tight around this time. The meat literally slid off the bone, falling apart from the slightest poke of my fork. The sauce was fragrant and well layered, making each mouthful a delicious, decadent affair.
Given my love of seafood it was too hard not to try the whole fried fish with three flavour sauce ($32.00). I’m always so impressed by a whole fish, and loved the presentation of this – as well as the taste.
Crispy on the outside, soft and flaky on the inside this really did tick all the boxes. I did find it a bit hard to get to the fish cheek for some reason, I’m not sure if it was my clumsy lack of skill or if the type of fish just had limited meat there. Such a shame as that definitely is the best part.
This was an excellent way to complete the evening, and just the thing that sent me into a sleepy coma-like state. It’s safe to say, I slept like a baby that night nursing my full belly and happy tastebuds.
Welcome to Perth Wok St Chow House, I have a feeling you’re going to be around for a long time. Food and drinks were both superb, and best of all – it’s open until 3am on weekends meaning late night munchies are even more satisfying now.