15 July 2014
Devooo that my favourite dim sum restaurant in Northbridge has shut down. Golden Century had such a good long life, but it was recently replaced by Red Chilli Sichuan Restaurant and the place has new chefs.
Fortunately, Red Chilli also offers dim sum. A bunch of mates caught up for lunch on a busy Sunday afternoon. The change of ownership must intrigue old loyal customers of the previous restaurant. If the standards remain high, then the transition will be smooth. Otherwise the restaurant could suffer from the fierce competition from neighbouring dim sum joints (eg. Regal on Roe, Northbridge Chinese, and New Moon).
Prawn and pork dumplings
You know shu mai has been prepared, frozen or fridged, then reheated when the fish eggs on top are opaque. The dumplings were meaty and there were chunks of prawn, so we still enjoyed them. Definitely dip these ones in chilli oil!
Glutinous rice wrapped in leaves. It might not look appetising, but each parcel has flavoursome gluggy rice, minced pork, salted egg, Chinese sausage, and mushroom pieces. The filling was quite generous and tasty.
Dim sum initiation for Aussie friends invariably requires a serving of “phoenix talons”. Pluck pluck pluck the skin from each toe and enjoy the flavour of the sauce. This is not one for the squeamish and you won’t find any meat on these bones. My grandma eats the cartilage, but I don’t want to…
BBQ pork buns
The fluffy soft buns contained a decent serving of BBQ pork. Honestly, I’m a little over the standard sweet stock-standard char siu sauce. I was surrounded by Aussie friends though, so we obviously needed 2 sets of buns haha.
Deep-fried prawn dumplings
I swear these dumplings are almost identical in every dim sum shop. Fried wonton skins packed with bursty prawn chunks. It seems weird, but you need to dunk these in mayonnaise for full flavour. Also a hint for the less savvy: never choose the last item of its kind from a tray. This almost certainly indicates that the food is luke-warm and has circulated around tables for 20 minutes.
One of my all-time favourite dumplings are xiaolongbao (“little dragon buns”). The Shanghai dumplings were bursty, served with red Chinese vinegar, and covered with little orange fish eggs that popped between my teeth. Delicious :)
Baked BBQ pork buns
Eeek these were too sweet for me to enjoy. Dim sum items do not always conform to the line between mains and dessert. On the scale of sweet to savoury, these were way towards the dessert side.
Prawn and chive dumplings
The white dumpling skin was too cold, thick, and sticky instead of being warm and slippery (LOL that’s what she said). Dim sum is never tasty when it’s luke warm and the insides were kinda gluggy too. A surprising thumbs down for this staple dumpling.
Fried BBQ pork puffs
This is not an easy dim sum item to describe, so I normally only choose it when I spot it on one of the trays moving around the restaurant. Outside is a fried glutinous rice flour dough, inside is tasty minced pork. I usually opt for steamed items rather than fried, but these are one of my favourite dim sum items. Keep an eye out!
BBQ pork rice flour roll
Easily the most disappointing dish was the rice flour roll. The rice flour and the sauce (poured on after the photo was taken) were standard, but the BBQ pork was awful. It was chopped up so finely that we had to confirm that we were actually eating pork. The flavour was not right and it was generally a terrible rendition of this simple menu item.
Fried bits on the outside, a layer of soft yam (which is a root vegetable), and minced pork on the inside. I remember sharing half-half with my brother at Spencer Village when we were little kids. Sometimes I worry it’s nostalgia that makes me order these because they never taste quite as good nowadays.
Salted egg custard buns
These are buns filled with custard that is made using salted eggs. A super weird sweet and savoury combo that people generally love or hate. I still can’t develop a taste for these! Heads up, the centre is usually molten and will spill everywhere if you open the bun too enthusiastically (heh..eww).
Deep fried squid tentacles
Our last minute order was squid tentacles. They were pale and anaemic-looking (as my mum would say). A poorly fried, scarcely battered, soft oily mess without many redeeming qualities. Mistake!!
Egg custard tarts
Egg custard tarts are the closest you’ll get to a decent dessert at dim sum lunch. I’m not a fan but these buttery flaky pastries are usually devoured pretty quickly. You might want to reserve some when you arrive because the baked goods sell out on busy days (and some people love them too much to share haha).
Service was a little slow and irritating (with the thousand mile stare). We therefore stayed obnoxiously long while sipping tea before vacating to let other hungry diners rush onto the table. Our meal including my fav bolay cha (Chinese tea) was a very reasonable $14.50 each.
The prices are low compared to other Northbridge dim sum restaurants, but I’m sure that I would pay a few dollars more for consistent quality. If I visit Red Chilli again, it will be to try the seriously spicy Szechuan dinner rather than dim sum lunch.
Likes: Shanghai dumplings, decent range, lower prices than usual for Northbridge
Dislikes: pale squid tentacles, gluggy prawn dumplings with thick sticky rice flour
Value for money: cheap but inconsistent quality
Overall: would prefer other dim sum spots with slightly higher prices but better food
191 James St
(08) 9328 2388