I don't have dim sum nearly as much as I'd like to. Maybe it's something to do with feeling like a bit of a glutton every time I do. It's a vicious cycle actually. As I don't go that often, I would almost always order one too many dishes. Let’s have that extra dish of siumai and please let me have another dish of prawn dumplings. This would invariably lead to the gluttony in the first place. I'm convinced that having all the enticing dishes carted around in the restaurant doesn't help my cause either.
A bit of an etymology for you. Dim sum (traditional chinese: 點心, english: point of the heart) is a Cantonese term for the little dishes served in the dining experience, yum cha (traditional chinese: 飲茶, english: drinking tea). So, we would say that we are going yum cha to have some dim sum, while leisurely sipping on some Chinese tea.
On this particular occasion, my sister and I decided on Royal Seafood to satisfy our dim sum craving. The restaurant is well placed in the heart of Perth’s own China Town, Northbridge. It’s easy enough to reach from the nearest parking lot, but sufficiently far from the bustling Northbridge activities to give it a bit of privacy. There is very little chance that you’ll miss the building, the façade was almost over the top with its Roman-style pillars and abundance of self-promoting signs. This awfully misleading exterior was thankfully relieved by the tastefully decorated interior. The table was set cleanly, with white napkins, white table cloth, clean white plates and cups, and a simple decoration of faux lotus (though fresh would be even better) in a glass bowl. Intricate wood carvings of flying cranes adorned the walls. Little touches such as this make this place an elegant and soothing place to eat, while still keeping its Chinese identity.
Never have I been so content with my yum cha experience as I had here. The service was a pleasant surprise. The owner of the restaurant is a mild-mannered, kindly-faced, bespectacled guy in his 40s, who, from what I could see, managed the restaurant quite well. The waitpersons were attentive and gracious, explaining what each dish was when asked without being frustrated. The cart toured the restaurant at a frequency that was not obtrusive. A pot of chrysanthemum tea was placed on our table not long after we asked for it and was constantly refilled with hot water. Orders for à la carte items were taken promptly and arrived promptly, without the need for following up.
The selection of dishes was astoundingly diverse. Sure they had the obligatory dumplings in its many forms, the buns and the chicken feet (my 2-year-old nephew’s favourite) – cooked beautifully tender and flavoursome. But, they also took the time to surprise you with a dish like the delicate egg tofu embraced by fresh green winter melon and topped with minced fish and a sprinkling of fluorescent crab roe. My my...
Most of the surprises have been delightful, although one unwanted surprise in the form of a pig intestine dish with salty vegetables could do with some tweaking in its seasoning. I am not opposed to eating pig intestines, which they have done suitably soft with a touch of chewiness in this occasion, what I am opposed to is dousing the dish with an overpoweringly peppery and salty broth.
As with the savoury dishes, the desserts were diverse in choice. My sister stuck with the healthier option, the refreshingly delicate tofu in sweet ginger syrup. Whereas, I opted for the egg tarts instead. The egg custard was resting on this gloriously flaky multi-layered puff pastry, unlike the standard shortcrust pastry found in most restaurants.
If I wasn't a glutton yet at this point, then the durian puff pastry was what made me one. My stomach was pretty much holding up a “No Vacancy” sign at this point, but I couldn't resist the durian puff pastry when they came past. The pastry was making the appropriate crunching noise as I sank my teeth into it, but what I’d like was for the durian jam innard to be just a tad sweeter. The minor infringements thusfar, however, did not diminish the otherwise exceptionally pleasant experience. The meal amounted to a well-worth $67.90 for three hungry adults and one child, with an order of 14 dishes, ranging from an affordable $3.90 to $7.50 per dish.