The Standard Bar Garden Kitchen is a baby in the bar scene but it punches above its weight. Opened 7 days a week until midnight (except Sunday which opens until 10pm – which is a rarity in Perth). Located in the ever happening Roe Street in Northbridge, it has a lovely vibe and a nice cosy garden courtyard. Their benches and table tops are all custom made beautiful things (ok so I’m a little into my furnishings at the moment mainly because I’ve been helping with interior decorating at a friend’s place) and some hanging plants and a large bar area.
They also have some cool menu covers — it’s all shiny and silvery…. so pwwweeettttiiii…
Justin from The Skinny Perth, organised a little get together to catch up and meet up with some fellow foodies, along with bloggers Lyvia and Anna from Savour the Moment to check out the new place. Because it was a gathering of bloggers and foodies there were lots of snap snap and “argh the lighting is all wrong”, “waiitt don’t eat yet, have ot take a photo!” – it was all a little funny really and wayyy too much (and perhaps a little frustrating for some people! ooops!).
We started off the afternoon with a jug of Little Miss Sunshine – gin, citrus sherbet, grapefruit, topped with bubbles – it was a little bit of sunshine in your mouth. The Standard Bar’s menu is very modern Australian with definitely not your normal bar food, it’s a little bit fancy of course like any wonderful things in life, its perfect for sharing.
The fava chips were crunchy and lots of potato goodness with a sprinkle of salt. It comes with a two sauces – the delicious mushroom ketchup and aioli – for your dipping pleasure.
The chicken parfait came out in an unexpected form. It didn’t come out in your usual SLAB of parfait with a side of bread (which I was grateful for, although don’t get me like I love a good parfait spread over great fresh toasted/grilled bread – but a bit of a change and surprise is nice). The chicken parfait was silky, creamy with hints of shallots and parsley stuffed into – well – something that reminded me of Italian biscuits with dabs of hibiscus jam. It was beautifully presented and tasted delightful.
The garlic clams in cider, cream and chives with a side of sourdough bread was beautiful. The creamy, garlic and chives sauce was absolutely divine and more sourdough was needed to soak up all the juices. The clams themselves were nice and fresh with a slight salty flavour complementing the garlic that’s in the sauce. A definite fave of ours.
A generous serving of blue goats cheese was served on a bed of house-made oats cracker and drazzled with honey. The cheese itself wasn’t too strong for a blue cheese and the honey cuts micely through the “bluey-ness” . The oats cracker were delightfully thin and had nice seasoning to it. A lovely light dish to share as a starter, especially if you love your cheeses.
Another light dish that’s lovely and rather healthy is the Spanner Crab salad with squid, orange and mixed through with microherbs. It’s refreshing and zesty, although I didn’t have a lot of it due to my allergies with squid/octopus/cuttlefish (aka allergy to cephalopods!).
The next thing on the menu we tried was a little nod to Asian cuisine. It was grilled chicken with rice noodles, peanuts, herbs and nuoc cham sauce. The chicken was perfectly cooked, not too dry and mix all the ingredients together it was a lovely noodle salad dish.
Then there was the delicious, tender, salty, 36 hour pork with witlof, onion and puffed grains. The sauce it came with cut through the salt nicely and was just heavenly. A beautifully presented and delectable dish to share (or not).
I didn’t like the lamb dish as much as I liked the pork. The lamb belly came with a side of sweet and sour eggplant and grapefruit salad, which I thought was more amazing than the lamb belly itself. I didn’t think and expect the eggplant to work so well with the grapefruit and it gave the salad that crunchy and yet delicate flavour and texture. I think the lamb belly itself needed sauce or something, but it was tender and definitely fattening.
Of course all sharing plates isn’t complete without the charcuterie plate. We ordered the standard (meat) and the seafood.
The standard charcuterie plate at the Standard Bar consisted of jamon serron, wagyu bresaola, salami cosalinga and spicy chorizo. A wonderful spread and great quality cuts of meat. The seafood charcuterie plate was a little different and delicious with fresh ocean trout, king george whiting escabeche, and anchovies. Both plates come along with bits of pickles, chutney and sourdough bread.
Both were wonderful plates to share with quality produce and ingredients but for uniqueness I prefer the seafood (but having said that the meat is equally impressive!).
The Standard Bar is a great venue for hanging out with your friends with large tables available for your group or a to be shared with total strangers. The outdoor area would a fantastic place to hangout during the summer months, especially on balmy nights. The food menu is creative and it’s almost refreshing to see that they aren’t doing the American style menu that most other bars are doing at the moment (not trend followers clearly!). The drinks list is extensive with reds, whites, rose, spirits, cocktails, jugs to share, beers and ciders – touching base with any of your drink choices. The service is attentive and knowledgeable and of course passionate.
Definitely one to get to this summer.
Sunday session anyone?
Sometimes I like to mix things up and spice up my food – usually not to the extent that makes me sweat profusely or make my mouth burn that I can’t taste anything else. But I love the taste of szechuan, and szechuan cuisine. For those that doesn’t know what szechuan cuisine is a style of Chinese cuisine originating from the Sichuan province in south-west China. It has bold flavours, particularly in pungency, spiciness resulting form the liberal use of garlic, chilli peppers, sichuan peppers and salt. In Perth, there are restaurants that do “szechuan” dishes but unfortunately, I find that a lot of them aren’t very true in flavours.
However, there is a Chinese restaurant in the heart of Northbridge, opposite VHT Asian Groceries, in the little unnamed square that is filled with Asian shops on William Street. The restaurant is called Szechwan Zen Chinese Restaurant, recognised by a GIANT crab on its door (it’s in the centre of the square! You CANNOT miss it!). It recently opened (within in the last 6 months) and does very authentic Szechuan flavours. In fact my aunty and my uncle loves the authenticity so much that they go there once a month.
The restaurant interior of the restaurant is very roomy with ascents of gold, red and white. It is casual and feels very much like you have gone to China. Perhaps a little too casual and requires a little more set up with their tables, but nonetheless, you can tell that you will get an authentic experience from the restaurant.
A lot of the waiters are limited in English, but there are a handful that are fluent so if you are afraid that you may not be able to communicate or they won’t understand what you want or want more explanation on the dishes or you DO NOT WANT AS MUCH CHILLI OR SPICINESS in your dishes than you don’t need to worry, there should be someone that speaks English (or at least ask them if there is someone!).
The time we went to Szechwan Restaurant, I took my aunty and uncle, as they love spicy food, love the place and I trust them to order the dishes better than I do. We had to make sure the level of spicy was on the low side though because my bf can’t take a lot of it and my spice tolerant isn’t as high as them! Lucky for me the staff at Szechwan Zen is used to that request and are able to accommodate, even with the dishes with 3 to 4 chilli pictures/ratings on the menu (just ask).
We ordered a couple of cold dishes to start off with. The cold dishes we ordered are very typically Chinese. We ordered the preserved egg with fresh chilli and pickled cucumber with garlic paste. The preserved egg is one of my favourites to eat, especially dipped with soy sauce and rice or in porridge. With a bit of the fresh chilli and dipped in soy, it really brings out the flavour of the egg. The pickled cucumber was crunchy and the slight hint of hotness from the fresh garlic paste and the natural coolness feeling of eating a cucumber it was a nice pickled dish to snack on.
The first dish for lunch was a non-spicy dish – fried garlic spareribs. Each of the ribs had foil at the end so that you don’t can dig right into it without causing a miss, which is something that I love. The garlic flavours on the ribs is strong and there is a nice salty flavour there too. Its crunchy and I loved just ripping into it, table manners out the door!
Next was the lamb cube with chilli and cumin. I loved the flavours in this. The smell of cumin and chilli together – smells.so.good. The lamb was tender and the chilli gave it that slight kick and cuts through the cumin and the salt. It goes so well with rice. I couldn’t stop filling my plate up with this. We toned down a bit of the chilli flavours on the dish so that my bf can eat it, but I would have preferred it with a bit more hotness and spice!
To mix up the meat dishes, we ordered the yummiest green bean dish ever. I did not think they can make green beans have so much flavours and give it that slight crunch and yet steamed texture at the same time. My bf was surprised by how good it was and I have to agree with him. Definitely will be ordering this when I visit again.
This next dish was the most delicious, crunchy, crispy, dish ever. The Crispy and Spicy Pork Hock! Just look at the photo above! It has peanuts and fresh chilli on top. The pork hock is deep fried and flavoured with szechuan, garlic, cumin and chilli. The staff cuts the pork hock at the table and inside is this delicious, flavoursome, tender pork. It fragrance coming from the dish is amazing and it tastes even better! Again, like any of the dishes, we adjusted the spice level but making it moderate. You can also ask them to remove the peanuts as it is more like a garnish (which is what we did with the second pork hock so that bf can eat it). The chilli adds a nice kick and I reckon if you can tolerate spicy food you definitely should have it with its full chilli potential.
To wash our meal down and to cool off as it was a warm day, we ordered some young coconut juice. Refreshing and not filled with sugar. They also have a selection of teas and juices too.
There are a lot of dishes on offer at Szechwan Zen and this is just a preview of what we had. They have the more traditional Szechuan style and hot pot and cray-pots dishes.
I recommend trying this little gem. Szechwan Zen Chinese Restauarant really captures the flavours of authentic Szechuan Chinese cuisine (hellooo just check out all the Chinese/Asian people in the restaurant! – you know it’d be good!) and the prices are so reasonable with the dishes are considerable in size. Even if you aren’t a huge fun of chilli foods you can adjust the level of the spice and they are more than accommodating, they are totally understanding about it.
I’m so glad something like this has opened up and I can’t wait to take my parents to check it out! Maybe for pre-Christmas lunch or dinner!
So, next time you are in Northbridge and looking for something to eat try it – it’d be something different, unique and delicious, eat at Szechwan Zen Chinese Restaurant and order the Pork Hock and the green beans and the Spare ribs! SOOOOOOOOOOOOoo deliciously good. They also do yum cha on the weekends, but I don’t recommend that, try their specialty which is the szechuan style dishes.
**Disclaminer: I was a guest of Szechwan Zen Restaurant and my aunty and uncle really do visit if regularly – in fact to the point that the waiters and manager recognise them it was rather funny! Either way, all words and opinions on this post are my own**
Sorry for the lack of updates. I’ve had a computer problem. My laptop, which is about 10 years old has finally had enough and decided to just shut down and when it restarts it freezes over. So at the moment, my lovely cousin has lent me her laptop so I can continue to share with cyber world the places to dine, wine, travel and shop!
I’ve been meaning to do this post for a long long while, but with computer problems its taken this long (1 month overdue! ARGH!!).
I took my mum to a very luxurious and opulent Chinese restaurant, Silks Restaurant Perth in the heart of Crown Burswood, when the manager kindly invited me. I don’t usually go for “finer” dining Chinese, simply because it can be such a let down. BUT as always I am surprised and proven wrong. Silks Restaurant Perth showed me what fine dining Chinese is – quality produce, balance of texture and flavours and all with a touch of elegance and an environment to make you feel like you are the Emperor or Empress of some Dynasty from long ago.
The entrance itself to Silks is lovely – lantern-like lighting pave your way to a wooden door and your eye catches on hanging lantern lights before you turn to face the restaurant, where you are greeted by porcelain, hand-painted vases and lounges.
I knew in an instant that things are not going to be done by halves and that it were to be a full out fine dining affair. We were given a booth area which overlooks the restaurant and yet very private. The cutlery on our table had essence of gold throughout it and a cute little lamp, which reminded me of a mushroom! (no idea why!).
We started off the night by ordering some tea. There are a wide range of teas available at Silks. I ordered the old tree pu’er tea as it aids with digestion and is known as the “slimming tea”. It also has other health benefits such as improving eye-sight, lowering blood pressure and is anti-aging. Mum on the other hand ordered a more flowery tea - Chrysanthemum flower tea, which has a very floral aroma and taste, a contrast to my dark, slightly bitter but smooth pu’er.
Apart from the tea I grabbed myself a white wine; Dalrymple Estate Chardonnay from Pipers River in Tasmania and mum got the mocktail – Bamboo Garden (Sugar cane, lemongrass and lime juice).
After our drinks the first course arrived, the food started rolling in. The night started off with the amuse bouche consisting of tuna and honeycomb. The tuna was cooked so seemed a bit dry but the sweetness of the honeycomb surprisingly went well together.
After the amuse bouche our degustation started – We had the Jade Degustation (more information here). We started with a beautiful, crispy, fluffy white rice paper spring roll stuffed with prawns paired with sweet chilli sauce. The spring roll was different and unique to any I’ve had. The rice paper roll was light, fluffy and I love that there wasn’t that oily feeling or taste. It was just a lovely twist on the traditional spring roll. Surprisingly I enjoyed it, in fact, I’m going to say it, I loved this spring roll A LOT, usually I shun away from fried spring rolls as it tends to be too oily and blah. It was paired with a tangy, sweet chilli sauce.
Next came one of my favourite Chinese dishes – peking duck with a side of daikon soup. The peking duck had crispy skin and tender meat smothered with a sticky delicious sweet bean sauce blanketed in a thin pancake. The sweetness and stickiness of the sauce was cut nicely through by the delicious daikon soup.
Next to come out was the crab blue manna crab in a hot and spicy soup. The soup was tangy, hot and had a nice spice kick. There were generous chunks of crab with a spoon sized crab meat floating in the centre of the soup, lots of finely diced mushrooms (shitake, enoki) chinese fungus (king oyster fungus?) and bamboo shoots. Despite the slightly thick texture of the soup I really enjoyed it.
After a little break and a contrast to the strong flavours and textures of the soup was the steamed WA lobster with minced garlic and butter. Despite the flavours being milder than the soup, the dish packs a punch. The lobster was juicy, tender and perfectly cooked and drizzled with garlic and butter. It was divine and a dish made for an Empress/Emperor.
Then the “mains” arrived – yes I know.. it keeps going. A banquet for royalty.
The mains consisted of:
Szechuan Lamb Rack with Chilli and Cumin. The lamb was lean, juicy, tender and beautifully pink. Although it looked like it would be spicy with all the red colours of the szechuan and chilli, it wasn’t too bad at all. It was so fragrant thanks to the szechuan peppers. The dish had a nice kick and the cumin added a dimension to the flavours. Love it.
Honey lime glazed crispy king prawns in a birds nest. It was a nice golden colour with juicy king prawns. However, this dish for me was a bit of a let down. The prawns themselves were delicious but the sticky honey lime skin was too much and was too much like the $15 hawkers typical non-Chinese honey/lemon prawns. I thought it would have been better if they just fried it with golden century egg, chilli and shallots.
To go with the dishes was Silks’ signature fried rice which had prawns, duck, crab and scallops. Very fragrant.
There was so much delicious food, we were so full that we didn’t finish any of the mains. If I had more room I would have loved to eat all of the lamb. But alas, we had to save room for the last course – the dessert!
But first, there was a bit of a plate cleanser/pre-dessert – jubes-like, sour and sugar coated.
The dessert was the best twist on mango pudding. It is no regular Chinatown mango pudding. It consisted of this silky, mango Crème with Lime Streusel, diced mangoes, Coconut and Lime Sorbet, and crushed biscuits. It was creamy, silky, mango-y with the coconut and lime sorbet gelling it all together. Despite filling so full, I wanted another one!
Silks Restaurant is a lovely fine dining venue, offering delicious modern Chinese dishes that is truly above the rest. It has a lovely ambiance. It’s opulent, elegant and definitely luxurious. It’s one for special occasions and celebrations. The service is attentive non-imposing, and yet can be slightly abrupt and short.
They do 3 different degustation style menus – the cheapest being Porcelain, then middle range Jade (which was what we had) and the top end which has abalone, lobster, crabs is the Gold. Even though it’s called degustation, the servings at each course/tasting plate is massive! WARNING: WEAR LOOSE CLOTHING!
They also offer a la carte and does wonderful dim sims (as told by a friend!).
I can’t wait to try out more of it and take my grandparents and the rest of my family here. Definitely worth getting away from your local dirty Chinese restaurant.
Silks Restaurant Perth is all class and elegance with great food and one which truly surprised me because I wasn’t so sold on Fine Dining Chinese until now. To top it off, my mother, the ever honest voice surprisingly loved it all (except the honey lime prawns – like me she wasn’t a fan of that).
One to check out!
**Disclaimer: I was kindly invited by the staff at Silks Restaurant Perth however I was by no way swayed. All opinions and thoughts within this post are my own***