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The name of this restaurant in Leederville perplexed me somewhat. Did they mean “low key chow house” as in understated eating establishment? Or was the restaurant owned by a Mr Low (ie Asian style appellation)? Or a Mr Chow (ie Western naming order)? Regardless of the answer, I think the owners have achieved their purpose – this was a restaurant name that stuck in my mind as soon as I first heard it.
But did the experience live up to the build up?
When we got to Oxford St, we were just as perplexed as to the exact location of the restaurant. In fact, we never found an actual signboard. It may have been more visible from the other side of the street, but from where we were standing, it was the mahjong tile “open” sign that made us realise we had reached our destination.
As you can see from the photos, the decor is par for the course in trendy Leederville with that slightly grungy, warehouse style look complete with exposed brickwork and mismatched furniture as well as crockery.
We were seated quickly, where we found menus already laid out on our table. The waiter offered us water, followed by a dipping sauce bowlful of salted peanuts, then came back a few minutes later to ask if we’d like to order any drinks to start. I had the lychee tipple for $16. I enjoyed that the peanuts had also been sprinkled with sugar, but then again, I’m obsessed with salty sweet flavours at present (salty caramel, anyone?) The cocktail was refreshing and sweet without being cloying – it went down a treat.
We were a party of 4 (3 adults, 1 child), and were advised by our waiter to order 3 entrees and 2 mains. The highlight of our night was far and away the mantou buns for $15 + $5 (one serve usually comes with 3 pieces). The pork filling was delightfully crispy yet also tender and tasty. The salty flavour was balanced with (you guessed it) sweet and sticky hoisin sauce, with a touch of mint and cucumber for freshness, all of which was wrapped up in a pillowy soft mantou bun. I think I could eat a whole plate of it!
We also had the gyoza dumplings for $12 (4 pieces) and the pok pok wings for $15 (6 pieces). I thought the gyoza was quite tasty but a tad dry, while the wings were tasty but not outstanding when compared to other eateries. Be warned – the wings are a little on the spicy side.
There were several other entree items that caught our eye on the menu as shown below, but we decided to heed the advice of our waiter and stuck to the 3 entree suggestion.
The mains to me were average. We had the Korean style beef ribs for $32, which came with a small side of kimchi, sesame beansprouts, and a salty spicy chilli dipping sauce.
We also ordered the Nestum prawns for $37, as this Malaysian dish is one that you don’t often see on menus here. It was flavoursome, but to me had too much Nestum and lacked the butteriness that should have brought it all together. Be careful you don’t inhale the little flakes of cereal as you’re eating it. And be prepared also to only find 5 prawns on the plate underneath that mound of Nestum.
To tie it altogether, we also ordered the bo sa lat for $18, a rare beef and glass noodle salad with a tamarind sauce, chilli and nuoc cham. The flavours were nicely balanced, being sweet, salty, tangy, spicy and fresh all at the same time, but again, I didn’t think the dish stood out particularly as compared to your standard rice noodle salad dish that you can find at any old (cheaper!) Vietnamese noodle house. Another warning for those who need it – this dish was also a little on the spicy side.
I’m afraid to report that the desserts did not tempt us, but this was mainly because we really wanted to try the new gelateria, Gusto Gelato. Here’s the menu with the dessert options in case you’re interested.
The waitstaff were attentive and anticipated our needs. They asked as we sat down if anyone had any nut or seafood allergies before offering us the peanuts to nibble on as we looked at our menus. They allowed appropriate time for us to peruse our menus before coming back to take our orders. The food came out fairly quickly, and the time lag between entree and mains was just right. When we were seen to be drying our hands after eating the wings and rinsing off our fingers in the provided wash bowl, extra napkins were brought out. When the waitress saw us taking photos, she asked if she could take a photo or 2 of our group. Best of all, the waiter’s recommendation of 3 entrees and 2 mains (though we did sneak in a salad and some rice) was spot on. We left feeling adequately satiated without being overstuffed and having enough room for Gusto Gelato, yay!
I was seated on the cushioned bench side of the table and found it to be comfortable, but I’m not so sure whether others would say the same about the metal folding seats. I have mixed feelings about the grungy look. I can’t decide if I like it because it’s so hip, or whether it’s become too cliche. Similarly, I couldn’t decide if the mismatched chopsticks were beyond cool, or whether I should have forced my dining buddies to play swapsies so that we could each have had a pair of red chopsticks OR a pair of white chopsticks instead of one of each. I decided in the end to quash the obsessive compulsive beast. Just for one night.
Prices were all over the place! I thought the Nestum prawns and gyoza were overpriced. The beef salad and cocktail were standard for Perth. The mantou buns were great value. All in all, our bill including 1 cocktail and 2 bottles of sparkling water came to $170, or $42.50 per person. Which isn’t too bad for Perth, I guess.
Closed Monday and Tuesday
Wednesday and Thursday 5.30-10pm
Friday and Saturday 12-3pm and 5-10.30pm
Sunday 12-3pm and 5-10pm
Getting there :
140 Oxford St, Leederville
If you’re walking from the freeway side of Oxford St, past the carpark next to Cranked and the Newcastle St intersection, it’s on your right after Tutti Frutti, opposite Burger Bistro and before the Vincent St intersection
Phone – 9443 9305
Modern Asian/Asian fusion places seem to be all the rage right now, and while I can’t say this was my favourite, those mantou buns really are that good! For that reason, I do plan to return and try a few more dishes, especially from the entree menu. I was much more impressed by the entree offerings than the mains. Besides, it will give me an excuse to go back to Gusto Gelato, mmm… (see what I’m trying to get at here?)
One of my friends wanted to take home a serve of mantou buns for her parents to try, but was told they don’t do takeaways. Just so you know.
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