One of two Chinese restaurants in and around Old Perth Road in Bassendean, Bassendean Oriental is illuminated by flashing lights outside.
Inside it has all the standard fit out of a suburban Chinese – faux wood panelling on some the walls, some fairly unattractive seventies era black and red brick, lanterns shading the lights. Even the obligatory fish tank in the reception area (although the tiny goldfish weren’t for eating!).
It is BYO, and we had brought along a bottle of 2013 Plume Estate rosé I picked up when I recently visited the winery in the Perth Hills. It has quite a fruity style, although not overly sweet; pretty good accompaniment to Asian food.
The menu, as with most Chinese places, is extensive – and of all the dishes you come to expect. We settled on salt and pepper squid and what was described as a prawn cocktail to start, and followed with a chef’s special, sambal fish, and satay seafood.
The prawn cocktail was a throwback to the sixties – seafood cocktail sauce blanketing a bowl of small prawns, on a bed of shredded iceberg lettuce. The sauce was obviously a proprietary brand, overly sweet, a little zestiness perhaps, but overall fairly unexceptional. Certainly they didn’t skimp on the prawns – there were lots, although a little soft and overcooked. And the lettuce was limp from being smothered in the dressing. It was a pretty average sort of dish, for what it was; an old style prawn cocktail.
The salt and pepper squid on the other hand hit more markers for me – a nice batter, not greasy, well cooked and tender squid, and good seasoning. It was topped with some fried chilli to add a little more heat; a pretty good dish we thought. We enjoyed it.
Both entrées were generously sized, more than we could manage – but as with many restaurants of the type they were happy to pack leftovers up to takeaway.
The sambal fish looked fine when it came out, good sized pieces of fried fish in a red sauce with some vegetables – the sauce was tomato based with a hint of smokiness but it was totally lacking in any chilli heat. If I order sambal I really expect a bit of zing, but this had none. That was disappointing – the fish, however, was cooked well and the vegetables had some crunch.
The satay seafood really let the place down however; the seafood was totally overcooked to the point of pretty unappealing softness; the satay sauce lacked any of the flavours we expected – peanuts, chilli; it was watery and bland in the extreme. This was a pretty poor effort.
The service was efficient, friendly and attentive. The meals came out in good time and were served at a good temperature, but there needs to be some work done on the sauces – and on the length of time some of seafood is cooked. There are a lot of competitors around serving up this cuisine so it really needs to hit the mark I reckon. This time, other than the salt and pepper squid, it didn’t.