It seems increasingly difficult to find anywhere in Northbridge for lunch on a Monday – those places that do actually open their doors on the first day of the working week seem to only do so later in the day. It was that which drew us to the Royal Seafood Chinese in Aberdeen Street – actually open and at lunchtime, too!
They serve dim sum at lunch, and Lady FWO and I were happy to sit and see what delights were brought around on the trolleys. We did wish, later, we had been joined by one or two others so many more of the dishes could have been sampled, but we did our best.
The wine list is quite limited – especially for white which all seemed to be either chardonnay or sauvignon blanc – but with the addition of Brown Brothers Crouchen Riesling – the wine rep for this winery must be very persuasive indeed because I see this uninspiring drop at a lot of places around – why couldn’t they have had a Riesling or a Pinot Gris or some other aromatic that actually suits Asian food? Anyway that is my continuing gripe.
We decided, in the absence also of rosé, to have a bottle of 2011 Voyager Girt by Sea Cabernet Merlot and were very satisfied with that – this wine has lifted aromas of plum and blackcurrant, with a rich, smooth palate, hints of cherry supporting dark plum flavours. The silky tannins produce an easy drinking style which is pretty well suited to this type of cuisine, we thought.
The restaurant is quite large and simply decorated – I liked the light fittings which are quite striking – it has Roman Columns out front which seems a little unusual for a Chinese place, but I recall it was built as the Silver Dollar, I think, many years ago when that, at the time, popular Italian moved from William Street.
Anyway, we were quickly seated and tea and water offered while our wine was being readied – the wine was poured at the table by the waiter who kept our glasses topped up as we proceeded. In so many places we are left to our own device so this was a pleasant change.
The first trolley delivered up a choice of fried dumplings – prawn, chicken, pork – fried rice, Chinese greens, and fish cakes. Our first choice, fried prawn dumplings, were crisp and warm, with a nicely seasoned filling of minced prawn flesh; a good start.
The fish cakes, three good sized rounds of minced fish, small, sweet prawns with subtle seasoning were also of a high standard.
The next trolley brought mainly steamed dumplings – again of various fillings – and this time we chose steamed prawn dumplings as well as those with a filling of garlic chive and seafood.
The latter had a heady aroma of garlic, the filling lifted by the flavour of the chives, which complemented the sweet freshness of the seafood.
The dumpling skins were light and gelatinous, and the prawn filling fresh, tender and moist.
By this time we realized we really needed additional diners to assist so we reluctantly decided to forgo any more of the offered dishes – except of course for a dessert!
We tossed up between the ubiquitous custard tarts and durian puffs and came down on the side of the puffs. A great choice. A creamy, warm custard infused with the delicious flavour of durian – imported from Malaysia we were informed – were encased in a sort of string filo pastry case.
Durian is one of the great fruits of Asia and these robust little desserts certainly gave full expression to the flavour.
From our experience, the Royal Seafood Chinese restaurant serves up very good dim sum for lunch, and we have heard similar things about the food served in the evening. The service was friendly, prompt, efficient, and while the wine list could do with a re-jig, the food was hard to fault. We enjoyed it.