The latest arrival in Yagan Square is an interesting mix – a brewery and yum cha place; Shy John spread over two levels is named for John Pong Shying, apparently Australia’s first Chinese settler. Located on the northern side of the square in and above Horseshoe Lane, Shy John can accommodate around 500 people and has a menu geared toward Cantonese style cuisine – with dim sum served throughout the day, as well as larger dishes for those who prefer to go that route.
As far as drinks go, they have their own 5 brews on tap as well as 6 others, including Eagle Bay, Nail and Two Birds, and cider from Funk in the Swan Valley. The wine list is reasonable – 16 reds, 14 whites, a couple of rosé and 7 sparkling – the choices range from Penfolds Grange and Vasse Felix Tom Cullity through to more affordable drops – Hay Shed Hill Malbec, Vasse Felix Filius, Devils Lair The Hidden Cave Chardonnay and Forest Hill Riesling – we chose a bottle of West Cape Howe Tempranillo Rosé which complemented our food choices.
At lunch on Friday the place was completely packed out inside so we sat on the balcony at front looking down to the lane below – it was a sunny day and a good spot to sit back and relax.
We stuck to dim sum selection –and six dishes seemed about right – these were whole prawn rolls, salt and pepper squid tentacles, black sesame molten bao, char siu bao, signature prawn dumplings and truffle and scallop dumplings.
The prawn rolls came out quickly – these were nicely gelatinous and full of plump, juicy prawns – but they were served quite cool – one was warm, one luke-warm and the other cold – they were tasty and there was a large crowd so we forgive that this time.
Then twice a dish we didn’t order came out before the next set of dishes came in a rush – together with yet another we didn’t order – so to those choices – the squid tentacles were on point – served in a cone, tender and with a little peppery and salty spice and a scatter of chopped chilli – liked these a lot.
The signature prawn dumplings looked the part- juicy prawn flesh encased in a dumpling coloured with squid ink and a spray of gold colouring – looked good, tasted the same.
My hit of the day was the scallop and truffle dumplings – again in black skins, full of sweet, chopped scallop flesh with a distinct aroma and earthy taste of truffle – very good.
The char siu bao was fluffy and full of nicely seasoned roasted pork – while the glossy skin of the final dumpling encased an oozing black liquid filling of sesame seed, a touch too sweet for my palate.
Shy John is certainly off to a popular start – and if a few of the service fails are addressed should be a successful venture. The food is pretty good, the wine list fine, didn’t try the beer this time, and the staff friendly, if a little rushed off their feet. Teething problems aside you should go along and try it out for yourselves.