I guess you would have to be living under a rock not to have seen the publicity and stories leading up to the opening, last week, of WA’s first crowd funded restaurant, Lucky Chan’s.
In company of a mate who had actually turned up on the opening day, I went along one lunch time to try it out.
First impressions were positive; it is well fitted out and certainly looks the goods.
The rooftop bar wasn’t open when we were there, but I did get up to have a look and take a couple of snaps – it seems to me to be one of the best looking roof bars around town – and I will certainly get back to sit up there and have a drink or two.
This bar would be the restaurant’s major attraction so it was a little strange that it wasn’t open for lunch. On the floor below is the Ramen Room, a private dining area adjacent to a small kitchen containing the noodle making machine imported at some cost – so diners can sit, eat, drink and watch the chef turn out the noodles.
Downstairs the room is long and narrow, a bar along one side and tables and chairs the other; seating is also available on stools at the bar. We took a table, the place filled rapidly, and most of the seating spots had been taken within a short time of the doors opening at 11.30. Waiters were friendly, welcoming and attentive, explained the menu, took orders and delivered them promptly; they came back to check to see, as our lunch proceeded, how things were going – so no issues on that front.
To the menu – as you would expect from its name, there is a concentration on noodles and Asian inspired dishes. Starters included white bait, crispy pigs ears and what were called Szechuan strange peanuts; among the dumplings listed are chicken and sticky beef shin; under the heading Chicka Bao Wow could be found a variation of bao, in this case small stuffed buns containing satay tofu and buttermilk chicken among others; and finally to the noodles – ramen noodles with various accompaniments – chicken, corned beef, pork.
We decided on whitebait and the pigs ears from the starters, or Lucky’s Littles; bao with glazed lamb shoulder; prawn and snapper dumplings; and vegetarian ramen noodles. For the noodles you can request a chilli hit on a scale from 1 to 20; not knowing the potency I went for fifteen.
The whitebait simply fried, with a sprinkling of lotus seeds, came with a small bowl of mayo infused with wasabi. They were nicely crisped, moist, and the mayo creamy and pleasant, if not particularly zesty.
Pigs ears, served in a brown paper bag, with a slice of lime, crisp, well seasoned, and reminiscent of pork crackling; nothing out of the ordinary, but a good snack nonetheless.
The shao mai dumplings were filled with a mix of minced prawns and fish; the wrappings tender, the mix well seasoned with lifted flavours of prawns and fish. This was the best dish of the day.
Lamb shoulder, glazed with miso, and stuffed in a soft Chinese bun along with pickles and carrot relish, was very tender, the bun slightly sweet; it was a good dish without reaching any heights.
The large bowl of noodles doused in miso broth, along with corn, mushrooms and fried tofu, had good texture, the miso soup salty, somewhat earthy, tofu creamy inside and the corn and mushrooms provided a sweet and meaty contrast, respectively. I was less impressed by the half of uncored tomato dunked in with the other ingredients, and I saw no evidence of the advertised 62 degree egg. As to the chilli, very mild indeed – next time I will head to 20, but the hit at 10 or below must be non-existent.
So overall the food was satisfactory – I am sure as the teething problems pass this will get better.
As for the drinks – off the small wine list we started with a glass of 2014 Castelli Riesling (good, clean acid which supports an array of lime and lemon flavours, with some green apple hints, to a wonderful crisp conclusion), then moved on to their house white wine – made by Bella Ridge, one of the better boutique wineries in the Swan valley – from a Japanese grape – Kyoho.
I had never heard of this variety, but with the aid of Google, I found it is a black grape, used in Japan mainly peeled as a dessert with the juice used in cocktails. The wine had a slight blush, and a very aromatic nose, nuts and citrus, some tropical fruit, but on the palate was innocuous – little acid, quite sweet, almost cloying, for all the world it could have been Fruity Lexia. This is not a success as far as I am concerned.
We then tried the red variant of the wine – this had the most unpleasant nose I have encountered in recent years – it was sharp, almost methylated spirits – we thought initially it could have been the glass cleaner – it dissipated over about an hour, but didn’t improve to any extent – the palate had some cherry notes, but still lacked any acid or tannin; soft, innocuous. I think the lesson here is that the Japanese know how to best use this grape, and it isn’t for wine!
Putting those two wines behind us, we tried a glass of 2014 Old Plains Mistura Touriga from the Barossa. A blend of three Portuguese varieties, Touriga Nacional, Tinta Amarela and Tinta Cao, this was deep purple in hue, blackberry and cherry aromas on the nose, with intense juicy berry flavours on the palate; light tannins, medium bodied, good easy drinking. Then to end the lunch we looked at the beers on offer and chose Bia Saigon Ho Chi Minh Pale Lager and ACME Californian IPA.
The first had some nice hoppy aromas, the palate was slightly sweet; it is light and easy drinking – a hot day sipper.
The IPA was much more complex, dark with hops and citrus elements on the nose, followed by caramel malt and citrus flavours, with a reasonably bitter finish. This is a good food beer.
Lucky Chan’s looks to have a bright future – it presents well, certainly the rooftop bar will be a major attraction – the food is getting there; waiters are friendly and professional and there is a nice selection of drinks. For me, a review of the chilli rating would not go astray, and the two house wines are best avoided.