Years ago, on William Street, Northbridge close to the train station was a restaurant called Tak Chee that was a favourite amongst many including students for its relatively cheap and yet tasty Hainanese chicken rice. The original owners sold Tak Chee and the Hainanese chicken rice was never the same and the restaurant eventually shut down. However, in recent times a new Tak Chee opened in Northbridge on the northern side of William Street claiming that the original Tak Chee (or the original chef) is back.
A while back I thought it was worth a try to see if the Hainanese chicken rice was worth going for.
Tak Chee serves Hainanese chicken rice as well as a range of other Asian dishes that have a Penang influence. These dishes include stir fried rice and noodle dishes, curry laksa, and rice and meat dishes. The meals seem to range on average from $9 to $12. Tak Chee also sells ice kachang (a sweet dessert generally made from shaved ice and various toppings and syrups).
Tak Chee is not a large restaurant, with maybe only just over a dozen or so tables that seat about 2-4 people each. There are many signs (and some photos) up on the walls displaying various dishes on offer as well as specials only available on certain days. The atmosphere is pretty typical of a casual Asian restaurant, with simple tables and chairs, simple and fast service, a casual atmosphere, and a large proportion of Asian customers.
Hainanese Chicken (half) - $12
Hainanese chicken rice is generally a dish of a chicken boiled in a special chicken and pork stock , served with rice cooked with a chicken stock, and a side soup.
Although the menu contains Hainanese chicken rice as a one person meal for $9, we opted for the $12 half chicken and to get rice separately. Chicken rice (see below) is an additional $2 per bowl.
The chicken comes out largely deboned, on a bed of cooked bean sprouts, topped with shaved spring onion and covered in a sweet soy based sauce and a bit of oil. It is accompanied with a separate serve of chilli sauce that is not very hot but adds a tasty garlicky chilli sauce to dip the chicken in. The chicken itself seems fresh, and is very moist, tender and tasty, especially in the non-breast parts. The chicken has the flavour of the chicken stock from the boiling process, as well as the added taste that comes with the soy based sauce. The skin of the chicken is also very tasty, moist, and a bit jelly-like but not fragile.
Chicken rice (i.e. the rice served with Hainanese chicken rice) is generally rice cooked with a special chicken stock substituted for water, as well as some oil. Tak Chee's chicken rice comes out flavoursome with that tasty chicken taste to it, but if the taste is not enough (or if you just want even more flavour) you can add more of the soy from the chicken as well as the chilli sauce. If you do have Hainanese chicken rice, this chicken rice is pretty much a must have over plain white rice.
Along with the chicken rice a small bowl of soup is served. This soup is quite flavoursome but is a light soup. All up, the elements of Tak Chee's Hainanese chicken rice make for a pretty tasty meal.
Assam Laksa - $10
The Assam Laksa is only available on weekends. I am told that Assam Laksa is a popular dish in Penang (and thus Penang being quite well known for its Assam Laksa) which is a noodle dish which is meant to have a sour, more fish based soup rather than the creamy, curry taste usually associated with a curry laksa.
The Assam Laksa is served with ingredients including half a boiled egg, shredded lettuce and cucumber, onion, pineapple, cut chilli, and mint. The noodles are thick rice based noodles that look similar in size and shape to spaghetti. Separately, in a small dish, a small amount of sweet runny oyster based sauce is served.
The Assam Laksa has a full flavoured soup with a sour but not (undesirable) 'fishy' taste and is reasonably chilli hot without being too hot. This presumably is partly due to the chillies added to the soup base during the stock phase, as well as the visible cut chillies mixed through the soup. However, from my memories of a trip to Penang in the past, the strength of the chilli isn't quite as hot as the ones I tried in Penang but I can see why that level of chilli isn't commonly served here.
The noodles themselves are quite simple and plain (but generally is covered with the taste of the soup), and in the bowl I had a touch on the soft side. The other ingredients added different textures and flavours to the dish with the mint being quite noticeable. Also, the pineapple pieces, being placed on top of the Assam Laksa after it has been cooked, retains its sweet and refreshing nature.
There are a few places around Perth that have their own version of Hainanese chicken rice. Tak Chee's Hainanese chicken rice is very tasty and seems to be cooked and served as a pretty good version for Perth standards, Coupled with a variety of other Penang influenced dishes, and reasonable pricing, Tak Chee makes for a reasonably tasty and casual meal out.
Points of note: Good, tasty and tender Hainanese chicken rice. Other traditional Penang/Malaysian dishes on offer.
Go for: Good, reasonably priced Malaysian food. Well worth a try if you like chicken rice or Malaysian dishes.
Tak Chee House
1/364 William Street
Northbridge, WA 6004
(08) 9328 9445
Lunch - Monday to Friday: 11am to 2:30pm; Saturday and Sunday: 11am to 3pm
Dinner - Sunday to Thursday: 5:30pm to 9pm; Friday and Saturday: 5:30pm to 9:30pm