Restaurant and food reviews from Perth, Australia

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Aquarium Chinese Restaurant, Ascot

Chinese food has long been offered according to its various specialties, and of course the common all-rounded Chinese restaurants.  From the simple Chinese takeaway to the local Chinese restaurant, the choice is aplenty.  A growing sector of the Chinese restaurant market seems to be the more upmarket Chinese, offering a more refined setting and service, as well as more carefully made and presented food.  Aquarium in Ascot is one of these restaurants and has earnt a reputation for being one of the better Chinese restaurants around.

Aquarium is a largish restaurant with lots of tables of varied sizes.  The decor and atmosphere is quite upmarket, with a big painting of an aquarium on one wall (no doubt the name of the restaurant had something to do with this), subtle blue dimmed down lighting, a full licensed bar, and relatively comfortable chairs.

The menu offers a large variety of dishes to choose from.  The cuisine consists of mainly Cantonese dishes, with a 'normal' menu and a menu behind the normal menu that is written in both English and Chinese.  These seem to be the more "Chinese" offerings as opposed to the mainstream local Chinese offerings.  In the menu, there is also a selection of banquets available for those who find it too hard to choose, or want their choices made easy based on the amount of people dining.

In line with the more upmarket feel of the restaurant, the service is attentive and well presented.

Duck with chestnut clay pot - $30.30

The dish consisted of (previously) roasted duck stewed in a clay pot with chestnut and garlic.  The roast duck was similar to the roast duck you get at Chinese roast duck eateries, but was then covered in sauce and the other ingredients and further cooked in a clay pot adding taste to the duck.  Similar in some ways to the casserole, the use of the clay pot seems to bring out and enhance the flavour of the dish that is done via the cooking technique and the use of the clay pot (rather than say stainless steel or aluminium).

Given the flavours and the cooking method, the dish was very tasty with a moderately thick coating of sauce which seemed to include something like oyster sauce, and the duck was also not dry at all with the sauce mixed through.  The sauce in particular was very tasty, though had a fair amount of salt.  However, the duck seemed to not have as fresh a taste as that you otherwise get from freshly prepared roast duck - perhaps due to the cooking method which when combined with the sauce made this a tasty dish overall. 

King prawn in shell with salted egg yolk - $35.20

This dish consisted of reasonable sized king prawns still in their shell but trimmed of parts like legs eyes and tentacles, and then coated in salted egg yolk and fried.  Despite the shells not being removed from the prawns, you could eat the whole prawns shell and all and even the head and tail if you wanted.   The dish is also garnished with a fair amount of parsley and decoratively cut carrot.

The king prawns were cooked about right with a slight crunchiness in the prawn meat.  The salted egg yolk, though having the powdery cooked egg yolk taste and texture added a flavour that was not too strong so didn't totally cover up the taste of the prawns.  Though not overly oily, the deep fried nature along with the egg yolk did make the dish a little heavy for me though quite a nice dish that was different to your norm.

Stir fried fillet steak with wasabi - $28.60

This dish consisted of pieces of fillet steak that were stir fried with vegetables including wasabi flavoured peas, baby corn, cut pieces of snow peas, mushrooms, carrots and water chestnuts.  The sauce was a slightly creamy sauce that had an Asian style savoury flavour as well as a very mild wasabi taste.

The steak was very tender like many Chinese restaurants that the flavour of the steak somewhat seems different to normal tender steaks.  Adding to the tenderness, each piece was slightly varied in how much each piece was cooked but many pieces were cooked at around medium or medium rare from the look of the redness inside.  The dish was also tasty and the wasabi added a nice mild flavour to the dish that made it more exciting.

The dish was also garnished with a fair portion of parsley and decoratively cut carrot.

Fo shan chicken (whole) - $36.90

The dish was a whole deep fried chicken accompanied with a vinegary dipping sauce and garnished with parsley and decoratively cut carrot (yes, again).

The chicken was not dry, with the breast pieces also being not as dry as many other fried chicken dishes.  However, a few pieces had a bit of red on the bones.  The skin was slightly crispy, and the sauce provided seemed to be a mixture of Chinese vinegar with soy sauce, and cut spring onions, garlic and chilli.  The sauce was provided in a separate bowl with a small spoon that was generous and had a strong vinegar and garlic taste, and the chilli was relatively mild so you could still taste the flavours of the other ingredients well.

English spinach with chicken stock and double egg - $23.70

This was a vegetable dish where you get to choose from a variety of vegetables and match it up with a sauce.  There are quite a few vegetables on offer from broccoli to gai lan, whilst the sauces vary from simple Asian condiments to XO and other more fancier sauces.

The English spinach in this dish was cooked through making it soft.  The chicken stock was a very tasty chicken broth that had a strong colour.  There was a fair amount of egg that seems to have been added to the to the soup and was cooked through.  The dish also had century egg and reasonably large chunks of chopped garlic.

In summary, Aquarium offers some pretty tasty Chinese food in a refined atmosphere.  The service is also polite and well presented.

Points to note: Chinese food that's set well above your local Chinese takeaway.  Good reputation for a good overall Chinese restaurant.  Fully licensed.
Go for:  More upmarket and tasty Chinese food in a modern, relatively refined atmosphere.

Aquarium Chinese Restaurant
202 Great Eastern Highway
Ascot WA 6104
(08) 9478 1868

Trading Hours
Lunch - Tuesday to Saturday: 11:30am to 2:30pm
Dinner - Tuesday, Wednesday, Sunday: 4:30pm to 9:30pm, Thursday to Saturday: 4:30pm to 10:30pm

Aquarium Seafood Chinese Resturaunt on Urbanspoon

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