Restaurant and food reviews from Perth, Australia

Friday, October 28, 2011

Dragon Palace, Northbridge

Dragon Palace Chinese Restaurant reviews and photos; Dragon Palace dim sum reviews and photos
Dim sum has become an institution in Perth, with many restaurants to choose from and many of them being packed full of people on weekends further supported by queues at some of the more popular ones.  People who enjoy dim sum generally have a few or a single favourite they like to go back to time and time again.  Though personally I have found places in Hong Kong and even Sydney that have made me almost weak at the knees for dim sum, Dragon Palace has probably become one of the most well known for serving some of the best dim sum in Perth.

(I'm going to assume you know what dim sum is, otherwise think of it as a breakfast/lunch place that serves Chinese dumplings of all sorts where you get to pick and choose a variety of tapas like dishes to eat - generally sight-seen as you order them from waitperson manned trolleys that stroll up and down the restaurant)

Although Dragon Palace is a Chinese restaurant that offers typical Chinese cuisine (eg rice served with various Chinese sharing plates such as stir fries, deep fried dishes and steamed dish), it is most known for its dim sum.  Though if you're after something a bit different, Dragon Palace also has a late night karaoke bar upstairs - one I haven't been to, but one I can say I've heard some drunken tunes emanate from late on weekend nights.

Like most dim sum places, each dish is categorised into a size - a size which then corresponds to a price.  In Dragon Palace's case, this equates to: Small - $4.20; Medium - $4.90; Large - $5.60; XLarge - $5.90.  Sounds simple enough, and in a way similar to a sushi train with those coloured plates - and interestingly the "Dragon" chain of Chinese restaurants (which currently consists of three restaurants run by the same hard working family who started Dragon Seafood Chinese Restaurant many, many years ago) has recently branched out into a dim sum train under the Woodside bulding, offering the same quality of dim sum in the CBD.

Prawn dumplings - $5.60

These prawn filled dumplings, the first item listed on the written menu and one of the most popular dishes of dim sum, were pretty good.  The prawns, wrapped in a thin and light layer of rice flour pastry that didn't distract from the filling, were crunchy and overall seasoned mildly.

Inside the siu mai (left - and see below) and prawn dumplings (right)

The dumplings were a moderate size and all up, each dumpling was like a bite sized burst of prawn goodness with hints of sesame oil.

Steamed crystal dumplings with scallop and sweet corn - $5.90

Similar to the prawn dumplings, these dumplings were steamed with a rice flour pastry enclosing the filling (it said with scallop but I mostly found prawns - unless we got the wrong one).  The dumplings were also topped with fish roe before steaming.

The filling, consisting largely of prawns, was also mildly seasoned, bringing out the inner seafood taste though the sweet corn kernels added further sweetness to the dish.  The taste was quite similar to the prawn dumplings above, but with a lighter taste and a tad less crunch.

Siu mai of prawn and fish roe - $4.90

The siu mai (or shumai), which is another very popular dim sum dish, was filled with mostly pork wrapped in a wonton pastry (perhaps the closest dish to the "dim sims" we get at other places including fish n chip stores).  Added to the pork filling was prawn, and the dumpling was topped with flying fish roe before being steamed.

With the pork and the heavier egg (as opposed to white rice flour) pastry these dumplings were meatier and less delicate than the dumplings above but felt more substantial in the belly.  The pork fat in the classic pork-lovers dumplings did help to keep the whole dumpling moist and gave it a slight crunch.

Chicken feet with spicy sauce - $4.90

I didn't actually try these - I am not a fan of chicken feet as the combination of chewy skin and fat flavoured with that pungent chicken feet taste doesn't really do much for me.  But don't let me stop you!

Steamed spare ribs in black bean sauce - $4.90

These fatty spare ribs (though not more fatty than the next dim sum/yum cha restaurant) were steamed with black bean and had a savoury taste mixed with a slight acidic taste.  Given they were basically chunks of meat on bone, you would expect this to be quite filling - but it isn't really.  This dish seems to be more about the flavours coming from the fatty pork, infused with sauces and flavours from the black bean, sour preserved vegetables and chilli.

Shanghai steamed dumplings in chicken broth - $5.60

These small steamed dumplings were dumplings surprises filled with a small amount of meat and soup-like chicken broth.  A little small compared to other Shanghai dumplings I have had before but nonetheless they were still enjoyable with each dumpling giving not only a pork filling but also a burst of well seasoned chicken broth that oozed into the mouth (as long as you manage to get the dumplings into your mouth without breakage and thus leakage of the chicken broth).  Quite unique really.

Bean curd rolls with oyster sauce - $5.60

These steamed rolls had a bean curd exterior enclosing a filling of pork mixed with some vegetables such as carrot and mushrooms.  This was then steamed with an oyster based sauce.

The bean curd exterior had a tofu like taste to it, only cooked and coupled with the sauce which for me made this tastier than any ordinary tofu.  The rolls, being largely a meat filling with a bean curd/tofu like wrapping, were in themselves meaty and dry so the sauce really made this dish all the much better.  By allowing the whole roll to be soaked in the sauce before eating, I have to say these rolls make an almost staple non-dumpling dim sum.

Chilli pepper squid - $5.90

Another extremely popular dish at many dim sum places is this chilli pepper squid dish.  Squid tentacles were battered and deep fried in this dish, and then tossed with the chilli pepper and salt seasoning.

Unfortunately the oil used to cook the squid in this dish seemed a bit unfresh - this caused the battered squid to have an unfresh oil taste with various flavours infused (which detracted from the core flavours of the dish and reduced the lightness of the batter), and the batter was not as crisp as it should have been.

Barbecue pork buns

Served on a plate of three, these barbecue pork filled buns were brown on top with a shiny sweet sticky glaze on top, sticky enough to be annoying on your hands.  Apart from the browned upper part, the dough was white and uniform, sweet, and a softer texture than your typical wheat bun.

Inside the bun, after consuming a large amount of bun and no meat as yet

The bun I had unfortunately was mostly bun and only a tiny portion of barbecue pork.  This spoilt my impression of this dish as most mouthfuls were just slightly sweet dough with sweet glaze.

We liked: The generally (and usually) high quality of the dim sum which has made this one of the most popular and talked about dim sum places in Perth.

We didn't like: The use of unfresh oil for the deep fried food on this occasion; given the prices, if you order a lot you can expect to pay a lot quite quickly; given how hectic it gets (especially on weekends) the service can get somewhat lacking.

Other things to note: The weekends are very busy - go early or expect to have a long wait before you are seated; licensed.

Dragon Palace
66 Francis Street
(08) 9228 2888

Trading Hours
Dim sum: Monday to Friday - 10:30am to 3pm; Weekends - 10am to 3pm
Dinner menu: 7 days - 6pm to late.

Dragon Palace Chinese Restaurant on Urbanspoon


Mans said...

Dragon palace is probably my favorite dimsum place.
My favorite is their coriander and prawn dumplings. Have you tried that before?
I don't enjoy chicken feet too. Have given it a go a few times but I just can't get past the feet thing! Haha. But also the taste and texture. But I must say the braising sauce is lovely. Nicer than the other restaurants. Not too sweet and sticky.
I agree about the squid. Theirs is always disappointing! And you can definitely taste the 'old' oil that they used to fry it. :/

Adrian said...

Hi Mans

I haven't tried those dumplings before - will have to next time on your recommendation.

For me the chicken feel is the taste and texture thing. It doesn't do a lot for me as whilst it can be tasty, it still has that pungent taste in it that I don't like (but I know others love).

Yeah it's disappointing about how you can get dishes that on some days are great and on others they are sub-standard. I remember going to the one in the CBD near Woodside and having a great deep fried prawn wonton dumplings with mayo, but a not so good squid rings.