dim sim cafe – northbridge
On the name alone, I wouldn’t have given Dim Sim Cafe a shot. I mean, who in their right mind would name an authentic dim sum eatery after the dim sim!? If I didn’t know any better, it seems to be a gimmick to get customers more familiar with the overblown cousin of the siu mai through the door. Alas, word of mouth caught up with me and before I knew it we were at Dim Sim Cafe for lunch (I get the shivers every time I say that name, it’s so unauthentic. Maybe I’m too much of a traditionalist).
This place is really popular – I even got a word of mouth recommendation as we were waiting for our table! A friend saw us waiting on William St and rang me up, urging me to try the egg tarts!
Dim Sim Cafe (shiver) is a fairly small restaurant as far as dim sum places go. True to its name, it is cafe style, so it’s modern and minimalist, with square tables being separated and joined according to the size of parties. Large parties would have to wait a while for enough customers to clear before they get a table. Initially the service was a bit slow, we had to wait awkwardly in the entrance for a minute or two before someone noticed and gave us a number. We waited 15 minutes for our table and were seated while the table was being cleared of the last customer’s mess.
Two slim steaming trolleys made their way to us and had the Perth-dim-sum standard fare. We ordered the siu mai, har kow, prawn and chive dumplings, spare ribs, bean curd rolls and shanghai dumplings. The siu mai (otherwise known as a dim sim) was chunky and a bit rough in texture but tasty nonetheless. The har kow dumpling pastry was silky and a little thick but not sticky at all (therefore no naked dumplings!). Inside was a filling of chopped fresh prawns with chunks of heady garlic. Impressive but too much garlic for me.
The prawn and chive dumplings were a let down. The pastry was gluggy, thick and very sticky. The prawns and chives inside were ‘loose’ and did not plump up the dumpling leaving them looking sullen. On the upside, this place might have the best spare ribs since Genting palace – but to their credit they used actual rib pieces and the sauce was delicious – making the task of chewing around the cartilage even more enjoyable.
The shanghai dumplings were really good – like a lot of shanghai dumplings served in Perth they looked very much like the ready made frozen variety. But they had been steamed with care as the petite peaked pouches were brimming with broth. When biting into the dumpling, soup rushes out, with the pork filling hitting the palate after. However they did not serve vinegar with the dumplings which would have taken them to a sublime level.
The Dim Sim Cafe’s specialty dish is the squid tentacles. Ask any Dim Sim cafe fan about the squid tentacles and a raving review will ensue. The squid tentacles are liberally coated in salt and pepper batter and garnished with chopped green chilli and spring onions. I don’t know their secret ingredient (maybe MSG! lol) but the squid was really delicious. The combination of crispy, tender squid, fresh garnish and being extremely well seasoned works excellently.
Noticeably I didn’t see many other specialty dishes being offered – I think they have to be ordered straight from the kitchen. I did spy a large dish of glutinous rice or carrot cake fried with prawns that did look promising. They also had one of my favourites – glutinous rice rolls with deep fried dough. However most customers ordered from the trays and trolleys. The waiters rarely missed a trick and due to the size of the restaurant, food circles the diners frequently. The waitresses speak both chinese and english which attracts a Western crowd into the cafe. From our arrival to the time of departure, there was always a small queue outside of the cafe so be prepared to queue if you want to give Dim Sim Cafe a go.
The service here is exceptionally quick and polite and I think that’s a big attraction here. There’s not much to fault with Dim Sim cafe but it isn’t exceptional either. Besides the queueing, nothing tainted our experience, yet it wasn’t especially memorable. I’m sitting on the fence with this one – it wasn’t as bad as it could have been – but Dim Sim cafe’s food could be a lot better. The food here reminds me of Emma’s in Vic Park (another place which gets rave word of mouth reviews) but slightly better in terms of taste and quality.
I sound like a dim sum snob right now, but I prefer dim sum to be delicate and have more variety. This is certainly no subsitute for Dragon Palace, but at the price point and service level, I’m not complaining.
Being the former Hoi’s kitchen, their food caters for a certain crowd – those looking for cheap, cheerful and reliable dim sum – and I can definitely see the attraction. Dim Sim cafe makes a good alternative to any other dim sum establishment in Perth and it definitely has carved out its niche (and fan base) on the Perth scene.
– 13 egg tarts out of 20 –
Up’s: Egg tarts, spare ribs and squid tentacles. Very accessible to the public, no cultural barrier to overcome.
Down’s: The seating is squishy. Noisy. Due to the size of the cafe, the wait time for a table can be eons.
Dim Sim Cafe, 297 William Street, Northbridge WA 6003
T: (08) 9328 9388
Monday – Friday 9.30am – 3 (Wednesdays CLOSED)
Saturday – Sunday, Public holidays 9am – 3
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