by Mei Leong
Prawn and chive dumplings.
Before my cousin’s current life as a dentist, he worked in a dim sum restaurant. He’s our inside man for our favourite style of brunch, so when he said Imperial Court’s egg tarts were fabulous – even more so than his own, which is no small feat – we were there with bells on.
Imperial Court is in Como, located close to the roar of the freeway. I’m going to risk falling into a stereotype but I love not having to pay for parking.. Yet there are too many suburban Chinese restaurants serving crap, soggy, pre-made dim sum. But it’s a different case here. Even the decor is refreshing. Instead of aging Oriental paintings and tanks of exhausted fish, it’s modern, airy and clean. (And by some small miracle for Perth, even the service is great.)
Let’s start off with some favourites. The siew mai of prawn and pork were just how they should be – straight out of the steamer, plump and slightly chewy. Looking at the toppings they’re definitely not the frozen sort. Each dumpling was garnished with flying fish roe and (what looked like) fiddlehead ferns.
Siew mai (pork and prawn dumplings).
On the left are sticky rice wrapped in lotus leaf. In the background are the bean curd rolls.
Crescent shaped prawn and chive dumplings with glassy skins held together, so both filling and casing came out cleanly from the basket. They were delicate, pungent and served piping hot. Bean curd rolls filled with seafood paste were moist, swimming in a rich gravy. I usually don’t fancy bean curd rolls but this rendition is one I would repeat.
The century egg porridge came in a massive bowl – big enough for three people. If you’re curious to try century eggs (which contrary to belief are not cured in horse pee!), this porridge is a good starting point as it masks the egg’s faint metallic taste. The porridge was a little bland, but topped with spring onions and salty pickled radish, I thought it was homespun and wholesome.
Prawn rice flour rolls.
Shanghai soup dumplings (or xiao long pao) in some seriously good soup.
I’d skip over the (very) ordinary rice flour rolls for a bowl of Shanghai dumplings (xiao long pao) any day. These soup dumplings are usually steamed naked and more often than not lose their soup as they are being peeled away or punctured by an unlucky chopstick.
Not so this time! The soup dumplings are actually in a bowl of soup. (What a genius idea.) Ensconced in supple skin, fatty minced pork melts into the soup within. Then there is even more of the same divine soup in the bowl, with just a touch of ginger to offset the richness. I was slurping this soup like it was crack. (Definitely ordering this one again.)
Hot, hot , hot fried green tea dumplings with a filling of yellow mung bean paste.
Ping pong sized and hot out of the fryer, the green tea dumplings were a new discovery for us. The glutinous exterior was smooth, almost sticky, with a prominent green tea flavour. Inside is a sweet, grainy mung bean paste. It’s subtle, rich and simple – something dim sum fanatics will love.
Imperial’s mango pudding comes in a bowl that looks straight off the set of Mad Men. The normally sweet pudding is transformed by a layer of evaporated milk. Instead of being fruity, the pudding has an mild, almost cheesy flavour (I can already hear ‘ewww’). K really did not like it at all. If you want your mango pudding to stay sweet, order it without the milk. Well being a lactose intolerant I was all over it like white on rice, but reached my limits half way through the bowl. This is one rich dessert.
The cheesy mango pudding with a layer evaporated milk.
I reckon if you love dim sum, you are going to like Imperial Court. Being a relatively small restaurant, only the most popular dishes are wheeled around. The rest is ordered a la carte, which is an upside as the dish you want arrives at its peak instead of languishing in a trolley.
The chef is straight from Hong Kong, so there are a few unique (for Perth) dim sum dishes and less of the south east Asian influences, like satay squid. I just adored those Shanghai dumplings in soup and I’m really keen for round two. However, word is getting out. Good dim sum in the suburbs is like the holy grail of weekend breakfasts (there’s already a queue on weekends!), so keep it between us, will you?
125 Melville Parade, Como WA 6152
Open Wed – Mon lunch 11am – 2.30pm; dinner 5pm – 10pm
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