by Mei Leong
There’s nothing better than a cup of tea first thing in the morning. Especially if that cup of tea happens to accompany a dim sum dumpling… With that in mind, we head into Northbridge for our dim sum fix. As we pass the (presumably hung over) students hanging out at Dome, gluttons of Old Shanghai and Kosta’s gang of regulars and old timers, it brings to mind that the more things change, the more they stay the same in Northbridge.
However, as we approach the site of the now departed Oriental Inn, it appears indeed, a change is a-coming, especially for the William Street area. Despite the relative calm of the streets, New Moon was absolutely hustling, chaotic, the air ringing with the cacophony of conversation. Exactly everything you’d want to see in a dim sum restaurant on a weekend morning.
According to the sign on the door, New Moon is the infamous Hoi’s Kitchen, reincarnated. I never stepped foot into Hoi’s so I can’t compare, but what we found was surprisingly decent (and clean – Hoi’s was infamous for a reason…). The restaurant is small and serviced very well by two steaming trolleys. This means you get your food, fast. The waiters also simply shout across the room to place orders, so by default, the service is quite efficient!
Pork spare ribs and prawn and coriander dumplings to the front. At the back (barely visible) were the excellent prawn and scallop dumplings.
The benchmark of any dim sum restaurant – siew mai pork and prawn dumplings.
The distinctive, square baskets, (besides being stylish) retain heat really well and as a result everything trolley-wise was served appetizingly hot. Besides temperature, most of the dim sum appear handmade – which is a rarity – not from frozen stock (well, not from any we’ve seen previously) and exceedingly fresh. So with that, let’s start shall we?
Rare was the dumpling skin that pulled away from its filling and the prawn and scallop dumpling was no exception. Chunks of real prawn (not filler!) with actual visible pieces of chopped scallop lay within the taut, translucent skin. A touch of sesame oil would not have gone astray, but that’s just nit picking an excellent dumpling.
The same goes for the pork ribs whose savoury, oily sauce would have benefited from a few more black beans – however the serving was generous and conveniently, mostly boneless.
The old fashioned favourite dim sim, siew mai, was meaty, tender and still juicy from the steamer. A benchmark of any dim sum house, the siew mai was a more than passable rendition, especially when doused with chilli oil (which seems to make everything taste better).
Left to right: pork spare ribs, prawn & spring onion dumplings and prawn and coriander dumplings.
Another stand out were the open prawn and (what looked like) spring onion steamed dumplings. Chunks of firm prawn are ensconced in the open topped dumpling and spiked with slivers of greenery that draped every mouthful with a slight garlic fragrance. From the bright greens to the supple filling, this dumpling is a delight. Definitely one (or three) to order.
The chopsticks skill testers of the yum cha world, the Shanghai soup dumplings (xiao long pao) were incredibly more-ish. If lucky enough not be punctured in transit, the delicate dumpling’s reward is hot soup gushing out (in your mouth – not the table!), followed by soft, pliable dough skin. They’re served with a saucer of red dumpling vinegar, a lovely acid that cuts through the fattiness of the pork filling and the silky broth.
Prawn rice flour rolls.
Obviously with hits come misses. The rice flour rolls were disappointing, void of smooth, glossy texture. I also found the porridge very watery and not cooked for nearly long enough, but that’s probably personal taste. However it did at least have some visible dried scallop floating around, so there’s potential there.
Always on the lookout for an interesting/different dim sum dish, we ordered the almond crusted prawn patties. What came out was a glorified prawn nugget, but the kicker were the almonds that were fabulously toasty, crunchy and oily, so in contrast, they were actually quite nice.
Almond crusted prawn patties.
Steamed custard buns. Can’t quite see it here, but the skin of the buns were mangled and puckered – but what was inside more than made up for appearance.
The custard buns, despite their slightly mangled appearance, were surprisingly excellent! Elegantly sized, each bun was light and fluffy, with a killer filling lying in wait. The custard had ample sweetness to punctuate the yeasty bread and was smooth and strongly scented with vanilla. Just goes to show you should not judge a dim sum by its cover.
If you need to get in and out quickly, New Moon’s the ticket; with their high turnover and efficient service you’ll get your quick fix of dumplings and be satisfied at the end. For comparison’s sake, It’s not quite Dragon Palace but it’s definitely better than Emma’s. Even better, they are open on Friday and Saturday nights for dim sum. That’s right people, dim sum – at night!! (My god, Perth is finally coming of age. Deep breaths.) So, get down to James Street and go crazy for some square basket lovin’. Even at night.
New Moon Dim Sim Day & Night
63 James Street, Northbridge WA 6003
T: (08) 9328 8720
Tue – Sun 9.30am – 3pm, Fri – Sat 6pm – 10pm. Closed Mondays.
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