Big Bowl, Happy Joy

November 11, 2007


This is Big Bowl, my latest Perth discovery. This place hasn’t been open long, and already you need to queue for a table at lunchtime. It’s so authentic that Kylie Kwong would be at a complete loss in here.

The hand-pulled noodles are made on the premises, and are the real deal. Just like being in China.

Big Bowl: William St, Northbridge, a few doors up from Good Fortune Roast Duck House. The three dishes pictured cost about $28.


Chun Po, on Glenferrie Rd, Malvern, is a new discovery. As you can see, it’s worth driving across town for.

The Peking duck san choy bao was super-fresh, with just the right ratio of water chestnut to duck. Importantly, the lettuce leaf was crunchy. The deep-fried garfish with chilli salt was another winner off the specials board. I like how they deep fry the fish’s head, too; this makes them look friendly.

And even though the usual moneyed, silver-haired Malvern locals hang about in here with big rocks on their fingers and newly pulled back faces, Chun Po is also a family Chinese restaurant. It’s cheap.


Vegetarian wonton noodle soup, Bo de Trai, Hopkins St. This dish is a classic, but the locals are ambivalent about it. They’re usually busy with the mock fish, or some other tomato-style noodle soup. Note the super-crunchy tofu skin, and the deep-fried wontons.

Favourite pho stop

July 5, 2007


Hung Vuong (136 Hopkins) is definitely one of the best places for pho in Footscray right now. They specialise in pho but are also masters of the vermicelli (pictured). This version comprises warm, tender grilled chicken (caramelised and crunchy on the outside), with sweet-chilli-vinegar sauce, thinly sliced fresh basil and lettuce, and carrot and cucumber. And, of course, fluffy vermicelli. The more you mix it up the better it tastes.


Here’s Sunday’s lunch in Red Hill, at Stillwater at Crittenden. Three courses go down very well after a few hours in the hot springs. The service was pretty good, too. Our waitress was competent, friendly, and efficient. But every time she came over to talk to us I couldn’t stop staring at her hair, her make-up, her whole get-up. She had moussed ringlets hanging down her forehead, and bronze eyeshadow slathered across her eyelids.

She was obviously from the country. For this reason, I judged myself to be superior to her.

Even D, usually free of any snobbishness, said, ‘I can’t stop staring at her fringe…’

I acknowedge that this prejudice is really bad. I must eradicate it.


I love listening in on people’s conversations. ‘Ears-dropping,’ as one of the guys on RRR said the other morning. And you can always rely on Lygon St for some bimbo-talk.

While I was waiting for D to show up in her ear-muffs and Hawaiian wedges with socks, riding her pink ladies bike, I listened to two women next to me. One, the brunette, was really dumb. The other one, the blonde, was much smarter, and was being very patient with the brunette. The brunette was wearing spray-on Tsubi jeans, thigh-high, high-heeled leather boots, and some black-knit wrap thing that probably cost $870.

Here are some things the brunette was confused about:

(1) Her monthly pay cycle. How does that work? The brunette had started a job in the middle of the month, and therefore was confused by how she would be paid monthly. The blonde patiently explained.

(2) Separate bank accounts. The blonde explained that she saved money by having another bank account not linked to her credit or EFTPOS accounts.

Meanwhile, behind the coffee machine, a five-year-old girl was standing on a crate making all the coffees. She was really efficient, and made a good short mac.

Here’s the low-down on home-bred asado.

Back in Melbourne

June 6, 2007


This is a variation of the traditional yam-based dumpling. As you can see, it only takes a few almonds and peas to transform a modest yam into a…duckling!

This is at the new Gold Leaf restaurant, Burwood Hwy, in the building that once housed one of the well-known Shark Fin restaurants.

Gold Leaf have a new direction, and I like it: yum cha is no longer exclusively Cantonese. It also comprises xiaolonglao (Shanghai steamer buns), guotie (Beijing-style panfried dumplings), and other Northern delicacies.


This is the best street food I’ve had in Shanghai. I don’t mean to trivialise the earlier xiaolongbao experience, but these babies are superior simply because they are fried.

Very similar to the xiaolongbao — dumpling-like, steamed, with hot, soupy stock secreted inside. And damn crunchy along the bottom.

All the other people around me were on their own, too. As if you just nip in here for a quick fix when no one’s looking. Everyone else skilfully slurped up the dumpling sauce before munching through the dumpling skin. I made much more mess.


I love it: In the middle of the Carrefour (the equivalent of Coles), they have a huge fresh dumpling section. Dumplings are dirt-cheap (though not quite as good as those off the street), and everyone’s thoroughly bored by the concept. Dumplings everywhere — whatever.

In the dumpling section I found these Peking duck take-away packages for about AUD3.40. As you can see, the serve is massive.

Sometimes the Chinese don’t know how lucky they are.