Saturday, 19 May 2012

Golden Century

Golden Century Seafood Chinese on Urbanspoon
"Go make me a sandwich."

Luckily, I don't get that a lot. And not because I am not a woman, but most likely because people don't trust my cooking for some odd reason.

And when asked where women belong, you and I know we are most likely thinking of the same thing. Jokingly. But joke or not, we know we shouldn't domesticate the humble but miraculous woman, and associate her with all those C words -
Yet so, so courageous in the face of life's difficulties.

 It's a family tradition of mine to tackle the rowdy crowds of Dim Sum in Northbridge every year when Mum's Day comes around. With the restaurants bursting to overcapacity and people flooding out the door on weekends, it already looks like it's Mothers Day every single Sunday. Imagine the real Mothers Day. Floods turn into tsunamis.

The one day in the year when Mothers are acknowledged and treated like a real lady, and rightfully NOT told to go to her kitchen (where real ladies belong, apparently). I've grown up with a role reversal among my parents, with Mum never having resided in the kitchen.
So I've learnt my mother ain't a real lady.
My dad is.

Prawn & Pork Dumplings
After my whole table performed several loud renditions of table pounding, I think it finally came to the staffs attention that we weren't trying to get their attention but just keeping my never-grow-tired niece occupied with sound and movement.

The carbohydrate and protein feast to come started with baskets of plump and juicy prawn & pork siu mai dotted with balls of fish roe. Best eaten when popping hot and fresh, cause that's when they are moist and burn you with hot deliciousness.

Prawn & Scallop Dumplings
By the end of this post you will notice how very closely the term Dim Sum is just another synonym for prawn dumplings.

Yeah, I know, not quite true. But if you have a prawn allergy you probably won't be able to eat over half the items available! I'd be bawling my eyes out in the corner.

I am quite partial to these silky white and smooth babies, delectable in appearance and taste. A luxurious mouthful of seafood featuring the bouncy texture of prawns, sweetness of scallop juices and mini pops of fish roe wrapped in a slightly chewy transparent dumpling skin. Fit for a queen. I.e. fit for me :)

Chicken Feet
I actually loved these when I was a little toddler but I have now grown out of chicken feet. I now have normal feet. However I have yet to grow out of a little toddler's size. Sigh! Some things just never change, while other things change too quickly.

Everyone should eat feet at least once. It's probably not something you'd imagine yourself drooling over or craving, unless you have a foot fetish...Ugh.

But forget that a chicken once used these to run around and embrace the taste of something that has been braised in a savoury black bean, slightly sweet and garlicky sauce, and now you'll just be spitting out bones that have now been sucked dry, instead of being grossed out by a foot.

Deep fried Crab Meat Dumplings
It should be a sin to serve these cold, or to re-fry them when they are cold and serve them up again as "freshly fried". But when they are indeed freshly fried without the quotation marks, crab meat dumplings are quite yum. Just like every other deep fried until golden brown item.
Everything should be deep fried. That's probably what the person who came up with deep fried Mars Bars thought as well.

Golden triangles that are sort of reminiscent of the humble hash brown, these are also white inside with the springy texture of crab meat. Now, I don't know how much of that crab meat is ACTUALLY crab meat, and how much more I'm inclined to call these Crab meat flavoured dumplings.

But coated with an exterior of crunchy golden batter, nobody cares that it contains little crab (or none at all).

Prawn Dumplings
Nobody goes to Dim Sum without consuming these. NOBODY! It's become so standardised that any Westerner can say har gow as fluent as if they are fully Asian. It's beautiful how food can transcend through all cultures while languages is a bit hard to.

A blanket of clear smooth dumpling skin with crinkled edges tightly hugs mounds of juicy prawns - it's a perfect, snugly fit. And the way your mouth wraps around these dumplings is also a perfect, snugly fit.

I used to always refer to these as tripe until I did a Google search and was exposed to images that differed from these. Honeycomb tripe is in fact another Dim Sum dish (you want it? Dim Sum's got it!) but is quite different to these. Honeycomb tripe gives a lot softer chew and their "honeycomb" appearance means it absorbs a lot more juices.

So I've learnt a new word - omasum. No doubt (well, some doubt) that these also come from somewhere inside a cow but better looking than most offal. Texture wise, they're a bit like...fabric. (WHAT?)

They look a bit spiky but they aren't, and gives a "hard chewiness" as opposed to the "soft chewiness" you get from, say, a tendon. And by now I know I'm not even making sense so you just gotta embrace all animals (and their insides) and give it a shot yourself.

Deep fried Meat Dumplings
Quite literally, these are salt water dumplings. Thankfully, they are not full on salty and do not have an oozy liquid centre (unfortunately). Instead, they are like deep fried savoury Mochi balls, with a contrasting texture of crispy skin coating with another layer of chewy, sticky, glutinous skin.

Their centres consist of a filling of minced pork meat, sometimes among other ingredients like Chinese mushroom. As with all encased items of food, they become volcanoes with dangerously hot molten lava centres. But delicious molten lava you'd run towards, instead of bolting your life away from!

Egg Custard Tarts
And while I'm on the subject of delicious molten lava centres, here are some pods of golden lava. They are so beautifully made, with silky smooth and wobbly custard centres baked into multi-layered tiers of flaky, aromatic, buttery pastry bowls. A lustful cocktail of intense taste and textural sensations in a much loved Hong Kong delicacy, baked fresh from the kitchen.

On every visit whenever she steps into this restaurant, my mum makes a point to 1). Physically go up to the waiters, 2). Call the waiters over, 3). Tell every waiter who comes within her vicinity to "Leave 3 plates of Egg custard tarts for me for later!" And then 4). Remind every waiter that she has told them to save her 3 plates of egg custard tarts.
Poor waiters. They suffer the same nagging as I do.

So like, you can sort of tell from this maniac obsession of hers, that they must be quite alright, right?
Apparently she reckons they serve the best egg custard tarts. It was a nice gesture that they charged us 2 plates and not 3 when they dropped and hence served us 1 less egg tart. Like a touch of liquid sunshine,they're so warm to look at and touch. I'd much prefer eating than walking on sunshine oh ohhh! :)

Layered flaky goodness
Just a tad closer so it's easier for you to grab one straight through your monitor ;)

And close-up shots to get your heart pumping and mouth salivating. And downing a few of these would probably get your cholesterol levels pumping equally as much too.

Beef Tendon
Something you'd expect to be fibrous and tough, but instead is braised until soft and a little chewy. Mum has teeth of steel and loves hard stuff - i.e. chewing on bones. Yes I'm serious and no that wasn't a joke.

As such, I'm so used to and have taken a liking to tendon being cooked so that they are still hard but give a good chew. These are much softer and people probably like them more done this way, but to me it feels like I'm eating heavily flavoured baby food.

Egg Custard Buns
These are a favourite amongst many and funnily enough, if you put on a serious stern face and tell someone they can eat the paper underneath, they do actually believe it. And then proceed to eat it right in front of you.

I was in year 9 when a teacher came in with these buns and distributed them to the class and told everyone the paper was edible, only to hear sounds of PUH! later on when it proved a bit difficult to swallow. Teachers. Always a reliable source of information.

Perfect white circular spheres of fluffy bun-ny goodness, served steaming hot in wooden steamer baskets. Many people peel off the layer of skin formed on the bun itself, but that used to be my favourite part of the bun. Stupid me. Hated animal skin but loved bun skin.

Egg Custard Bun - Innards
So here we go again with the pool of golden surprise when you rip the bun in half. Now, this really CAN burn. I mean, the others can burn, but boy this one can BURN.

Dim Sum has always had Custard buns with a soft, sort of solidified custard centre. In the past few years, I think it was Golden Century that introduced the revolutionary new bun that actually contained a fully LIQUID centre that pours out from the interior. I was in love for a long time.

Namely the "Flowing Sand Bun" in direct literal translation, the centre holds a vivid and bright puddle of gold, a buttery mixture of salty yet sweet egg yolk and salted egg. Things have changed and the filling size varies, now with an added gritty texture (just slightly). Maybe to fit in with the whole "golden sand" theme.

Prawn Rice Flour Rolls
Yet another prawny dish, featuring pretty much the same ingredients as the Prawn dumplings but in different form and shape. Cause you should embrace everything, in all shapes and sizes.

Whole prawns are rolled into sheets of soft flour with a sweet soy sauce poured over them after they are served to your table, so that they don't prematurely get soggy.

Deep fried Prawn Dumplings
Deep fried prawn wantons made me really happy as a kid. I enjoyed the crispy skin SO much more than the prawn fillings inside, as would any other kid, and maybe any other adult too.
The deep fried pastry is crinkled and it makes them that much crunchier.

These are always served with a side dish of a sweet and tangy mayonnaise for dipping, which is the standard sauce to have with these prawn dumplings at Dim Sum. It provides a contrasting, soothing and cooling effect to the (should be) very hot dumplings.

It creates an extra layer to comfort your tongue from the heat or to protect your fingers, dunk your fingers in the mayonnaise and THEN pick up the prawn dumplings. Get into it.

Pan fried Potstickers
I'm aware these aren't really referred to as Potstickers, but I will. Quite literally translated as "pan stick", these are like the Chinese version of gyoza. They both have the chewy exterior skin with edges sealed via crimping together and then pan fried on one/two sides until crispy and golden. 

Love the hard crispiness settled on the skins plus the generous filled insides of pork and chives. These savoury dumplings are served with a dish of red vinegar as dipping sauce. I tend to do without as sauce cancels out the crispy factor. They stick to the pan until that crispiness is reached and hence, quite originally, pan stick.

Chinese Doughnut Rice Flour Roll
We couldn't pass up a plate of this. We've learnt to pass up a plate of deep fried squid tentacles cause that simply doesn't excite us anymore but this still does.

If you're wondering what a chinese doughnut is, then I'm gonna be very useful and describe it as indescribable. I could simply say it's deep fried dough, but in reality it's so much more than that and tastes so much better than you're imagining right now.

It's pretty damn oily but it's cleverly and easily concealed and goes unnoticed by all that sweet soy sauce. The dough sticks are lovingly rolled into silky flour sheets and garnished with spring onions and salty morsels of dried shrimp embroidered into the silky smooth edible white fabric.
Tad pricier than most of the other dim sums.

Scallop & Prawn Dumpling
I know this is already featured somewhere up there,'s just so pretty!

Steamed Chicken Buns
Okay. I gotta admit, I was surprised and puzzled when Mother ordered this. It seemed a tad too ordinary but when I gave it a chance and decided to give it a try, I was surprised again by...just how ordinary they were. I beg them to differ.

The pie version of this is a lot nicer, with fine chicken mince and other ingredients encased by a buttery pie pastry, resulting in something like a mini dim sum pie. Sure BBQ pork buns have their fame, but I'm not dazzled by them. So I'm even less dazzled by their chicken counterpart.
Not bad, but just not interesting.

Chicken Bun - Innards
See? Exciting?

Chicken pieces in a bun.

Steamed Fish Balls
I had a sudden craving for balls. Fish balls, to be exact.

So we called a basket of steamed balls. They're less bouncier than the smaller ping pong sized fish balls you commonly see, but bigger in size. Composed of fish paste, they taste more fishy than the aforementioned fish balls - not the bad fishy smell and taste but the actual seafood taste.

They sit on a base layer of soft bean curd skin that has sat there quietly soaking up all the juices the fish balls have to offer, and become so sweet as a result. Nothing satisfies quite as much as big white fluffy balls!


If you're craving Dim Sum, Golden Century is a safe place to satisfy those weekend/weekday/everyday cravings. Parking is a pain in the ass, which results from being in such a central location in the Northbridge hub, Perth's well known but also well-known-for-all-the-wrong-reasons entertainment precinct. It also sits perfectly opposite a particular...well known park in Northbridge too. Well known location in a well known location. You can't miss it. It's so well known.

Many of the Dim Sum restaurants go by that identity by day and dish up an entirely different dinner menu when the sun goes down. This place is one of them. But their Dim Sum menu is a good variety, with the typical dishes and a variety of others, but not the level of creativity as I see what Sydney and Melbourne are offering yet :( The prices are as expected and they don't skimp on portions, with well cooked food and not a bland dish in sight nor taste.

Decor is simple and practical. We were a bit disappointed to hear that much of the foods had run out as a result of our terrific plan to come a bit later than peak lunch hour so that we didn't die in the mass crowds. Genius no more.
But that way I guess we received more attentive service and food was served hot because a). It was cooked to order for us or b). It was freshly reheated. I guess that's still okay, cause food wasn't cold from doing rounds on the dining floor when it was full house.

While I can't fault much, there is one pressing thing that irks me to no end. One thing, but a big thing to me, as it is a continuing occurrence and not just a once off. What's one thing that everyone is sensitive about?
$$$. And out of curiosity I once calculated the bill before we take it to the counter to pay and it came up much greater than I'd calculated (but still <$10 difference. Still). Mistake maybe. But is it still a mistake if it happens once, twice, 3 times after that? And we get told that we are not getting charged for tea too. As much as I am unwilling, I doubt the honesty and I hate the feeling of being unable to trust.

On a brighter side, even though staff are worked flat out, some of their politeness really shone out as something different to me. Empty steamers were collected briskly, teapots were refilled and requests were answered to swiftly and with a smile, which is hard to get nowadays. Asked a staff for 2 pots of tea and these were placed on the table literally 2 seconds after by another staff.

Ok, they were efficient, but that was probably a result of my dear Mother telling every waiter to "please give us 2 pots of tea" en route from the entrance to her seat.
Deja vu? Nope. That's my Mother for you. Persistent as hell. That's probably how she got Dad.

I hope every single Mother in the world over had a lasting, loving and enjoyable Mothers Day.
You deserve every bit of it.
And if you aren't a Mother, treat your Mum like one!


  1. From memory (like 2006) Prawn Rice Flour Rolls were Jo's favourite. Yes, that's how long it's been since I went Dim Sum with you lot. I think that needs to change. Agreed?

    1. Was I invited back then? Because I have no memory of that whatsoever :S
      Yeah agreed. When should we change :P

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So what did you eat today?

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