Sunday, 29 September 2013

Did not find love at Home Town's Kitchen

I tried to love this place, but you just can't force it...
Hometown Kitchen on Urbanspoon
If Perth in Western Australia is not your home town, you probably wouldn't be familiar with the ongoing feud between 'Northies' and 'Southies' about the better side of the river to live on. There's a great sense of pride for your own side of the river, but I (a lifetime North dweller) am one who often wishes I lived down under in our Land Down Under. There seems to be a severe lack of great local eateries up my end!

(If you think that's complete rubbish, or you know some neighbourhood gems, or you ARE the neighbourhood gem, please for the love of good food let me know!)
Home Town's Kitchen
As a complete case in point, I spied an advert for Home Town's Kitchen in the newspaper which immediately piqued my interest. I had high expectations as they gained a finalist position in SBS Feast's 2012 'Taste Global, Eat Local' Food Awards, a celebration of international cuisines. Last year's focus was to nominate the best places to find famous international dishes such as pho, gyoza, pad thai, baklava and a favourite I had to try here - curry laksa.

To cut straight to it, it was a disappointment. Every dish on the menu looked promising and the restaurant's furnishings were tastefully dotted around yet while I slurped the last strands of noodles into my mouth, I felt that this meal at Home Town's Kitchen was definitely not worth venturing 45 minutes away from home for.
Chicken Satay Sticks (2) - $4
I requested satay sticks, thinking this was a good way to test the waters of authenticity. It came halfway through our main dishes, and frankly they did not make me want to throw down my chopsticks and claw at these with my hands. The chicken satay sticks are fleshy, but here's a good example where quantity wins at the expense of quality - they're visibly dry and sadly not cooked via grilling as I had crossed my fingers and toes for. Sadly, not very impressed with the deep-fried batter, or the overall run-of-the-mill tasting satay chicken.
The satay sauce is not even its saving grace.
Hainanese Chicken Rice - $10.80
Home Town's Kitchen's Hainanese chicken rice is not on its normal menu and is only available to order on weekends. I was really looking forward to a plate of smooth, juicy serving of chicken only to be presented quite a dear plate of Hainanese chicken rice which fell direly short of my expectations. You are able to select either chicken breast or thigh with your order but even my thigh pieces were not succulent, and I found myself dreaming of biting into the chicken from Tak Chee (If you haven't heard the gossip, Perth's best Hainanese chicken rice probably resides here!)

What adds to the dish's mediocrity the most is the chilli sauce, which I feel more inclined to call a dish of water with chilli colouring added to it. Bland and flavourless; I'd regard it as being there purely for aesthetic appeal, not taste.
Tom Yum Mee Fun Soup - $9.80
The Tom Yum rice noodle soup that we ordered was a good level of spiciness with just the right acidity to make me keep drinking it. Home Town's Kitchen uses thin rice vermicelli, chicken, baby corn and tinned mushrooms, which I actually adore. However in comparison to the memorable Tom Yum that I ordered from the Malaysian Hawker store at the Cambridge Forum International Food Court, that certainly comes out as the victorious one of the two.
Seafood Curry Laksa - $12.80
The moment the curry laksa was set on the table was the moment my anticipation had been building up to the entire meal. The vibrant, vicious looking colour of the soup was a good indication of the spiciness factor of the laksa, which was setting off alarm bells for Andy, who orders Lemon and Herb basting from Nando's, because even the Mild option is too much for him. Even I had tiny beads of sweat on my nose as I slurped up the egg noodles, with minimal soup intake.

I'm used to a milder laksa, but I'm sure this would be a winner with chilli fiends who can't get enough of the stuff in their food. I enjoyed the variety of ingredients used in the laksa; an assortment of seafood including prawns, squid, fish, fish paste, deep-fried tofu and a hard boiled egg.
Claypot Yee Mee - $10.80
Being overwhelmed with the extensive choice of dishes available from the menu, we asked our waitress for her recommendations and suggestions on their specialty dishes, or the dish that was most popular with the customers. We went with her suggestions and ordered the claypot yee mee, which came out boiling hot, the sauce spitting and bubbling in all its glory.
Immediate thoughts: How big is this thing!
We gave the egg yolk a good stir into the noodles and sauce, which was quite abundant. Another thing we thought there was a lot of was salt - the sauce was slightly salty and we couldn't get away from it as a thick layer of it coated every strand of noodle in the claypot.
The noodles ended up being unfinished, but I did scoop out every piece of chicken, mushroom, baby corn and broccoli that were all liberally coated with the brown sauce. I have to admit, the sauce got sickening towards the end of the meal - too much of something is not always a good thing!
On the walls in this home town
Upon stepping into the restaurant, the first thing that striked me besides how spacious the interior was, were the walls. There was a comforting, cluttered feel about them, being decorated with different sized picture frames, paintings, shelves with flower vases and empty wine bottles and a beautiful vintage looking clock that I would much rather have in my own room!

What wasn't particularly striking was the food, which to me had more misses than hits. There are other places for good tasting, good value Malaysian dishes if South of the river is your preference, especially with the popularity of Malaysian cuisine in Perth in general.

I spied their dessert selection, which seems to be full of yummy options such as banana/pineapple fritters, red bean pancake and bubur cha-cha, a Malaysian dessert consisting of coconut milk, sweet potato, yam and tapioca pearls. My brain shouted YES but my belly cried out no, so if you get around to trying it, I'd love to know your opinion :)
Ample seating
Before we left, we were given a card which works like their loyalty system: Collect ten stamps to get 10% off your 11th bill. But the catch is, you must spend over $50 to receive a stamp, meaning you would have spent over $500 to get $5 off - a considerable amount spent on dishes if you ask me!

I tried to love this place, but you just can't force it - love's got to come in the form of great food.
My opinion aside, Home Town's Kitchen seems to be doing well on the foodie forefront, serving up Malaysian dishes that's winning taste buds over. To me, Malay cuisine is my go-to happy food; it's good, it's value and most importantly it's delicious, and it's enough to put a smile on my face :)
Home Town's Kitchen, Parkwood
Lunch: 11am - 2.30pm
Dinner: 5pm - 10pm
Closed Tuesdays

Chinese tea $1 per head, minimum charge $3.50
BYO Beer and soft drinks: $1 per head
10% surcharge on public holidays

(08) 94578889
Parkwood Shopping Centre, 6/78 Vellgrove Avenue, Parkwood WA 6147


  1. How disappointing! I'd been thinking of coming here to try the laksa but there's some others on my wishlist I might go to first :)

    1. I was really quite disappointed with this place. Let me know where the best laksa is!

  2. You caught my attention with you photo of Hainanese chicken and then I read further to hear how disappointing it was! What a shame! :(

  3. Seeing you post this, it has been awhile now that I have not gone there. But I have to agree with you, that if I were to drive 45 minutes, there are so many other better chinese places around that would be better or on par with Hometown Kitchen.

    I also heard that there is a place up north that serves some bad ass Peking duck!

    1. I'm not in a hurry to go back to this place. Want to recommend me some bad ass hawker places to go Weny?!


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