So this is what they get up to on Saturday Lunch-times
Saturdays from 8 -12 I have the house to myself. I potter, do the drudgery, catalogue my beer-mat collection – all the usual solitary stuff. However, this Saturday Mr Wong and my sons invited me to see inside their world. They go to Kung Fu class, Piano lessons and worship at the temple of Target or Kmart (I’m far too English to do that, give me Argos any day) and before coming home they stop at the Collins Road Asian Enclave and eat at Bamboo.
Bamboo – Authentic Singaporean Cuisine. http://www.eatability.com.au/au/perth/bamboo-willetton/map.htm
Now, I go through phases where I can take or leave SE Asian cuisine. I have had more than the fair share alloted to most White Girls and I am very picky about what kind of places I will eat in. For me, the aroma of chicken broth or the sight of a stack of ice cubes in an cold Kopi-Oh does not evoke the same misty-eyed frenzy which affects my husband. A bowl of Heinz Tomato Soup and some Mother’s Pride spread with Country Life would get me going, but I digress. Nor will I eat anywhere in which my forearms stick to the plastic table-cloth.
Bamboo is different. There are three locations; Perth CBD, trendy Subiaco and Asian-dense Willeton out in the ‘burbs. That’s where they go. This outlet is run by three Cantonese sisters from Christmas Island http://www.christmas.net.au/and furnished from Empire http://www.worldofempire.com/. It is stylish and spotless and bustling.
The menu is extensive but the men of my family almost always order the same thing: Wan Ton noodles, dry, with barbecue pork and Wan Ton noodles, dry, with crispy roast pork. Two iced Milos and an iced lemon tea. The Wan Ton are filled with a delicate pork mince and float in what I am told is the perfect chicken broth. The dry noodles get mixed in the soy sauce until they are perfectly golden brown. Everyone is very happy. This is the best food of this type in a 10km radius. The noodles, I am told by Mr Wong, are as good as the ones from the China Town markets in Sydney, only the one stall mind you and that was way back in 1993.
I chose Kway Toa flat rice noodles with beef, no egg. I first had this dish in the night markets in Sandakan, Sabah. Served in a plastic bag but none-the-less delicious because the great strength of these flat noodles is that they take on the taste of the wok like no other. As a consequence all the previous built-up layers and patinas of flavour and carbonisation and salt and oil from a properly seasoned wok are imbued on to their slippery surface. If the kitchen does not have an expert and fully focussed wok driver, then this dish will give the game away. Happily, Bamboo has just that.
My order comes out first. I get that smug grin which befalls the diner who knows they’ve made a top choice and I dress the dish with sliced pickled green chilis marinated in soy sauce.
For dessert, the men of my family make the short journey to the next door store and indulge in Korean Ice Lollies; flavours and colours that immediately take one back to being 8 years old, flavours and colours that have been outlawed in Europe for many years. My sons eat them in the back of the car on the way home. Shark fin shapes made with a tangerine-flavoured blue-grey ice shell with strawberry-flavoured red jelly inside. Wholly and utterly unethical on every level, and a right proper treat and no mistake.
I grabbed a selection of Korean crisps, drawn chiefly by the graphics on the packaging. I have little or no idea what they will taste like, but then that’s the fun of it.
We all arrive back home, and while the adults give their bellies an airing on the sofa the sons are on the trampoline at once. Strong stomachs and lots of stamina. Far more than I posses. I may go back to my pottering next Saturday and give my greed a rest. Oh, wait a minute, I ‘ll be in Bali next Saturday. (This post was originally written in December 2010 but is being used as a sticky for the duration of the Eat Drink Blog conference as a bit of biog background for Crackling. It will go back to the archives shortly)