I’ve been in Western Australia for a couple of months, and in that time I’ve been lucky enough to come across all sorts of delicious Perth food. These are my Top 5 Perth food highlights as of the end of September, based purely on my dining experiences and what I’d recommend to other Perth visitors. I imagine the list will continue to expand as I munch my way round the city.
1. Lucky Chan’s, 311 William Street, Northbridge
Lucky Chan’s, a buzzing spot – decorated with washing machines and hanging laundry – was where I went for my first meal out in Perth, and on a recent visit I was reminded why it left such an impression. The crunchy crab bao is a thing of beauty – a flawless soft bun packed full of crispy crustacean, doused with thousand-island sauce. I could literally eat five of these in a row, while the ramen bowls make the top tier of those I’ve encountered in Perth. I was also very impressed by their extensive spirits range, while my girlfriend instantly declared her drink – top left corner of the list, from memory – “the best cocktail I’ve ever had”. Additionally, the staff could not have been friendlier, taking time out to give recommendations on sake and Japanese whiskey. Pro tip: sit on the end of the bar nearest the door, and witness the chefs dish up the desserts right in front of you. It’s like watching the Food Channel from two feet away.
2. Mary Street Bakery, 507 Beaufort Street, Highgate
Many Perth locals appear to be fully committed members of the brunch cult. This means the right cafe can guarantee excellent food and some quality people watching, and this well-established destination provides plenty of both. Mary Street Bakery’s black pudding defied regular adjectives to demand the word “silky”, while the vego option was so well-executed that crispy chickpeas and kale seemed like the best possible ingredients for a mid-morning plate. While I refrained from attacking the baked goods on my first trip, hazy images of the cheesecake and filled doughnuts continue to dance merrily through my daydreams. If you need a new hobby, it’s also a prime location to clock some of Perth’s more creatively attired hipsters.
3. Toastface Grillah, Grand Lane, Perth CBD
While I’d half-expected to find quality brunch and Asian options in Perth, one thing I was previously unaware of was the Aussie taste for toasties. They crop up on menus everywhere, but so far I’ve limited my custom to this highly popular lunch stop. I actually came for Toastface Grillah’s menu’s hip-hop-based puns, but returned due to the excellent coffee and top-notch toastie selection. The “Danny Zuccho” sees brie, marinated zucchini and prosciutto melted between bread that actually tastes of something (fennel, I think?) It’s lovely, and can be yours for a single-figure fee; a rarity for a Perth luncheon.
4. No Mafia, 189 William Street, Northbridge
You’ve had bad calamari, right? Sorry, rubbery hoops of limp white stuff, clad forlornly in soggy batter. Visit No Mafia and immediately banish those memories by ordering the squid with fennel. I’d never tasted the seafood staple cooked so well – full of flavour, and possessed of actual texture. I was similarly impressed by pork medallions that managed to achieve a sumptuous smokiness while remaining exceptionally tender, and a mortadella starter that would pass Tony Soprano’s taste test. The food, the trendy ambience and my impeccable table manners meant I didn’t actually take any pictures here, so you’ll just have to visit if you want to investigate the menu.
5. Palace Patisserie, stall Y124, Fremantle Markets
Freo’s Markets present a food fan with a bellyfull of decisions: so many delectable options, and such a comparatively limited amount of stomach space. To avoid at least one dilemma, Turk yourself over to Palace Patisserie’s open kitchen. Grab a seat and find yourself sprinkled with flour dust as one dedicated bloke continually rolls out huge sheets of filo, while another shimmies left and right, taking orders and dispensing tea. Out of this industry emerges “Ottoman Borek”: thin layers of soft pastry, cooked to a golden hue and perfectly spiced. The chicken version is great, but the spinach and cheese pairing is a masterpiece, the kind of thing that’s equally enjoyable at any time of day. You get a generous set of individually sliced squares for about $10, and it’s one of the best things I’ve tasted so far in Australia.