How did these Xiao Long Bao stack up?
Ever since our visit to Sydney last year, I’ve been a girl on a mission – to find Perth’s best Xiao Long Bao (also known as soup dumplings, or Shanghai dumplings). My favourites in Sydney were from the well-known chain, Din Tai Fung.
So when I realised I still hadn’t eaten at one of Perth’s newest dim sum joints, New Moon, I decided it was worth checking out. Two birds, one dumpling (or several).
To test the waters, J and I quickly pounced on a steamer basket of one of our favourites – Char Siu Pau (steamed pork buns).
We were both pleased to find that New Moon’s sweet-salty barbecue pork filling was generous, with a sticky sauce that was used conservatively.
There’s nothing worse than breaking open a steaming Char Siu Pau and finding the filling is all binder and no substance.
Our next target was four plump, juicy Siu Mai (steamed pork dumplings). I hear you asking, ‘where’s the fourth? I only see three!’ …. well, you’ll have to ask J.
I was immediately impressed with these, because they also included large chunks of fresh bursty prawns. The wanton wrapper outer layer was a little thick and chewy, but as a result, held the dumpling together well.
New Moon might just take the cake for Perth’s most impressive chee cheong fun (rice flour roll) plating. The tablespoon above is included for scale!
This version, known as Zha Leong, features rice flour rolls cloaked around Yar Chow Kuey (also known as You Tiao), the crispy fried ‘bread’ sticks usually eaten with Chinese rice porridge.
Yar Chow Kuey are one of my favourite things in the world, so it’s no suprise this double carb mash up appeals so much to me.
But though I’m a die-hard fan of this combination, there was one element of this dish that could either make it or break it – the rice flour rolls.
The ultimate chee cheong fun should be light, with a firm but supple texture. Each layer should be silky and quite thin, as a thick rice flour noodle often makes for a gluey-textured mouthful.
We were pleasantly surprised and impressed with the silky thin noodles on offer here. Each mouthful provided a wonderful combination of textures – soft on the outside, and crunchy on the outside.
So how were those Xiao Long Bao? In a nutshell – delicious, but probably not Perth’s best.
I prefer my Xiao Long Bao to have thinner more delicate outer wrappers, which – though challenging to wrangle from steamer basket to spoon to mouth – makes for a much more pleasant bite.
These Xiao Long Bao were definitely soupy, with a great flavour of pork. But unfortunately, their thick outer dumpling-skins looked to me like they were commercially made, unlike the beautifully hand-pleated versions I’ve tried elsewhere.
As we were leaving, we realised that New Moon is the reincarnation of one of Perth’s favourite dim sum spots, Hoi’s Kitchen, a hole-in-the-wall on William Street which closed a number of years ago.
I have the vaguest recollections of the food at Hoi’s Kitchen. Mostly, I just remember how small it was, with plastic tablecloths and sticky chairs.
New Moon is like Hoi’s with a major face-lift, nose job, and a whole new wardrobe. I wouldn’t recognise it as ‘the new Hoi’s', but it’s worth checking out.
Though the Xiao Long Bao weren’t my favourite, I was impressed with the other dishes we tried from New Moon, and I’d be happy to have them again, as they were as good as any from my favourite dim sum haunt, Dragon Seafood.
And another plus for all Perth’s dim sum die-hards, is that New Moon opens for dinner service on Friday and Saturday nights, which is a rarity here.