Both Paul and I have our birthdays in May. On my birthday we received a birthday phone call from our grandson and his partner, Shirley asking us to open the email they had just sent to us so as they could explain it’s meaning to us. Inside, they’d put together a book of their favourite places to eat in Perth. It must have taken them hours, each place listed, came with photos and comments of which dish they’d recommend. They even included a map showing the location of each of the eateries. They asked us to take a look through, and choose a place for them to take us to when next we were next up in Perth.
We opted to try something we’d never tried before – Xiao Long Bao (Shanghai Soup Dumplings). However, we also mentioned we’d be interested to try some of the unusual ingredients sometimes available at the more authentic type of Asian dishes.
We made a date for Wednesday 22nd June, and headed up to Perth arriving mid morning. Tim and Shirley live close to China Town near the Northbridge eating strip, and around a half hour drive from our daughter’s place where would be staying for the night, so we expected we’d be meeting them somewhere near where would be going for lunch. The first of the most pleasant surprises came when they insisted on picking us up. We headed to Juicy Bao Bao for a lunch of Shanghai Soup Dumplings. Thank goodness we had them to order for us – we were given an Ipad on which to place our order, so you had to know what the food was. We went up to select our dipping sauces. Two lots of different boiled soup dumplings arrived, one lot of fried dumplings, and big bowl of brisket soup complete with Chinese greens and long noodles. Surprise number two, some of the food was delivered by a robot – we’d never experienced that before.
The food was fabulous. There’s a bit of a knack to eating the soup dumplings. They have a little patty of meat inside plus a small amount of soup. The trick is to pick up a dumpling with your chopsticks without piercing the skin and place it on your Chinese soup spoon. Then you lift it towards your mouth and gently pierce the dumpling to drink out the soup before eating the dumpling. I can’t say I mastered it that well, but I enjoyed trying. And the flavours – wow! It was all so delicious, I only wish I’d photographed the big bowl of brisket soup too.
Surprise number three – we were taken back to their place to play games for the afternoon, before heading out again for dinner. That was totally unexpected, but when Shirley had told me to get my ’stomach ready’, she really meant it. In the afternoon they showed us how to play Mah-Jong, a game I’ve been curious about for a while. I’m sure I’ll play that again. Then Grandson number two, who lives next door, came over to say hi, so we all chatted for a while. What a pleasurable afternoon. Then it was time to head out for dinner again.
A place that apparently does a very good Chinese hot pot was chosen. The first choice of place was closed, so we headed to Shirley and Tim’s second choice, which I think was Kung Fu Kitchen, from the list. Again, I was pleased they were with us, I wouldn’t have had a clue on how or what to order. Four hot pots were chosen, a very hot one, a mushroom one, a tomato one, and a sour, spicy one. We selected the fillings between us including some of the unusual things i’ve never eaten before, scallops, fish balls, lamb, puffy tofu, tongue, braised intestines, and greens.
My favourite was the mushroom soup, and we all loved the tongue. The intestines were good too, everything was good, but I wasn’t game to try the really hot soup. We washed it all down with Feral Hog Hop beer. If you’ve never tried a Chinese hotpot, the bowls of soup are placed over an element on the table. When it comes to a simmer you place the items of selected food into the soups to gently cook, or heat through. It’s very social, and a first for us. It won’t be the last, we loved it.
We still weren’t done. Next on the gourmet trail was coffee and cake at Cafe Guilty Pleasure. With a gorgeous old English style decor, sideboards and kitchenettes, full of dainty china cups and saucers, and walls hung with pretty tapestries, the place was lovely. Paul chose a strawberry torte, I chose a Matcha (green tea) torte, Shirley had a sweet potato torte, and I can’t remember the one Tim selected. They were all light, and delicious. We were full to the brim when they drove us back to where we staying for the night. I was still full the next morning.
I have to say, it’s probably the best and most surprising birthday gift I’ve ever had. The effort they put into presenting the choices for us to select from, then the chauffeur service, three eateries in one day, and mah-jong in the afternoon. That’s a day for the memory book, what a pleasure!