Sunday, February 27, 2011

When close is almost enough

Let's face it. Hawker fare will never be the same here in Perth as it is in South East Asia. Not only are prices phenomenally ridiculous here, you constantly find yourself desperately seeking that familiar flavor of a well cooked hawker dish.

Enter Newton Circle which is perched in, of all places, a food court in the city. This long running establishment is packed during the office lunch hour and offers a range of hawker items at reasonable prices (for Perth city's crazy standards).

The most popular items here are clearly the Char kway teow and Hainanese chicken rice. The former is more akin to a Singaporean version with a slight dousing of sweet soy sauce with the addition of lap cheong (Chinese sausage) and the latter is more Malaysian in flavor with a more savoury soy dressing.

The verdict? As cliched as it sounds, it definitely is not as good as what you can get in most hawker centres in Singapore or Malaysia... at literally a fraction of the price. But it works to at least satisfy a craving. The Char kway teow has that sometimes elusive charred "wok hei" flavor which is a good indicator for any great wok fried dish. The seasoning however lacks depth and body which you find it the gutsy versions you might be used to.

The chicken rice is generous but the meat is definitely on the tough side (which is always made worse by most chicken rice establishments here that microwave the chicken before serving). The rice also lacks the ginger and garlic hit you expect when you tuck into this iconic dish. What is pretty good here is the chilli sauce - laced with lemon juice, it bears some resemblance to the lime spiked versions you get in Singapore.

All in all, Newton Circle is not a bad spot to visit when you want to find the familiar - it won't stop you yearning for the real stuff... but at least it helps jolt the food memory till the next time you find it.

Newton Circle
4/207 Murray Street
(Sidewalk cafe on the top floor of Carillon arcade)


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