The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.” – G.K. Chesterton

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Revisit: Malaysian @ Old Cathay, Victoria Park (WA, Australia)

I've been writing on this blog for more than seven years, and I find that maintaining a blog is sort of like raising a baby: it's a mostly thankless job that comes without monetary compensation for the time and effort I put into it (and nor do I seek it), and neglect is not an option if I want to keep it going. I write because I want to, and my blog is a great food and travel journal that I and anyone else interested (with internet access) can read anywhere in the world. I write about dining experiences so that I can help others make an informed choice on whether or not to eat at that certain restaurant. And writing a blog has its perks too. I've connected with people through my blog - both writers and readers - and I also occasionally get a thank you email from bed-and-breakfast owners and restaurateurs. Earlier this year, the owner of Old Cathay contacted me some time after I wrote up this review about our experience at his restaurant. Aaron thanked me for what I wrote, and as a gesture of appreciation, he invited me and my family back to Old Cathay to dine on his compliments. I must admit that my first reaction was that of embarrassment. Did I write anything bad about his restaurant? After I verified that I had no reason to be embarrassed, I realised that if I accepted Aaron's invitation, I can not hide behind my anonymity as a writer. After a few correspondences, it was clear that Aaron honestly wanted to show his appreciation, and that he wanted me to try out some new dishes and give him feedback about them. After hubby and I decided to spend Christmas in Perth, I made arrangements with Aaron to visit Old Cathay once again. And this meeting proved that it is indeed a small world: it turns out that Aaron is one of my brother's friends, my mum knows his mum, and Aaron is friends with the husband of one of my good friends from high school. Who would have thought?

Some members of my family (parents, brother-in-law and kids, hubby and son) and I were treated to a delicious feast on a Tuesday night. The restaurant was quite full even though it was a week day, which goes to show that we aren't the only ones who love the food at Old Cathay. I was rather pleased to also see that there was a good mix of Asian and non-Asian patrons, no doubt thanks to Aaron's careful menu planning to offer a variety of dishes to suit a wide range of tastebuds. The location near the causeway was convenient for my parents to get there from north of the river and us from the southern suburbs, and being situated away from the main strip of restaurants in Vic Park meant plenty of nearby parking space for us. There is a lot going for Old Cathay, and it really is a little gem, one of the few in Perth offering Malaysian cuisine in such a lovely setting. The following dishes were chosen and prepared by Aaron himself, and none of us knew what was coming next. Aaron chose well, and I can honestly say my family enjoyed them all (even my bro-in-law and nephew who I thought were quite picky eaters)! We tried dishes that are not available elsewhere in Perth, and there were a few dishes that we probably wouldn't have ordered on our own accord. Thanks to Aaron, his wife Jerling and the rest of the staff on duty that night for looking after us and making sure we were well-fed.

The Crispy White Bait Seafood Soup was my favourite dish. The broth was light but extremely flavourful with the umami of the sea. The ikan bilis added a crispy texture, and it was a nostalgic flavour of my childhood in Malaysia:

Pork Belly Slices - a little spicy and tasty. Even my nephew, initially deterred by the spiciness, went back for more:

Golden Prawn Cutlets - this was no doubt our group's favourite (except for the nephew who doesn't like prawns!). Deliciously crispy and the prawn filling was pleasantly bouncy and tasty. My mum wasted no parts and ate the whole thing - head, tail, shells and all:

Steamed Whole Herbal Chicken - this one was a beauty, served wrapped up in foil. The chicken was so tender, the flesh fell off the bone easily. The broth tasted so wholesome from the goodness of the Chinese herbs, roots and sweet dates, that it must be healthy for the body. It reminded me a lot of the herbal soup my mum used to cook in Malaysia where she could easily source the herbs, roots and dates:

Spinach with Fish Ball in Superior Broth. This was a popular one with the oldies who are trying to be more health conscious. I could taste that the fish ball was handmade, and it had good texture and flavour. A great dish to get your veggie and protein intake:

Stuffed Tofu with Fish in Black Bean Sauce - each tofu cube were stuffed with fish paste, deep fried and then served with salty black bean sauce. My parents and I enjoyed this dish, but hubby said he wasn't so keen on it because he doesn't like black beans. Well, that meant more for us!

Crispy Marmite Chicken - crispy battered chicken pieces with sticky Marmite sauce drizzled over them. The kids loved this one, and I must admit that it was hard to stop at one:

It was a great family dinner with delicious food. I recommended Old Cathay before, I'll recommend it again. Aaron and Jerling have put a lot of hard work into this restaurant, and it would be a shame not to give this little gem a go.

Old Cathay
G7/59 Albany Hwy
Victoria Park, WA 6100
Tel. +61 8 9361 1881

Old Cathay on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

  1. wow, what an amazing experience!
    and to be offered an amazing chance to dine there again!