I graduated last month with my PhD. Jac and my younger sister Juji came along to the ceremony. It was on a Thursday night, started at 7pm and dragged on for more than two hours, and by the time we got out of there, we were all absolutely starving. There was coffee, tea and cookies served afterwards, but we were hungry for savoury food – a proper cooked dinner.
It’s embarrassingly hard to find somewhere good to eat at 9:30pm on a Thursday night in Perth and Northbridge – most of the cafes and restaurants that were still open were closing up, staff stacking chairs, chefs cleaning up for the night. Everyone’s face had the same expression when they saw us looking hopefully in their direction: “Kitchen’s closed, GO AWAY!” In the end we went to Billy Lee’s Chinese Restaurant (Shop 15, 66 Roe St, Northbridge), one of only a handful of places that were still open. Billy Lee’s was busy and full of Chinese people – a good sign for a Chinese restaurant!
For those of you who may be wondering, yes, our cat Billy Lee is named after Billy Lee’s Chinese Restaurant (Jac named her, I named Pixel). Jac and I went there on our very first date for a late night dinner, more than 12 years ago! :D I had never heard of the place, but Jac guessed right that I would love it!
We ordered steamed rice for three and a number of dishes to eat with it. First to arrive was this plate of battered spare ribs with Peking sauce (AU$13.50). The sweet sticky dark sauce was finger-sucking, lip-licking good.
We ordered the sizzling Japanese bean curd (AU$16.00). The bean curd was soft and creamy – I love egg tofu (see Wikipedia entry on tofu)! The sauce had lots of onion, chilli and chicken mince in it. We weren’t so keen on the watery tomato sauce flavour of the sauce though.
One of the dishes Jac and I ordered on our first date all those years ago is one of our favourites – the chilli pepper fish (AU$16.00). Boneless white fish pieces are battered and deep-fried and served with chopped fresh chillies. The fish in the batter was so delicate and tender, as good as when we first ate the dish!
I am pleased to tell you guys that we did order a vegetable dish, the very simple but delicious steamed broccoli with oyster sauce (sorry, not sure of the price!). The chef at Billy Lee’s really cooked that broccoli to perfection. I’m always so impressed when chefs get the simple things right.
We’d been starving when we arrived (and I was dangerously close to grumpy as a result); we left full and happy. By the time we left I was feeling pretty tired – it was now approaching 11pm, rather late for me to be up on a weeknight. :)
Billy Lee’s Chinese
Shop 9, 66 Roe St, Northbridge
Verdict: Definitely worth a visit, especially late at night! :D