Tak Chee House, Northbridge
I love Hainanese chicken rice.
For a long time, I've heard that Tak Chee House sells the best Hainanese chicken rice in Perth. I finally got to try it for myself recently. So, is it the best?
Years ago, there was a restaurant named Tak Chee House on the Roe Street end of William Street in Northbridge, famous for serving Malaysian hawker dishes including Hainanese chicken rice and Penang fried kway teow. The restaurant was a favourite among students, and fans simply called it "Tak Chee". I recently heard that Tak Chee closed down and then reopened in Northbridge on the opposite end of William Street.
The last time we were in Northbridge, we'd planned to eat at Tak Chee, but it was closed for the holidays - we'd gone to Golden King BBQ instead. On this day, seeking refuge from the heat and the crowds of the William Street Festival, I got my chance to try Tak Chee's famous chicken rice.
Jac ordered the beef curry with roti canai (AU$9.50, one piece of roti in a serving; extra piece of roti $3). The curry gravy was full of tender pieces of beef and potato. The roti was crisp and hot, almost too hot for the fingertips. The roti was tasty enough but I've tasted fluffier. $3 for an extra piece seemed a bit steep.
Jay ordered the chicken curry with roti canai (AU$9.50). The chicken curry gravy was much more "lemak" than the beef curry. It was richer, more coconut milky and consequently more oily (though not excessively so) than the beef curry gravy, which made it more deliciously drinkable.
There was a lot of chicken in the bowl and the abundance of curry leaves gave it a very authentic appearance and flavour. Whenever I see curry leaves I think about being eight years old and feeling very important and grown-up, brandishing my late grandma's kitchen scissors as I stepped carefully through the cabbages to reach the curry plant to cut sprigs of fresh curry leaves so she could make curry chicken for dinner.
Juji ordered the combination fried bee hoon (thin rice noodles) with egg sauce (AU$12). This dish had a wonderfully charry flavour and was loaded with goodies: chicken, beef, prawns, squid, Chinese greens and thick eggy gravy.
The menu was full of delectable temptations but I refused to deviate from my original goal of tasting Tak Chee's Hainanese chicken rice (AU$9.00). When I ordered, I was offered a choice of leg or breast - of course, I chose leg. You can also choose crispy fried chicken instead of steamed chicken, but Hainanese chicken rice purists will tell you that fried chicken is not part of traditional, authentic Hainanese chicken rice experience. The bowls of fragrant chicken rice and clear chicken broth were both served piping hot but the sliced steamed chicken was served closer to room temperature, as it often is in Malaysia and Singapore.
The chicken was served in a boat-shaped dish and was moist and juicy, with silky flesh and soft, jelly-like skin, sitting on a bed of cooked bean sprouts in slightly sweet soy sauce, topped with sliced spring onion. At the back of the "boat" was a garlicky chilli sauce that added just the right amount of heat. I dipped each piece of chicken in the soy sauce, then the chilli sauce. The rice was flavoursome enough to be eaten on its own.
I was impressed with Tak Chee House's Hainanese chicken rice. It is definitely among the best I've eaten in Perth and I will return to Tak Chee to have it again. When I was doing my PhD I was addicted to the Hainanese chicken rice from the Wok Inn at Murdoch University. Ang's Malaysian Chinese Takeaway in Yokine has been a favourite of my family for years, but my sister CW recently tried Tak Chee's chicken rice and liked it more than Ang's! EDIT, 11/04/11: I also forgot to mention Wong's in Bentley (at the Bentley Centre) does great Hainanese chicken rice too.
Perth chicken rice lovers: where is the best Hainanese chicken rice in Perth? Also feel free to tell share where the other great chicken rice dishes are around Perth e.g. roast chicken rice, crispy fried chicken rice etc.
Tak Chee's a typical no-frills Asian eatery - a small restaurant with basic decor in a drab building located in a grungy old part of town. You go there for the food, not the ambience or service, though on this occasion the service was notably friendly and brisk. I've heard there are queues at prime lunching and dinner times. Apparently it's not unusual for the chicken rice to be sold out an hour or so before closing. So get in early!
The Google map is inaccurate so I have not included it here. It places Tak Chee House on the corner of William and Vincent Streets when it should be on William Street between Newcastle and Brisbane Streets.
Tak Chee House
1/364 William Street (between Newcastle and Brisbane Streets)
Northbridge WA 6003
Telephone: (08) 9328 9445
Tuesday to Sunday Lunch 11am to 3pm; Dinner 5pm to 9pm
Closed on Monday
Specials include bak kut teh (braised pork ribs in Chinese herbs) on Wednesdays; Penang hokkien har mee on Fridays; Penang assam laksa on weekends.
They have a range of Asian drinks available, including my favourite, A&W root beer in a can!