If you live in Perth and haven’t dined at Canton Bay Chinese Restaurant and Bar, chances are you’ve driven past it without realising. Its somewhat unexpected location has rendered it hidden although it’s in plain view from the street – on Mounts Bay Road tucked between Adelphi Hotel Apartments and a bottle shop on one side and Perth’s iconic Jacob’s Ladder and the edge of Kings Park on the other.
I made a booking for three – Jac, my friend Prez and me – via restaurant.com.au which we used last year for dinner at C Restaurant. You book online and pay a reservation fee of AU$8 to get 30% off the total bill including drinks, with no menu restrictions, which is a pretty decent discount. There was some confusion initially from Canton Bay about the restaurant.com.au deal, with a staff member ringing me after receiving my booking to apologetically advise she’d need to check with the restaurant owner – but after a couple of phone calls back and forth, our booking was confirmed.
The menu is extensive and it took us a while to choose three dishes to share, plus steamed rice. First, stir-fried squid with spicy Szechuan sauce (AU$23.80), topped with a smattering of roasted peanuts. The pieces of squid were smooth and tender, all bodies, no tentacles, with a shiny coating of sauce. Chilli wusses and chilli heroes can all enjoy this dish – wusses (me, me!), just don’t chomp on those wrinkly dried chillies.
The braised beef fillets with zucchini, broccoli, mushrooms and onions in black bean sauce served in claypot (AU$22.80) arrived in a puff of steam, sizzling in their dish. It was a flavoursome combination, though quite salty as black bean-anything tends to be (that’s what the steamed rice is for!). The beef and vegetables were cooked nicely and we all enjoyed the dish.
The sizzling Japanese tofu with diced chicken and salted fish (AU$15.80) bubbled and spat in a most unfriendly way to spectacles and camera lenses. When I was a child, my grandmother cooked a pungent but inexplicably delicious dish with pork, ginger and salted fish that ponged up the kitchen whenever she made it. Thankfully for Jac and Prez, the salted fish in our sizzling tofu dish was quite mild. This dish is perfect spooned over rice. We scraped up the all cooked egg underneath the tasty brown sauce, soft tofu and diced chicken.
For dessert, Jac ordered the special mango pudding (AU$8), which was topped with piped whipped cream. It was pleasant but unremarkable – unless you’re a massive mango pudding fan or have a burning craving and your meal won’t be complete without it, I’d save it for your next dim sum session. The other desserts we shared were far more memorable.
Our second dessert was the deep fried jackfruit and banana roll with ice cream (AU$8). The spring roll was served in diagonal slices, saving us the trouble of carving up the shatter-crisp pastry. Fresh jackfruit would improve this by miles – the texture and aroma of the tinned product is nowhere as satisfying as fresh (and fresh jackfruit is well worth trying, though obviously not so easy to get in Perth) – but the molten-hot sweet ripe banana saved the day. You know what would be absolute heaven? Deep fried durian roll – that’s a stinky big hint, Chef!
While I dreamed of a durian showstopper, we all agreed the red bean pancake was our favourite. Inside the freshly deep-fried crunchy batter was a generous layer of red bean paste. Next time I’d like a red bean pancake all to myself. It’s best to separate the ice cream and hot pancake to avoid a warm milky soup that will turn the crunchy masterpiece of deep fried goodness into sad soggy pulp.
This is food that doesn’t require a fancy setting to be enjoyed (just give me the takeaway container and a spoon the morning after), but the well spaced tables are covered with white tablecloths, polished glassware and real cloth napkins to create an elegantly presented, welcoming dining room that’s matched with friendly service.
Inside, the restaurant is surprisingly spacious. Alcoves create intimate tables for two, while the classic Chinese restaurant round tables cater for banquets, with rectangular tables for four scattered in between. It’s not the cheapest Chinese in town, but it’s definitely an ‘all occasion’ restaurant – bring a date, come with a group of friends, feast with your family, or even wine and dine business associates.
From the outside, Canton Bay looks more like a nightclub than a Chinese restaurant – after sunset, a bouncer wouldn’t look out of place standing at those double doors.
As the walkers and joggers continued their trek up and down Jacob’s Ladder, I waddled out of Canton Bay Restaurant with a new food baby in my belly.
We thought the food was terrific and the service very good – we’ll be back. Next time, I’d like to have a pre-dinner drink in the bar for the full “Restaurant and Bar” experience. If I lived in one of the apartment buildings nearby, I’d be well chuffed with my local Chinese takeaway. Definitely worth a visit.
Canton Bay Chinese Restaurant and Bar (Facebook page)
130A Mounts Bay Rd, Perth WA
Telephone: (08) 9486 9399
The restaurant is between Adelphi Hotel Apartments and Mounts Bay Liquor on one side, and Jacob’s Ladder on the other.
Monday, Wednesday and Thursday 11.30am to 2.30pm (lunch) and 5pm to 10pm (dinner)
Closed on Tuesday
Friday 11.30am to 2.30pm (lunch) and 5pm to 11pm (dinner)
Saturday dinner only 5pm to 11pm
Sunday dinner only 5pm to 10pm
- Book via restaurant.com.au – pay AU$8 booking fee to get 30% off your bill, including drinks, with no menu restrictions. Bookings via restaurant.com.au can only be made for specific days/times determined by the restaurant (generally the not-so busy days of the week), for 2 to 6 people.
- If you have the Entertainment Card 2012/13, you can get 25% off the total bill (up to $45 value).
- Only one deal can be used at a time i.e. restaurant.com.au OR the Entertainment Card, not both combined for the same meal.
PS. not a sponsored post, just sharing the deals.