Cafes, Restaurants and Dining in Perth, Western Australia.

Old Cathay Chinese Cuisine

G6-G7, 59 Albany Hwy, Victoria Park
Ph:(08) 9361 1881
www.oldcathay.com.au

5000 Years And Counting

With over 5000 years of development, revision and perfection, Chinese cuisine is generally considered to be one of the finest cuisines in the world. A cooking style with techniques as varied and diverse as the one billion people who populate the country, Chinese cuisine has developed an international reputation for its tradition, flavour, and inventiveness. Here in Perth, newly opened Old Cathay is attempting to bring these three qualities to a new-generation Western audience.

Old Cathay is situated at the very start of Albany Highway right opposite the Victoria Park Bus Transfer Station. Opened in March this year by business and real-life partners Aaron Seow and Jerling Wong, Old Cathay delivers traditional Chinese food (with a Malaysian inspired twist) in an elegant relaxed setting.

Artistically designed, Old Cathay’s interior is stylish and modern with elements reflecting both Chinese culture and heritage. Hand-painted light fittings decorate the ceiling and a photograph of traditional Chinese hutongs and scenery decorates two walls entirely. A selection of seating is available including modern high-backed chairs and lounge dining, as well as traditional round-table service for large groups.

The food is lovingly planned and expertly prepared by Head Chef, Ong Yak Chai. Spending the last 20 years as a chef at Brunei’s Royal Brunei Hotel, Ong Yak Chai has prepared meals for royalty and celebrities and now brings his culinary skills to Perth. You won’t find any supermodel-sized servings here that belong more in an art gallery than on your table; instead you will get quality produce, freshly prepared and servings that will leave you satisfied. At Old Cathay as in Chinese culinary tradition, the meal is designed to be a shared, communal experience with your family and friends. Not to say the serves aren’t good enough to covet for yourself – they are, however to truly make the most out of what Old Cathay has to offer, joint-owner Jerling Wong recommends getting a number of dishes to share. So that’s what we did.

After a pot of green tea, a drink as typically Chinese as Champagne is French, we started with the ‘Chilli pepper soft shell crab’. Moist and meaty with a good crispy batter and delicate flavour, the generous portion was great to share for entrée.

We were then treated to Old Cathay’s ‘2-course Peking Duck with Sang Choi Bao’. A make-it-yourself dish, the crispy skinned slices of duck come served with sliced cucumber, spring onion, chilli and hoisin sauce for you to wrap up in a delicious egg pancake. Traditionally Peking duck pancakes are flour based however Old Cathay’s egg version makes a tasty variation. The second course ‘Sang Choi Bao’ is diced duck and vegetables presented in a spring roll wrapper bowl with crisp iceberg lettuce leaves. Be careful not to overfill your lettuce leaf when spooning the mixture in!

If you’re as mad about Peking duck as me, visit on a Tuesday or Wednesday night for Old Cathay’s 3-course Peking duck special. For $55 you get the above meal as well as a soup – a really different idea for a work dinner or catch-up with friends.

We then moved onto the ‘Butter King Prawns with egg net’. Served with sliced cucumber the large meaty WA Shark Bay King Prawns covered in a crunchy buttermilk batter were fresh and juicy. The wispy egg net made using a Malaysian technique looked like Persian fairy floss and made the dish very unique. Demonstrating Old Cathay’s use of Malaysian cuisine as an inspiration for the development of traditional Chinese dishes.

‘Scallops with asparagus and macadamia nuts’ came next. The delicate flavour of the fat Australian scallops was balanced well with hints of ginger. While the version we tried had no nuts (the kitchen is happy to accommodate food intolerances and allergies to the best of their ability) the vegetables were fresh and crispy. Made using a technique of quickly cooking the vegetables in a searing hot wok to seal in freshness, this gives them a silky glossy finish.

Fermoy Estate’s Semillon Sauvignon Blanc from Margaret River, WA was a refreshing match for both seafood and the duck and is available by the glass or bottle.

To highlight the Malaysian influences of Old Cathay’s menu we sampled the ‘Malaysian beef rendang curry’ and ‘Malaysian curry chicken’. Strong flavour and chunky stringy meat gave the beef rendang lots of character whilst the fragrant aroma and succulent meat made the curry chicken memorable. First Drop’s ‘Mothers Milk’ Shiraz, Barossa Valley, SA matched both curries exceedingly well.

Fully licensed, Old Cathay’s wine list boasts a select number of Australian and New Zealand wines as well as two French Champagnes. They also offer a selection of beers, soft drinks, coffee and of course Chinese tea.

Old Cathay is open for lunch and dinner Tuesday to Sunday with takeaway options available. Corporate and private functions can be catered for as well as large group bookings. Being close to the bus station means you can visit and make a night of it but otherwise there is 2-hour free undercover parking behind the restaurant with entry through Oswald Street.

Aaron and Jerling’s goal to bring Chinese cuisine (with a Malaysian twist), with all its heritage and tradition, to a larger Perth audience in an elegant, relaxed and modern setting is ambitious. However, already popular with the local Chinese communit, Old Cathay is well on the way to becoming a favourite foodie destination (if not just for this reviewer) and continues the 5000 year-old tradition of Chinese culinary innovation and development.

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By Lauren Norton

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