Szechwan Zen Restaurant, Northbridge

Szechwan Zen Restaurant opened its doors in Northbridge earlier this year, it’s recognisable by the red giant crab above the entrance in the corner of a small shopping lot on 393 William Street. In the vicinity you’ll find Asian grocers, a bakery, fish monger, butchers and even a small Tofu factory. Past the intersection of William Street and Newcastle Streetit is a China town district of Northbridge, also the location where I went along to the Red Hot Spatula’s Asian Foodie Walkabout Tour a few months back.
 
Szechwan Zen is a Chinese restaurant and as the name depicts it specialises in Szechwan cuisine, a style of Chinese cooking from the Sichuan province in China. Traditionally, in a szechuan restaurant diners will find a good variety of spicy dishes. We were looking forward to eating something a little spicy.
 
Arriving early in the evening at around 6.30pm we were shown to our seats by the window. I really enjoy dining in a Chinese restaurant, for me having grown up in a European household it is a special dining experience of hanging lanterns, a Chinese/English menu, chop sticks, a lazy susan, a fish tank and of course, the food! Szechwan Zen is furnished in all the typical fittings I mentioned, there are round tables and also a row of smaller ones for two diners, this is where we are seated for the evening. The decor colour scheme is regent red, black and gold. The restaurant is spacious and the fish tank this evening holds a selection of live mud crabs. A private dining room is segregated off from the restaurant by a single sliding door.
The-Big-Crab-Szechwan

 

The appearance of the menu is rather impressive, presented in a hard cover book of glossy photos for the individual dishes. For us the photos were helpful in selecting a few of the dishes we were unfamiliar with. It took a little while to choose our dishes, narrowing down the variety of choices to a sizeable meal for two people. A Chinese feast with a group I think is the ultimate foodie adventure, you have the benefit of being able to sample a wider range of dishes. Tonight it was just the two of us.

We order a couple of dim sums, two main dishes and a side of steamed white rice.  Generally we’ll order the special fried rice but this time around we thought plain would complement the spicy main dish.

menu-szechwan

 

We start with a pot of hot Chinese tea while browsing the menu. The waitress pouring the hot tea into cups for us.

Chinese-tea-Szechwan

 

Szechwan Zen has recently obtained a trading liquor license and I can imagine what a feat that would have been for the owners to accomplish, there’s a lot of red tape when it comes to liquor licensing in Western Australia. A small bar is operational in the dining room of the restaurant, conveniently serving a range of wine and beer to accompany the meals.

The-bar

We ordered a Chinese beer by the name of Tasingtao. The brand is one of the largest breweries in China, launched by a German company in 1903. It was crisply cold and not bitter.

 Tsingtao Beer

Chinese-Beer

The crunchy pancake with sesame and dried pork floss arrived to the table first. The taste of lightly fried bread with a subtle sweet flavour in combination with toasted sesame seeds was delicious. Pork floss is cooked pork that is shredded a few times and stir fried as part of the drying process. There was a small amount of pork floss inside the crispy bread, enough to give the bread a nice salty flavour. The dish arrived warm and it was most enjoyable with a few sips of beer.

Crunchy pancake with sesame and dried pork floss inside 

Crunchy-pancake-with-pork-floss

Visual marketing is effective and advantageous, we ordered the crumbed prawn dish because of the photo in the menu.  The crumbed prawns were topped with a mayonnaise sauce and dried noodle crisps. A small bowl of fresh fruit accompanied the dish. We both really liked this dish, the soft prawn meat and crispy covering. 

Crumbed prawn

Crumbed-prawns

As the evening continued, the dining room started to fill up with the after work crowd.  Northbridge is in close vicinity to the Perth CBD offices making it a convenient option for dinner on the way home. Perth’s cultural venues are a ten minute walk away like the WA Museum, art gallery, State Theatre and a little further, The Perth Arena.

Szechwan-Zen-Restaurant

The steamed pork buns were juicy when biting into them, the pork tender inside and a slight balsamic flavour.

Steamed pork bun 6 pieces

Steamed-pork-buns

The six delicate Szechwan Dim Sim were filled with sticky rice and ham. I have to admit they tasted delicious dipped in the soy sauce intended for the pork buns. I’ll dip anything into soy sauce, I go through quite a bit at home.

Szechwan style Dim Sim – 6 pieces

Szechwan-Style-Dim-Sum

I am a big fan of ribs, I particularly love the tender meat falling off the bone and the fat melting in my mouth. The menu offers a few ‘meat on the bone’ dishes and we decided to go with the Australian lamb ribs. Arriving to the table, the serving was substantial for the two of us and the rib dish included sliced potatoes. The staff did inquire if the spicy lamb was too spicy for us, we appreciated the gesture and gave them the thumbs up.  It was delectable and the clean white rice was a good choice breaking up the hot mouthfuls.

It’s wonderful to see the number of spicy dishes on the menu at Szechwan Zen, the market for spicy foods has been growing in Perth especially with the yearly Chilli Festival in Fremantle. For the ultimate spicy food lover the crispy and spicy pork hock appears to be worthy challenge. On the menu, the word ‘perseverance’ hovers above the dish.

Understandably not everyone desires the fire in the mouth sensation and for this there are plenty of mild dishes on the menu.

Lamb ribs with special spicy sauce

Spicy-Lamb-ribs

For dessert we shared a plate of the Taro Toast Rolls. $9.80 for dessert ,we thought, was quite reasonable and this was a full on dessert. Six toasted bread slices rolled and fried with a creamy middle of taro paste. Very indulgent and fantastic to share.

Taro Toast Rolls 6 pieces

Taro-Toast-Rolls

All in all, we enjoyed our Chinese feast at the Szechwan Zen Restaurant. Having clearly indulged our bellies were full, we even took home two containers of food. We will be returning, Dk would like to bring his parents along for dinner one evening as the menu is quite extensive catering to most palates. The addition of a small bar is splendid. Our meal was delicious and there were a couple of dishes I have bookmarked for next time like the beer duck and the golden fried sweet corn coated with egg yolk.

We would like to thank Merrick for extending a kind invitation to dine at his restaurant. After dinner he joined us and we chatted about the restaurant, food and general life in Perth. I am definitely no critic or expert and this post is simply my experience writings and a collection of yummy photos. I enjoy connecting with people who have interests in all things food.

Urbanspoon Reviews

Szechwan Zen Chinese Restaurant on Urbanspoon

William Street

 

 

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