There are several strong themes running through 2014 in terms of food. In many ways, the strongest theme surrounds Australia’s latest version of modern Asian, combining some of the best aspects of Korean, Japanese, and Chinese.
They’re still out there – places that combine the most mediocre aspects of several cuisines or cultures. Those places where you can have fish and chips, fried rice, or souvlaki. On the face of it, offering pork buns, sashimi, yakitori, and several other great dishes, could make a restaurant look like it has a personality crisis. Low Key Chow House on the other hand, combines several styles without clashing on your palate.
We start with the citrus cure which is described as sashimi but is closer to ceviche. The grapefruit cure is fantastic. As with many ceviches, as delicious as they can be, the type of fish was hard to detect. It may have been kingfish. The mantou buns came out and looked amazing. The pork belly, complete with perfect crackling, lived up to the look. The buns are popular for good reason and it would be hard to dine at Chow without ordering them.
I liked the idea of including gizzards in the yakitori skewers, which also included thigh and crispy skin. Mum got the crispy skin one and I got the gizzards. Unfortunately, the gizzard doesn’t work and it would be better to have a couple of the crispy skin ones. The thigh itself was excellent; surprisingly good quality for a restaurant not specialising in yakitori. It was hard choosing main, because there were so many great sounding dishes. Having settled on the spatchcock, we were happy with our decision. The chicken was deboned, marinated, grilled, and beautifully seasoned. The achara salad it came with was nice, but not necessary with each bite of the chicken. The Kimchi salad was superb. Fresh herbs, chilli, Asian leaves and spicy kimchi, makes for an intriguing side.
The servings were generous enough, but we could fit in dessert, and being a huge fan of red bean, I had to try the Azuki bean. The presentation was more interesting than what I expected. The crepes, filled with red bean, had been rolled and cut, and scattered over the plate. As you would expect, strawberry compote, ice cream, and coconut accompanying the crepes all work together. Simple and delicious, with the red bean starring.
The service was terrific. Our waitperson showed an excellent understanding of the menu and was attentive throughout. It was really busy in the restaurant, making for a fun and atmospheric place to eat.
Years ago, I used to eat here regularly, in this exact same spot, at cheap and cheerful Hans. Now, Leederville is almost unrecognisable, and there is a lot of burger joints – a lot! It is astounding the way Oxford Street has changed and while I have a soft spot for the old times, the new times are far better.