I first went to The Silk Road in Applecross a few years ago. I couldn’t particularly remember the last meal, so decided to give it another try as I have an Entertainment Book card.
The menu was full of my favourite dishes: peking duck rolls, tempura, rendang etc. although it does not specialise in one particular cuisine. Hans cafe is similar in this respect, and I tend to find that restaurants which try to do pan-asian tend to be unauthentic – I would much rather they offered fewer dishes in a specialist cuisine rather than trying to be all things to all people.
I chose the degustation 2 menu because it included a lot of my favourites – not cheap at $95. You can pay a bit more and have matched wines if you like – the restaurant is fully licensed.
Here is a photo diary of my meal:
The first starter was a large piece of soft shell crab with a cucumber shooter. This was very nice, the crab was crisp and not greasy, and the cucumber shooter was a lovely palate cleanser afterwards.
The second starter was prawn tempura with a seafood roll and a tempura onion ring. To be honest, I found the prawn a little bland and I much preferred the seafood roll which was delicious. The sauces offered with this course were a dish of dark soy, which was not needed and a dish of mild chilli sauce which also did not match particularly well with the tempura. I would have preferred the classic japanese dipping sauce with a pile of grated daikon to add to it, or a classic chilli/lime/fish sauce/sugar concoction. Even a plum sauce for the seafood roll would have worked better.
The next course was my favourite. Peking duck rolls, and aniseed infused crispy pork belly. Both items were fabulous, even if the duck rolls were a little on the small side. Crispy peking duck is one of the few things that I miss from the UK.
Next came the main of lamb cutlets, beef rendang and saffron rice. The rendang was nice, but lacking the depth of flavour that I usually expect from a rendang. The rice was lovely. The lamb cutlets were ok, but didn’t really belong on the same plate as the rendang. I would much rather have had a whole plate of rendang and rice – achar pickle accompanied the dish and was very good.
For dessert there was a choice of home made sticky date pudding or passion fruit and rhubarb cheesecake. The cheesecake was whipped, not baked, and it was hard to detect the rhubarb flavour. The sticky date pudding was the better dessert of the two, but not mind blowingly good, and both dishes were decorated with strawberry sauce which did not add any value to the dish and was a bit superfluous. It would have been much more appropriate to have a little stack of stewed rhubarb and passion fruit coulis with the cheesecake, and maybe a fresh medjool date with the sticky date pudding.
So will I be going back to The Silk Road ? Probably not. If I am in the area and feel hungry, I would pop in for some peking duck wraps, but I certainly won’t be spending $95 on a degustation menu again. The portions were large enough to be satisfying, and there were a few gems among the menu, but it didn’t blow me away. The feeling I had about this restaurant was that it was cooking asian food for non-asian people. When you go to Bangkok or Kuala Lumpur, a lot of the hotels have an asian restaurant that does a dumbed down, low-chilli variety of the local cuisine for western visitors. It’s ok, but nothing special, and I know that I would much rather be scouring the side streets and the food malls in the city for something that the locals would eat.
My personal advice to the pan-asian restaurants is this – choose a cuisine and cook that cuisine fabulously, stop trying to be a jack of all trades. There is definitely a market for pan-asian, otherwise these restaurants would not survive – but people of Perth – demand more, demand real authentic cuisine – you will have a much more delicious and fulfilling experience.