On Saturday Ollie and I woke up, with a busy weekend ahead of us. A murder mystery night at a venue an obscene distance south of Perth, a long drive back in the morning and then out to Kalamunda on Sunday night to visit my parents – so much distance to cover! A big lunch was in order to set us up for this weekend, and it needed to be close by, so after having a look at my altogether too lengthy wish list, Low Key Chow House won out!
Low Key is fairly new, and sitting fairly inconspicuously on Oxford Street (where Hans Cafe used to be) if you weren’t looking for it you would probably walk straight past. Only an the acronym on the facade outside gives you a hint of what lies within.
We wandered in at about 12.30 without a booking, and it was a lot quieter than I thought it would be, with only about 4 tables occupied. The space is very trendy and ‘now’, with ripped plaster giving way to exposed brick walls, vintage cabinets, and a brass light display on the back wall spelling out that ubiquitous acronym. A combination of larger round tables and smaller tables for two were all set up really nicely, with absolutely gorgeous table ware. Prints on the wall and the bright chairs made for a really enjoyable and handsome space to be in.
The open kitchen at the back of the dining area added to the ambience of the space, and bought me as close to Asian street food feels as is possible in the middle of Leederville.
Our waitress was super friendly, and bought us over some menu’s and water quickly. She asked if we had any fish or nut allergies, and when we said we didn’t some very tasty peanuts with salted anchovies appeared in front of us. This was only the beginning of the slick service at Low Key that we experienced for the rest of the afternoon – the staff there certainly know their stuff.
The menu is fairly extensive, and our waitress advised to get 2 or 3 dishes from the entree section, and 2 mains if we were fairly hungry. Heeding that advice, we ordered the pok pok wings ($15), mantou buns ($15) and the sung choi bao ($12) from the street plates part of the menu, and ga xao xa ot ($27) and the sogalbi skju-namul ($33) from the more substantial part of the menu.
The waitress did let us know that a few of the entree’s we ordered came in lots of 3, and we were given the choice to increase it to 4 if we wanted to split them evenly. A bit worried about how much we had ordered and what we could eat we declined this offer, but it was a thoughtful touch.
First out were the pok pok wings, which were touted as Asian inspired buffalo sticky wings. The sauce on these were amazing – thick, sticky and sweet, it was one of my favourite flavours for the afternoon. They were perfectly cooked, with the meat falling off the bone – extremely moreish!
Next up were the mantou buns, certainly one of the most photographed dishes at Low Key and one of the reasons I wanted to come in. They did not disappoint – buns were soft and fluffy, and the meat tender with a nice layer of crackle across the top. I loved the inclusion of the mint and coriander in the bun, it gave the dish a fresh, somewhat sweet flavour and that little bit of extra pop. Wiping the buns in the leftover sauce from the chicken wings made them all the more tastier.
Last for the entree menu was the sung choi bao. This one was Ollie’s pick, but it was a good one. Served on a crispy fresh lettuce leaf, marinated chicken mince and crispy vermicelli made for a crunchy refreshing twist on the way I normally have this dish, and a very enjoyable one. The only thing I would have appreciated would have been a bit more sauce or flavour in the chicken mince.
I have the feeling we ordered three of the larger entree’s, as we were starting to feel a touch full after these dishes, and when the mains came out my eyes popped open a bit and I wondered if I was going to be able to finish!
The first one out was the sogalbi skju-namul, which I did not try to pronounce, and translated to pear and apple marinated beef short ribs off the bone, sesame bean sprouts, kimichi and ssamjang hot sauce. There was loads of perfectly charred tender meat on this dish, and the sauce was absolutely amazing! Sweet with a smoky undertone, we actually finished it all about halfway through the meal and asked for some more, to which our waitress kindly obliged. The sesame bean sprouts were crunchy, and along with the kimchi added a a fresh element to the plate.
Second dish out was the ga xao xa ot – I couldn’t pronounce this one either, but I was looking forward to wrapping my tongue around its translation – a lemongrass chilli chicken coconut curry (with rice ordered on the side). We had high hopes for this one, having made a delicious lemongrass curry the week before, however the flavours didn’t quite hit the spot. It was enjoyable, and the chicken was cooked well, but I thought they could have taken it a little bit further than they did.
We didn’t finish all our rice, because there was two dessert menu items that had caught our eye, and we didn’t want to miss out on trying at least one of them. It was a toss up between the deep fried icecream and a ‘rock garden’, and in the end the rock garden won out. I was glad it did, because I really enjoyed this dish (Ollie wasn’t the biggest fan of it though, but all the better for me!). Dry, crunchy chocolate chai soil, with superbly balanced chilli chocolate mousse, cream pebbles and fresh zesty strawberries – everything on the plate worked so well together and I never wanted it to end!
Overall, I thought that Low Key Chow House was fresh and delicious, if a little on the pricey end of things. Most dishes had a great combination of fresh flavours, and there was items on the menu that we didn’t get to try and that I would be keen to return and try. A nice addition to the Leederville strip!