What’s that old saying? When you’re on to a good thing, stick to it? Yeah, I think that’s the one.
Spencer Village is one of those hidden treasures you will never stumble across by yourself. You have to be shown by one who knows.
It is, in essence, a food court with approximately 12 different vendors all vie-ing for your palate. Indonesian, Malay, Japanese, Indian, Singaporean, Kuala Lumpa style food. It’s so much choice you will find it difficult to make a decision. There are some stand-out dishes that you should try though.
The Dosai from the little paratha store tucked away in the rear left corner is lovely, as is the murtabak and the paratha and gravy (curry gravy, which is just the liquid).
Next to that vendor is one that you simply must try the Chai Tow Kway. It is a fried dish with a yam that is a little sweet, and just all round delicious.
There are more, but it was the murtabak and dosai that I really really was wanting when I went Sunday just passed.
Sadly, by the time we got there (just after lunchtime) they were all out of roti (various breads of India). This just goes to show that they do make it fresh, which means it’s lovely but also means that everyone wants it. Tip: get there earlier rather than later.
So, we ordered the prawn noodle soup from the Singapore food stand with the plate of dumplings, and later had the Chai Tow Kway. Yes. We were that hungry.
Now, this is not your usual food court. There are sections to sit in and there are only big long wooden tables. It is highly likely that if there are only one or two of you, you will be sharing your table with another party at some point. It is also a good idea to set one person to hold the table you want, and then others go and find their food. If you’re eating in, the vendor will want your table number (on a badge pressed into it) so they can deliver it to you. Then you can play tag with the person who was holding the table. If you do have a large group of people, it is a nice idea to get a handful of dishes to share. There are lots of them that lend themselves to this style of eating, rather than one person, one dish. It’s also a bit more social that way.
While we were waiting for the soup and dumplings to arrive, we went and got a Malaysian style roll called Poh-pia. It is quite similar to a vietnamese rice paper roll, but the wrapper is cooked and so the fresh ingredients inside are a little warmed through. also there is sauce in the inside, which means you don’t get the bit of taste, bit of no taste, that sometimes happens with vietnamese ones.
They were delicious. At first you think the wrapper might be a little dry, but when you have a couple more sections, and as the sauce inside starts to wet the ingredients, it all makes sense. I could have just had about ten of these. They are really lovely and fresh. Not too much sauce and you can really tell that the vegetables and meat inside are lovely and fresh.
As an entree this works really well. It gets the mouth watering just enough, but isn’t so powerful in flavour that the following dishes seem lacking. I can highly recommend them. And, as soon as I remember which stall they came from, I shall share with you. I blame my stomach for my forgetfulness! Sorry. EDIT: they came from the dim-sum stall., as did the poh-pia.
When the prawn noodle soup arrived, both myself and my dining partner were disappointed. The picture at the stall had looked so good, and while it wasn’t what we were initially wanting, it seemed like a good second choice dish. The picture had the soup looking nice and red with loads of prawn dust, plenty of large prawns and the broth looked lovely and spicy. What arrived, however, was bland, void of prawn dust and had two small prawns placed on top. The broth didn’t taste prawn-y to me and I found it all very … meh. The green vegetable was just large chunks obviously boiled in the broth, and the couple of slices of meat thrown in did nothing to lift the soup at all. It was rather disappointing indeed.
The dumplings were another dish that failed to make the grade. They weren’t bad, but they weren’t stellar. There was a pleasing sensation as you bit into the dumpling and the sauce exploded into your mouth. Beyond that, they were a bit blah. The wrapper was too thick and a bit chewy. The filling just wasn’t interesting. There was enough of them, that’s for sure. I guess if you were having these as a side with a nice spicy dish it would go better.
Disappointed with our “make-do” meal, we decided to get one of our fail-safes: the Chai Tow Kway. Gosh I love this dish. It’s fried. It’s sweet AND it’s a vegetable so you can make believe it’s healthy! I am not a fan of egg generally, but you barely notice it in this dish. It’s not spicy, but there is so much flavour you will be amazed. If you only ever try one dish at Spencer Village (and they’ve run out of roti at the Indian stand) then make it this one.
I shall periodically be trying other dishes from Spencer Village, in the hopes to try everything at least once. Don’t be too surprised if there is one giant post from a very stuffed Perth Amateur Food Critic in the not too distant future.
Spencer Village Food Court.
Thornlie, W.A. 6108