I WAS en route to one of the best-named restaurants in Perth – the Fat Dragon.
A stalwart of Mt Lawley, the Chinese has seen off countless food fads and trends over the years, as well as the recent economic decline in the suburb.
So what’s its secret?
Well the owners know their market – serving old-school Chinese that’s high quality and competitively priced.
It’s a bit like the AC/DC of Chinese restaurants – if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.
The red-and-black colour scheme in Fat Dragon is perfect for autumn, creating a cosy vibe that conjures up images of 19th century opium dens and Bruce Lee doing the splits.
It felt a bit classy, but not too staid or forced.
As well as an inside dining area there’s a large alfresco with bistro blinds, heaters and fairy lights, making it a stylish all-year-round option.
The Fat Dragon’s ethos is “emphasis on freshness and above all flavour” and that was on full show in my beef black bean and chilli ($23).
The chunky pieces of red and green capsicum were literally glistening and tasted super fresh, as did the thinly sliced onion and carrot.
It was a moreish dish with the salty black bean sauce complementing the tender slices of beef and fluffy fried rice, which was teeming with BBQ pork, egg and shrimp ($13).
The dish was rounded off with a smattering of spring onion and some tasty slices of mushroom.
My portion was huge, but it was so addictive I couldn’t help scoffing it all, with my young son saying I looked like one of the “Hungry Hippos” in his board game.
You can’t get much more old- school than lemon chicken ($25)
Usually the fillet is battered and sliced into wedges in a serving boat, but this incarnation had goujons.
“The crispy batter is light and not greasy, and the chicken is very succulent,” my wife said.
“A poorly made lemon chicken has a sickly sauce, but this has the right balance of tart and sweet.
“It’s a comforting and very satisfying dish.”
On Sunday night the service was pretty slow and there was a delay between my main arriving and my wife’s, creating a bit of a stuttering feast, but the quality of the food made up for it.
The young waitresses were pleasant, but the older lady who took our order and was in charge never cracked a smile, although she was helpful enough and to the point.
Our two young kids shared a Hongkie-Style Chicken Chow Mein ($17.50).
All the ingredients were super fresh and vibrant with the kids enjoying the thin noodles and tender slices of chook.
The mains were so big we didn’t really need the mini spring rolls ($8.80), but in for a penny in for a pound.
These specimens had a crispy carapace – that trademark crunch on your first bite – and were crammed with a delicious medley of vegetables.
The Fat Dragon is perfect for an old-school Chinese brimming with flavour and fresh ingredients.
They also do lunch, takeaway and are fully licensed.
The restaurant definitely lived up to its name and I waddled home like a fat, Scottish Bruce Lee.
“Noodles don’t hit back…” Fat Dragon
80 Walcott Street
by STEPHEN POLLOCK