“Why not have both?”
The words of the adorable girl in the El Paso ads were ringing in my head as I sat down to write this week’s review.
When it comes to dining out, once we’ve been burned at a restaurant – whether it be grumpy service or sand in the salad – we likely rule them out forever. But when you go against your better judgment and test the waters and are dumped again, it’s only the more disappointing.
I had someone email this week to say they’d been to one of my highly-rated review venues and had disappointing experiences there every time. I’ve also been to restaurants that have received nothing but rave reviews and left feeling underwhelmed and a little unwell.
Then there are the places that are both – beyond words one time and average the next.
Long Chim, the buzzy basement venue in The State Buildings, is somewhere I’ve had meals I’ve thought about for days after, but also some forgettable ones.
Eating there this week reignited my love for the restaurant and also for getting out into the city mid-week (hello free parking).
Upon entering, you quickly forget you’re in the beautifully restored State Buildings. It’s a little dingy in the best way, the playlist is great and it feels full of energy.
We attempted to tick all of the bases for proteins, starting with cured kingfish with shallot, chilli and herbs ($ 20) and chicken satay with peanuts and turmeric ($ 16).
The kingfish, packed with heat, was served as fresh mini lettuce cups and was one of the best dishes I’ve eaten this year. The satay was also a winner, with tender and well-charred chicken that slid off the skewer covered lightly in a nutty satay. It was the dipping sauce packed with heat and tang that made the dish, though.
For mains the grilled Dorper lamb ribs with chilli, cumin and coconut cream ($ 36) was tender meat in a full-bodied and rich sauce that fell away from the bone. A serving of rice as well as the accompanying pickled onions helped cut through the delicious but intense richness.
Rice noodles with Chinese broccoli, soy, egg and bean curd ($ 26) were fat and thick noodles, veggies, tofu and egg covered in a salty and slightly sweet sauce. Even after I was full, I kept going back for one more bite; very tasty and moreish.
So if there is a restaurant you’ve been wondering if you should go back to, this is your sign to give it another shot, as like Long Chim it might just be both.
State Buildings, Barrack St &, St Georges Terrace, Perth
The verdict: Buzzy basement space with a great vibe and food. Expect a whack of heat, easily cooled down with a delicious cocktail, and to leave very full.