There are certain events that overwhelm you with emotion so much that you could start to cry:
Holding a newborn baby
Reuniting with a loved one
Biting into and savouring a delicious, juicy dumpling
Dining out is arguably one of the most pleasurable experiences in life. So, combining beautiful dumplings and alluring restaurants should quite easily put anyone into a state of euphoria. I had a charming encounter with Emily Taylor, a bar and kitchen restaurant in the building of Warders Hotel, situated at the back of Market Lane in the cultural precinct of Fremantle. The colonial heritage of this portside town is a fitting location for this relatively newly opened restaurant, which boasts Asian inspired cuisine and flavours that celebrates its name.
Emily Taylor tells the voyage of a ship that sailed in the 1800s from England to Fremantle, stopping through Asia and picking up produce such as teas and spices that add so much richness to our culinary worlds. If Emily Taylor was a person, she would be a humble, full-bodied goddess who exudes warmth and wafts of dazzling sensuality and fragrance. Staying true and authentic to what one would expect of Asian cuisine, known for its punchy, full-flavoured dishes bursting with herbs and spices, the dishes we ordered all encapsulated modern and refined Asian flavours.
The night started with friendly, efficient and honest hospitality as we were shown to our seats and presented with some menus. The room oozed a chic and contemporary yet grungy and industrial vibe, baring exposed brick walls, high ceilings and wall murals. I enjoyed watching the large, bustling, open kitchen and the golden caramelised plump roast ducks* in the window, roasted to glistening, juicy perfection.
Side note: This is one of Emily Taylor's signature dishes.
We start to peruse the menu and were reminded by our waitress to make use of the five dishes for $95 option to share between two. We started with some drinks, which came out impressively quick. A lovely strong espresso martini and an 'American in Beijing', a concoction of Campari, Sweet Red Vermouth and Yuzu soda. This was such a welcome godsend, with its tart and refreshing flavour. Truly the Yin to the Yang of the richness of some dishes and provided instant gratification.
The night's entrée was Lobster and Manjimup Truffle Dumplings with sweet aromatic soy. Three sizeable and gorgeously plump dumplings sat atop a little oil with viscous sticky soy sauce and with them, followed an intensely fragrant earthy truffle aroma that lingered in the air. There is something so decadent and luxurious about the scent of truffle. They were silky pockets of lobster filling, though I would have loved if the truffle taste matched the intensity of the aroma.
Not long after arrived the Spice Island Style Kingfish Ceviche. Oh, my, gosh! It was love at first bite and every bite thereafter. The Geraldton kingfish cured in coconut water vinegar with fresh coconut, chilli and rice crisp was a perfect lively starter to provide excitement for the food journey ahead. The combination of fresh, raw and pickled ingredients worked in beautiful harmony with each other and was ridiculously flavoursome. Each delish mouthful was a stimulating pop of flavour intertwined with the natural sweetness of the fish and the trio of soft, chewy and crisp textures that play against one another. Combine it with the zesty and slightly creamy sauce that runs into every nook and cranny of the ingredients leaves you craving for more.
The next dish was Tapioca Dusted Cone Bay Barramundi with a green apple and roasted cashew salad and green naam jim sauce. The lightly deep-fried fish fillets were a good match with the smattering of cashew crunch scattered over the fish. As the naam jim was more on the spicy side of the chilli scale, the bed of sour pickled cucumber strips provided great cooling relief.
I eagerly awaited for the Green Eggplant Curry as I held my bowl of steamed rice with bated breath. It looked gorgeous! All hot and sultry with bright colours and lashings of curry sauce. In the dish is Thai eggplant, tofu, long green beans, wild ginger, tomato, coriander, Thai basil and chilli, cooked to a nice softness and provided the perfect vehicle to absorb the rich, bold and aromatic sauce. Also on the spicier side, the intensity of the chilli left an enjoyable sensation of slight burn on the tongue. Ladle it over the rice, and still delicious the day after when you heat it back up and ladle it over your rice again.
My husband's pick of the winning dish that night was the Pan-Fried Oxtail Dumplings with black vinegar and chilli crisp. The filling was encased in a dumpling wrap that is quite literally nearly bursting at the seams when you take a bite. The dumpling is pan fried to a golden brown crispness on one side, and its meaty innards had a tender, moist, fatty and almost creamy texture. He loved the chilli oil crumb on top even though he is an absolute chilli wuss.
The finale of our night was the Charred Short Rib, a glazed and charred Stirling Ranges beef rib with sambal matah, a kind of raw, spicy onion and chilli salsa. It was a thick slab of meat with streaky lines of fatty goodness interlaced with soft, luscious beef. You could pull it apart with your fork. I'd recommend sharing it or at least pairing it with some rice or salads. Another beauty to have the next day.
Coriander featured heavily across all the dishes, providing a bright pop of colour, texture and flavour. If you're not a fan, make sure to ask them to leave it off. Staff were considerate and the service couldn't be faulted. It made for a really enjoyable dining experience and I'd definitely take friends here for a great night (or day) out, considering Emily Taylor features Yum Cha on Fridays to Sundays.
Happiness is when the table is full, the drinks are cold, cutlery is at the ready and the only pertinent problem is deciding which dish deserves your attention first and foremost.
The restaurant also advertises takeaway as a prominent option with plant-based packaging, inviting customers to order online and collecting 20 minutes later. Perfect for the ones doing life with limited time to spare, this option is available throughout the week from 11:30am to 8:30pm and can be accessed here, where pictures are viewable to whet your appetite. Right at the entrance is a takeaway section, which should soon feature dumplings and home dining kits for purchase.
The restaurant and dining space boasts expansive seating, with bench and smaller table options as well as a large, bustling, parasol-filled outdoor courtyard and open bar areas. As Asian cuisine is excellent for communal dining, there's a flurry of options for you to choose from. Live music is a weekly feature every Friday and Saturday night for an ambient evening to end the working week and soak up the weekend.
The only thing I have left to say is, it is definitely an ongoing encounter and not an affair because the experience was anything but a once-off meeting. Enjoy, and eat until your stomach and soul is full.