Sometimes the sky's the limit. Sevruga caviar, abalone and wagyu marble score 9+. We've done a recce of Perth restaurants for big-ticket menu items and Aquarium Seafood Chinese Restaurant tops the list with its Buddha jumps over the wall soup for $1388. Make that 10 serves, but 48 hours notice, please.
"It's a winter dish and a meal in itself," restaurant owner Kathy Keung said. "Chinese families will order it as a whole dinner and each person ends up having two or three bowls. It's traditionally used to boost the immune system. What makes it special, and expensive, are the ingredients and preparation time."
Think delicacies such as abalone, deer tendon, pearl meat, sea cucumber, fish maw, ginseng and scallop, The name? It's an allusion to the enticing aroma of a dish that could tempt vegetarian monks from temples to eat meat in dynasties gone by. Or so the story goes. London's Kai Mayfair restaurant makes the costliest variant, which has just taken the Guinness World Records 2014 gong for the most expensive commercially available bowl of soup you can buy.
Aquarium has more than 400 items on the menu and you can always downsize with its signature salted egg yolk snow crab, which comes in around $200, depending on market price and size. We think it's the best in Perth, made with chef Kelvin Keung's house- cured eggs, which are a triumph in themselves. Lick the grainy fried yolk coating off the shell, then suck out the snow crab meat. If the budget doesn't go the distance, try the salted egg yolk fried squid instead.
At Crown's high-end Silks, the stir-fried, sliced fresh abalone will set you back $338 - with 24 hours notice because it takes that long to prepare. It's a symbol of wealth and good fortune, with a texture similar to giant clams, but firmer, and like most exotic ingredients in Chinese cuisine, is valued for its nutritional content. This one is packed with protein, vitamin E and magnesium and uses only fresh green-lip abalone from managed fisheries in WA. Down on your luck? Grab a $12.95 "summer special" chicken parmi, crumbed calamari or porterhouse steak, all with chips, at Junction Grill, or head to 88 Noodle Bar for beef with black bean stir fry, sweet and sour chicken, or seafood mee goreng.
Here are a few more big spends for lavish appetites.
The Old Brewery, Crawley: The tomahawk, $536.50: *OK, it was a one-off 3.7kg, 450-day grain-fed Margaret River wagyu, marble score 5/6+, pre-ordered by a group of blokes to share, which made it a reasonably affordable meal when they divvied up the bill. "The average size of the tomahawk is 1.3-2.7kg," chef Greg Farnan said. "We certainly go through them and would do 20 on Fridays with lunch and dinner service. It's a great meal for a family and we serve it with a range of sauces and condiments." Calculate $14.50/100g.
Rockpool Bar & Grill, Crown Perth: David Blackmore's dry aged full-blood wagyu sirloin, $119. * Full-blood means the wagyu is descended from Japanese stock and not cross bred with Australian cattle. And Neil Perry believes David Blackmore is by far the best producer in Australia. His 200g 9+ dry-aged wagyu sirloin is one of a kind. Not up to the experience? Sink your teeth into a 240g full-blood wagyu topside, aged for 58 days, for $52.
Hippo Creek, Subiaco: The tomahawk, $120-$200. *While we're on the tomahawk trail, it's about the meat at Hippo Creek and the 400-day grain-fed F1 wagyu steaks (a cross between wagyu and Angus which, we're told, makes wangus) from Margaret River range from 1.2-2.2kg with a minimum marble score 5+. "More often than not it's 6/7+," co-owner Daniel Gomer said. It costs $10/100g, so a middle-of-the range piece of meat will set you back, say, $170 and is chargrilled to order - blue, rare, medium-rare, medium, medium-well and well done - with a side of oxtail and red wine "potjie" (a South African stew) plus a choice of chips, baked potato or mash. A 900g grass-fed Cape Grim rib-eye from Tasmania is $110. "We dry age in-house at 2C with 40 per cent humidity," Gomer said. Whatever you choose, it's a lot of food and it's mainly men who order the steaks.