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Thursday, 13 December 2012

Aisuru Sushi - Beautifully danty and leaves you wanting more

To quote Oliver Stone and draw an 'metaphor':
"A woman can be very beautiful and an ideal model and she will photograph incredibly well, but she'll appear in film and it won't work. What works is some fusion of physical beauty with some mental field or whatever you call it. I don't know."
That's how I feel about Aisuru.

I don't like fusion food in general. That's a stereotype which I don't subscribe to. I understand the need for chefs to find a blend or try out new combinations of flavourings and techniques which are used in various cuisines with the expectation of "OMG this works a treat and I have now re-invented the wheel".

The two of us had a bill that was nearly $90 for lunch, we ordered:
Gyu tataki
Dragon roll
Spider roll
Unagi roll
Agedashi Tofu
Wagyu beef rool
Green Tea

Previously I've tried the tempura corn kernels and sakura / summer roll as well.

The sushi is delicious enough, use of sauces (fusion or the slathering of sweet teriyaki flavours, mayo etc) is sumptious. The seared scallop sushi roll is quite decadent.

Prices for a large plate (8 pcs) averages around $17-$25
We ordered smalls (4 pcs) average is $8-14.

As you may see it's not really that affordable for a general work lunch. Especailly considering this neko is a gutton and have to have at least 8 pcs.

It's not overall an affordable experience of customary Japanese food. But if you haven't tried this place and is of the inclination to test out fusion sushi - I recommend it! It is a noch above Poppo's fusion sushi rolls in terms of presentation and the use of specific ingredients like soft shell crab and fresh Japanese scallops (they're more buttery than the Freo local ones).

Rating: 3 out of 5
Wait time for lunch was ok, dinner wait times are a bit longer.
The feel of the overall restaurant is clean and very modern Japanese, owner is and chefs are not Japanese.

Neko paws: 3 out of 5, my yuppy-ness will bring me back here when I have money to burn for prettiness and the fun of having iPad carrying waitresses place my order & show me the pretty pictures on said iPads.

<a href=""><img alt="Aisuru Sushi on Urbanspoon" src="" style="border:none;padding:0px;width:130px;height:36px" /></a>

Is Donburi - to be or not to be?

I'm beginning to love starting every entry with some sort of literary reference that either ties in to the name or the feel I get of a place. I'm also playing catch up with my food reviews / blogging.

Is Donburi is getting a lot of great reviews from the local food blogging community. Urbanspoon rating is almost perfect! Considering the location is so close to Aisuru, which I've tried twice before casting a final review. I thought I had to try it for lunch and see for myself what the fuss is about.

I had to post the food photos first but the full review will be coming shortly!

Rating: 4.5 / 5 it's small (which is great for ambience and at the same time means you can't really have big groups)
the corridor seating is not ideal during dinner but lunch time rush is fine!

Neko paws: considering I've been here twice in one day it's 5 paws!!! Out of 4 that I have.

Rating: Ambience

Neko Paws: 4 out of 5, definitely worth a return trip

<a href=""><img alt="Is Donburi William Street on Urbanspoon" src="" style="border:none;padding:0px;width:130px;height:36px" /></a>

Monday, 10 December 2012

The Brook - worth your baubles?

"The pebble in the brook secretly thinks itself a precious stone." ~ Japanese Proverb.

We randomly walked in without a booking on a Friday night. Surprisingly (to me) who doesn't ever travel so north that in the middle of what I perceived to be a land far far away... The restaurant was 1/2 empty at 6:45pm. We were asked to wait for the maitre d' or rather floor manager (lovely lady) who apparently is the only one who can sort out non-booked tables while all of the other staff are nice but clueless as to how the floor was planned that evening and what tables would be free. We were offered a table but only til 8pm. Note my previous comments relating to the 'full status'. Alright we can eat as fast as you can serve.

Another 15 mins later she has readied a table, for 2 instead of the 3 I requested (to two separate people, twice each). She was accommodating enough to pull another chair along and we could squish. Luckily our 3rd turned up and declined to dine, else there'd be no where to fit his plate.

By this point all the staff seems to be running off their feet! And one girl pops by and immediately asks if we're ready to order. Ok we just sat down, no water - we had ordered drinks at the bar while we waited but ... Water?!

Oh and when we were finally ready to order, it was a pain to get hold of someone.

I ordered a lamb with parsnip, sweet potato mash & maple syrup. My firmed had the parmigiana. I wish I ordered the parmigiana. Presentation was ok, pleasant. (Upon reviewing the photo, it does look a lot rarer than I remember). Parsnip was slightly under roasted. The lamb cutlets were cooked well but the original pieces of meat were too gristley. My friend did offer to share a bite of his lovely parmigiana, which looked crispy and the sauce looked well textured. I declined, keeping to the principle that if my dining partner declines to share mine... I really shouldn't pinch his. In reality, I am always afraid that the parmigiana I try will not meet my expectations. I don't ever recall a specific one I've loved, but I tend to search for elusive perfection none the less.

The atmosphere was quite - boisterous. The crowd is what would be norm up around far north. Lovely hearty people - a few young families as well. Lot of Christmas celebrating parties (work?/family).

Outdoor area allowed dining too, which explained why some of the staff tend to disappear without a trace for ages. Ordering a second drink and extra water took over 15 mins, but the bar staff that delivered was quite apologetic about the wait.

Overall rating: 2.5 out of 5, passable food, alcohol prices & general pub ambience - very clean new looking place.

Neko paws: 1.5 out of 5, sorry this is below par on my food scale and far to far out for a second try at food. But for a local pub and people who live around the area it is pretty decent & presentable bar/restaurant for an evening out & not driving too far.

ok I've started the neko paws thing now I've got to remember to continue with this rating scale. It's basically if I'd go back... 3-4 is a chance I will go back. 5 is a definite return neko customer!

 <a href=""><img alt="The Brook Bar and Bistro on Urbanspoon" src="" style="border:none;padding:0px;width:130px;height:36px" /></a>

The Red Fez - don't go taking your hat off yet...

A group of us tested this place in Mt Lawley for brunch.

Atmosphere was a little cramped, it's a tight fit. The service was enthusiastic and the wait staff were nice but a few of them are quite inexperienced.

Food style is meant to be mediterranean with Spanish/Moroccan influences?

The spiced feta/mushroom dish was not as spicy as anticipated but was very tomatoey. Same can be said about the solid meat balls. The Spanish omelette with chorizo - I was expecting ... More peppers? Thinner chorizo?

Serving sizes were quite good.

Coffee was average for Mt Lawley. Neither here nor there, but we didn't try the single blend. Juice offering was Charlie's which I love.

Overall presentation was lovely. The scrambled egg was great. The pancakes were sufficiently fluffy and smooth with marscapone & berry coulis/jam.

Rating: 2.5 stars out of 5.

Neko paw rating: 2 out of 5 - would not return for a meal.
<a href=""><img alt="Fez on Urbanspoon" src="" style="border:none;padding:0px;width:130px;height:36px" /></a>

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Korean Chapter 1. Verse 3. Sinabro (Francis Street)

Some of you might remember this restaurant premise used to be El Toro - a Balkan steak house with one of the most intriguingly cheesy escargots I've had in Perth. Sadly, it closed down - it seemed like an odd location and didn't seem to do too well over the years. Rarely saw anyone there...

Happily after it closed down, Sinabro grew to replace it as an icon! The actual charcoal a la carte Korean BBQ in the backyard is very authentic - comes with your Korean speaking waiters and minimal English! Which is always fun!

The buffet, reasonalby priced, has a lot of variety from pre-cooked hot foods (japchae etc) to raw ingredients. The table grill pan allows you to do a steamboat / stew style (there's a little bowl/pot in the middle of the grill) as well as hotplate BBQ grill style. They also have uncooked manduk, so you can boil yourself at your table.

The meat comes marinated or au naturel. The ox tongue is sometimes a hit and miss depending how thickly they're sliced, I prefer the thinner the better. Instant two second grill action - juice and tender. Not huge on pre-marinaded meats but this

Great place to have a group thing. Date-wise, guys not a wise idea unlessy you want to come out smelling like BBQ meats or unless the girls like that sort of eaux de boeuf!

Food wise, if I go for all-you-can-eat, I always do a spciy stew soup, using the kimchee, sauces and other raw ingredients to create a seafood based soup and then cook tofu and vegies in.

Personally I like turning the mussels over faced down using it's shell to steam/grill in its own juices!

Sinabro on Urbanspoon

Photos comming soon.

Weight gain was inevitable...

I tell myself this because I've gotten lazy... I still eat out quite a bit. Yet I haven't posted up anything for a long time - Facebook is detrimental to my food blog. I post it on FB and then I forget about updating Blogger, let alone keep up with my Urbanspoon account. My silly little iPhone is filled with photos of food, even the once I've cooked/tried out. (e.g. Cumulus Inc. does Brussel Sprouts soooo delicious... so I tried it for myself - my variation is obviously not up to that sort of standard but friends have given positive reviews). Speaking of which I have Brussel sprouts at home, that might be tonight's re-hash dish and I'll post it.

I've had 2 more short holidays since going away to Melbourne in the last two months - Dunsborough & Margaret River so there's food reviews coming for those areas too. Gods, that's quite a backlog. Not to mention Matsumo Japanese Omakaze!

Ok enough tantalising prospects of food, more "healthy eating". I have gained at least 4 kg - no I did not weight myself, I can tell when my favourite skirts get a bit tighter around the waist line. *sigh* So instead of "eating", I'm going to focus on "making". See my Thermomix blog for cooking stuff - which I will keep posting.

Oh and my friend introduced me to iPad app games... I have such an addictive personality - was soooo late for work this morning. Ok I overslept too but that was because I was working on a baking project (which will be posted here after the weekend). It's a surprise... *GRINS*

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Korean Chapter 1. Verse 2. Took Bae Kee 2 (Barrack Street, Perth)

I have had half the menu here, there's not much I haven't tried. Which makes it hard to summarize in one review. I'm pretty much a regular.

TBK2 is a branch off the Pier Street's Took Begi Korean Restaurant. The soupy stuff all moved over to Barrack Street once TBK2 was up and running (this would have been a couple of years back now).

I'm a loyal fan. Honestly speaking it's value for money!
What you get:
@ Lunch: 4 starters/nibble trays of kimchee, pickled bean sprouts & variety of other two side dishes (love the marinated lotus roots and the cripsy seaweed and the soy beans...) oh it's endless varieties!
@ Dinner: this becomes 6 side dishes!

I recommend trying the set meals during lunch - as they're usualy discounted to $11 or $12
Pork Ribs - mild spice
Kimchee tofu & slice pork soup

Shared dinner - hotpot/steamboat Korean style: the Kimchee & Sliced pork is hearty and very fufilling!

Ambience: I like the rowdy, slight smokey-ness so I'm giving it 5! It's not as smokey as Tong86, Seoul Korean BBQ or Sinabro can get so that's a plus on a work day! It's a casual dinner place, don't expect the Ritz!
Service: 3-4 out of 5 (this depends on when, sometimes they're so busy they forget your drink order. Other days the leading waitress remembers your usual order and gets it right without you saying much at all!).
Food: 5 stars! I don't give full marks often.or at all. The kimchee is a bit more tart and not as spicy as some may like it. It's up to personal preference.
Took Bae Kee II on Urbanspoon

Photos later

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Been really slack ...

This is an apology but also a promise to upload all the reviews and eating I've done in the past few months... shortly - shall take a few weeks to finish but definitely will.

Oh another side track: I'm doing a fundraiser thing and the cause is a really good one.
I'm baking up a storm for Australian Red Cross, a cause that is close to my heart and I would welcome any contribution, great or small, that you could make!

All donations to this site are electronically wired to Australian Red Cross and an automatic receipt is emailed to you immediately.

Help me bake the world a better place by making a donation - every little bit helps to reach my modest target of $200.

My promise to sponsors: Donations above $50, will receive a cake order or cupcake order at a date of your choice! Contact me to arrange!

Thank you for your support!

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Sometimes life gets in the way of living.

Sometimes, life throws us curve balls to test if we still have the tenacity and elasticity of mind to bounce instead of *k-splat* on the pavement. Two interest curve balls these past two weeks to 1. excuse my lack of posts and garner sympathy, 2. to just share what's been on my mind:

Curve ball 1:
There's been a restructure at my day job. My position / role is fine, but... it's a different environment now to work in. This is the second one I've been through in approx. 6-8 months. Well honestly, was in an environment previously that had the "restructure" thing hanging over my head for over 10-12 months, it's nearly 1.5 years of pending "redundancy" feeling. I'm a bit over it and just over-exhausted to even pep myself up.

Curve ball 2:
Recently, I woke up one morning and couldn't turn my neck and move my left arm. This is not to do with any sports injury - I'm not a sportswoman by any stretch of that word. It freaked me out - still in quite a bit of pain and can't lift anything with my left hand. Tingly sessions sporadicly go through my arm. Overall an uncomfortable experience. Yes I've seen a doctor, there was a pinched nerve, some vetebrae adjustments and inflammation of the muscle/tendon groups around the area.

I'll bounce but... it just means I will be spending more time else where for the time being. With that being said, it's likely I'll use cooking as a way to de-stress. 

I've eaten out quite a bit, and am spending more time doing that recently to spend more time out and about doing things (the Perth International Comedy Festival was a great way to be distracted).

I'll maybe add a little somethings to the blog (backdated - forgive me if you read the blog and then suddenly see a post from "May" which you thought was never there - don't worry you're not mad, I just can't keep time). Don't give up on me, I'll still keep posting. So keep an eye out and I'll surprise you later!

Friday, 27 April 2012

Fibber McGee's Irish Feast

Had a quick bite to eat here a couple of weeks ago and forgot to post straight away.

Loved it. The portions are huge - not that I can eat that much but the value for money just really tickles my Asian thrifty/kiasu side. *GRINS*

I'm not going to go on about it because I think you should go try it. Especially if you like a good steak.
I've had on occasions when I've dined there:
The special burbon glazed braised/stewed beef.
The lambshank.
The aged steak but the medallion not the biggest size.

I'll update post with photos later.

Ambience: 3.5 Stars
Reason: Rowdy pub style, walking through is somewhat intimidating if you're just walking in during Happy Hour. But the restaurant dining area is a good place to sit and chat and down a pint of two with friends.

Food: 4.5 stars
Reason: Value. Large servings and hearty food at that. Warms the cockles ;)

Price: Normal Perth restaurant pricing $28-45 for mains.

Fibber McGee's on Urbanspoon

Sunday, 18 March 2012

This ain't a garden of roses...

Actually, I don't think there was a garden to be exact. We sat inside anyway.

Girlfriends and I always end up craving Indian food at some point. We usually head to Mela (when we all lived "north").

I'm always on the hunt for a bargain and when I saw an offer on one of those online deal websites it was a perfect for our "catch up over curry" sessions. Bargain deal voucher ($30ish per voucher) was an all-you-can-eat buffet meal for two with drinks *(beer or lassi).

We were quite early for dinner. The buffet sit down in split into two sessions per night. Don't worry it's not like they kick you out really - it's just after an 1.5 hr session of all-you-can-eat Indian, really depend on how much you can eat. Sad to say I think for an Asian group, we did mediocre. That's not to say the meal was mediocre.

The buffet stuff gets set up around 6ish, but when booking they said to come by at 5:30pm. The dishes weren't ready (in bain-maries) until really 6pm. We had starters = papadums and they gave us plenty of time to ponder over drinks. We chose mango lassi.
Of course we had tried of EVERYTHING. Ok, not everything, we passed on the vegetable salad. Dishes included, the usual:
  • Tandoori Chicken Pieces
  • Samosa
  • Shish kebab
  • Vegetable / Onion Bhaji
  • Beef Vindaloo
  • Lamb Rogan Josh
  • Butter Chicken
  • Chicken Tikka Masala? I wasn't sure
  • Dahl
  • Aloo Gobi (Potatoes & cauliflower, love it)
  • Palak Paneer (spinach & cheese, for those who haven't tried Indian or doesn't know what this is... it's devine. Don't think of it as Popeye-spinach, it's completely different.)
  • Rices/Naans etc.
There were sides and desserts too. So it was quite a meal.

Ambience: 3.5 Stars
Reason: Great for a small group, it's more of a family restaurant. Saw a few families show up a bit later. It's not extremely romantic, slightly sparse but they've tried to deck the place a bit to be more than casual dining but it doesn't have Mela's feel of Indian diner. I've been to some small restaurants in Mumbai where they actually have the same sort of Bollywood decor but tiles and casual tables, so I guess to me it feels slightly more "authentic" and I prefer the casual feel.

Food: 4 Stars
Reason: I would've rated higher, but I spent the rest of the day drinking water non-stop. Might have been my over-confidence with the vindaloo or ... the negative side might be because there's some sort of MSG in the food. I will have to retry this place and let you know.

Additional info: Website & menu. You can order a la carte and take away. I ate there on the 17th of March. I've back dated this blog post.

Indian Garden Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Monday, 12 March 2012

Duck Duck Goose? or Roast Pork? - Good Fortune be with you!

This use to be my favourite boneless duck place - yes they de-bone the duck for you so you don't have to worry about it. Kind of disappointing if you like duck bone soup when using left over bones you've de-boned yourself.

However, I found it delicious for duck rice! Don't have to do the messy hands with picking out a bone from your duck meat / rice. Fast services, only once you get a table. The lunch time wait for a table could be 15 mins or more (sometimes a lot more). You get your usual side of blanched vegetables, a little bit of pickled vegetables (carrots, cabbage) and the important thing: DUC K! Juicy succulent roast duck.

Ok the roast pork here is good too. But the day was about DUCK. All about duck.

Food: 5 stars
Ambience: busy small Asian restaurant, noisy and filled with bustle and chatter. 4 out of 5 stars, because this (all the peopel) means the food is good!
Price: little higher than normal duck, since "boneless-ness" doesn't come naturally to our flying friends. But well worth it, if you have been coddled into being unable to pick out your own bones (in fish or fowls). $10-$30 (if you do proper Chinese restaurant dishes). 4 out of 5 stars.

Here's the website and you can check out the menu.
Good Fortune Roast Duck House on Urbanspoon

Promise I'll add pictures later. I have photos, my food photo addiction is renowned. Yes, that just means I'm Asian.

Working lunches or Non-working lunches: The Tuck Shop

A couple of colleagues and I came here for lunch after hearing all about how delicious the gourmet pies were in the lunch room one day.

Ok we came on a Monday and it was closed, but then went to Good Fortune Roast Duck House instead (see previous review post).

Working past our disappointment we came along again the day after and definitely checked out the pies. (ok, since that day we have been several times). Gourmet pies are just the in-thing!

So far we've tried:
- lamb & rosemary
- bacon & cheese
- stilton & beef
- kidney

Other than pies, the Dubrovnik Cheese kranski features here as a "banger & mash" dish. Which for the price, please if you actually visited Dubronik's and you'll see why I cried at the price. If you haven't I suggest you make that one of your stops on the next weekend. They're open early in the morning on Saturday and I honestly believe they're worth the early wake-up call.

Ok back to the Tuck Shop...

The pies are large, so bring your appetite. I always forget and then add mushy peas. I haven't has MPs for ages, used to work in a Fish & Chips shop and had the pleasure of being in a pretty pommie neighbourhood. Brewing/stewing mushy peas used to be one of my favourite tasks, other than eating it that is! Especially when it's just off the stove & piping hot.

The pastry is crispy and flakes really well, crunchy on top and not too stodgy when you get to teh bottom. Chunky pieces of beef or lamb if you ordered it. I found the kidney pie a little too strong in offal flavour, but that depends on what you're used to I guess. The rosemary flavour was very subtle. I've been told the Stilton is the best. Blue cheese in a pie, why not!? Yes it's delicious, sadly since I didn't order it I only got 1 small bite.

I can't go past a good bacon and cheese. This is going to sound a bit sad but it really reminds me of my school days. You know, how you go to the canteen and buy a Mrs Mac's? The sliced cheese / goo & bacon specks one? Oh yeah! You know what I mean. If you grew up in Australia, and I hate stereotypes, I'm sure you would've at one stage tried a Mrs Mac's Bacon & Cheese Pie.

Ok, if you like pies - try this place at least once. The cost is $12.50 a pie, yup pretty steep. Mushy Peas, mash, fries or other sides = $2.50 to $4.00. Drinks are your normal cafe prices. Sweets sizes are petite and cost is quite boutique. Overall your meal can come up to $20 easy!
Atmosphere/Ambience: nice little touches with the canvas sack pillows and black board walls. Especially nifty is the Loyalty program for your coffees. Don't you hate it when you hit your cafe of choice up for a shot of expresso or a long macc & realise you've forgotten your loyalty card. Your usual barista tells you next time s/he'll double stamp ya, but that doesn't always happen? If you're sort of kiasu like me, you'd get a new card and then "add them up" later. Here? You get to keep your card on the blackboard with blue tack! Add your name and leave it up there. Sure, it depends on the good will of fellow citizens not to steel your filled card, but hey I'm sure there are honest Aussies out there - just look at the nice bank advertising about how honest people are with handing back over paid change! LOL

Food: 4 out of 5 stars
Ambience: 4 out of 5 stars
Cost: 3 out of 5 stars
The Tuck Shop Cafe on Urbanspoon

Why haven't I updated?

Not that many out there care. I do have drafted posts and reviews for restaurants etc. But I've recently got myself mixed up in a new adventure which you can read about here.

That doesn't mean I won't eat out. I just won't at out as often as before - hopefully my poor little budget (imaging a flying pig) will be able to survive this whole new world!

In other news, to the joys, trials and tribulations (to my flying pig) - thank you Spreets / Cudos and Groupon etc. I shall be trying out the Indian Gardent Restaurant in North Perth shortly with friends. I have also committed to re-trying Lava Stonegrill in Mount Lawley, I haven't been back there for at least 4 years?

So watch this space for the reviews on those two venues.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

The Dating Scene: Veggie take out

Ok after reading this PerthNow story on Veggie Mama, I really wanted to do a quick review.

I've been here a few times with the Vegan boyfriend and it's always been relatively delightful. What can I say, I'm just not made to be a herbivore.

I've tried their vegetarian filo pastry - loads of cream cheese, could be deadly to those who have heart problems. I think I was just surprised by the amount of cream cheese. The variety of salads are lovely and they actually offer freshly squeezed juices and know not to put the rinds in when they "squeeze".

My favourite salad so far is the slightly pickled purple cabbage. It just reminds me of something and I can't put my finger on it yet. It's not so sour as to lose all the crispy texture but the inate sweetness of the cabbage comes through without the tart bite you'd get when you put this raw into any salad.

I also have tried the gluten free tart - with spinach and sundried tomato, which was lovely. It wasn't exorbantly rich like the filo and was very filling. I love egg.

I've been told the bean stew thingy is fantastic, so next time that would be on the list ... along with the stuffed spud I think.

No, I'm not converting... :p

Veggie Mama on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Daily Planet - Lois, Superman ain't here...

Despite the fact it's opening have been eagerly anticipated by local Lawlites and regular Planet Book groupies... (am self-confessed one amongst many), I didn't actually go to try the food for at least a week. I was at the staff function just before opening and saw the interior, tried some of the finger foods, drinks & looked in on the nice new kitchen. Before you even ask, no I don't work there, I was just a guest.

You can actually read there, although the chairs really aren't that inviting. So let's start with the decor. Bright red insdes, not just as a feature wall. One side wall of posters a la Planet, Grill'd and Green & Co. style. I like this - it gives you something to read on the wall while you wait for service or food if your table conversation dies. Ok I get why you would want feature wall colouring, and why choose red? Market research have already determined there are a few colours which trigger hunger responses and we associate these colours generally with food and eating - e.g. Red and Yellow. But that much red in a cafe doesn't "warm" me up, it freaks me out. Especially early morning before coffee and afternoon during hot Perth summer, it really really makes the room feel even hotter.

What I don't like, other than the bright red... hangin skulls of things. And creepy little statuettes, some might find this 'artistic' / kitsch or just fun. But sadly this doesn't do it for me. Wall hanging carpets / tapestries / wooden window frames are kind cute - are we going for a Mexican / some native villa feel?

Menu critique, now... let's not be nasty. Yes the first few weeks (?) were restricted to breakfast only. The lunch menu looking spectacular did not really 'happen'. Haven't been back there to eat lunch yet so I can't comment on teh current food menu. I had breakfast there with mom - we try to have a cafe catchup every week or every other week. The menu had nifty names in addition to variations of the age old breakie menu.

I had the field mushroom, creamy feta, poached egg & asparagus & swiss cheese on toast (V) & freshly squeezed blood orange (not sure if this was from a box as I didn't see them squeeze or pour it out). But it was tasty and better than the carbonated stuff!

Mom ordered eggs hollaindaise with tomato & avocado (V). And lattes. The drinks came very delayed - the coffee came for over 15 mins and then I got my juice. We waited for the meals to arrive for another 15 or so. The poached egg for me was just a bit over done but mom's was perfectly gooey. The hollandaise sauce was solid!

I also recommend their take away ice-coffee which is delicious with just cream. Oh and it's real cream not the instant can stuff you find often at cafes these days. There is meant to be vegan and gluten free options in the menu, so far that's only snacks, rolls or cake counter.

Serving sizes are generous, not just with our meals but I saw a few other tables and they all looked pretty big sizes.

Pricing is average - normal really for breakie.

Daily Planet on Urbanspoon

Let me clarify or provide a disclaimer: the review here is based on only 1 breakfast meal & just coffees & juices - while reading at the venue. There has been times when the cafe looked too busy to sit in so I bought a take away and left or just went to another cafe along the strip. Luckily there's always room at Five down the road.

I've read some of the reviews on Urbanspoon, and most of the stuff they've mentioned as problems are real problems. Glitches, long waits, confused orders, delayed order delivery... It boils down to two things: front of house management & kitchen service co-ordination! Not sure if other visitors have noticed, but they did the "self-seating" thing and then "must-wait-to-be-seated", numbers on tables and then numbers when you order. This is very confusing for staff as one day it's table service & order at counter, how do you keep track of your payments & orders especially when there's multiple staff? Kitchen-wise, no one in the cafe/restaurant business will tell you the truth if something is wrong in the kitchen, unless it means they have to shut-down or are not able to serve at all. So all you get is - "unfortunately, this is not available" & "there's a glitch". Sometimes if the wait staff is savvy, they'd say "unfortunately, we've run out of this dish as it's been very popular". But that doesn't really work if you know how a cafe/restaurant kitchen should be managed - then supplies should be forecasted / enough.

I'm going to re-try this in a month or two, there's some staff change overs rumoured to happen which will mean a difference in menu and service levels. There's also some changes with Planet clothing and Planet Video side which might affect the cafe so - I'm going there in March for a re-trial (maybe lunch/dinner this time round). Don't forget to check back for an update!

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Re-reivew of Oliver's on James

I have to say I have been to this restaurant in 2010, group of four and found the food to be ordinary and service adequate. I recently went back for a work Christmas lunch (3 course) and somehow ended up here for dinner a few days after.

Christmas Lunch:
Prawn cocktail, surf and turf, barramundi, the gnocchi.
Oh I hate to go on and on but the gnocchi is best. Yes it is vegetarian but the flavours infused in it - you could feel it melt in your mouth but still have the gnocchi chewy texture. I had this for dinner later on when we came back for dinner too!

My friends tried the lamb fry, that was an experience - if you like it already, it tastes quite traditional - so I've been told. The arabiata pizza is really huge. I think the portion sizes were all enough to feed two people.

All in all I've tried bites of most of the mains by this point. We also tried a few of the side salad, and cooked vegetables.

Dessert was the only disappointment, the shortbread was more like shortbrick. But the fudge brownie was to die for. Again serving size was huge. Definite value for money.

Serving staff are mostly backpackers/travellers so you get an interesting smattering of accents and familiarity - a couple of the staff were really chatty and relaxed. Services was prompt, the removal of dishes were a bit slow but by then the restaurant was filling up and they were quite busy. Oliver's revival is great to see! I like seeing a restaurant reclaim it's decent position.

The food tasted really quite good. But teh value for money is the reason I'm giving it 5.

The restaurant is also on the Entertainment Book.

Vote: 5 out of 5 stars
Photos forthcoming.

Oliver's on James Street on Urbanspoon

Indian Chapter 1, Verse 1: Mela (Northbridge)

I used to live really close to Mela and would often go there as a convenient Indian eatery, despite having others closer. This is because Mela is value for money and has a few things that other places don't.

Their Thursday special of eggplant curry and wholemeal roti is one of my favourites. I'm not a vegetarian by any stretch of the term but I love eggplant and eggplant curry done well is a fantastic experience. Latasha's in Leederville used to do a great one!
The thalis are just the right portion size and prices are low average Indian foodwise. Their vindaloo can be very very hot so for those who like their Indian meals spiced up, this is the place.

My other favourite dish - saag paneer or saag gosht! The creamy spinach curry just offsets any fo the meat dishes really well. They also do a homestyle vegetable or chicken tomato curry.

It's not fancy but service is prompt and friendly.

Limitation for those who care - they serve Pepsi, not Coke.

Vote: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Photos forthcoming.

Mela Indian Sweets & Eats on Urbanspoon

Sakura season not in?

I tried this when it first opened with a group of friends: 2 couples and me. Five is an odd number but the izakaya style Japanese eatery doesn't really mind.

The place was quite busy, a number of Asian and Western clientele, which was a good sign. I overheard a smattering of Japanese across the small restaurant, also a good sign.

Sit down, service was prompt. Spacing was minimal though. Nice and cute cutlery and placemats. And then the food... we ordered quite a few dishes and drinks. Each dish was served slowly on its on, spaced out nicely. Allowing us to finish at least one drink between our order sets. We did three order sets (a few dishes each set) and that just about exhausted their menu. Drink list was quite decent a few chu-hai flavours which I haven't had here in Perth.

Service was standard, prompt, polite and pleasant.

The dishes were quite ordinary and nothing really caught my absolute attention. Tried a new clam / cockle dish - very distinct and somewhat bitter flavour with the texture of raw shellfish. That was the most attention grabbing dish.

Price wise for an izakaya in Perth, there is a better priced and just as authentic place. This just happens to be more central in Northbridge. We paid nearly $90 each (with 2-3 drinks per person).

Passable but not a place I would go back to voluntarily unless there's more variety.

Vote: 2.5 out of 5 stars

Izakaya Sakura Japanese restaurant on Urbanspoon

Fusion Chapter 1. Verse 1. The Bonsai Restaurant

I know there's a lot of favourable reviews out there for this place. However I have to say I didn't enjoy the experience. I tried this restaurant a while back, a group of six of us went pretty early. One of the first tables there.

The interior decor is very urbane and gutted factory setting contrasted with what was suppose to be "fine dining" fusion food. The portion is similar to tapas selection, with mainly Japanese influences. It's a very novel concept in Perth as there's really nothing to fill what I perceived as a between cafe eatery and a fine dining fusion niche. I'm honestly not a fusion food fan. A lot of these re-inventions of flavour tend to just change the plating and decrease portion size in favour of earning an extra buck. This place? The seating wasn't very comfortable, the minimalist look is just that a 'look' the feel is not as comfortable or luxurious if you're looking for upscale dining.

We ordered a number of dishes, whose prices in actual Japanese restaurants would have been a bit less. Serving sizes generally does well for 4 - 6 people if you're only having bite sizes. Not very memorable meal menu over all, we had some sushi pieces with 'inventive' fillings and artistic saucing (mayo/spicy), a scallop dish (6 pcs of scallops), some gyoza dumpling combo and some other cooked noodles or something. However each dish is priced between $14-$22, so it makes it for an expensive night out especially without drinks. Spent about 2 hours at $35 each without drinks and not even 1/2 full by the end. Hate to say it but 3 of us seriously considered Maccer's after it. And that is a very bad sign.

Staff was nice, but slightly monosyllabic. Maybe they're going for a haute style. Service level was not as attentive considering it wasn't very packed out and it's marketing position as a 'fine dining' or higher dining. The food came out a bit slow, especially considering most of it was 'cold' dishes. This might mean that everything we ordered was freshly made, but that somehow just doesn't seem like the case considering how cold the sushi rice was.

Oh I nearly forgot, there's also a cafe counter fridge with Asian-Western style desserts, cakes & coffee. I mean A-W because, the presentation looked like Francois cakes, tastes a bit like the old Cakes Unlimited / Mozart / Utopia, faux-creme cakes. Combo price is average cafe price but I must say the coffee prepared was on the bad side.

Still majority rules in the votes and many people have tried and liked it. Personally I prefer honest hearty food and portion sized as opposed to cold glitz and pretense at classy fusion. I have been recommended to go try this again, I'm just not sure if I can stomach it. If you liked it, then that's cool. Don't diss my review, personal experience was bad. If you had a fantastic experience and would like to tout it - let me know and I might go back and review again.

Vote: 1 out of 5 Stars

It wasn't photo worthy.

The Bonsai Restaurant Cafe & Lounge on Urbanspoon

Korean Chapter 1. Verse 1. Tong 86 (Beaufort Street, Northbridge)

What can I say this is one of my comfort eats. It's just comfortable to go there, any day and get a table and fast service. Although sometimes the staff doesn't really speak a very great deal of English, but I like accented waitstaff (as long as they bring me my order promptly). And everything is prompt, unless you want re-fills and this could take a while. You can do a lot of self-service, and just indicate to the boss you did it and what table number. I like the ring bell for service thing too (unless I'm sitting under the speaker).

The neko co. has tried nearly everything on the menu, from all of the portions of meats to the soups and stews. We also go there for the projected K-pop MTV, it's been on repeat for a while. So no new stuff. Just adds ethnic authenticity to the experience I guess. They don't wear gimicky Korean outfits but the food is just as authentic.

The factory feel here is convenient and evolving. Interesting comments and tiddie-bits are written and drawn all over the walls. There's a few rude artworks too, if you can find them. Add your mark, permanent markers are provided. The hanging bottle cap thing is very Korean casual eatery style. There's a lot of bottle cap drinking games a la Korean style. The shochu is cheap, you can mix your own chu-hai (order a fruity drink and self-mix). The makkoli (draft rice wine) takes getting used to if you've never tried something like it before. I like it, it's easier to drink - but it's slightly yoghurty. A bit like calpis / calpico but alcoholic. A friend of mine has called it toilet wash liquid before, but then I don't know when he had the opportunity to drink toilet wash.

the kimchee pancake - although not as great as Took Bae Kee 1 or 2. This is still fantastic in colour!
the ox tongue - alwasy a fav, especially good when you can see a speckling of fat and the slices are thin
the intercostals - not all people like the chewyness, but I find this is the easiest to cook with enough pink inside to taste juicey
the mushrooms - grilled mushrooms
the side dishes - the pickled spring onions is delicious with cooked slices of meat.
steamed egg - yes I know it sounds simple but you have to try this. The soup that you can spoon up in this is delicious. Fluffy yet substantial in flavour!

Traditionally the pork belly would be the top of the list, but I find the ones here are now more often very fatty. And I don't personally recommend the neck chain... it's harder to cook right and tastes a bit tougher.

I've also tryed the fish cake soup - don't really think there's much to it, other than the unmarinaded fish cake slices which you have as a side dish. So not much taste. There's the kimchee soup which is spicy but not as flavourful as the ones I tried at TBK. Has something to do with their kimchee, which is a little bit sourer than others.

I am almost sure if you know Korean, there's extra menu items to unlock. So I need to go there with a Korean friend sometime. Anyone want the job?

Vote: 5 out of 5 Stars
I'll add photos later.

Tong 86 on Urbanspoon

Food adventures - cooking for 6

Like most Chinese people, I over cater. Chronically over cater. I mean, it must be an  in built genetic and cultural belief that there must be enough at any given time to feed double the number of guests you're expecting. Because who knows who else will drop by. And the number of guests you're expecting should always be rounded up by at least an additional 25%. Just in case.

So this is what I listed as menu for Australia Day light lunch:
  • Turkish bread (dips/dukkah)
  • Deep fried chicken wings
  • Spring rolls
  • A salad or two of some kind
  • Maybe a mini quiche thingy
  • Maybe lamb (cutlets) – Sam Kekovich tells me I need lamb to be Australian
  • A baked pastry dessert / olliebollen – depends if I have energy/time to make this in the morning
  • Watermelon
  • Ice cream/icey poles (I have Fruit Yoghurt Splits)
Additional just in case food: nachos, popcorn, BBQ prawns, salt & pepper squid, fish gujons and also an open filo apple pie. Not all of these were done... And this was just the pre-planning list.

I did make 80% of this, I only had from 11 til about 12:30 to cook.
The amount I actually pre-paredcooked:

Plate piled high!

1 mini loaf of Garlic Ciabatta
12 Vegemite & Cheese Palmiers (amended recipe)
24 Salmon & Chive Mini Quiches (amended recipe)
2 kg worth of Deep Fried Chicken Wings
1 kg worth of Parmean Encrusted crumbed Lamb Chops (amended recipe, no salsa)

Antipasto board
1 giant bowl of Garden Salad

1 giant bowl of Watermelon (cubed)
1 giant bowl of vegetarian fried rice (contains egg)
1 (unsuccessful) Banana Tart Tatin (or turn over tart)

Garlic Ciabatta
I bought the ciabatta loaf and just buttered and garlic'd it up! The pre-minced garlic tube you find in Coles or Woolworths is really handy for this and much fresher than jar. It doesn't really beat mincing your own but when you're short on time and expecting guests pronto this is simple cheat.

Vegemite & Cheese Palmiers (amended recipe)
I changed the filling as I didn't have enough parmesan. I used Vegemite & shredded cheddar cheese. I was initially meant to make a pull-apart loaf but didn't have enough time to make the dough. So this recipe was really handy. I only made 1 sheet of puff pastry and it made 12 small palm sized palmiers. Great as a snack. I love Vegemite and cheese and this is a quick and crunchier version of the toastie. The rolling of the puff pastry takes some getting used to, but other wise very easy to make.

Salmon & Chive Mini Quiches (amended recipe)
I find smoked salmon for mini quiches too over-powering in flavour. Instead I used canned Atlantic wild salmon, just very small pieces. I removed the dill from the recipe, not a dill fan. Used chives and 1 more egg. Lessened the cream - depends how runny you like your quiches I think.
Personally, in future I'd remove the salmon altogether and just go with normal bacon quiche lorraine and maybe a vegetarian variation - semi-sundried tomatoes.

Plate filled with quiches, garlic ciabatta & palmiers

Deep Fried Chicken Wings
I had a pre-mix fried chicken seasoning - bought from VHT (Asian grocers). It tastes a bit like what you'd get if you buy nasi lemak fried chicken. But I added extra paprika, salt & pepper and floured the chicken before frying to get more crispy-ness. It was easy finger food, but the frying in a small deep fryer took quite a long time.

Parmean Encrusted crumbed Lamb Chops (amended recipe, no salsa)
No cutlets to be found last minute at IGA. Bought lamb fore-chops, a bit more grissly - little round bone but meat texture-wise same as cutlets. Cutlets are just easier to cook through and pretty. I tenderised and then marinaded the lamb a bit (salt & peppered the lamb and added some dried thyme). Recommendation - mix some rosemary in would be even better than the thyme.

My (unsuccessful) Banana Tart Tatin (or turn over tart)
I didn't have a stove top compatible baking dish - so that's failure number one. I tried to reduce the sugar required for the caramel, failure number two. I also added cinnamon to the caramel... this didn't really affect the recipe. So essentially my caramel failed to "crystallize".
The banana gave out more liquid than I imagined.
Finally, I rushed the pastry part and added too much milk for glazing. This became a scoop out dish, the sugar-hit is deadly even with the reduced sugar. Served with Coffee & vanilla ice-cream, delicious if you have a sweet-tooth.

Idea for next time: just use small ramekins and serve straight from oven with a dollop of double cream on top and ice-cream on the side. Could try this with stewed apples!

The Chinesey recipes I won't bother going into, there's so many easy ways to make these. That you really don't need further instructions from me.

Overall the lamb was a great hit, I shall have to try this again with pork chops or something else. Have to say you do end up throwing out the oil you shallow fry in as the parmesan and breadcrumb mixture just ruins the oil for re-use for anything else.

I'm going to do olliebollen sometime next week and of course try the open filo apple pie this weekend when I find a spare moment to cook them. Tonight... pasta or lasgna?