Savour The Moment | To appreciate fully; enjoy or relish

Fremantle sets the bar @ Chalkys Espresso Bar

Chalkys Espresso Bar, Fremantle

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Wooden and steel furnishings with multicoloured pendant light fixtures hanging from the ceiling.

When I envisioned Chalkys Espresso Bar in Fremantle, for some odd reason, I was imagining a wharf with water surroundings, warehouse interior decor, and neutrals. So when I entered the real Chalkys, I was pleasantly surprised. Wooden and steel furnishings, concrete floors, and poster covered walls, without a drop of water in sight. I thought that the cafe was actually right next to the water, as it appeared on Google Maps, but The Roundhouse is actually next to Chalkys, separated by a tall wall.

I always love Fremantle. I love their use of old buildings and how they turn them into something amazing inside (Melbourne much? Which explains that the owners spent quite some time in Melbourne, taking the Melbourne vibe back to Perth). Their use of interior decorating is astounding and I wish I could channel that into my own home. I was on my day off at work and used the opportunity to take advantage of Perth’s gorgeous autumn weather. I drove down to Fremantle to get something to eat, and to pick up supplies from the super cheap Galati & Sons on Wray Avenue. I had a job application to complete (and I wanted to use their free wifi), so I brought my work along, and mistakingly sat opposite the open door that was blowing an insane amount of wind inside.

I was welcomed by their friendly staff and was given a menu. I decided to treat myself and got a lemon and peppermint lime iced tea by Stolen Recipe. The corn fritters on the menu sounded so mouthwatering, and I usually order corn fritters. I was craving something heavy that day, so I ordered the Hock, which sounded substantial just by the name alone. They had me at “potato and artichoke gratin”… potato always wins me over.

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Stolen Recipe’s lemon and lime iced tea with peppermint ($4.50 for 300mL).

Stolen Recipe’s lemon and lime iced tea with peppermint ($4.50 for 300mL) wasn’t what I expected but it was still nice. It was tangy, a little bit bitter, and reminded me of my granddad’s Chinese medicinal oils with the peppermint. There wasn’t a whole lot of the drink to it, either. Oh well.

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Tower of deliciousness.

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The Hock – poached eggs, master stock braised pork hock, potato and artichoke gratin and housemade hollandaise ($20).

And then the Hock came out! It was huge! It had poached eggs, master stock braised pork hock, potato and artichoke gratin and housemade hollandaise ($20). The photo doesn’t do the food any justice. I honestly couldn’t finish it, but the Asian in me ate the most expensive bits of the meal to get my money’s worth. There was a crazy amount of hollandaise on it too (L wouldn’t approve!). I would’ve liked less hollandaise on it, as too much hollandaise makes Anna’s tummy a little bit upset. There was even a large amount of meat that had been given (the Asian inside of me gave the tick of approval). The potato and artichoke gratin was so delicious, and it helped tone down the full-on flavour from the pork hock. The hock was soft and deliciously braised. The poached eggs were perfectly cooked, but ultimately, there was just too much sauce. You’re either one that likes just enough sauce to not overpower the dish, or you want more, more, more.

I hung around a bit longer to get some work done, and did some people watching. There were those on their lunch breaks, others catching up with their friends on their days off work, some older folk exploring the sights and sounds of Fremantle and decided to pop in for a coffee, and some local university students grabbing some take away. In the end, I wish I had an excuse to come to always be in Fremantle, whether I was a Notre Dame University student or I was working at Fremantle Hospital. Fremantle is a good idea. Good food like Chalkys Espresso Bar in Fremantle is always a good idea.

Rating: 7 out of 10
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Address: 1 High Street, Fremantle WA 6160
Website: http://chalkys.com.au
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Chalky's Espresso Bar on Urbanspoon
Bites:

  • Open every day from 7am until 4pm.
  • They use The Seventh Duchess loose teas! Jasmine Green is one of my absolute faves.
  • Limited paid parking available around the area.
  • They do all day breakfast as well (a major plus in my eyes!).
  • Check out their menus on their website.

- A.

The hidden treasure that is Caversham House

Caversham House, Caversham

Enter, friends!

Enter, friends!

Birthdays can be pretty stressful experiences, especially if it falls upon you to choose the key location for good food and wine. There is the sense of expectation that comes with being the foodie in your family or social circle – people turn to you regularly to select a place that caters for the number of people dining, a specific cuisine, the selected time and date, as well as being a venue that is within everyone’s price range. Luckily, my family are a group of relatively easygoing people, so they weren’t too fussed about where we would be dining. However, you can’t help but feel a little pressured when finding a place that will be suitable for that specific special occasion.

Welcome, welcome!

Welcome, welcome!

Caversham House in Swan Valley is barely a 10-minute drive from my house. My mother hadn’t particularly wanted to go back to Swan Valley (our last three family dining ventures had been there), however I was insistent. I was going to surprise them this time around, with the merits the Swan Valley region had to offer.

Wedding option?

Wedding option?

Storms had been forecast for the afternoon, so I was feeling a tad of trepidation, but as we stepped outside, the weather was absolutely perfect – sun kissed and not too cold, ultimately a pleasant winter’s day! I had booked for 6 people at 1.30pm on a Sunday and our booking had been taken the day previously, with no worries at all.

Stunning!

Stunning!

First off the bat, Caversham House is beautiful. Like, wedding venue beautiful – an apt descriptor, as it is a famed wedding venue in the region. When we arrived, it looked like a wedding had been held perhaps in the morning or the previous day. White marquees fluttered about and the little function room just outside the restaurant had rows of pretty vintage chairs. We stepped inside the restaurant and I was immediately taken by how small the restaurant was – there were seven tables, with our table of 6 being the biggest. Elegance blossomed in every corner – there was a sparkling chandelier, a marble fireplace and walls of ivory white. Next to the room appeared to be another function room, sectioned off by a sweeping grey curtain. At the back was a black leather decked lounge that screamed the 1950’s.

Out in the fields!

Out in the fields!

Class!

Class!

We were taken to our table, with the cutlery painstakingly laid out. It reminded of one of my favourite quotes from the hit TV show New Girl by Nick Miller: “This place is fancy and I don’t know which fork to kill myself with.” It’s a particularly hilarious quote that comes to mind (and launches me into a fit of giggles) when faced with half a dozen silverware choices. The wine glasses were also stamped with Caversham House’s logo, which was another touch of grace and class.

Bread ($3 per person)

Bread ($3 per person)

The staff at Caversham House are paramount professionals – cloth napkins laid on our laps, jugs of ice water placed on the table, followed by leather bound menus. We decided to buy a first course of bread – something our family sometimes indulges in, in order to keep the hunger at bay. Caversham House had house made bread ($3 per person), which was served with extra virgin olive oil and sundried capsicum and olive butter. The multigrain bread came in halved rounds, with a toasty crust and a deliciously moist, warm interior. Bread is one of life’s simple pleasures, and Caversham House sure knew how to work it – my dad compared it with damper, with its spongy texture. The prize went to the sundried capsicum and olive butter, which was not only vivid in colour but also added a Mediterranean feel to our very first appetiser.

Pork Belly ($19)

Pork Belly ($19)

Dad also felt like something else sizeable for his entrée, so he ordered the slow roasted pork belly ($19). The pork belly itself was wonderfully cooked – succulent meat that had a delicate snap and crackle from the topmost layer. The seeded mustard mashed potato was nutty, a complex sweetness coming from the rich jus splashed across the dish. The apple and vanilla puree was also very nice, as were the caramelised apple balls, which added a nice crunch to the dish.

Cheeseburger ($13)

Cheese burger ($13)

The service at Caversham House was so considerate, that we didn’t even have to ask for them to bring out the kid’s food first. My brother’s cheese burger ($13) came whizzing out of the kitchen mere minutes after our entrée dishes were cleared up. We noted that, one, this was a step up from fast food burgers – the bread was something of the brioche variety, with its trademark gleam. Secondly, it had a HUGE patty packed inside it, which dripped with juices with every bite my brother scoffed down. It also came with fries,a fresh salad and some tomato sauce, which would make any child exultant.

Char Grilled Loin of Pork ($)

Char-Grilled Loin of Pork ($39)

My sister’s boyfriend ordered the char-grilled loin of pork ($39), which came with a zucchini rosti, roast pear, baby beetroot, rolled crackle and sage jus. I was lucky enough to try a bite of the pork, which was lip smacking good. It’s so easy to overcook pork, but this one was lovely and tender. Everything else was cooked well, which was a good sign for the rest of the mains that were to come!

Salt Water Barramundi ($)

Salt-Water Barramundi ($39)

My mum ordered the salt-water barramundi ($39), which came with roasted corn and asparagus salad, sundried tomato cake, lemon nage and crispy white bait. Mum’s fish was exquisitely moist, but lacked that crispy skin that some barramundi dishes possess. She was particularly impressed by the white bait and the sundried tomato and potato cake. The corn asparagus salad acted like a colourful salsa.

Fillet of beef ($39)

Fillet of beef ($39)

The fillet of beef ($39) was my dish, which came served with a potato fondant, parsnip puree, baby vegetables and traditional wine jus. I was really craving a steak that day, and Caversham House didn’t let me down. The steak was a fine piece of meat, with a bit of height to it. I had requested it medium rare and it appeared to be more on the medium side, but I was still really pleased with it. It was tender and easy to masticate, the mark of a quality red meat purchase. The parsnip puree was smooth, with the red wine jus wrapping everything in a magnificent bundle. The potato fondant was a column version of the humble roast potato, complimented by a small cylinder of eggplant, carrot and asparagus, all which had been immaculately cooked. What a dish!

Breast of chicken ($39)

Breast of chicken ($39)

My sister’s breast of chicken ($39) was moist, stuffed with bocconcini, thyme roasted cherry tomatoes, corn puree and a pancetta rosti. My sister placed a portion of chicken considerately on the border of my plate, and I was immediately smitten by it. Chicken breast isn’t my favourite selection (I’m more of a thighs person), but this one was well cooked and seasoned generously with lemon and herbs, giving the chicken some great flavour.

Knickerbocker Glory ($10)

Knickerbocker Glory ($10)

We polished off our mains and quickly moved onto dessert. My brother ordered the monstrosity that was the Knickerbocker Glory ($10), the only dessert option on the children’s menu. I get a bit fearful when the foremost name of any dish exceeds three syllables, just because it could be a rather complicated contraption – luckily, the Knickerbocker Glory was pretty straightforward, a sundae of vanilla ice cream, chocolate sauce, raspberry coulis and marshmallows. The dessert was topped with a chocolate wafer which my brother couldn’t finish it – rightly so, the whole thing was just huge, a tower of sugar.

Lemon delicious ($15)

Lemon delicious ($15)

My lemon delicious ($15) was a square of lemon syrup cake, which gave me a smack of acidity as soon as I put it into my mouth – it had a lovely light, fluffy texture singing with notes of citrus. The strawberry compote was a nice accompaniment, and the vanilla anglaise was standard. The brandy snap ring added an arty, abstract element to the dish, and tasted like a giant honey crackle (my 13-year-old brother’s words, which was received by murmurs of agreement by everyone at the table). The block of chestnut parfait didn’t have a lot of chestnut flavour to it, but it had the best texture – almost marshmallow-like in consistency and was very generous in quantity.

Banana mascarpone mousse ($15)

Banana mascarpone mousse ($15)

My dad opted for the banana mascarpone mousse ($15), which was accompanied with banana compote, Italian meringue and caramelised peanut puree. Dad said he could really taste the potent flavour of the banana, and the plating presentation was very impressive. I had it in my head that the mousse would come in a martini glass, but I shouldn’t have underestimated Caversham House’s penchant for refined modern dining – my favourite element was the banana pieces frozen in glassy caramel, which was very inventive and looked striking on the plate.

And after….

And after….

…. you arrive at this place!

…. you arrive at this place!

We used our Entertainment Cards, resulting in our total bill being around the $200 mark – we were pretty chuffed with the discount, and the service had been on the ball from the get go. Our main waitress worked in a straightforward manner, quickly and cleanly. We were checked up on multiple occasions by the restaurant director Davide, who was easily charming. Water was filled up on many instances, and the food was incredibly timely. It was fine dining done well, upholding a high standard of quality control. On top of this, it wasn’t only just refined food, but very family friendly, by including a children’s menu.

Simply stunning

Simply stunning

Best of all is the post-lunch walk. Down the limestone stairs of Caversham House hides a gushing waterfall, moss covered walls, statues and a jetty leading out to the bubbling Swan River. It is exactly like something out of the Secret Garden, picturesque and perfect for photo taking opportunities. Also, their lawn is immaculate. Who is their gardener?

Just like a European garden!

Just like a European garden!

Sometimes you get places around Perth that inflate their prices due to the views, but there are those rare moments when you get everything you could possibly need in a memorable dining experience. Caversham House was one of those examples, which boasted green pastures, great service and wonderful food. If you are looking for a place to take family out, from interstate or overseas, Caversham House would be your best bet.

Rating: 7.5 out of 10
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Address: 141 Caversham Avenue, Caversham 6055
Website: http://www.cavershamhouse.com.au

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Caversham House on Urbanspoon

Bites:

  • Open Wednesday to Sunday for lunch (11.30pm to 3pm, last orders at 2.30pm).
  • Entertainment Book Gold Card discount, one complimentary main course for when another main course of greater or equal value is purchased (up to $40 in value).
  • Reservations available, contact Davide at restaurant@cavershamhouse.com.au or call (08) 9279 1167.

-L.

Top 10 Places To Eat feat. Melbourne (Part 1) + Happy 1st Birthday STM!

SAVOUR THE MOMENT is officially one!

We can’t believe it’s been a year since STM started, and we’ve had the privilege to meet some awesome people along the way. We’re grateful for all the opportunities that have come, and we are especially grateful to our family and friends for putting up with our photo-taking-before-eating. And we are especially grateful for the people who actually read our posts or oogle over the food photos. Thank you so much! Hopefully the next year will be bigger and better!

To commemorate our first anniversary since starting Savour The Moment, we are posting a special post that is something a little different from our usual food reviewing posts. We love Melbourne, and people always ask us what’s good to eat in Melbourne. To be honest, EVERYTHING is good in Melbourne.  Whether you’re a regular traveller to Melbourne, wanting to try something new, or it’s your first time, we hope this list that we have compiled is helpful to you.

We’re planning on publishing more lists in the future, as it gives us a break from writing reviews after more reviews, so stay tuned!

x

Lyvia & Anna


Top 10 Places To Eat

Melbourne: Part One

In February 2014, L and I travelled to Melbourne for roughly 10 days to eat to our heart’s content. I had been to Melbourne multiple times, but it was L’s first proper visit (the first time was a family trip which involved no venturing into the city!), so it was up to me to show L what Melbourne was famous for – the food and coffee! We wanted to write a review about our experience but it got all too much. We aimed to eat three meals a day (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) all at different places but we soon realised our stomachs were not prepared for this, no matter how hard we tried!

Unfortunately, food poisoning got the best of me at the beginning of the trip (can you believe that!?!), and as much as I tried to hold it all in me, L took the reigns and ate for two, for me! As my appetite started to come back, I indulged as much as I could.

We’ve come up with this list for those who are stuck on what to eat in Melbourne, whether it’s the first time, or the tenth time. I have included some places I went to prior to this recent visit that I had to add to this list. Also, this is not the complete list as pretty much everywhere we went was good. In the beginning, we carefully prepared and planed a list of everywhere we wanted to visit, and it got overwhelming, so we hope this list helps, and you don’t become overwhelmed like us!


PLACE: Chin Chin (Melbourne CBD)

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WHAT’S TO LOVE:
When you hear that long queues is an issue with a restaurant, then you know that it’s amazing. We were lucky enough to grab one of the last tables straight away, five minutes before there was a long line developing outside. Chin Chin does the most delicious South Asian food with the biggest menu we’ve ever seen. We devoured the palm sugar ice cream sundae with salted honeycomb and a lime syrup dessert. Make sure you come early — we came at 5:30pm and it was mostly full!

Address: 125 Flinders Ln, Melbourne VIC 3000
Website: http://www.chinchinrestaurant.com.au

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 PLACE: The Grain Store (Melbourne CBD)

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WHAT’S TO LOVE:
The Grain Store screams out what you expect in a Melbourne restaurant. From its exposed ceilings to the wooden furniture, the food is also stunning in taste and presentation. All the breakfast dishes sounded so gourmet and the best bit? It wasn’t even too expensive (average of about $17), which you would expect them all to be well over $20 in Perth. Get anything on the menu and you’ll love it.

Address: 517 Flinders Ln, Melbourne VIC 3000
Website: http://www.grainstore.com.au

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 PLACE: Proud Mary (Collingwood)

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WHAT’S TO LOVE:
Humbly located in the back streets of Collingwood, Proud Mary is always busy and we can understand why. Proud Mary does one of the best coffees in Melbourne. They have a small menu but it’s their coffee that shines the most, according to the locals. Their service was friendly and welcoming, despite it being busy, which made my solo dining experience. My potato hash filled me up for a long time, and I would re-visit Proud Mary in a heart beat.

Address: 172 Oxford St, Collingwood VIC 3066
Website: http://www.proudmarycoffee.com.au

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 PLACE: Auction Rooms (North Melbourne)

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 WHAT’S TO LOVE:
Auction Rooms combines two of my favourite things — Warehouse converted cafes. Auction Rooms focuses on good coffee with their coffee station positioned in the centre of their cafe. Their food has consistently been great. Their interior is amazing and they use their dining space well, utilising every available area for more patrons. Auction Rooms has always been a favourite of mine, with their amazing coffee and hearty breakfast choices being one of the best in Melbourne.

Address: 103-107 Errol St, North Melbourne VIC 3051
Website: http://www.auctionroomscafe.com.au

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 PLACE: Luxbite (South Yarra)

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WHAT’S TO LOVE:
Luxbite in South Yarra is a must go for anything travelling to Melbourne, before, during, or after shopping along Chapel Street. Luxbite has the most delicious sweet desserts and are so beautiful that you wouldn’t want to bite into them. Their many different flavours of macarons are unique and delicious. We shared the Monster Meringue that was delicious, sweet, and enough between us. I’ve had the Endless Love, like a massive macaron, which was just as good as the Monster Meringue.

Address: 38 Toorak Rd, South Yarra VIC 3141
Website: http://www.luxbite.com.au

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 PLACE: Cutler & Co (Fitzroy)

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WHAT’S TO LOVE:
One of the best restaurants that my boyfriend and I have ever been to. Located in Fitzroy, and easily accessible via the tram from the CBD. Their service is impeccable, and we were more than happy to spend a fortune on dinner here. I still remember the perfectly cooked barramundi I had for dinner, even though it’s been more than two years since I first visited. A must go for any special occasion.

Address: 55-57 Gertrude St, Fitzroy VIC 3065
Website: http://www.cutlerandco.com.au

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 PLACE: Cumulus Inc (Melbourne CBD)

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WHAT’S TO LOVE:
Same owner as Cutler & Co, Cumulus Inc in the CBD is sleek and classic with beautiful decor and huge windows to bring in the amazing natural light. Their food is intended for sharing but we chose to have our own mains as I had a stomach bug. Their menu is more on the pricey side, however the food is spectacular. My John Dory and mussels main was so delicious, but the highlight was mango jelly, coconut and lime sorbet granita. Make sure you try their breakfast, which is what they’re famous for!

Address: 45 Flinders Ln, Melbourne VIC 3000
Website: http://www.cumulusinc.com.au

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 PLACE: Chez Dre (South Melbourne)

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WHAT’S TO LOVE:
Found in an alley way in South Melbourne, Chez Dre epitomises Melbourne, showcasing the best of what the city has to offer. From the beautiful interior design to its gorgeous selection in their patisserie and bakery, everyone should be visiting Chez Dre. Everything on the menu sounds amazing, however we recommend the Avo Luxe, which had so much flavour and texture to it. Definitely one of our favourite places in Melbourne.

Address: Rear of 285-287 Coventry Street, South Melbourne VIC 3205
Website: http://www.chezdre.com.au

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 PLACE: Naked In The Sky (Fitzroy)

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WHAT’S TO LOVE:
Recently featured in season five of Offspring, Naked In The Sky is a rooftop bar and restaurant with amazing panoramic views of Fitzroy with the skyline of Melbourne CBD. Naked In The Sky is above the restaurant, Naked For Satan, and their Spanish food is all about sharing. The grilled beef skewers were deliciously tender, and the meatballs were full of flavour. A great place to go to with friends for dinner and drinks.

Address: 285 Brunswick St, Fitzroy VIC 3065 (located on the rooftop)
Website: http://www.nakedforsatan.com.au/naked-in-the-sky/

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 PLACE: Seven Seeds (Carlton)

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WHAT’S TO LOVE:
Seven Seeds’ specialty is coffee, but they also excel in food. They are also responsible for Brother Baba Budan, just a few hundred metres away, also with amazing coffee. Set in an old warehouse, they offer a small menu and they are always consistently busy, as Melbourne University is also very nearby. My Heirloom tomato medley on toasted Turkish bread with cauliflower cream, shaved pecorino & a poached egg was light and simple but packed with so much flavour. What I loved the most about Seven Seeds is that they open at 7am, perfect for that early morning breakfast before you sadly fly out of Melbourne.

Address:  106-114 Berkeley St, Carlton VIC 3053
Website: http://sevenseeds.com.au

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Of course, this isn’t the end of our Melbourne list, so keep a look out for part two, coming soon!

- A.

All photos taken by A.

Back to Basics with Black Swan

Black Swan Winery, Swan Valley

Just a glass...

Just a glass…

There are more than your fair share of wineries in Swan Valley, and the best ones all have three basic features. Number one, polished, professional service, that eagerly caters for the customer. Two, the food uses fresh produce and sounds fancy (and almost always looks fancy, with clean plating and all), but naturally tastes delicious. Three, it is a restaurant surrounded by spectacular views (usually greenery, encompassing rows and rows of vineyards). Black Swan luckily has all of these dot points checked off, which I was pretty relieved about, as I had chosen this place to take my mum out for the day. I was just about to head off to New Zealand for a work trip for over a month (and Mum was going back to her hometown of Malaysia for a high school reunion), so I was looking forward to some quality mother-daughter bonding time.

Surf and Turf ($)

Surf and Turf ($40)

The Surf and Turf ($40) was appealing to my steak and seafood cravings for the day. I like to think that I am getting to the stage of my life when I know when prawns are cooked well, and these ones were king sized, fresh and translucent. They had a beautiful natural sweetness to them, with a slight smokiness from the garlic, the marks of something lovingly cooked. The grilled rib eye (250gm) was a little overdone, more medium to well done than my mum’s requested medium rare, but it was such a succulent cut of meat, it almost didn’t matter. The dauphinoise potato was a buttery layer after layer of my favourite vegetable. Everything was roped together by an opulent Shiraz jus. The green beans were also cooked to perfection. An almost 10 out of 10 dish!

Chicken 2

Baked Chicken Kiev ($37)

My baked chicken kiev with a brie and apricot farce ($37), was more of a miss than a hit. I had been enticed to try it because it was stuffed with brie, and was expectantly waiting for an ooze of creamy, soft cheese to spill out – instead what trickled out appeared to be a failed version of my béchamel sauce at home. It had a chunky consistency, which looked like the milk solids had separated from the oil content of the cheese. I didn’t really taste much of the apricot either, which would have been a wonderful flavour addition. The chicken however was delectably moist, a portion of the leg and the breast. The polenta cake was nice, but a little too grainy for me – I love my polenta with a silken, smooth texture. Portion size wise however, it was very filling. The orange rum glaze was also a lovely accompaniment to the dish.

Peach Cobbler

Peach Cobbler ($14)

The peach cobbler ($14) was my favourite dish of the day, with a crusty crunch at the top. It wasn’t too sweet, and was hot and moist, like a pudding. A beautiful tartness came from the peaches.The crème anglaise had an oily like film to it at the very top, but it was packed with potent vanilla flavours, and was a nice pairing with the cobbler. The toffee shards were a tad on the thick side and gummed our teeth together, but it added a nice touch.

Hello cobbler

Hello cobbler!

There was a bit of a wait for the mains (about 30 minutes) despite the fact it was pretty quiet in the restaurant that day. I believe there were only four other tables inside at the time with us, the biggest being a crowd of 6 people. The staff however, were very professional, pleasant and exceptionally polite. I think what made the wait all that more excruciating were the heady, wafting aromas emitting from the kitchen – you could tell there was some cooking magic going on in the background!

A touch more of my mum's dish!

One more of my mum’s dish!

A table for two!

A table for two!

The views were wonderful and the service was great, but unfortunately the food was a bit of a mixed bag. The dessert and my mother’s surf and turf had some great moments, but I was a bit let down by my chicken dish. Also, I wasn’t a big fan of the wait – the last time I had been there, I had also experienced the same issue, which perhaps could be down to the need to have one more person in the kitchen? Black Swan Winery is a nice place to go in Swan Valley, but there are a few places you could probably venture to that would have the whole package.

The vineyards!

The vineyards!

 Rating: 6 out of 10.
★★★★★★★☆☆☆

Address: 8600 West Swan Rd, Henley Brook 6055
Website: http://www.blackswanwines.com.au

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Black Swan Winery and Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Bites:

  • Open 7 days per week for lunch from 11:30am. Open for dinner Wednesday through to Friday starting from 5:30pm and Saturday evening starting from 6pm.
  • The Cellar Door is also open for the wine enthusiasts, with wine tasting bookings available through the website.
  • Entertainment Book Gold Card Discount: 25% off up to $40 in value.
  • Bookings available through phone phone (08) 9296 6090 or via email info@blackswanwines.com.au.
    NOTE: Wednesday and Thursday evenings are subject to sufficient bookings.

- L.

So A Little Bird Told Me…

Little Bird Café, Northbridge

Loungin' around

Loungin’ around

The best thing about having foodie friends is that they can often give you brilliant recommendations. A few of them had rave things to say about Little Bird Café in Northbridge, so I was keen to give this little corner café on Newcastle and Lake St a chance. It just so happened that my group of friends and I had decided to organise a quick catch up during lunchtime (on a work day too – adventurous!).

Steak Sandwich

Steak Sandwich ($17.90)

I followed the footsteps of my friend’s boyfriend and grabbed the steak sandwich ($17.90). It was so unbelievably good. There was a time in my life where all I would order at cafés would be steak sandwiches – since the craze, I haven’t really ordered as many (I tend to overdose on certain types of food), but this one was a revelation in my mouth. Juicy, tender beef fillet, with a slurry of caramelised onion. Rocket popped out from the sides and the sourdough bread was buttery and lightly toasted. I could not stop, bite after bite.

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Lamb Burger ($14.50)

The lamb burger ($14.50) had a chewy bun, with a touch of crustiness to it, which was easily squashed to sandwich the tender lamb patty. The lamb patty crumbed easily in the mouth and was a touch pink inside. Ginormous slices of cucumber and avocado laid inside (the avo was a smart addition – I usually don’t like greens, but when integrated as such, I have no particular qualms). The house made chutney was fantastic, sweet, tangy and packed with fresh tomatoes. You could tell it was the real deal.

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Salted Caramel Chocolate Peanut Cake ($6.50)

I also got a slice of the salted caramel chocolate peanut cake ($6.50) – a combination of all my favourite things in life. The slice was hands down the single biggest slice of cake I have consumed in my life. Thankfully, there were three people on hand to devour it. The popcorn on top had a salty, crunchy caramel coating and peanuts specked the top. The chocolate ganache was rich, but the cake itself wasn’t a diabetic shock – it was rather crumbly and dense (rather than moist), which actually worked in our favour, because it broke up the richness of the peanut butter icing sandwiched in between each layer.

Cakes galore!

Cakes galore!

Cinnamon cake

Cinnamon Cake with Orange Maple Buttercream ($6.50)

The cinnamon cake with orange maple buttercream ($6.50) was a four tier monster – cloud-like sponge, the cinnamon not too prominent. Sugar speckled icing was slicked in between each layer and smeared on top. The candied orange was surprisingly soft, and sticky sweet. I ate it from the bottom up (don’t ask me why, I just felt like it), which seriously affected the structural integrity of the cake. A mammoth amount of fresh cream lay off to the side – it was a bit too runny for my liking, but the top had been sprinkled with this sugary crumb, which reminded me of the caramelisation you get on top of a crème brûlée.

Take away smoothie for the road

Take away strawberry smoothie for the road!

The strawberry smoothie I ordered as a take away supplement tasted just like the ones I use to make at home, when I was going on an all-liquid diet (projecting note to future self – don’t try that fad diet again… it turned me into Godzilla). It was a good $8 at Little Bird (collective gasp), but it had my favourite combination of strawberry, milk, banana and raw honey. I think I will just have to succumb to the fact that drinks with fresh fruit, like smoothies and thickshakes, are always going to be around the $7/$8 mark in Perth…

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Help yourself to free water (with a fruity twist)!

I had the misconception that Little Bird Café was all about the health food/raw food craze. I couldn’t have been more wrong – whilst there were definitely items catered for the health conscious, there was plenty on the menu to keep the rest of us entertained food wise. Big plates of man food for me, for example. The variety across the board was very inviting!

The interior had a very autumn feel about it, warm hues with a striking splash of violet and forest green. There were plastic winter berries inside containers of coffee beans, and a bird motif flowing throughout the café, with a large spacious place to eat and dine, or to grab a quick coffee with mates. It’s also delightfully sunny inside, with floor to ceiling windows, making you feel that all is right with the world.

Splattered picture!

Splattered picture!

Service is down-to-earth and enthusiastic here at Little Bird. They give service with a smile, which is always great to see, and you can tell they go out of their way to please customers. There are pitchers of water here too, with glasses for self service. Not ordinary water by the way – jugs bobbing with fresh strawberries, mint, orange or lemon slices (whatever you fancy). With food to suit anyone, and some seriously killer cakes, Little Bird Café is a brilliant place to catch up with friends or workmates. A great spot for any kind of meal!

Rating: 8 out of 10.
★★★★★★★★☆☆

Address: 100 Lake Street, Northbridge 6000
Website: http://www.thelittlebirdcafe.com

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Little Bird Cafe on Urbanspoon

Bites:

  • Open for breakfast and lunch, Monday to Friday from 8am to 3pm, and on Saturday and Sunday from 8am to 4pm.
  • Little Bird Cafe does an all day breakfast including buckwheat pancakes, granola and a sweet potato hash!
  • Free wifi available inside!
  • No reservations, walk in’s welcome.

- L.

For the Love of Sushi @ Aisuru Sushi

Aisuru Sushi, Subiaco

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My first Aisuru Sushi experience a long time ago wasn’t exactly a positive one. It may have been the high expectations with all the positive experiences many people have had, but my friend and I weren’t prepared to spend more money to fill up our bellies. We ended up going to Korean BBQ for a second dinner, when we went for the first time to the original Northbridge restaurant. A year had passed and I decided to give the second branch in Subiaco a go, as a special lunch with my boyfriend, before I was due to fly out to Seoul that afternoon.

Aisuru Sushi isn’t your average sushi bar. Their renowned sushis are almost a work of art. Their interesting mix of ingredients blend together to create delicate flavours. You’ll be wow-ed at pretty much anything on their large sushi menu. They also do an a la carte menu that ranges from teriyaki beef, to chicken karaage, to delicious fresh Japanese salads for starters (and more), as well as yakitori! Their Subiaco fit-out is similar to their Northbridge branch with the white walls, dark floors, blue fluorescent lighting, and an open dining space, which is gorgeous in my opinion – you don’t always need to fill spaces in a restaurant (especially in typical fast food Japanese restaurants) with more tables and chairs.

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Inside!

There wasn’t a huge wait for lunch, so we managed to get a table straight away amongst the other diners. We ordered straight away as my boyfriend had to get back to work in precisely 50 minutes. My boyfriend opted for the a la carte meal, as he is not a huge fan of sushi and he doesn’t eat seafood. As it was just me eating the sushi, I decided to pick two flavours in sampler portions (four pieces). I am a huge fan of sweet sauce with sushi so I couldn’t pass up on the special plum sauce that was featured in one of the sushis… yummmm!

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Agedashi Tofu – Single serve of golden brown deep fried tofu, served in a tentsuyu broth ($8.50)

My sister always raves about agedashi tofu… On and on and on about it. I had my first taste of agedashi tofu when my sister, brother-in-law and I went to Japan a month earlier in this almost-dodgy-but-totally-authentic restaurant in Shimbashi, Tokyo – no one spoke English, we could only refer to the menu by pointing at the pictures, and the first thing my sister said was “agedashi tofu” when we attempted to order (which they understood, of course). And oh my lord, it was some seriously good tofu. Now I order it every time I have Japanese, so when I saw it on the menu at Aisusu Sushi, I had to order it straight away.

This agedashi tofu was a single serve of golden brown deep fried tofu, served in a tentsuyu broth ($8.50). The tofu was crispy on top, and moist on the bottom after sitting in the sweet, sweet tentsuyu broth. The tofu itself was silky smooth – so good. The broth had dashi, mirin and sho-yu (Japanese soy sauce), which was sweet yet salty, the perfect flavour to go with the bland taste of the tofu. So darn delicious. I could drink the tentsuyu broth alone.

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Plum Flower Roll – Chicken teriyaki and avocado wrapped in nori and shari. Wrapped again in tamago egg wrap and drizzled with special plum sauce ($9)

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Plum Flower Roll – Chicken teriyaki and avocado wrapped in nori and shari.Wrapped again in tamago egg wrap and drizzled with special plum sauce ($9)

My Plum Flower Roll ($9) came out first, which had chicken teriyaki and avocado wrapped in nori and shari, wrapped again in tamago egg wrap, and drizzled with special plum sauce. It looked gorgeous with the plum sauce drizzled all over the tamago. I tucked straight into it and polished the plate off. Everything was so fresh. The rice was moist and held together with every bite. I absolutely love tamago. The sweetness in the egg coupled with the savoury flavours of the chicken teriyaki, was tender and delicious. All the flavours balanced out. Asian dishes do so well because of their fusion of sweet and savoury flavours, even if it’s their desserts as well – and this dish is a perfect example of those sweet and savoury flavours working together to create a party in my mouth.

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Spider Roll – Fried soft-shell crab, cucumber and lettuce, wrapped in nori and shari, topped with black sesame seeds and drizzled with wasabi mayonnaise ($11.50)

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Spider Roll – Fried soft-shell crab, cucumber and lettuce, wrapped in nori and shari, topped with black sesame seeds and drizzled with wasabi mayonnaise ($11.50)

Did I have to eat this?? How gorgeous does it look? This is Aisuru Sushi’s Spider Roll ($11.50), which has fried soft-shell crab, cucumber and lettuce, wrapped in nori and shari, topped with black sesame seeds and drizzled with wasabi mayonnaise. I foolishly overlooked the “wasabi mayonnaise” on the menu, as I stopped reading at “fried soft-shell crab”, so I received a mighty surprise when I had my first bite (as I can’t take chilli at all). Even though this sushi looks as if it’s some kind of sushi mutant, it tasted pretty amazing. The fried soft-shell crab was just perfect – soft, crunchy, moist, fleshy. The other components of the roll – lettuce and cucumber – had the right amount in there, so that the fried soft-shell crab was still the star of the roll. Whilst the cucumber and lettuce provided the extra crunchiness of the Spider Roll, the outside was lightly rolled (or even just gently sprinkled) in the black sesame seeds providing that gorgeous contrast against the white rice. And the wasabi mayonnaise? The wasabi was a little subtle, however I am still not a fan of wasabi, so I tried to scrape off as much as I could.

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Chicken Karaage – Marinated and fried tender chicken thigh with spicy mayonnaise sauce, served with steamed rice, salad and miso soup ($15.50)

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Miso soup

My boyfriend wanted something a bit more substantial (plus he’s a huge fan of beef teriyaki), but he decided to get something different this time. He had the Chicken Karaage dish which came with marinated and fried tender chicken thigh with spicy mayonnaise sauce, served with steamed rice, salad, and miso soup ($15.50). He didn’t enjoy it that much, saying that it was nothing special and not worth the $15.50 price tag. He stated he would rather go to Taka for a cheaper and better tasting meal. My boyfriend isn’t a huge fan of miso soup as well, but I love it, so I was more than happy to have his. The soup was okay. It had the usual salty taste, nothing much to rave about.

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The blue fluorescent light, reminiscent of the Northbridge branch

Aisuru Sushi is not for the average wallet, as it is priced more on the expensive side for Japanese food. The sushi is what Aisuru excels at  their ingredients are fresh and their flavour combinations are perfect. I wouldn’t go if you’re starving, however it would be a nice place to have some dinner before a show at Regal Theatre (just a few doors down), or a movie at Ace Cinemas next door, or for a special dinner date. I would recommend the sushi rather than the a la carte menu. Their service is friendly and attentive at times (unlike the first time I went in Northbridge, the waitress asked us if we were ready to order literally – no joke – every 30 seconds, and after the 6th time, no one came for 15 minutes…). However there was somewhat of a language barrier as well, and they were quite keen to take my plate away when I was clearly still eating, which is what people have been complaining about according to reviews on Urbanspoon. I think Aisuru Sushi is a wonderful addition to Subiaco as I find there is a lack of decent restaurants in the area. I would visit again but not all the time as I find paying more than $10 for four slices of sushi is more than what I am prepared to pay. However it’s a nice place if you want to impress someone special, or to take some visitors to Perth and show them a different side to Japanese cuisine.

Rating: 6.5 out of 10
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Address: 480 Hay Street, Subiaco WA 6008

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Aisuru Sushi on Urbanspoon

Bites:

  • Aisuru Sushi in Subiaco is open every day for lunch at 12pm until 2:30pm, and for dinner from 5:30pm until 9pm, except Friday and Saturdays closes at 9:30pm. Closed on public holidays.
  • They take reservations on 9381 2919 or email them at aisurusushi@hotmail.com (the Northbridge branch doesn’t take reservations), but does not do take away (yet the Northbridge branch does).
  • Their Subiaco store seats about 120 people, great for groups.
  • Their full size sushi plates come with 8 pieces, and their sampler comes with 4 pieces.
  • For the vegetarians and vegans – they have sushi rolls you can eat!

- A.

Sugar & Spice… And All Things Nice!

Sugar & Nice, Inglewood

Welcome to one of the best  afternoon places on Beaufort!

Welcome to one of the best afternoon places on Beaufort Street!

There are several essential things you need in order to be a good food blogger and having a decent camera is one of them. Sadly, I have the absolute worst luck with technology – many things (i.e. laptops, desktops, printers, iPads etc., the list goes on) have died on me during the most inconvenient of times, usually out of the blue. This particular day, it was my digital camera, my Canon 650D. For someone who had food plans all weekend, this was a category one disaster – not having an adequate camera to take good food photos would lead to all sorts of frustrating situations.

Take a seat inside

Take a seat inside…

The Canon’s lens had decided to malfunction, meaning that I had to quickly duck into JB Hi Fi in Malaga to grab a replacement. The staff at JB Hi Fi are seriously some of the nicest, most helpful people in the business – they recommended me a quality single lens, whilst I waited for my new one to come in, which fitted easily on my camera. Just in time too – I was going on an eating spree that week, so I needed to sufficiently prepare myself, for what would be imminent snap shots of food, and me constantly saying, “could you please move your arm/hand/empty plate/mobile phone/face AWAY from the camera.” Thank you.

That mesmerising front counter….

That mesmerising front counter….

In addition, my sister and I had our My Kitchen Rules instant restaurant that night. It was a fun event that my friend had organised between eight of my closest friends, and was sure to stack on the pressures of expectation, such as cooking to order and plating presentation. My sister and I had done a lot of prep work that morning, so after grabbing my camera lens, we decided to try out Sugar & Nice, which had barely been open a week. A baby! Despite this, I had an inkling that it was going to be wonderful – and I was pretty accurate in my projection.

Just a few trinkets inside!

Just a few trinkets inside!

The interior designer of Sugar and Nice leaves plenty to be pleased about – it’s gorgeous! Delicate, feminine, but with a playful feel. The booths were dark grey, fitted with yellow spots that looked like buttons. They matched with the yellow and white striped wallpaper too! My sister had turned her keen eye to the front counter, a layout which was like something taken out of a modern American kitchen – white tiles on the walls, patterned floral counters in powder blue, glass cabinets and china cake stands. Flowers jazzed up the ambience, and the whole place was dimly lit. It was all rather romantic and intimate! Best of all was the great merchandise surrounding the shelves towards the back, an assortment of jewellery, accessories and hand care products.

Latte

Latte

Hot ginger tea

Hot ginger tea

To start off with, I had some hot ginger tea (which is always the best kind of herbal to have with any cake-based treat). It came in a little pot and was hot, heady and aromatic. My brother had a hot chocolate that was downed in mere minutes (no surprise there) and my sister had a latte. The barista had worked her magic for both the latte and hot chocolate – the milk had an even, silky consistency with a decent amount of froth for both. My sister’s latte even displayed a brave attempt at latte art – a beautiful heart.

Red Velvet Cupcake ($4.50)

Red Velvet Cupcake ($4.50)

My sister and I shared one of the red velvet cupcakes ($4.50). I used to work at a cupcake shop and remember devouring one a many cupcakes during my days there – they were buttery, dense things that were packed with sugar. Luckily, the ones at Sugar and Nice were contrary to these typical features. The red velvet cupcake was exquisitely light and fluffy inside, ruby in colour and not excessively saccharine. There was a cloud of icing on top, reaching up for the sky, which sadly was a little grainy with sugar. However, the icing was thoughtfully sprinkled with crumbs of the red velvet cake, just to add to the decoration!

Cookies & Cream Brownie Slice ($)

Cookies & Cream Blondie ($5)

Hot chocolate

Hot chocolate

The cookies and cream blondie ($5) was worth every cent. It was this delicious slab of chunky, crumbling, brownie–like concoction which again, wasn’t too sweet. I loved its marbled pattern and the shards of oreos embedded on the top. So very good, one of the best slices I’ve had for a long time!

Salted Caramel Slice ($)

Salted Caramel Slice ($3.50)

My sister also had the salted caramel slice ($3.50) which was a tri-layer of biscuit, caramel and chocolate. The salted caramel was on the ball – gooey, oozy, golden, with flecks of salt. The chocolate on top was fudge-y and rich, the base easy to plough through. There were rows of salted caramel slices encased in the glass, set on marble slabs, twinkling at us tantalisingly.

One more of the interior decor!

One more of the interior decor!

The only problems I have about Sugar and Nice are all future foreseeable predicaments (and rather selfish ones), with none of them being particularly negative. I have a feeling that Sugar and Nice is going to be so popular in the coming weeks and months, that soon I will be unable to find a table in the quaint little cake shop. Will they expand? Will I have to resort to take away? Will I be able to try everything on their menu? #firstworldproblems

Just another day!

Just another day!

What is there to love about Sugar & Nice? Lots. Heaps. Loads! Sugar and Nice has a great ambience – an eccentric décor, which is wielded with a touch of dainty class. It’s cozy with sexy jazz and blue tunes playing in the background. The service is friendly and comfortable, with happy smiles. The slices, cupcakes, bread and almond balls are gorgeously presented and taste wonderful. They also do rose chocolate and baci if you are up for a chocolate fix. Sugar & Nice would make a fantastic high tea place, or for a lovely catch up with friends. I can’t wait to show off Sugar & Nice to everyone I know!

The unmistakeable shade!

The unmistakeable shade!

Rating: 8 out of 10.
★★★★★★★★☆☆

Address: 882 Beaufort St, Inglewood 6052

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Sugar & Nice on Urbanspoon

Bites:

  • Sugar & Nice is open Monday to Friday, 8.30am to 5pm, Saturday from 8am to 5pm, and Sunday from 8am to 4pm.
  • They have a coffee window open from 7am (Monday to Friday) if you need a pick-me-up!
  • They also do cakes, cupcakes and macarons for birthdays, tea parties and other events!
  • Walk in’s only!

- L.

Nine is ultimately fine @ Nine Fine Food

Nine Fine Food, Highgate

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Gorgeous big pendant lights in Nine Fine Food!

Nine Fine Food has been one of my most-wanted-to-visits for years. Regarded as one of the best Japanese restaurants in Perth, its humble exterior on the corner of Lake and Bulwer Streets in Highgate wouldn’t make you think it’s anything special. However, when you enter the big glass doors and into the dark and moody room, it’s fancy, intimate, and classy. They have been around for many years, and winning numerous awards year after year, specialising in Japanese food with a Modern Australian twist.

My girl friends and I decided to go to Nine Fine Food for a catch up dinner, and had a booking made prior. It was already quite busy when I arrived at 7pm, proving that the restaurant is still quite popular. And going through the menu, I could understand why. Everything on the menu sounded so good, with the most delicious flavours marrying together on one plate – Lamb and scallop, and pork and pork (for the pork lovers) for entrees, and barramundi and prawn, and salmon and scallop for mains – all just what I needed that night! All fresh, well-known Australian produce with the Japanese flavours sounded like almost perfection. We promptly gave them our large list of dishes (for four girls).

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Fresh Sashimi (cold) ($18) – Fresh Sashimi Combination with Salmon, plus extra salmon ($2)

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Beef Tataki (cold) ($18) – Light grilled Angus Beef tenderloin fillets (rare), fresh herbed Yakumi condiments and Yuzu Lime Ponzu dressing

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Beef Tataki (cold) ($18) – Light grilled Angus Beef tenderloin fillets (rare), fresh herbed Yakumi condiments and Yuzu Lime Ponzu dressing

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Lamb & Scallop ($18) – Braised miso lamb shoulder, lightly grilled scallops, zucchini, fresh greens and balsamic soy dressing

I had the Lamb & Scallop ($18) for my entree, which had braised miso lamb shoulder, lightly grilled scallops, zucchini, fresh greens, and balsamic soy dressing. It was exactly what you get from fine dining restaurants – tiny, small sizes. There were two shredded piles of braised lamb, and two perfectly cooked scallops that had been lightly grilled, but it tasted as if one scallop was more grilled than the other. There was so much flavour in all the elements of the dish – the chewy sweetness in the scallops and the braised lamb, the soft but crunchy zucchini, and lots of sauce to fuse the flavours together. It was a very delicious entree, and enough to tease me as I awaited our mains.

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Fried soft shell crab with wasabi caviar cream ($6)

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Salmon & Scallop ($34) – Atlantic salmon fillets, grilled scallops, Tobico caviar, sweet potato, yuzu mascarpone and creamy rice wine vinaigrette

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Beef Tenderloin Steak ($36) – Grilled Black Angus beef tenderloin steak, sautéed mushrooms, mash potato, fresh greens, dukkah, creamy rice wine and olive oil reduction

My main was so delicious. I had the Beef Tenderloin Steak ($36) that had Grilled Black Angus beef tenderloin steak, sautéed mushrooms, mash potato, fresh greens, dukkah, creamy rice wine and olive oil reduction. I asked for the meat to be cooked medium, which ended up being cooked more on the pink side, however this was exactly what I wanted (I like more of a medium rare, but I ask for medium just to be safe). I just wanted more and more of the meat. The meat was so tender, making it so easy to cut through. The mash had the right balance of nutmeg spices in it. It was soft and creamy with the nutmeg giving texture. There were two lotus crisps on the mash, which made it look like a mouse, which I thought was funny. There was also a lot of the creamy rice wine and olive oil reduction that had a distinctive alcoholic taste to it. All in all, it was a really delicious and memorable dish.

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Banana Azuki & Chocolate Roll ($10) – Azuki red bean, fresh banana and chocolate in hot spring roll with vanilla ice cream

It was dessert time, and we decided to go all out and order all their desserts to share. I introduce to you my favourite dessert of the night, the Banana Azuki & Chocolate Roll ($10). It had Azuki red bean, fresh banana and chocolate in hot spring roll with vanilla ice-cream. I would highly recommend this dish. If Japanese desserts aren’t your kind of desserts, then this one is a must. The Japanese love their red bean (literally everywhere in Japan and Korea) and it featured in this dessert. The spring roll was crunchy and hot, and had that delicious chocolate and banana inside. Fruits were scattered everywhere on the plate, and all the tanginess of the fruit were brought together with the simple sweetness of the vanilla ice cream. This dish was very delicate and just so delicious.

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Tiramisu ($6) – Creamy tiramisu, crushed peanuts and cookies

We had the Tiramisu ($6) which had creamy tiramisu, crushed peanuts and cookies. The Japanese love creating their own take of the Italian coffee-flavoured dessert – I always see it on their dessert menus. Honestly, this one was quite average and I probably wouldn’t recommend bothering with this dessert. It was still nice but the other desserts totally outshine this one. The tiramisu was more of a cream than having the usual delicious sponge.

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Kuro Goma Gelato ($5) – Black sesame gelato, crushed nuts and cookies

I was really excited to have the Kuro Goma Gelato ($5), which is basically black sesame gelato, that came with crushed nuts and cookies. Black sesame gelato might not be for every one but this one was so good – it is one of the best black sesame ice creams that I have ever had. The gelato tasted really fresh, and you could taste the freshness of the black sesame in it. Highly recommended!

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Matcha Brûlée ($6) – Lightly torched green tea custard brulee

My friends and I love green tea, so we had to have the Matcha Brûlée ($6) that was basically lightly torched green tea custard brûlée. I was glad the top wasn’t burnt (I hate it when it’s burnt). The dessert was good, and the green tea flavour stayed throughout the custard brûlée, with that famous crunchy top layer. The brûlée was hot, smooth and delicious.

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Nine Fine Food’s dark walls, big pendant lights and timber blinds sets the intimate mood instantly

We used our Entertainment Cards which made us so happy (we could use two), because it took a huge chunk out of the total bill. Using two cards gave us a maximum of $60 off when applying 25% off the bill, which took roughly $53 off, totalling to approximately $160 (also including Japanese tea). Not bad between four people for the amount that we ate! The service was friendly and attentive. Nine Fine Food would be perfect for those intimate dinners for special occasions.

Rating: 7.5 out of 10
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Address: 227/229 Bulwer St, Highgate WA 6003
Website: http://www.ninefinefood.com.au

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Nine Fine Food on Urbanspoon

Bites:

  • Open Tuesdays to Saturday from 6pm until late, and closed on Sundays, Mondays and public holidays.
  • View their menus on their website here.
  • Bookings are recommended on (08) 9227 9999 with a maximum of 8 people.
  • Entertainment Book Gold Card – 25% off total bill (up to $60).
  • Free street parking is available on Lake and Bulwer Street.
  • BYO alcohol only at $3.50 per person.

- A.

Best ramen in Perth (so far) @ Nao Japanese

Nao Japanese, Perth

Nao Japanese has always been one of me and my boyfriend’s favourite places to eat in Perth for a cheap and filling meal. We’ve had our fair share of ramen around Australia and internationally, but it wasn’t until we travelled to Japan in 2013 that we could compare Nao to their authentic ramen. And we are positive that we have found the best ramen in Perth (so far). Nao is a hugely popular restaurant where I constantly see queues forming outside, and securing a table can take at least 15-30 minutes during the busy periods. We’ve been a couple of times — a few times for lunch and a handful of times for dinner, and we’ve managed to get a table with an average waiting time of 10 minutes, so it’s best to go during the odd hours.

To us, when it comes to ramen, it all comes down to the broth. The saltiness and the fiery hotness of the broth that leaves your tastebuds burnt for a good number of days makes it all worthwhile. One of the best bits of ramen is choosing the delicious toppings that comes in a variety of choices, such as slices of pork, boiled egg, bamboo shoots, dried seaweed, corn (my favourite!), and loads more.

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On the walls, the beauty of trees….

Nao is a fairly small restaurant, seating roughly about 25 customers at one time. Their menu can be confusing, but the first page explains the process fairly well. Basically, you choose the broth you want — shoyo (soy), miso (soy bean paste), shio (salty), and spicy (spicy miso). Next, you choose your noodles — white (plain egg noodles), green (spinach infused noodles, extra $0.50), and red (red chilli infused noodles, extra $0.50). The noodles all come with simple toppings — bean sprouts, spring onion, bamboo shoots, wakame (fresh seaweed), nori (dried seaweed), and a slice of chashu (sliced roast pork). You can also add extra toppings if you need something more. We usually get extra chashu ($3 for 4 slices), and pork spare ribs ($3.50).

They also offer their own popular ramen options, in which I usually choose the miso butter and corn ramen ($12). I chose this one on this occasion!

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Miso butter and corn ramen with plain egg noodles, and added extra chashu slices ($15).

I had the Miso butter and corn ramen with plain egg noodles, and added extra chashu slices ($15). I always try to get extra pork ribs (one time I did and you get these big meaty pieces that is so juicy and tender), and this time (again) they had sold out in the ribs.

I love this broth the most because it’s so indulgent. The butter gives the both that delicious salty taste and the corn gives that chewy texture and pops of sweetness with every chew. The taste is authentic and true to the ramen in Japan. There is a bulk load of noodles in the broth which I always struggle to eat all of it. I found all the toppings in the broth, which is a nice surprise every time I found them — the woody bamboo shoots with so much flavour in them, the slimy but chewy wakabe for that subtle seaweed taste, and the thinly sliced chashu for the delicious meaty component, with the slithers of fat embedded in the sweet meat. I love, love, love this ramen, but I never can drink the broth because I’m so full by the end of it!

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Miso butter and corn chashu ramen with extra spinach infused noodles (+$3), and extra chashu slices (+$3) and chicken ($3 for 4 pieces) ($21.50)

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Delicious!

My boyfriend got the Miso butter and corn chashu ramen with extra spinach infused noodles (+$3), and added extra chashu slices (+$3) and chicken ($3 for 4 pieces) ($21.50). What he loves about ramen is the different toppings you can put in it to customise it. He also agreed that Nao’s broth is very similar to the ramen in Japan, which he believes is Nao’s strongest point. And that’s why Nao is so popular — it’s the closest thing to authentic Japanese ramen, without having to take a 10 hour flight.

Don’t be scared of the green noodles (spinach infused noodles). These noodles don’t have a strong spinach taste, but rather retains that green colour. I couldn’t find much difference between the green and white egg noodles, but the spinach infused noodles may give that extra healthy benefit. The chicken pieces were crazy tender and soft. As you can see, my boyfriend is a mad carnivore.

Nao also does tsukemen (dipping noodles), which is basically the same as ramen noodles but the noodles and the soup are separated. The noodles are cold, and the soup is warm, and as the name suggests, you “dip the noodles” into the soup. I’ve had this before in Japan but I prefer the hot ramen, essential for those winter days!

Also, Nao does an a la carte menu that includes takoyaki, rice based dishes, sushi, gyoza, and more. We’ve had the gyoza before which weren’t too bad either. They also have a small dessert menu, which we got green tea ice-cream the first time we went, but it wasn’t the best (the texture of it wasn’t as nice). We’ve stuck to the ramen noodles every time we’ve gone, which isn’t so bad because we always walk out with a full and happy belly!

Nao’s service is quite casual but very quick. Their turnaround is fast to accommodate the queues. Otherwise, they are very friendly and respectful to all their patrons, practiced in the Japanese culture.

We have yet tried every ramen in town but so far, Nao comes close to being the most authentic. Although ramen in Japan is priced at at least $10, Nao Ramen is worth every cent.

Rating: 8.5 out of 10
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Address: 117 Murray St, Perth WA 6000
Website: http://www.naojapaneserestaurant.com.au/

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Nao Japanese on Urbanspoon

Bites:

  • Open six days a week, Monday to Thursday from 11:30am until 6pm with last order at 5:30pm, Friday from 11:30am until 9pm with last order at 8:30pm, and Sundays from 12pm until 5pm with last order at 4:30pm.
  • I would recommend going during the odd hours, such as after the mad lunch time rush or go for an early dinner.
  • Nao does not take any reservations.
  • Not recommended for large groups (possibly maximum of four) as the restaurant is too small to accommodate large groups.

- A.

Coffee at 1905 in Northbridge!

1905 Coffee on Newcastle, Northbridge

Inspiration for places to eat usually comes in the form of social media or via word of mouth. Occasionally, I’ll happen to be walking down a street and a little café or restaurant will pop up, immediately rousing me to stick it down on the “must go” list. This was the case for 1905 Coffee on Newcastle – it was a place that I had been past numerous times before, as my friend used to live in the block of apartments just across the road. When it came time to choose a quick lunch spot, I recalled my bestie and I meandering around the Northbridge area, hoping to grab some Chinese groceries for her steamboat party and stumbling across 1905 Coffee on Newcastle. Hence it came to be my target lunch spot for the day!

Hey there 1905!

Hey there 1905!

The best thing about 1905 is its serenity. Newcastle Street is one of the quieter streets during a weekday in the Northbridge area, with only a few cars zooming down the street, compared to the jam packed William Street nearby it. The inside of the cafe was packed with empty chairs and tables, so I grabbed a menu and sat down, peering over the breakfast section. There were a short list of items to choose from drink and food wise, as well as some tasty options in the glass cabinet at the front counter.

pancakes with chopped strawberries

Pancakes with chopped strawberries ($13.50)

The pancakes with chopped strawberries, banana, maple syrup and a side of whipped cream ($13.50) was a strong recommendation from the man at the counter. It didn’t take long to come out and I was instantly spellbound by it. The crepes were paper thin and just like the one’s dad makes at home, with a light crunch on the very edges of the pancake. Cafes often think they can get away with using aged fruits with pancakes, but 1905 happily deviated from that notion, the dish boasting some suitably fresh banana and slices of strawberry. The maple syrup was splashed delicately across the plate and dusted with a flurry of icing sugar. Once I started eating them, I couldn’t stop – they were so good (and I wasn’t particularly hungry either!). They were addictive.

Rose Tea ($)

Persian Rose Tea ($4)

I also ordered a pot of Persian Rose tea ($4), a strong black brew with hints of rose flavouring in it. It stayed hot for a good hour or so, as I sipped through it. It also gave me time to check out my surroundings! The outlay of 1905 Coffee on Newcastle is rather contemporary and classy. The high ceilings and white washed alfresco area makes it the ultimate Northbridge café, providing an aura of spaciousness. It reminded me of a condensed version of Country Road Café in the CBD, tucked away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

Toasted pumpkin, spinach and feta baguette ($7.50)

Toasted pumpkin, spinach and feta baguette ($7.50)

For lunch I also ordered a toasted pumpkin, spinach and feta baguette ($7.50) from the counter. The pumpkin was thinly sliced, the spinach wilted, with curls of sun dried tomato housed in a crusty baguette. The morsels of crumbling feta fell everywhere as soon as I took a monster bite, as did tiny bits of mustard seed. It was a decent size too, sliced in half for easy consumption and a sure one for the vegetarians!

Bookcases!

Bookcases!

Service was fantastic at 1905 – everyone was very friendly and approachable, especially the man at the counter. Free wifi password needed? No problem, grab the username and password at the counter. Directions to the toilets? Quickly shown to them at the back. My Macbook was running low on battery? No worries, I could use one of their power points. A very customer friendly place!

I wasn’t the only one to receive special treatment. A girl came into the store looking for a job, and whilst they didn’t have any availabilities, they were keen to list a few places that the girl could potentially apply for. Another lady came in for directions somewhere and they opened up their laptops to show her the way (Googlemaps for the win!). The staff were people pleasers, going out of their way to deliver the goods.

They also maintained great professionalism in rather adverse circumstances. Two ladies and a man came in, rather too loud and obnoxious for my liking. They sat at the couch at the front and instead of going up to order, proceeded to shout their drinks and food order to the woman at the counter, with very little manners intact. It was an eye roll worthy moment. Having worked in the customer service industry for a good number of years, I would have been instantaneously turned off by their attitude. The crew at 1905 didn’t even bat an eyelid – they took the order, patiently explained what drinks they had (could the three people not have consulted a menu?) and were exceptionally pleasant. I was in awe at their resilience in the face of adversity.

There was also plenty to keep you entertained in the cafe itself – books, magazines, and newspapers. It could cater for any type of customer. In addition, it served some great food at very reasonable prices. A lovely little gem that I am looking forward to going back to!

Rating: 7 out of 10.
★★★★★★★☆☆☆

Address: 231 Newcastle Street, Northbridge 6003
Website: http://cafe1905.com.au

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1905 Coffee on Newcastle on Urbanspoon

Bites:

  • 1905 Coffee on Newcastle is open Monday to Friday, 7.30am to 3.30pm.
  • Catering options available, check out their website for more information!
  • No reservations required, just walk in!

 – L.

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