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Thursday, December 29, 2011

Holidays at Home: Back in Malaysia.

I reckon 2011 is the year which I have been away from home the longest. 11 months to be exact.  I have been home for a week now and boy life has been pretty interesting. Ok, not quite that considering how much I’ve been doing nothing but rolling in my bed!  Nevertheless, the comfort of home never leaves me dissatisfied.  Factor in the yummylicious hawker style food and roast, and damn its good!  Over the weekends mom brought me out for lunch in the city.  Located on Peel Street, this stall is one of the more unhygienic places to dine but then again, it is these sort of restaurants that keeps the culinary scene in Malaysia authentic and unpretentious.  Operated by a crew of elderly woman, parents and I feasted on some of the tastiest morsels of chicken feet and meat roast served with authentic ‘oily rice’.


The BBQ Pork or Char Siew is one of the roast meat that is almost NEVER good back in Perth.  Often served smothered in honey, I’m totally left speechless with the reinterpretation of this meat roast in Perth.  Putting disappointments aside, this Peel road specialty is definitely one of the best ones in KL.  With its outer bit slightly charred, it is crunchy on its outer bit with a melt in your mouth layer of lard.  Taste wise, sweetness is not overpowering and is instead very tasty as a whole.  Yums!  But I do have to say, it gets a little scary after awhile.  The fat is not exactly the healthiest thing either haha.  But still a damn good eat!



The chicken feet was another highly recommended dish by my parents that day.  Even my sister thought the chicken feet here is absolutely yummy! I thought so too! The chicken feet here is braised until everything just falls of the bone effortlessly.  Its sauce was soy based giving it a salty finish but that did not quite satisfy me as I was hoping for another taste not just saltiness.  Nevertheless, chicken feet fans should definitely give this place a try!



Lastly the roast pork was another dish here which was totally kickass.  As always, the requirement for a good roast pork includes defined layers of meat with a well marinated bottom layer finished with a crispy skin which carries a good crunch.  And if its in Perth, the quality of pork is always questionable as the meat are sometimes a little porky which can be a turn off!  Again, this is another Peel road specialty which gets me drooling even as I am typing now.


When we were done with the food, the total bill came up to Rm35 including drinks and 3 serves of rice.  Nothing beats such value and it is these sort of places where the make or break comes purely from the quality of its food,  not from the ambience or whatsoever.  I am totally a sucker for this place now.  Coming NYE, perhaps a swim at the clubhouse would be a good start to the morning before having lunch here! *drool* *drool*!


HK and Taiwan in 1 weeks time.  But before that, sometime with the darling and her family in her hometown! HOLIDAYS! RWARRR!



Thursday, December 22, 2011

Bites: Shiro Japanese Restaurant @ Perth

I was recently invited by Daniel to tryout his new establishment set in the heart of the Perth CBD area.  Shiro Japanese restaurant sits nicely in Central Park just beside the Commonwealth Bank.  With an awesome decor that faces the park, it really is a nice place to be regardless of night or day.  If you have a big group, Daniel even has a long table capable of accommodating a large group of 20 or so. Moving on to the food, Shiro offers a variety of Japanese cuisine including some which are given catchy names like the Rolls Royce or the Salmon GTR.  This made me excited and I was dying to try some.  As the list was long, I definitely could not afford to order every single item and limited my choice to the dishes which Daniel had in mind for my friends and I.


For starters, we ordered the:


The Soft Tofu Salad @ $7.90 has two serves of bean curd on a mayonnaise dressing topped with spring onions and red cabbage.  While the accompanying sauce was decisively delicious enough to go with the tofu, it was the texture of the tofu that my dining companions and I did not like so much.  For us, a tofu with a smoother texture would be highly preferred.  Nevertheless, it was still a decent opening to our meal that night.



Our next appetizer was the Namban Tsuke or the cold fish tempura @ $7.90.  According to Daniel, the fish is deep fried before being marinated for about 24 hours or more.  To me, this was really quite enjoyable.  Its sauce in fact reminds me of the sauce typically found in Thai dishes which is usually a concoction of sweet, sour and salty; and to a further extent, fruity. My friends were also agreeable with some commenting that perhaps a little more softness in the fish would have been appreciated.  But I reckon for something that will be left in a marinade for 24 hours, it does have to be a little over fried than normal.



The Sunomono Salad @ $13.90 consisted of Prawn, seaweed, and cucumber smeared with ponzu sauce.  For me, this was exceptionally pricey for something that I find to have capture the freshness of all its elements but for a young crew like me, “meh”!!! Instead “karaage” all the chicken, throw all the ponzu and and mayo party please!  Perhaps a mature audience only show?



Our next appetizer was the Ocean’s 5 @ $37 which was a HIT! The serve of scallop, yellow tail, tuna, snapper and salmon were one of the freshest in the business.  No wonder Daniel says its a big hit with its customers.  Everyone thought it was delish and another serve would undoubtfuly be much welcomed.  Even the scallops were still fresh and sweet!



After ending our sashimi note on a high, we moved on to a slightly toned down version which to me was the best dish that night.  The Salmon Aburi Maki or Salmon Belly blow-torched before being topped with flying fish roe and drizzled with mayonnaise on sushi rice captures all the sweetness and richness one would expect from a fatty fish belly.  It was faultless with a certain melt in your mouth feel.  Boy how can you not want that aye?  My words?  Definitely worth the $5 price a piece!  But do not expect Moby Dick to land in your tummy when you are done because I WARN you its small.  Its more of a delicacy, not a main course but damn it was good!



The Rolls Royce as it name suggest should be no less than luxury, exclusivity and satisfaction on a plate. For $23, you get 8 pieces of sushi filled with lettuce, crabstick, and cucumber topped with diced prawn tempura, Unagi, cucumber, onion and tiered with apple sauce, teriyaki sauce and Japanese mayonnaise, finally topped with scallion and tobiko.  Hmmm. not bad!   While it might be hard to distinguish or appreciate the effort spent in preparing this dish, do not be fooled.  It was truly deserving although at this particular time, it has started to feel as if the Japanese Mayonnaise that I truly love so much is starting to weigh down on the dishes.  Nevertheless, Fishman in particular found this dish worth coming back for.  I’d second that.  Definitely beats those outrageous looking Spider rolls which is no more than a show.



Next we moved on to a main that we ordered to share, the Toothfish braised in Shiro style soy sauce @ $34.90.  At first, it looked really good.  Perhaps my expectations were slightly more than your typical filleted teriyaki fish.  But it was the sweetness which I though made this dish a little difficult to eat.  Having some sugar in foods can be good such as how having salt in chocolate foods help bring out its flavour.  But too much and you know you have messed up.  This was exactly how it turned out for me.  Not quite there but I reckon there is still space for improvement.  The little darling agreed with me too and thought that this was too sweet for her liking.  But looking back in retrospect, this is the kind of sweetness most Caucasian like is it not?  Cannot blame Shiro for keeping up with consumers need.  Then again, I was here for authentic Japanese food with a touch of creativity and excitement. Looking back then, I realise this does not quite satisfy my requirements.



The chicken Teriyaki @ $19 was decent but I would not say it was the best. For me it lacked the fragrant that I desire in every chicken Teriyaki.   Neither did it carry that lovely contrast between the skin and the flesh.  Í am super keen of the Teriyaki at Kanta’s and this definitely does not match what I was looking for.  However, taste wise, it was not too far away.


Over all, our meal was pretty good at Shiro’s Japanese Restaurant.  While the things like Rolls Royce, Salmon Aburi and Ocean’s 5 are likely to leave you wanting for more, it is the other missing minor details like the sweetness of the tooth fish or the poor consistency of the tofu that will leave you wishing for improvements.  Nevertheless, it is still a brilliant place.  I have read most private reviews and one thing consistent is about the price Shiro charges.  I do have to admit that some foods are  expensive such as the soft tofu salad  @ $7.90 or the Sunomono Salad @ $13.90.  Even the Teriyaki @ $19 seems luxurious for what you get.  Perhaps a slight revision would help draw the crowd.  But based on its prime location, it is no wonder that such prices are charged.  Perhaps the targeted crowd is not you and me but corporate people dining at the company’s expense. So if that is the case, I have all the right reasons the believe that Shiro will go a long way and become a successful establishment in the heart of the city, and this is because it serves good food; and truthfully, people will be willing to pay.  Thanks for the 10% discount Daniel :D!



Shiro Japanese Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Monday, December 19, 2011

Bites: Birthday Date @ Jacksons, Highgate.

On my birthday, the little darling brought me to Jacksons.  When we stepped in, we did not know what to expect from one of Australia’s finest establishments except a large price tag.   Seated at one of the more private corners, the restaurant looked rather classy but spared the clutter which was to me a good thing.  One disturbing thing though, was the silver bull head ornament that was glaring at us the whole night from the wall beside our table.  Scary! Enough said :)! Looking through the menu, Jacksons have an impressive list of culinary delights which had me drooling for a bit.  But deciding what to have was not easy so we decided to go for Jacksons degustation which spanned 7-course long.  See what we had below!


Complementary bread basket.


Consisting of house made bread rolls, lavosh & cheese sticks the ‘free things’ actually made us quite full even before we started.  I guess strict family upbringing didn’t quite allow me to waste food :P!  Moving on, one of the best things about the bread basket was the butter which accompanied the savoury pastries.  I cannot distinguish origins of a slab of butter but the lescure sea salted butter from France as mentioned on the menu website was absolutely yummy.  To a certain extent, it tasted slightly like cheese!  Bread rolls with some pink salt and butter was perfect chemistry.  Perhaps a slightly warmer bread roll would be welcomed!



Next was the complementary amuse bouche which was what I can say one of the best tasting starters of all time.  A crisp cone filled with some gazpacho sorbet, fetta mouse and did I hear asparagus foam too? To finish it was a small serve of red onions.  As advised by the waitress, I had it in one shot and wow! It was really good.  The taste was a mix of saltiness, and sweetness with that necessary addition of red onions finishing it off on a delightful note.



Next was the chilli squid, compressed watermelon, Thai salad and a small serve of peanut to add texture. Chilli squid was cooked to perfection without any hint of rubbery texture. The Thai salad on the other hand had all the necessary acidity which brought out the flavours of the squid with the peanuts providing a slight crunchiness which was already present in the fresh salad. To finish off, the sweet melon provided a soothing finish that kills of any spiciness that might be present. This was easily the best appetizer that night. As darling is partially allergic to seafood, the courteous crew at Jackson’s reinterpreted this dish using tofu to replace the squid and to darling’s delight, it was flawlessly recreated!


The next course was the  Cambinata yabbies, spring onion pancake & tomato.


For most parts of this dish, it was good.  But spectacular? Perhaps not quite so!  Yabbies were fresh, and the accompanying sauce was good.  Could not really tell what sauce was used but it spelt seafood.   Moving on,the truffled eggs did not quite have that truffle taste but it was every bit satisfying in terms of texture and taste.  But the name might be a little deceiving to some.  For me the downfall of this dish was the spring onion cake which tended to be annoyingly sticky on my tooth at all times.  It did not turn out to be as crunchy as I expected it to be.  Taste is not its strong point either.  But regardless of its flaw, I’d reckon that  this dish was still good. Perhaps a distinction?



Seeing the dish itself made me giggly, especially the part with the Chinese sausage.  For the little darling, yabbies were a big no-no! Instead she had a crispy skin pork belly with seared scallop and Chinese sausage.  In my honest opinion, the crackling was divine and darling did agree.  Chinese sausage was Chinese sausage. Asked about the scallops and darling says she forgot. I guess it was alright?  But unfortunately, the pork belly meat tended to have a little porky smell which was fine to me but not so much to her.


Next was a dish we were both fine with, the fish dish.


The fish of the day was the cod fillet encrusted with a shark bay crab crust served with nicoise salad.  I tell you OMG. I have been known to be particularly fussy about my fish.  While the fish here was really good, quail egg was yums,and  the sauce was no different either, the smell of the entire dish was horrible.  I had to put the anchovy aside.  The nicoise salad was not really my type of salad but I had it anyways.  This was definitely the lowest rated dish of the night.  I felt like the salad did not really complement the fish enough.  I am honestly not as expert and the chef at Jackson’s should know more but those are just my thoughts :)!


The second complementary dish was a beautiful lamb roast served with pickled radish and root vegetables on a carrot puree.


Is it just me or are the complementary courses really kick ass at Jackson’s?  Even darling who strays from lamb because of its gamey odour thought that it was really nice.  The attentive kitchen crew even carved out the vegetables to maintain its original shape! For me, tender lamb was all the rave but perfectly cooked vegetables definitely help this dish triumph over its former course of fish.


The last appetizer for the night was the hare & mushroom Empandilla, red wine & chocolate sauce with runner beans. 


The Malaysians have the curry puff, the Italians the Calzone, Indians the Samosa and the Spanish the Empanada.  Unfortunately, Jacksons reinterpretation of the little Empanada or Empanadilla did not quite satisfy us.  The mixture of hare and mushroom did not quite excite my senses as it felt rather blend.  Beans were just for show but sauce on the other hand rather special.  Also, I did like the crisp pastry coating the outside of the Empanadilla but as I started chewing through it, hmm was it undercooked?  Or perhaps it was intentional?  Overall this was OK but not mind blowing.


At this time I was already stuffed to the brim but our mains have yet to arrive. For me I had Jackson’s surf n turf.


Looking at Jackson’s plating and style of surf n turf definitely strikes you as something unlike conventional surf and turf which usually sports a large steak topped with creamy garlic prawns.  At Jackson’s its a travel through a cow.  Funny term. But you get a small piece of sirloin, a tongue steak and a beef cheek. As for the prawns, the chefs decided to ditch the garlic and was instead cooked with an orange infused cream sauce.  The crusted beef cheek was tender with a tasty marinade.  Somewhat reminds me of my date with the little darling at Nine Fine Food where the lamb and scallop served was flawless.  The tongue steak was equally satisfying.  Unlike Japanese restaurants that serve tongue steak slightly chewy, the tongue steak came with a melt-in-your-mouth feel giving it a creamy texture.  And the sirloin itself was cooked medium and fared well with it being tender in each bite.  Tiger prawns was ok but it was the sauce that tasted brilliant. Much kudos to that. 



The darling on the other hand had the pheasant stuffed with foie gras served with sauerkraut, ham hock, and carrots carrots.  The game bird was exceptionally tender and soft.  Makes me wonder how it was cooked.  Foie gras had minimal effect on taste but it added texture to the dish.  Sauerkraut was a lot nicer than conventional German ones which is a lot more sour.  I guess it is a good thing that it is less sour :D!  Overall, darling thought it was nice. 


After resting a bit, the wait staff brought out our next course, a savoury dessert.


Right of from their website, Boise la tradition with a black pepper & white balsamic vinegar strawberry salad and crumbs for texture.  Over all, darling and I felt that it was decent but tasted rather mature and we could not quite appreciate anything on that plate.  Darling herself is not quite a fan of pepper.  As for me I did like the cheese and strawberries but the pungent taste from the herbs and spices were quite unwelcoming.  But I believe though that it was actually good for other people and think that it is a question of personal preference.


Next was the third complementary dish, a dessert which consisted of biscuit bits and lemon curd topped with a rosemary meringue.


Seriously, this dish was another give me five or what?!  Darling thought that the meringue bit was a little too sweet but for me, the whole dessert was just spot on.  It really amazes me how the rosemary played an important role in toning down the sweetness making the dessert delicious.  The lemon curd itself was smooth throughout and everything really worked well together.  I liked this a lot!


As for the next dessert course, we had:


For dessert we had tea and coconut brulee with a violet macaron, lavender ice cream and honeycomb.  Darling says it was good but this differs significant from her preferred dessert which usually sits around a combination of berries, chocolates and ice cream rather than herbs. For me, I thought it was a little weird at first but after a few spoon too many, I got hooked and ended up really enjoying the dessert.  Brulee  was refreshing, ice cream felt light and texture wise, creamy in every spoon.  Very entertaining dessert.  I liked it :)!


After finishing the dessert, I thought we were finally done.  Jeans were already starting to feel tight and home was nearby.  Couldn’t wait to jump in and snooze of.. and just when you thought you were done, the waitress offered us drinks and brought us little things to accompany our hot drinks and to end our night.


Two truffles were the ‘things’ that night.  One was a white chocolate truffle with blood peach and raspberries while the other was a milk chocolate ganache.  Both were the direct opposite when it came to taste.  The white chocolate truffle felt refreshing with a hint of fruitiness from the fruits which were served in a jelly like form.  Very nicely done.  That was darling’s favourite that night.  The chocolate truffle on the other hand was served slightly melted so that once in your mouth, all you get is that delicious sensation of chocolate.  To me both was equally good but given the state we were in after so much food, I reckon the white truffle with blood peach and raspberries prevailed the better of the two.


By the end of the meal, I was definitely stuffed but at the same time was really happy.  1 year older but tonnes happier.  Good to have finally graduated as well.  It was all a very good feeling yet slightly mixed.  Jackson’s for one is definitely a memorable dining experience. Could make it a yearly occasion as I believe it is truly deserving.  Impeccable service paired with top notch food will satisfy even the fussiest eaters around.  There was little to fault with. If anything I had to complain about, it would probably be the garnishing which seems to be a little repetitive but acceptable anyways.  Other than that, perhaps the fish could do with a little more improvement? Before we leaving, the little darling and I gave the waiter a little tip believing that it was well earned.  She provided us with explanation for every food detail and where hygiene is concerned, all staff at Jacksons wear white gloves which gives it a classy look but at times can look slightly intimidating as the gloves look no different from the ones used in the medical field?



Jackson's Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Bites: Izakaya Sakura @ Northbridge

Standing where a previous Izakaya restaurant once stood, Izakaya Sakura is the successor to Ayami which despite is decent quality food and excellent service,  did not stay for long.  Stepping inside with the little darling, I find that little has change since my visit last year.  The decor, the sitting layout, and even the bar still sits on the same spot as it was during Ayami.  Putting that aside, upon our arrival, the prompt service by the waitress was welcoming as she reviewed our booking and brought us to our sits. 


Izakaya Sakura


After spending just moment on our seat, the waitress presented us with 3 miniature bowls filled with cold appetizers.  Each were $3 and so we decided to take 2 out of the lot.


The potato salad was nice, clean and refreshing unlike its western counterpart while the pickled vegetables were just as good.  Slightly sweet with a hint of sourness due to the sweet vinegar used in it.  Overall, it was a good appetizer which helped enhanced our appetite that night.  To be honest I was already starving and having sour foods did not help at all @@!


Izakaya is equivalent to Tapas where diners call small serves of food to share.  In Australia, this is becoming an increasingly common offering.  In my dictionary of Izakaya restaurants, diners are spoilt with choices such as the over-mentioned Ha Lu, Kanta, Satsuki, and a whole lot more.  Tonight the little darling and I picked an assortment of dishes.  Some old, some new.  Our first dish for the night was the Mentai Mochi Cheese.


Set upon a bed of shredded cabbage was 5 mochi topped with spicy cod roe before having cheese melted on it.  The end product while far from outstanding was a different experience.  Something so chewy as mochi when heated further created a very very chewy thing which I have to say, I chewed until I got tired.  Spicy cod roe felt a little wasted here unfortunately as the taste did not quite complement nor stood out in this dish. Nevertheless, don’t try, won’t know! A good experience but next time I might shy away from it.


Next was the Buta no Kakuni or Japanese braised pork belly.


I’m not going to hide the fact that good pork belly pleases me ALL the time.  This version made by Izakaya Sakura was every bit satisfying.  Melt in your mouth bits of pork doused with sake-fragranced sauce was lip smacking.  Also, do not be put off by the liquid-y sauce as the perfect balance of sweet and saltiness is good!  A bowl of rice complimented this dish perfectly.  Also, do not leave out the poor mustard as it has a good chemistry with the pork belly.


Next was the Agedashi Tofu which is one of the little darling’s favourite.


While some places tend to deviate from the traditional way of serving this bean curd dish, Izakaya Sakura served it in its most common form which almost never fails to deliver.  This might not be outstanding when compared to all the other restaurants, but as a bean curd lover, keeping up with the standard was all I needed.


Next was the Karaage with a Citrus Ponzu sauce.


While KFC has been keeping their special recipe a secret for many years now, they did not realise that the Japanese does not even need it.  One of the worst kept Japanese secrets has got to be the Kaarage which despites its simplicity, never fails to deliver to this unhealthy appetite of mine.  Crispy yet tender and with a marinade that is tonnes more appetizing than a KFC, this was yums!  If there was anything there which I could fault with, it has got to be the rate the citrus sauce made the chicken soft.  Otherwise, this was good :)!   Other than these dishes, we also called a sashimi which to me was terrifying.  But darling nevertheless help devour those 1/2 inch thick salmon slices which is so ewww!


We finished the night with a simple dessert called Taiyaki which simply means Japanese pancake filled with red bean paste with green tea ice-cream!


Darling’s a dessert lover and I can tell that she enjoyed this.  While we were expecting the pancake to have a crispy wafer shell, it was none of that and turned out soggy instead.  But fret we shall not as the green tea – red bean combination never fails to deliver.  The ice cream by itself was just spot on.  Green tea was refreshing and did not leave any powdery  sensation on my palette.  Creamy in each scoop. WoW! The weather is scorching today and damn I would like a serve of Taiyaki!


If anyone were to ask me whether I’d recommend Izakaya Sakura, I would.   Despite ordering quite a fair bit of food, the total bill was somewhere around $70 for the two of us which was fairly priced.  A similar meal at Satsuki was something like $80 and Ha Lu about $90?  Furthermore, the service was really really attentive.  I felt like my every dining needs were attended to promptly.  Food albeit ordinary, was cooked perfectly.  In fact, calling the food ordinary is not really quite appropriate considering it was darling and I that chose to order what we ate.  In the end, it was a pleasant evening.  I would definitely return one day!


Izakaya Sakura Japanese restaurant on Urbanspoon

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Bites: Kitchen Inn @ Thornlie

This is an over due post thanks to my finals which ended a few days ago!  3 weeks ago, my sister introduced to a very unique eating place in Perth.  While ambience is not one of its strong points, the type of dishes served here are special as they are those typically found in the Eastern states of Malaysia.  Truthfully, its a rare find. Expectedly enough though, they bring favourites such as the Kampua Noodles, Glutinous Rice with meat, and other Malaysian favourites such as the Siu Mai (pork dumplings) and Bak Kut Teh (herbal pork). 


For me, I begin my meal with a single serve of the Pork Dumplings which costed $4 I think.


There are many things which I liked and disliked about the meat dumplings.  While I’ll try not to complain about its looks, seriously please, it looked dead with its skin tasting slightly dry.  But do not be put off by it saddening appearance as the well-marinated meat was something one would enjoy.  Dipping it in chilli oil did tend to make it slightly un-Malaysian considering I almost never use chilli oil when eating dim sum in Malaysia.  Nevertheless, this was decent but would be kickass if it had a little more colour.  Perhaps some carrot bits?  More importantly, minutes more in the steamer would have made a whole lot of difference too!


Glutinous Rice Dumpling (Zhong)


The glutinous rice on the other hand was hard to fault with.  From the well cooked rice, to its lovely ingredient of mushrooms and pork.  This was spot on!  To be honest, it reminded of home where we would pay less than $1 to a man who often regarded my dad as his ‘brother’ when I was young.  I’d have to say, classic Malaysian ones over the glutinous rice served in Hong Kong dim sum places.  They’re obviously two very different things but hell yeah! Malaysia FTW!


Kampua Noodles @ $6.90


After savouring all the little pleasers, my bowl of noodles finally arrived. From the first bite, I was already impressed on how the chefs have maintained their style of serving.  Unlike most places who tend to justify price with content, Kitchen Inn plays conservative by continuing a style true to its root. Cheap and loaded with carbs.  Flavour on the other hand was verified by the only mate that hails from East Malaysia.  His take on it? Good stuff.  Enough said.  The noodles in my opinion tasted good.  The sauce used gave the noodles a very tasty coating which unfortunately tended to dry quite quickly.  When it does, Kitchen Inn has a sambal (chili paste)  which was very very good! I used a spoon to finish up the remainder of the noodles which I enjoyed a lot!  To wash it all down, a hot teh tarik @ $3 and it was home run!


By the end of the meal, I was bloated.  Something like a pig crossed over with something really fat hmmm maybe an American?  Jkjk.  Nevertheless, Kitchen Inn has proved itself worthy.  Admittedly, and sadly, such food would be difficult to find even in Peninsular Malaysia where the population is probably 10 times more than that of East Malaysia.  What more when its thousands of miles away from home? I guess its true that some things taste best where they come from.  Luckily enough, original decided to move.



Kitchen Inn Cafe on Urbanspoon

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Bites: Kanta @ Langford (Visit 2!)

Kanta has been, for a long time my choice of restaurant for quality Japanese food.  Over the last 5 years I saw this establishment in the Langford suburb bloom from a hidden jewel, to a restaurant where it is impossible to be seated without a booking.  Sometimes, a week or more in advance for dinner.  Leading the kitchen is Akira-San who seems to have taken the backseat and is now only managing the sushi/sashimi side of things while everything else is left to his trusty apprentice!


While I have been here plenty of times before, Kanta has changed this year with its staff now wearing official Kanta shirts and more importantly, a revamped menu.  Oh, and don’t forget the new website they have which you can check out here. New introductions to his already decadent menu includes an array of pork belly dishes and a few more traditional Japanese sushi like the spicy Uramaki or the thick Futomaki.  In this visit of mine, I knew I had to depart from my usual Teriyaki Chicken or Gyu Tongue Steak to find out how the new offerings stand against an already impressive list of dishes!


For our appetizers, we ordered plenty of rolls, sashimi and other entrees like the Agedashi Tofu and the Ika Shioyaki which is a classic favourite among my circle of food loving mates.


Ika Shioyaki @ $8.50 or octopus tentacles grilled over the stove with salt were every bit appetizing .  The fresh seafood naturally carries a sweetness which, when paired with the charred flavour from the grill, was absolutely good!  Freshly squeezed lemon added that extra zing which complemented all the flavours! Add that extra kick from the sinful mayonnaise and damn it was good!


No stranger to the Japanese culture is the sashimi moriawase for which you can get a small serve of kingfish, tuna and salmon for $16.50.


Fish is not my sort of thing, but for the girls, they loved every bit of it!  Oh, and do not forget fishman YiHeng who loves fish too!


But my highlight for night is a much welcomed addition in the Kanta establishment, the Teriyaki Pork Belly @ $18.50.


Garnished with Saffron and Brussel sprouts, the pork belly seated gracefully on a mixture of teriyaki sauce and a cream sauce which is a concoction of mayonnaise and spices.  The meat was good with the perfect amount of fat.  The girls found it a bit unhealthy but to me, it was just spot on!  While the pork belly as a whole was tender and juicy, there tended to be a few bits which were not that well cooked.  But that did not matter much.  If you are not a fan of teriyaki sauce, this might not be your cue, but otherwise, the setup of a good sauce with a well-cooked pork belly will blow you away.  Another noticeable feature of the dish was the four little dots which were another type of sauce which reminded me of the Korean Bibimbab sauce ahah.  Slightly peppery with a hint of sesame flavour which brought added flavour to the whole dish!  For me, the downfall of the entire plate was the Brussel sprouts which were a little bitter :(!


As a whole, Kanta is still a leader in its class of restaurants.  The authentic Japanese canteen which still dishes out classic Japanese favourites like the teriyaki, sushi and sashimi are hard to beat.  While simple decor paired with lethargic waiters might seem unwelcoming at times do not be fooled.  But if you are keen on decor and have a suitable budget to match, other good Japanese restaurants with like  Satsuki, Halu, Toraya and Nine Fine Food are hard to beat but would have you poorer by $40-70 dollars.  My dinner at Kanta only cost me $25 today.  What can I say?  Love it!


You can check out my previous post here  where I had listed a few other goodies Kanta has to offer! ;)!



Kanta Japanese Kitchen and Sushi on Urbanspoon

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Bites: Zambrero Fresh Mex Grill @ Leederville

Pigging out with your best pal is probably one of the best fun possible! But after one to many meaty meals, it was good that we finally decided to go off track and have something a little healthier.  Nevertheless, a healthier one does not equal us mutating into cows feeding on salads or sandwiches, instead we were off to something a little less alien.   Yobi and I decided to give Zambrero Mexican @ Leederville a try.  So is this Mexican enough or wannabe?
Looking at the board, choices were extremely limited only to be varied by sauce and meat.  But that was alright, so long as it tastes good!  For me, I decided to go small with a taco @ $6 filled with chicken, tomato salsa, and the verde! 
Seeing how my meal came together really had me wishing that I ordered something else.  With no more than 2 tablespoons of meat followed by a tonne of vegetables, I literally moo-ed my way to the counter.  Sceptical as any T-Rex would be, impressions were not lasting as my first bite had me go “Wow this is tasty!!”.   Yobi had the Burrito @ $11 which was somewhat similar but instead, they had rice in it too + it was A LOT bigger.   

Overall our meal was here was pretty decent! But to be honest, it was just tasty filled tacos/burritos.  If there is anything simpler than pasta, it has got to be Mexican food.  For me the art of guacamole is easy.  Pair it with a box of tacos for dinner and you would have every one smiling at the dining table (+ a plate of nachos too).  Would I come here again?  Sure why not?  Would you bother going back to all the trouble just to feed one person?  Probably not!  Also, this over Subway any day!! :P!  Mexicana!!!


Zambrero Fresh Mex Grill on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Bites: Modo Mio @ Burswood

If I were a chef, I believe the greatest joy would be a diner’s appreciation for food cooked my way.  Unpretentious, inspired and creative.  For Giampaolo Maffini, that is exactly what he does at Modo Mio or ‘My Way’, a restaurant that has been gaining momentum ever since its launch.  With pleasant reviews, this was the perfect  venue for the little darling’s 20th birthday dinner with the guys considering how well Modo Mio has been promoted for its personalised service and authentic, but more importantly, tasty food.


While we waited for the rest to arrive!




For the night, we ordered a few dishes to share among ourselves with the pizzas coming out first.


Pizza Asiago e pollo which had a tomato based topped with chicken, Asiago , onion, pink peppercorn & mozzarella.  As simple as the ingredients might seem, it actually is really delicious.  The pizza ingredients was tasty and not too salty.  It felt balanced.  But what really made me like the pizza was the crust.  I am known for hating Italian pizza crusts.  Why?  Simply because most places tend to have it in the oven until the crust becomes overly hard and dry.  Despicable! But at Modo Mio, it was GOOD!



While the Pizza Asiago e Pollo was good, the Pizza al Prosciutto stole the show!  Like the chicken pizza, it was a tomato based pizza but this time with parmesan, mozzarella, Parma ham, and rocket salad.  Again simplicity was at its best.  The pizza was delicious, crust cooked till the perfect, prosciutto well salted and the cheese and tomato sweetness were just spot on.  But if it can be done, it would be great if the prosciutto can be more well placed.  As this pizza was shared, it was actually quite difficult to eat because the prosciutto often get dragged off from one slice to another.  Moving on to our mains!


The star:


Carre d’agnello in crosta di nocciole, salsa al timo e tortino di zucca or Oven baked lamb rack with a macadamia crust, thyme jus & butternut pumpkin flan.  Overall, the lamb was the best meat dish for the night.  There were many reasons why we liked it so much!  For me, crust coating the lamb rack was simply delicious and magnificent.  Also, the meat had a pink-ish middle showing it was cooked to perfection.  Following on, while I am never a fan of pumpkin, the flan that accompanied the dish was actually NICE!  It had a creamy centre which complemented the meat well. Overall, this dish was the best among all that we ordered! 



Red wine marinated Angus beef tenderloin, pan-fried foie gras, polenta & taleggio ravioli, onion, pommery mustard marmalade.   As we had just dined at Nine Fine Food the day before, the little darling and I were expecting a flavour filled foie gras that  would complement the angus beef like a pair made in heaven.  Unfortunately, this was not so.  Pan-fried foie gras was not magical but felt a little dry, as if it has lost its creaminess =X!  Beef was perfect but cheese filled ravioli felt bland. Not that this dish is not nice but our hopes for perfection was perhaps a little far fetched.



Another dish worth mentioning for the night was  the filled pasta with a cream sauce finished with shaved black truffle.  The sauce was superbs, pasta lovely and until now I still cannot think what was in there but oh it was good.  As there were less than 5 pieces, we each barely had one!  Nevertheless, it was lip-smacking!  The cream sauce had us drooling for more.  Myself? I spooned every bit possible onto my little pasta!  I have actually just checked the menu and this dish is off the list.  Rather unfortunate but I am sure it is a matter of time before it comes back on!



After having our dinner we moved on to a few desserts to try, for the little darling her dessert also served as a  birthday cake! A rather special one I would say!


Seeing basil did not scare the darling from her favourite dessert.  In fact, vinegar was almost non-existent! The traditional Italian custard with strawberry marinated in aged balsamic vinegar, and basil was to the little darling, ‘quite nice’!


For my sister, she chose to have the her normal Tiramisu!


This was finger lickin’ good! In comparison to a few that I have eaten, this is actually nice.  Perhaps it is just me because this does not have a liquor flavour that felt overly strong and neither were the sponge fingers drenched in concentrated coffee.  It felt just ‘right’.  Or at least it did for a person who does not drink coffee like me!



Lastly, my dessert was the chocolate pudding with marsala wine and sort but omagawd.  Almost died from this dessert.  The chocolate pudding was really rich but the overall experience was to me a little too ‘adult’. Rich chocolate felt slightly bitter, liquor soaked fruits and wine everywhere.  Ewwww!! But I think if you are into desserts that are not overly sweet, this might just be the one for you.  Just  my two sense but it could be wrong anyways Smile with tongue out!


Overall, I have to say that the small servings and rolling cutleries were not the highlight of the restaurant.  Neither was the venue which was draped in luxury only to be let down by the low ceilings making the place a little claustrophobic.  But if you are looking for good Italian food with a wallet to match, this might just be your cue.  Also, headwaiter was keen so serve and ensured that we were well taken care off.  Definitely had to thank the waitress Anke, that was assigned to our table of 16!  Priceless experience and, great place with little to improve on! Probably for a stingy pot like me, perhaps Giampaolo can double the size of my mains! :)!



Modo Mio on Urbanspoon