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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

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Bites: Nine Fine Food @ Highgate

It’s that time of the year again! Little darling now turns 20 and I was going to bring her to a different place to celebrate.  Scouting around, I found Nine Fine Food which is a combination of Japanese and European cuisine.  Looking at various food blogs, I must admit that personally, my taste buds were dying from its curiosity.  Nevertheless, my choice of venue was not just for me as the intimate lighting at the venue made this place perfect for dates and despite having a crowd, it was not unacceptably noisy.
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Nine Fine Food.

Looking around the menu, Nine Fine Food has some good offerings which seems really tempting.  Spoiled for choices, we decided to go for the ‘OSOSUME’ which translates into a 4 course meal.  While it might seems rather posh, the 4 course meal is actually a lot of value for your money! For starters, we ordered:
the Goose Mousse is a  foie gras mousse topped with soy infused Tobico caviar, broccolini with Chocochujan spiced miso.  While I have never been keen on fancy food such as caviar or foie gras, this one was definitely a “WOW” to me.  While I was skeptical about the taste after having smelt it at first, my first taste of it had me wanting more.  The whole thing was actually superb.  Crispy lotus roots topped with the miso and foie gras – caviar was absolutely yummy!  Even darling, who would never EVER touch such ‘exotic’ food said it was really good.

Foie Gras take 2!!

While I was happily eating my starter, the little darling herself was busy enjoying her sashimi platter
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The Sashimi 9 would normally consist of 9 types of sashimi but the little darling decided to omit the prawn and squid sashimi as she is allergic to those type of seafoods.  Nevertheless, she had extra serves of salmon, kingfish, snapper and tuna.  Funnily enough though, would half cooked tuna be considered as sashimi?  Not that is matters considering darling says this dish ticks all the boxes as a good sashimi appetizer!

After finishing our first appetizer, the waiters gladly cleared our table for the second course of appetizer.  This time we had:

Beef Tataki was my choice for the next appetizer which had lightly grilled tenderloin beef fillets top with a truffle mixed Yakumi condiments, and finished with a chilli lemon soy dressing!  Yummy! This was good, meat well cooked but somewhat a little too thick for my liking.  I would rather thinly sliced beef.  Also, Yakumi or healthy condiments were getting a little bland at this stage because I had the same ‘cucumber’ condiments for the Goose Mousse.  Instead, I would have liked to have finely shaved onions in addition to the cucumbers for that extra flavour which goes so very well with beef tataki! Nonetheless, it was still good but just not THAT GOOD.
This next appetizer that the little darling ordered was an absolute winner.  Called the lamb and scallops, this appetizer as its name and looks suggests has lamb and scallops.  To be exact, marinated grilled sliced lamb round steak, blended spiced miso braised lamb shoulder, seared scallop with balsamic, soy & truffle oil dressing.  Outcome? Mind blowing.  This was so good I woke up the next day wanting to have it for breakfast.  Despite its very small size, I would be far too keen to trade this dish for my Beef Tataki.  Lamb meat was very, very tender.  It literally crumbled under the weight of the fork without effort.  For awhile, I though that the meat was actually pulled before being shaped but could not really tell.  Putting that aside, the meat was superbly marinated and extremely tasty.  Add that sweetness of the scallops and õmg!  This dish to me was very well constructed in terms of texture and flavour.  Not like I can tell superb textures from good ones like pros can but this was simply just fantabulous.

After finishing two courses, it was time for our mains.  With the appetizers setting such standards, it was only normal that the little darling and I have high hopes for the next course.  And here we go starting with my very lousy photo, the Oceans East:
The Oceans East was a representation of the seafood in the East.  Did it represent it well enough? Well, with scallops, eel (unagi), fish and soft shell crabs, I’d have to say that Nine Fine Food was close.. pretty close.  Also, by having fruits as part of the main dish, it had a sense of freshness that lifted the heaviness of the fried soft-shelled crabs.  The fish which was part of the dish was super yummy!  Scallops were ok but again, cucumber was all over it, so errr not really that good?  The unagi, presumably cooked with teriyaki sauce was scary as it always is for me who never liked eel.  After just one piece, I decided to abort mission and left 3 other pieces for the bin! Oops!  Things were all quite decent for Oceans East.  Other than the eel, I reckon that the only thing that did not really appeal to me were the wasabi mayo and that other red chilli sauce.  I guess the sauces just did not quite appealed to me as something felt lacking!!

For the darling, she had the tenderloin steak.
Along with the well marinated steak was some sautéed mixed Asian mushrooms, dukkah spiced mash, fresh greens, garlic & olive oil infused creamy sake rice wine reduction.  As a steak should be well marinated and tasty on its own, this was just spot on.  Even without the mushroom sauce, the steak was a pleaser.  Mash was decent but sauce was really salty.  In essence, the sauce would go well with the mash.  But problem as it lies was that the sauce was just too much for the mash.  Even the sautéed mushrooms were  a little saltier than the little darling’s tolerance.  For me, I thought it was salty but I liked it anyway because I come from a family that prefers salt over sugar any day!  Over all, this would have easily been called delicious considering the number of places that cannot really cook a good steak.  Perhaps a little control of salt would have make this a superb dish?

Having finished our three course, it was time for our desserts.  With the clock ticking minutes away from 9 and a stomach that is filled to the brim, it was time to sit back.  While waiting for the dessert to be served, the little darling and I had time to share an intimate talk as there was just one other couple besides us.  This means a really private space which of course, is a privilege in any popular restaurant!!

After a while, the desserts were served. We both ordered the same thing:
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The Mattcha Brulee! The light torched green tea custard brulee was smooth with a hint of refreshing green tea taste.  I also liked the way the green tea controls the sweetness in way that is delightful.  Also, unlike some places which tend to have a bitter layer of green tea syrup, this was one just fine.  Not too concentrated.  As a whole, this was perfection.  In fact, I reckon green tea suits Crème Brulee a lot better than berries do although I believe that the little darling will  have a lot to say on that statement of mine!

At the end of the night, we were really satisfied with the restaurant.  The food was in my opinion, a different experience as it was in fact quite special.  It was like going in and coming out a different person.  Probably just an illusion to the mind although I’m pretty sure I came out fatter hehe!  Every thing went well that night, food was good and the waiter/-tress were keen to serve.  Just last night the little darling and I were talking about our meal here and she told me that she really liked it.  Therefore, in my honest opinion, Nine Fine Food is a good restaurant.  So good that I would not mind coming here over and over again!

Nine Fine Food on Urbanspoon