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Saturday, April 28, 2012

Bites: Red Cabbage @ South Perth

Having missed our meal at Red Cabbage before only meant that the secrets of its success remains a mystery.  But it was without a doubt that the day to taste what chef’s Adam Sayles and Scott O’Sullivan had in store is not too far away.  After much planning, the little darling and I finally had a chance to dine at the restaurant.  Red Cabbage has a list of food to offer in their menu but to me, the hassle of deciding what to order is unnecessary as there is no better way of appreciating a restaurant’s food other than trying their degustation menu.
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The customary set of matching cutleries carefully laid out on each side of the table.

The free appetizer was a warm bun with sesame seeds with balsamic vinegar and olive oil.  Unlike Rockpool, the bun had a slight crust on the outside with a very nice and fluffy inside.  Pretty good stuff!
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The Amuse Bouche that  night was thinly sliced meat topped with Mozzarella.  I would not say that this was horrible but it just did not pack enough punch to start of my meal.  Yes, the cheese was faultless and so was the beef.  But in comparison to my recent visits to Jackson’s where I had gazpacho sorbet in a cornet or in Joel Robuchon’s the chestnut soup with chestnut foam and truffle oil, this did not quite meet my expectations.
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Shaved meat with Mozarella

Crispy Pork with Seared Scallop and Pineapple on Coconut Mousse
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The first appetizer was an interesting one. Arranged on top of a coconut mousse layer is a neat little cube of crispy pork, pineapple and seared scallops. The crispy pork to me was not as expected. Deviating from the normal pork belly and scallop classic pairing, this reinterpretation seems to have hit the mark, but merely. Everything was ok on the plate but I cannot help but feel that the pork itself felt rather lost. Yes it was crispy as described but it was not tasty. Inside it was shredded pork that was shaped, battered and fried. Its only salvation would have came from the chilli jam which did not taste any better than your everyday sweet chilli sauce.

Marron on squid ink crumbs with homemade bacon and stone fruit.
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While the few courses before were mediocre, this one was visual excitement on the first sight.  Seriously, a juicy half marron on a transparent plate circled by what seemed to me like coloured iced balls with black crumbs in the middle. If that is not visual excitation, I am not sure what is.  As good as it looks, it was equally matching in taste.  The saltiness of the homemade bacon was complemented by the sweetness of the melon and the marron.  Texture wise, it was really nice too.  The slight chewiness of the bacon, crunchiness of the greens and sweetness of the marron all mellowed nicely with the help of the melon.  Definitely a major highlight for the night.

Wagyu Corned Beef
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While the name sounded promising, I found that the main focus of the dish which was the corned beef did not really benefit from the Wagyu.  Melt in your mouth feeling was non-existent.  It was tasty but unfortunately not moist enough.  Definitely did not seem like it was overcooked so I am not sure what happened there.  Mash and the jus was flawless.  To bring them all together, the crumbled Ricotta was super nice.  It was one of the things I wished was slightly more generous in content.  It would have really brought more moisture to the dish giving the Corned Wagyu Beef a better chance to shine.

Crispy skin barramundi with an coconut and tamarind sauce
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The crispy skin barramundi was another dish which I though was presented beautifully that night.  A large prawn sat on top of  the fish with both almost matching in size.  As darling is allergic to prawns,  I happily had hers.  It was seriously yums!  As for the fish, its skin was crispy unlike the horrible salmon I had at Barrolo’s!   But what darling was not too happy about was the sauce.  To me it tasted fine.  Somewhat Asian but really tasty.  However, darling did not like coconut so I guess this sauce is really not for her.

Nitro cleanser! Passionfruit mousse dipped in nitrogen with a strawberry coulis.
Mousse dipped in liquid nitrogen serve on strawberry coulis? I will definitely take it.  The fancy name added to the simplicity of its presentation, and I was sold.  However, I was not the most satisfied customer when the nitro carried a slightly bitterish taste.  Nevertheless, it had what it needed to refresh one’s taste buds before moving on to the main.  But the problem you see, was that it was never really served to us before our main. I asked for it after noticing that a course was missing from our degustation. Hmmmmm… fine dining is definitely about presentation and its food.  But the hospitality industry as its name suggests means to be hospitable.  Not quite what I expected.

Nordic Brie (I think) With Blood Plums and Date Jam
For me, this was another course which I truly enjoy.  The runny medium in the brie was orgasmic.  Plums with date jam along with the brie on cracker was a party which my mouth would gladly host.  I really enjoyed this.  Perhaps I can now better understand why one would order cheese platter for dessert.  It is very very good IMHO!

Meringue, Trifle and Dehydrated Raspberry with an Amerato Gelato
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The dessert which is a mixture of chocolate, gelato, fruit and meringue was the final course of the night.  Despite finding myself disliking meringue for most of my life, this one was simply superb.  Probably another “yay” for me.  The slightly bitter trifle worked well with the raspberry which had the acidity and the sweetness of the meringue just creates the right chemistry. What did not work for me is that the meringue was impossible to break through.  This made it difficult to proportion the taste altogether.    Breaking one would send all the bits of trifle and raspberries out of the plate.  While it might have looked ugly, I would not mind if it had in fact been crushed or broken apart before it was served.  That is unless, each element was to shine by itself and if it was so, I think they do not do well.  Anyways, this is in fact something I see Jackson do when they served a mixture of brulee, honey comb and macaron together. All broken up and freely sprinkled on each other.  The balance was right.  See this link.

Ok peeps, it 2am way past my old man bed time.  Today has been a busy one.  To sum it up, my visit to this restaurant has had its merits and faults.  Service is definitely going to be my main complain here.  Acknowledging that the restaurant felt slightly short handed does not mean that such imperfections can be compromised when you have customers paying such money for their food.  While the staff was friendly and willing to explain each dish sent to the table, it was evident that their presentation was rather unpolished and very rush.  Luckily enough though was that the waiter himself apologised for the rush he had while presenting to us our dishes.  The food had a large variance in terms of likes and dislikes.  Some made me like to so much that it was worth hyping about while some was just lacklustre.  For all its worth, I do believe that the establishment still carries the value that make it worth a return.  Perhaps some improvements could be done for the better good.

Red Cabbage Food + Wine on Urbanspoon

Friday, April 13, 2012

Bites: Rockpool Bar and Grill Perth @ Burswood

With her brother and sister visiting us from Adelaide, the little darling and I decided to organise a special meal.  Hearing how Adelaide has such good food had us feel the need to make sure that our dinner did not come up short in anyway.  For this occasion, the little darling decided on paying Rockpool a second visit. 
The famous Rockpool entrace!

After being seated and the menu explained, we were served complimentary bread with sea salt and butter.  While the butter was rich, the bread was slightly harder than what I would have preferred!  Having some salt though, seemed to enrich the taste of the butter and bread altogether!
Complimentary bread and butter!

As there were quite a few of us that night, we shared a few appetizers.  It was a pretty good suggestion by our waiter Simon as sharing allowed us to try and taste the different things Rockpool had to offer.

First up was a warm Salad of Wood Fired Grilled Quail with Smoky Tomatoes, Olives and Herbs.
What its reads is what you get.  The quail for me was cooked perfectly with its meat still slightly pink at the bone.  I also felt that the mixture of herbs really worked well together.  But the highlight for me were the tomatoes which had the acidity and sweetness which binds all the ingredients together.  Unfortunately though, the baby olives are never my favourite ingredients as they carry a distinct taste which I reckon is an acquired one.

Next was the Wagyu Bolognese with Hand Cut Fettuccine.
Just like the one I had before two months ago, this was faultless in every level.  Fettuccine was silky smooth and rolled out thin but not thin enough to break messily.  This was just superb.  Meat was juicy with a hint of crunchiness which till today is still a mystery for me.  Bolognese sauce was rich but not the usual thick and sticky one would expect.  This was super yums!

The next appetizer was the Charcoal Roast Chorizo, Potato and White Beans
Despite being sautéed in heaps of oil, it was all good. Caramelized onions were all the hype in that dish. Chorizos were OK while the potato and white beans provided a good medium to have the onions and chorizos with. What I did not enjoy was the bread that came with it.  Too dry that it did not even help absorb the charcoal flavour of the dish.  Still a recommended appetizer!

Charcoal Roast King Prawns, Split and Marinated.
These prawns were highly recommended by our waiter that night.  Nevertheless, it failed to ‘wow’ me because despite being tasty, it was nothing new.  Prawns came out small albeit being called king prawns.  Marinade was delicious but it was all too common.  This felt like something my aunty would do better than what I had at Rockpool.  While it was delicious, it was to me, too simple.

After having 5 appetizers to share, we then waited for our mains.  While doing so, we decided to have a little picture session among ourselves considering that we had the whole VIP room to ourselves :)!
Xin Woei, Yvonne, Nee Nee and Fishman!

Little darling’s brother and sister, Ern Ser and Audrey with her!

After a good chat, our mains were served.
For the little darling, she ordered a Seared King Prawns with Goats Cheese Tortellini, Burnt Butter, Pine Nuts and Raisins.  It was so rich.  Every bite was filled with creamy cheese which was for most people on the table, over the top.  While flavours had a hint of sweetness, saltiness and fruitiness, none was enough to tone down the stench of the goat’s cheese.  It was ok for me but the rest of the people, they still could not accept it.

4 cuts of steak ranging from scotch fillet to rib eye as well as the T-bone!   In a restaurant that prides itself for butchering and dry ageing their beef in house, the quality of the steak surely did not disappoint.  With the scotch fillet and rib-eye cooked to medium, the melt in your mouth feel was sensational!  No wonder Rockpool has been branded as a bovine heaven by some.  Unfortunately though, the T-Bones were cooked to medium-well done which resulted in a tougher than desired steak.  So what would I recommend?  For a budget, definitely the Cape Grim Dry Aged 36 Month Old  Grass Fed Kettle’s 240gm Scotch Fillet.  For indulgence, non-other than the $120 full blood Wagyu Fillet!

On top of the steak, we also ordered sides to share.
Onion rings came out XXX-Large but it was inconsistently crunchy!  Would not complain for 8 bucks though!

Cauliflower and Cheese Gratin was yummy and tasty! It would have been heaps better if the cauliflower was cook through!  I thought that it could have been in the oven for a tad longer!

Royal Blue Potatoes Sautéed in Wagyu Fat with Rosemary and Garlic was full flavoured!  Very tasty morsel to go with the steak!

“Mac and Cheese”! This was the ugliest photo of the night but it was the best side for the night.  The sauce was to die for, the mac and cheese was baked to perfection with a crisp top! Totally yummy!

After stuffing ourselves with all the food, we moved on to the final phase of the night; DESSERT!  While we were close to ditching the dessert, the little darling thought otherwise. 
Nee nee and her sister ordered a Peanut, Caramel Chocolate Tart with Milk Ice Cream.  This beautiful dessert looks like a piece of art but in reality, it felt like a giant ‘pod chocolate’ with a scoop ice cream.   Inside, the caramel was slightly overpowering.  For me, the ratio felt quite disproportionate.  Too much caramel, but so little crust to go with.  As the waiter described it, this was really a monster by all means when it comes to dessert!

The Raspberry Mille Feuille was the little darling’s choice! Her request was sour and she got what she wanted.  Sandwiched between thin pieces of pastry was raspberries and cream before being top with a scoop of sorbet and gold. What was seriously sour on its first bite became deliciously fruity over time.  It was quite an outstanding dessert if you’d ask me!  Slight caramelisation of the pastry is just magic when you realise all the little attention to detail that was put into producing this lovely dessert!

For me, I chose Fig and Hazelnut Tart with White Clover Honey Mousse! The mousse was fragrant with a hint of honey on the tart.  Fresh fig slices were lined with carefully piped mousse over a sponge bed.  Smashing!  Nothing overly sweet or sickening.  The whole dessert was very refreshing and truthfully, it kept me wanting more.  This for me, was the best dessert of the night.  With fresh figs, hazelnut and the honey mousse so there was so much harmony in the ingredients leading up to dessert.  All of it together really;  felt quite mellow.

Overall, I found the meal to be consistent with what I had before.  The multi-award winning restaurant has had some rave reviews recently which to me was seemingly fair considering how our Valentines Day visit went pretty well before and speaking of impeccable service by the wait staff, they were every bit helpful.  While this was all very fancy and superb, it had me thinking from the perspective of just the food quality.   There was no doubt that the food tonight was yummy but if I had not shared my dishes tonight, it would easily cost something like 90-150 per head which is really costly.  For that sort of price there are heaps of other restaurants including Amúse, Jacksons, Nine Fine Food, Friends and so much more.  In places like that, $150 gets you a 7-10 course degustation with impeccable service too.  Would it really be worth it to go for Rockpool? My take? Yes.

Rockpool Bar & Grill on Urbanspoon

Monday, April 9, 2012

Bites: HwaRo @ Northbridge!

Nestled in Aberdeen street which is well-known for its bustling nightlife is a new Korean BBQ establishment.  With  budding reputation and worthy mentions from Koreans and Aussies alike, it was definitely a place I had to try.


Hwa Ro!


My first trip here was with a group of workmates after work.  Based on what we ordered the first time, it seemed that Hwa Ro has little to offer that differs itself from an already saturated concept.  However, it was in my second trip that we discovered more of what this Korean eatery had to offer.


To start, we had the Bulgogi Stew which was in my opinion yums!


With heaps of mushrooms, this was definitely a female pleaser.  The girls found this dish yummy albeit being on the sweet side.  What surprised me was the thick and rich sauce ones all the mushrooms had released all its water.  Initially, there was almost no water besides the stock.  But when the mushrooms were cooked, the pot was almost full! Quite a dish this one is.  The beef was decently tender but that was expected as we might have overcooked it!


Another stew that we ordered was the herbal beef stew!


Unlike its bulgogi counterpart, this one carried a more subtle taste which had a sweetness of a different kind.  It was more fragrant with the sweetness of the herbs.  Not mind blowing but decently tasty! Moreover, having different kinds of beef meat in there made is richer and nutritious.  In fact, mom says that all different parts is actually quite heaty and can result in fever or bleeding nose if one does not drink enough water.  For me, unfortunately, the whole barbecue experience was not that good as my stomach felt too ‘hot’ as the Chinese would say.  I had diarrhoea and tummy ache the following two days. Then again, its just me being me!


For me, the main thing that differentiates Hwa Ro from its competitors is its unique skewered BBQ meat which gives diners a different experience.  The chicken skewer as you shall see below is fitted into a little socket which automatically rotates the meat around! It was pretty unique I would have to insist!


But be wary though! Being mesmerised by the ever so slowly rotating skewers is nothing more than trickery as foolishness shall leave on with stringy overcooked chicken.  And that happen to all our 8 skewers! Talk about not learning from mistakes huh!? Funny but true! Nevertheless, more love could have resulted in better results!


From memory, diners are spoilt for choice.  From short ribs to pork belly or even the simple scotch fillet, there are heaps which we can choose from.  For the skewers, there is a good list of about 5-8 skewered meat.  I wanted to try the duck skewers which were recommended by a friend.  Unfortunately it was sold out when I tried to order it.  It would be a priority the next time around. At the end of the meal, I cannot tell whether I was fully satisfied with what I have eaten.  Over the course of 2 months, I have eaten more barbecue meals than I would have normally eaten in a year.  However, that is not a fair reason to drag what could have been a good meal and make it bad!  My experience at Hwa Ro was a good one.  With a dashing red interior, this fiery establishment would have me back for more.  Whether its the skewers or the stew, it was certain that it was just a matter of time.  But I must say though, the Kimchee pancake here did not impress. For a moment there I felt as if I could have done better hahaha!  Oh and the price here is pretty decent.  The first time, it costed me 15 bucks while my second trip here was 21 bucks per person.  Pretty OK in my opinion!




Hwa Ro Korean Restuarant on Urbanspoon

Sunday, April 8, 2012

WenY is sorry!

Despite being quite invisible in the food scene recently, I have actually tried heaps of new restaurants.  Unfortunately its quite a shame that I sometimes commute directly from my workplace to dinner causing me to miss out on taking pictures of the food I eat.  At the same time, I want to apologise to my readers who must have been wondering where I have went.  To make it short, I have actually graduated awhile ago and have started working. Yes you heard it right, its the 7-5 routine for me now.  Nonetheless, I will try my best to keep this space updated as frequently as I can :)!


At the same time, this is the the little darling’s and my daughter Daisy! She’s now 4 months old and counting!  it’s another responsibility I have now :)!



Bites: Hometown Kitchen @ Parkwood

While I have been eating in many places, travelling beyond the city is typically outside the boundary of my comfort zone.  Nevertheless, a little travelling can sometimes payoff quite well.  A couple of km’s out of city lies a quality restaurant which serves homestyle Malaysian food.  It list of impressive menu has common Malaysian food like herbal chicken, curry fish head, and other things which revolves about the delicious sambal.  For this dinner of mine, my ambitious crew of three decided to bite more than we can chew.


Some of the food we ordered includes:

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Claypot Eggplant with minced pork and chilli!  This dish was probably the least favourite of the night.  While its sauce was thick and tasty, it seemed to lack the typical Malaysian touch which for me is a more well fried brinjal cooked in a sauce which uses a little bit more “tau cheong” or preserved bean sauce.  Nevertheless, its good dish to have with rice!


Next was the fried king prawn in two sauce.

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This dish despite its simplicity sticks to a faultless formula which some might critic it for being to simple or unenthusiastic.  But seriously, a teenage eater can’t complain when its mayonnaise with fried prawns!  Hometown Kitchen adds its own touch with some cut fruits to mix with their prawn salad.  On the other end of the plate is the prawns with Thai chilli sauce which was pretty good as well!


Fish head curry.


Despite serving strong dishes like the king prawn and other dishes which I have tried before like the homemade bean curd, nothing quite satisfies my taste buds like Hometown Kitchen’s Curry Fish served in Claypot.  With a delectable sauce with heaps of spices, this was one dish that had me eating many bowls of rice.  Not to mention, some of the deep fried fish pieces were actually still crispy making it extremely pleasurable to bite into!  More importantly, the fish used does not have the fishy stench which usually keeps me away from such dishes! For this dish, I would definitely score it a 8/10!  This is strongly recommended by my friends as well!


Overall, Hometown Kitchen serves quality food at decent prices.  What its eggplant dish lacked off was made up the prawns and the curry fish dish.  Service here was fair.  It was not attentive like fine dining but neither was it bitchy.  Judging from the satisfaction I had, a next visit is not too far away!



Hometown Kitchen on Urbanspoon