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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Bites: Himalayan Restaurant @ Victoria Park.

Tasting new food has always been a special occasion.  Whether it was the different textures or unusual flavours, nothing better explains a country than its food.  From a total fiascos to rare gems, there is no way of telling the outcome without tasting.    After hopping from one place to another, I am finally taking a break from the usual Japanese/Italian/Chinese/Modern Australian dining.  This time around, Himalayan food.  After so many failed attempts to land a indoor booking due to indecisiveness and hesitation, we finally braved the cold and took a sit outside. 


After nibbling on spiced nuts our starters arrived.  The first appetizer for the night was the lollipop chicken!


This chicken is the Chinese version of boxing chicken.  With the meat of the drummet pushed to the top to give a wholesome feel in one bite.  The marinade were good but to me, it did not feel as tasty as it can be.  But the pungent onion ring did have a good taste to it and when  you dip it in the mint yoghurt, wow! The flavours were pretty good!  Not intense but OK!



Next up was Momo! The Himalayan answer to the Chinese Shanghai Pork Dumplings.  These were decadent despite its skin being too thick.  However though, this would really be a matter of personal preference.  For example. I did not quite like it at first because the spices in the jus just seems to have overpowered the flavour of the meat which one would get in a typical dumpling.  But then again, this is not your typical dumpling! This is Momo! The Himalayan Dumpling.  The accompanying sauce was a welcoming addition.  It was slightly sweet with a good hint of tomato.  Not bad!  Overall, this was an interesting eat!


Looking at the menu, it was clear that the mains have a strong Indian influence.  The curries and such were really quite close but not really the same.  Personally, I did not find the spices as strong as the one in a typical Indian curry except for one particular dish.  But it is this subtleness which carried a special feeling about this.  To go with curries we had a variety of the carbs from naans to saffron rice.  All very typically Indian.


The cheese naan! Pretty yums!


Chara ko Sekuwa  a Napalese’s reinterpretation of the tandoori.  Tender pieces of chicken thigh marinated in special Nepalese spices with yoghurt, cooked in a Tandoori oven.  I really cannot complain at all. I really enjoyed it.  In fact I enjoyed this more than I would normally enjoy Chicken Tikka or Tandoori!  The spices were spot on, the dip was refreshing, and most importantly, the chicken was cooked to perfection.  This one, I like!  Even this got fishman’s seal of approval!


Tender chicken :)!

Himalayan Hot Chicken  had boneless pieces of chicken cooked in authentic Nepalese style very hot curry, finished with fresh coriander. 


This was my sister’s favourite that night.  The spicy sauce went really well with the rice. Like I have mentioned before, the subtleness in spices made the chicken feel really light on the palate yet tasty. 


Last pic for the night was the goat curry.  This dish was the superb delish albeit being on the salty side.  Goat meat of the bone is one of the best curries for me.  Indian, Mamak or whatever really.  This has always tasted divine in the hands of the right chef!  For me this was another thing I liked.


Goat Curry


Other than the curries above, we also ordered a fish curry which to me was OMG so smelly.  Then again I am fussy with my fish @@!  At the end of the meal, I was filled to the bream.  More importantly, satisfied.  I guess there really is a good reason why  the restaurant has always been fully booked on the weekends if one is late.    As for my Himalayan experience, I guess it went pretty well with a below 10 degree weather although when compared, it would pale in comparison with the Everest.  With tasty curries and delicious dumplings, it was hard to complain! Good eat! And oh, their service is pretty slow and they did stuff up our order, but what matter is their apologies and they made it up to us with a free basket of naan :)! haha good service in my opinion!



Himalayan Nepalese Restaurant & Cafe  on Urbanspoon

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Bites: Sake Bar @ Northbridge.

The entertainment book has done it once again.  Instead of relying on my list of safe to go restaurants, I have tried so many new restaurants in these few occasions where I have decided to dine out.  For a while now Sake Bar has been having a fair bit of buzz over the internet media like Facebook and Urbanspoon.  While some people love it, there is definitely others who would fault it.  Stepping in, there are so many reasons to be wow-ed.  From a modern lounge for drinks before walking in to a heavily wooden accented dining area, this place screams Japan.  The waitresses, not all Japanese but does it even bother me much? Definitely no.  Sliding my finger around the menu, is was clear that there is a little bit of inspiration of everything from everywhere.  But for me tonight, I am going all out on fish.



California Roll.  This one costed us $10 for 5 pieces.  It looks fair but for the price you would hope a little more.  In this version of California Roll, the prawns have been substituted for crab sticks =X.    The rice was cooked to perfection but hmm it felt lacklustre.  Might have to get back to this one later one.



Next up was the fried sushi which caught our eyes as the waitress served it to another customer.  This sort of thing definitely catches my eyes.  Crispy on the outside with a generous serve of tuna mixed with spicy mayonnaise, magic?  At close to $4.50 a pop,  There was much anticipation from our hungry tummies.  Did it deliver would be the main question.  Tuna was smashing but something like that for $19? I’m out of here!!  This tasted rather alright but the shards of crispy rice stuck between your gums is something else.



Aburi Nigiri was another dish that I ordered that night.  Hand-torched seafood really brings out the sweetness of seafood which, when raw just does not taste as spectacular.  For $19 at Sake Bar,you get a selection of Kingfish, Salmon and Scallops, which was a nice amount of fish.  Out of the lot, the scallop was king.  The quality of the scallops were good and that smoothness of the scallop flesh was immense.  Salmon unfortunately lies low in the rank.  The best would probably be from Shiro Izakaya, second from Bonzai and thirdly, here.  Just not as melt in your mouth as what I have had before!  Kingfish was ok, but does not seem to benefit as much as the scallops and salmon.


Next was the Kingfish Carpaccio.


This felt somewhat Nobu inspired with all the famed pictures of Kingfish and Jalapeno lying around the internet but this was different.  The very thinly sliced fish was really smooth. Mango and spring onions mixture for this just did not excite.  Having the fried condiments on there, I could not tell the intention because that has instantly taken away the very subtle freshness of the fish.   I mean after all Carpaccio means to serve raw is it not?


The next one was the Aburi Salmon with Wasabi Mayo and Salmon Roe.


This one, albeit being a little more delicate on the palate still did not pack that melting sensation I seek.  But the flavour were great despite my fellow guest found it a little pungent from the wasabi mayo.  It looked really beautiful on the table.  It tasted promising but still has rooms for improvement.


At the end of the night, I did not leave feeling satisfied. I walked in created my little cloud of expectation for a classic Japanese Izakaya from all the wooden accented interior, the flowing water, and when you open the menu, you get a fair amount of classics with another huge selection or modern dishes which is good.  But when it came to the table it was not all that spectacular.  Misses were more than hits and yeah.  It did not taste like crap but neither did it justify its price tag. 


With all the other restaurants in the vicinity like Bonzai or Shiro across the train station you would at least want to price yourself strategically if not decently.  All restaurants mentioned packed great modern interior.  Bonzai of the lot feels value for money with an urban feel.  The menu is fresh, exciting and clearly distinctive from the rest where it packs a very Western feel to it without losing the Japanese touch.  Shiro on the other hand places itself in the heart of the city where rental is prime.  Its menu is upmarket but food quality, generous.  The only thing not justified at Shiro would be its green tea which is $4 a small pot.  



Sake Bar Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Bites: Breezes on Como @ Como

Last week was pretty much a lazy week for us! With my newly purchased Entertainment Book, we decided to have some new.  Fortunately enough, we did not have to pick blindly.  My sister paid a visit to Breezes on Como last week and said it was pretty good.    So why not?  Perfectly located nearby for a lazy Monday.  With a small crowd, we sat on a well lighted corner and felt really comfortable as it was really quiet.   

For appetizer, the four of us shared the Polo Pizza!


The pizza was generous with toppings.  Heaps of cheese, mushrooms, chicken and bacon! Overall, it was really tasty but to a certain extent, it felt a little cloying.  There was heaps of oil from the well-melted cheese.  Perhaps, if we had opted for something with a little more acidity from a tomato based pizza would have been better than the one with barbecue sauce.  Luckily it was something we shared :)!



The next dish was the Scotch Fillet with garlic confit mash, mushrooms & spinach with a red wine jus.


I cannot complain much here.  The mash was spot on.  Red wine jus tasty and aromatic.  More importantly, the fillet was tender and cooked to order.  It was yums!  If there was a complain, it would be that the pan probably was not hot enough while the steak was prepared.  The fats did not feel rendered enough and perhaps the beauty of caramelisation just was not there.  While this is definitely important for steak enthusiasts, a typical diner would not have complained.  This was good!



Next up was the fish of the day which was pan-fried Salmon with baby spinach, sautéed Kipfler potatoes and crumbled cauliflower with a pesto sauce.  Again, salmon flesh flaking of that large chunk of fish steak was good.  Like my previous fish adventures, the skin was not crispy as desired.  Crumbled cauliflower was awesome and when both vegetables are enjoyed with the sauce, haha favourite dish of the night! 


Last but not the least was the Lamb Shank.


According to a reviewer on Urbanspoon, he did mention that this was nothing to shout about.  True enough, despite falling of the bone, the sauce felt lacking.  It was thick and on first impressions looked rich.  But when having the potato, lamb shank and sauce together, it just did not deliver.  We were really hoping for more when it arrived at the table, but perhaps next time!


Overall, my trip to Breezes on Como was a pleasant one.  As a restaurant that claims to prides itself on using fresh local produce and local West Australian wines in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere, with fine food; I would have to insist that the are not far off.  Over all, the meal felt really satisfying.  We were happy and full.  The quiet and comfy ambience did not make us feel pressured to finish our dinner like how many other places are.  Will I come here again?  Definitely!  Thankfully enough, the boss did not tick the discount off my card! I have another coupon then :)!




Breezes On Como on Urbanspoon

Monday, July 9, 2012

Bites: Pepper Lunch @ Perth

While Taka is the king of Barrack Street, that has certainly not stopped other shops from giving it a go in the lucrative Perth CBD.  One recent addition is Pepper Lunch which boasts franchises all over South East Asia.  In the last three weeks, I had two lunches here already.  To describe Pepper Lunch, it takes a DIY approach where each diner gets a hot plate with a choice of meat.  Armed with sweet sauce in one hand and garlic in the other, diners mix the flavours to their liking.  However, I decided to skip the mixing and tried the J Hamburger curry set.


The curry sauce was delish!  The burger was very well marinated and tasted great alongside with the curry! Unfortunately though, this was all in vain as the rice was deceptively gluggy! It was sticky, with the top looking perfect.  Sad but true, Asians should cook rice pretty decently but not all can.  Nonetheless, I scooped out the sticky ones and ate those were good! Still a very enjoyable dish over all.



Mei on the other hand ordered the Kimchi Beef which was pretty nice as well.  The taste of the Kimchi was good and the sauce was generous.  But wet Kimchi and wet rice really does not go well together.


Last Sunday, I also came here with fishman and little darling.  Fishman ordered the shimofuri which was the steak! Pretty nice and tender but it was all very oily.  Regardless of whether your meat needs cooking like the steak or a cooked on like the hamburger, the hotplate was heavily coated with oil to prevent the food from sticking!  Pepper Lunch is not your typical fast food.  It came out fast but not McDonalds fast. Regardless of all the complains, Pepper Lunch is a welcoming addition.  It might not cook rice nicely, and neither is the long queue or coming out stinky appealing, but hey, its decently priced lunch for quality stuff.



Pepper Lunch on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Bites: Imperial Court @ Como

Sometimes, after seeing a few reviews, I thought I know what my favourite dish would be when I visited a restaurant.  But just when you thought so, be prepared to expect the unexpected.  Walking in here I noticed that the man managing the whole place actually owns the HK Tea Cafe along James St. unless I saw wrongly. At 11.30 in the morning, we were quickly greeted by the lady who manages the place.  I’d reckon this is the perfect time for a yam cha session minus the crowd :)!
First up!  Har Gou/Prawn Dumpling!
While most places do not fail in taste and fresh prawns, most of them never succeed in cooking the dumplings properly.  Unlike most places, these were fresh and the skin did not tear while being picked with my chopsticks.  Definitely no overcooking for this one!

Darling’s favourite Pork and Century Egg porridge was also nice.  A lot better than the one’s we have had at Golden Century and Dragon Palace, but nowhere near the ones we had in Hong Kong!  While this was not blend, I think the eggy taste from the salted and century egg really help the porridge in Hong Kong shine!

The Siew Mai were also delicious here.  I like the additional touch of dried scallops.  Not much taste but a sign of generosity!  It was nice and perfectly cooked once again! But was this mind blowing? Hmm not really that but it was nice!
The rave all over has been with the pork dumplings in a delicious fish broth.  With much admiration, the fish broth was a genius idea.  These juicy Shanghai dumplings had an almost perfect mince which packed a juicy bite with a hot warm soup in there.  The very subtle flavour of the broth toned the flavours nicely!   There was a near perfect balance here.  Comparing my previous experience in Perth, the one in Xin Tian Di, Golden Century and most places have never really satisfied my cravings for Shanghai dumpling!  It is now good that the little darling’s favourite in Dragon Palace now have a nearer alternative!   However though, the skin was slightly, very slightly undercooked.  At most 30 more seconds in the steamer!

The next dish was a new and interesting addition to add to my culinary list!
Imperial Court’s Teochew style dumplings with black sesame.  This was a good one as well.  Even the lady manager said this was yums! The texture was a slightly chewy skin an a tasty filling of meat, vegetables and black sesame.  I felt like perhaps a little more filling would be good but this is a nice eat!  While I have eaten a typical Teochew style dumpling, never have I had one with black sesame.

The chilli pepper squid was tasty but  fishman found it a little salty.  Also, despite hitting all the right notes in terms of taste a little bit more fiery would have been much appreciated! And of course, it needs to be more crunchy too! It was a little chewy when it reached my table!

These little radish cake here again felt like a hit and miss.  It had the right recipe for the perfect radish cake.  The little bit of meat, a mixture of both well blended radish as well as bite size pieces, but it all came crashing down when it felt a little too mushy! But then again, perhaps because this was steamed.  Next time around, pan fried!

In recent years, chicken feet has became a staple at my yum cha sessions!  I often look forward to a rich slightly sticky sauce and when it comes out my mouth, it comes out clean.  At Imperial Palace, I felt that the sauce was slightly runny but what it lacked in taste, it made up for it in terms of cooking.  Very well cooked. For the flavours, I would have like something richer, more savoury a little more salt and sweetness from the a reduced sauce is definitely the way to go.

The rice roll with barbecue pork and coriander was another deceptive dish.  The top roll was the best cooked one out of the lot.  It was perfectly rolled out, thin and delicate.  When it came to the bottom two, it did not live up to the expectations of the first.  We were back to square one with the rice roll slightly thicker than what I like.  But then again, this seems to be an issue which have plagued dim sum places all over the city!  If it wasn’t this time, it would be the next and it happens over and over again.

The last dish is my typical way of finishing my meal at a yam cha place.  And for me, Imperial Court made this ending as sweet as it could have been! I was gobsmacked.
Your typical egg tarts! Just moments ago, we were complaining of the deteriorating service over the course of an hour heading into their peak at 12.20pm.  Almost then we thought we might do without the egg tarts! Luckily we did not do so.  These golden beauties came out looking too thick on the pastry but gosh I was wrong. One bite and it was heavenly.  To some, the runny hot custard in the middle might be a little undercooked but god that transition of consistency from the crunchy outside to a jelly-like inside with a nirvana runny centre was too good to resist.  Seriously wow for me.  Perhaps that is too much a praise for an egg tart.  But for a person who loves his egg tarts, this was kickass.

Overall, my experience at Imperial Court was pleasant.  Starting with some of the best har gao and siew mai in town and not to mention a really delicious Shanghai dumpling, what can I say?  Even the deteriorating service was forgotten with that sweet ending of a really top quality egg tart.  Was this a once off that the selected few dishes were shining ever so brightly? I can never say the answer but when you pay them a visit, you will know.  So when will you be heading there for a try? Because I know I will be! Soon! At the very least, for a confirmation :P!

Imperial Court on Urbanspoon