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Friday, August 17, 2012

Bites: The Brisbane @ Northbridge

When my boss left last week, it was not all doom and gloom.  The structural group had lunch together to remember what everybody considered a friend, a boss and a teacher.    The venue unsurprisingly, was the Brisbane which is a place the employees  frequent.  I have been here three times this year, once when I started, next was due to a monthly gathering within the group and now this occasion.


The company has a zero alcohol tolerance so I guess a glass of bitters is good enough! Not like I would drink alcohol anyways :P

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Long live the RBs!  Almost thought I had lost them when I went laser tag the last time! Amazingly it was found and returned!  Perhaps my boss too, would return after his holiday :)!  Then again, 70 years old and working sounds really cruel!



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For my meal last week, I ordered the lamb shank @ $32.50. The lamb shank was well-cooked when you consider the tender meat falling of the bone. Vegetables were well caramelized with the exception of the baby carrots which could have benefited from being caramelized a tad longer. The mash also was spot on with me finishing every bit of it.  With so many components done well, it really felt as if this was the perfect dish. And just when you thought so, there comes the typical brown sauce all classic yet one dimensional in a dish like this.  The lamb itself is not a very tasty piece of meat.  I was hoping for a little acidity or perhaps sweetness which might have been enough with the carrots if the piece of meat was not so huge.  So perhaps a tomato based sauce or some chutney on the side or anything!  This seems to have plagued most of the shanks that I have been having lately! EMO!


Brisbane as a corporate lunch place or perhaps a place for drinks after work is good with a decent interior and a really lovely court yard.  Taking about a foodie meeting, and it is a place one would definitely write off.  It is not all that bad.  Of the three occasions that I have been there, the most memorable one would have to be the time when I had the steak sandwich.  It was seriously good.  Probably one of the better ones out there! But with a price tag of $2X, that better be one heck of a sandwich!



The Brisbane Hotel on Urbanspoon

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Bites: What the Pho @ Northbridge

Slurping hot noodles and a good winter’s afternoon is pretty much what a mundane Monday needs.  The fix at one of the newer Vietnamese Restaurants in the city, has a catchy signboard with a matching name.  Pho or Vietnamese noodles are often pronounced “poh”  which my friend says is wrong.  Instead, the correct pronunciation is something like “fur”.  Putting petty issues aside, What the Pho has a really nice interior which sets itself apart from its counterparts who seems to have a more traditional “less is more”  sort of styling.   But it was the food that really mattered.  Does the younger restaurant have what it takes to beat its more experienced siblings?

For me, I called a dry noodles with fried chicken for $11 + $1 for extra noodles.
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The toppings were decent with bean sprouts, chives and spring onions.  But what matters the most for me is the sauce used.  For me, Vietnamese is all about having the elements well balanced.  This means having a salty base with proper amounts of sweetness and heat.  Unfortunately, the version of dry noodles at WTP was decent when it comes to salt but sweetness was non-existent.  I reckon the people at Phi Yen or Tra Vinh, make better sauce for their dry noodles.

However, what I did like was their fried chicken! It was chopped up, well-plated and serve with a small dish of sweet sauce.  And if you’ve guessed it, this gave the noodles good help!  Add it together with the chili sauce, and the whole noodles actually taste pretty yums!

As for my friends, they ordered the raw beef and beef ball hofan.  I tried their soup and found it pretty good.  But what matters most I guess it the opinion of my friend who happens to be a Vietnamese.  Quoting his exact words “It looks interesting from the outside, but tastes bland”! Honestly, I thought it was pretty tasty haha.  But then again, I typically mix my soup with the chili sauce and the other sweet brown sauce.  This creates a concoction where the original taste has disappeared! 

Finishing my meal, I felt satisfied.  I guess others felt relatively good as well.  I liked what I ordered despite it being slightly bland which did not really matter.  This was because  the various sauces on the table allows everyone to do a little bit of mix and match to suit.  Lunch at What the Pho was alright in pricing as well.  I guess this warrants a second visit although one might find it hard to deviate his meals from his usual restaurants especially when one does not offer anything more than the other.  In fact, the choices at What the Pho seems slightly lesser with the usual suspects such as Braised Beef Noodles, and  Diced Steak with Fried Rice all missing.  Hmmmm?

What the Pho on Urbanspoon

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Bites: Aisuru Sushi @ Northbridge

Aisuru Sushi along William Street is fast becoming a popular eatery with long queues on the weekends for inside seating.  With its large glass windows, Aisuru looks and feels very polished, signs of a restaurant that is both hip and modern.  Last Friday, my workmates and I decided to try it out as it has been very well mentioned on both the internet and by word of mouth.  Stepping in to the restaurant, we were presented with a choice of waiting for 20 minutes for an inside seat, or an immediate sitting outside.  What strike immediately  me was the missing feel which I would normally get in an authentic Japanese restaurant.  But what does it matter? Nowadays, chefs with culinary skills of a different culture is becoming increasingly common.



Seated outside, we were soon told that we had to go in and place our order before paying on the spot. It was not the best type of service but we kindly oblige. Also, the waitress seems stingy on the menu, giving us only 2 to share among the four of us. I really did not know paper was that hard to print. Nonetheless, after looking through the menu, we ordered a few dishes to share.


The first dish to reach the table was the Caterpillar Roll


The Caterpillar is essentially an Unagi roll with flying fish roe, avocadoes with a dash of soy and a mayonnaise.  The rice was good on this one, but when one calls Unagi, he expect to taste it.  Unfortunately, the Unagi was minimal in this sushi leaving the taste job to the soy and mayonnaise which is naturally an already good condiment?  My take? I wouldn’t have paid $10 for 4 pieces.  RIP OFF.


Next came my workmate’s choice for us to share, the torched scallop roll


In this roll, it was hard to fault the scallops and the rice, but what disappointed was the avocados which could have been more ripe as it left my palate with a hint of rawness.  Nonetheless, the sweetness of the torched scallop mellowed well with the rest of the element for a tasty bite.   Perhaps more attention to detail the next time!  For $11 bucks.. I shall not comment.


What we had next was the winner for the night.  One which truly satisfies.


The black velvet for me was a nice reinterpretation of luxury rolls.  With tuna, Tamago, caviar and a tempura prawn running through the rice, it was spot on.  Spicy mayonnaise was decadent and avocado good.  All in all, this tiny morsel of food was so yummy we regretted not ordering a full serve.  $12 for 4 pieces.



The next roll was the  Dynamite Roll.  The roll had teriyaki chicken, tamago and avocado with hot sauce.  The chicken while not being as moist and well cooked as Kanta, was helped by the sauce which left my tongue wondering what in the world was this sauce made of.  It did not feel like your usual spicy sauce.  In fact, it did not taste Japanese unless it was one that has skipped my taste buds.  Over all, this was pretty OK! 


The next roll was one that I chose, the Plum Flower Roll which is $9 for 4 pieces.


Let me ask all of you, what is wrong with the food in this picture?  Holy jesus.  Please do not open a Sushi Shop when you intend to serve me something like that.  While the sushi on the left was ACCEPTABLE, what the HELL are those three on the Right?  It’s like a scene so obscene where anyone can call themselves a chef because money is too easy to earn in this city of iron.  Sticky, gluggly, overcooked, broken. This was crap beyond belief.  Any sushi chef who rolled this would have known that he had messed it up.  To serve it? I shall rest my case now.


What astounded the table the most was the pricy appetizers that came at a very inappropriate timing.


For our appetizers which came after 4 serves of sushi, the tempura popcorn @ $9.50


This is definitely one of the highlights of the night without a doubt, it felt buttery and within each bite is that lovely burst of corn flavour.  This one of the better things that night.


Next was the spicy shrimp @ $15 for 5 pieces.


Yes these are prawns and typically, the Australian “King Prawn” size which are about the 1/3 the size of the king prawns in Malaysia.  Nonetheless, 5 prawns for $15 is such a slaughter.   It’s battered, it’s fried and yes it’s been drizzled with decent sauce, but seriously?  Just last week I had a meal at Tsunami, Mosman Park where 10 prawns and 1 soft shell crab all deep fried with a drizzle of spicy mayonnaise had only costed us something like $19 bucks.  This I am not lying! In an atmosphere that was almost romantic only to be destroyed by our youthful bunch, Tsunami @ Mosman Park puts Aisuru to shame.  This is no lie, just check this link out to Tsunami’s Menu.


Another thing we ordered was the soft shell crab salad.


Unlike what I had at Bonzai, this is something anyone could easily do.  Fry the crab, pull out a bag of salad and magic.  That is $19 saved.  This was nowhere near what I expected as I have always been impressed at how the Japanese make me eat my vegetables.  At Bonzai, there was innovation and that concoction of mayonnaise, and that other sauce they used really created a chemistry that I appreciate.  The wanton skins itself in the Crispy Chicken Salad at Bonzai also brings the salad to a whole new level.  This salad at Aisuru in contrast is just depressing.  $19.


At the end of the meal I had 6 pieces of sushi, 1 prawn, a few popcorn tempura and some salad with 1/4 soft shell crab.  My bill for the night was $28.  Feeling hungry, I left to Koko Black for some dessert before meeting up with some lads at the Imp for more drinks.  How would you feel?  Seriously, is this a sign of how things are about to unfold for the food scene in Perth?  Sometimes, eating in these mediocre restaurants make fine dining feel cheap.  To be honest, I did not feel that way when I was there before.  Perhaps it was the friends that made it a whole lot enjoyable.  However, reflecting on my meal there last week, I should have been a whole lot unhappier. I rarely dish out negative reviews but this is really a  put off.  Mediocre food, poor service and an expensive price tag.  Sick.  Perhaps now I better understand the look on my colleagues face when she ask me whether I would return.



Aisuru Sushi on Urbanspoon

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Bites: Mad Mex @ Subiaco

Two days ago, my sister and I decided to go for some simple dinner not Japanese, or Chinese.  Having Italian on Monday did not help either, so Mexican it is.  For those who live near the city, Mad Mex might look like a Zambrero copy cat. But to those who know, Mad Mex is already a household name for fast, fresh and tasty Mexican food when it established its first outlet in Hillarys.  A workmate of mine has mentioned this a few times now, but with Hillarys being the only option before, I am glad we now have one in Subiaco.

To share my sister and I called a Quesadillas and a Grande Melt to share.


The quesadillas was a monster and it is definitely good to for sharing.  Four large triangles filled with melted cheese and meat was good but so rich.  For this one, I called the beef which was tasty but perhaps slightly overcooked but not to extent where it is dry and stringy.  Cheese was good but the overload made it salty! But fear not, guacamole, sour cream and the salsa made this all very easy to eat. 


As for the Grande melt, I had it with the chicken.  And to be honest, the chicken was more succulent and the marinade just tasted really good.  Sister did not quite like the black beans in the Grande wrap but I found it ok.  A little dusty sort of textural component which is OK.   No dislike or significant like!  As its name suggest, there was heaps of cheese again here.  But luckily enough, not as much as the Quesadillas!


Overall, Mad Mex is a really good bite that feels wholesome and is prepared well under 10 minutes of waiting time.  The concept was simple and more importantly, clear.  Taste wise, this definitely beats Subway hands down.   I like the cheese, and chicken,.  In fact, the guacamole was pretty nice despite lacking in acidity and missing the pungent taste of diced onions.  So next time if you’re catching the footy or simply wondering about Subiaco, do not forget that there is a little something there that does not make a hole in your pocket :)!



Mad Mex on Urbanspoon