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Monday, January 28, 2013

Bites: Mend Street Cafe@ South Perth

Deciding on Tuesday dinner was another pick from the Entertainment Book.  Unfortunately, I found it very hard to give it any merits.  That probably explains the discomforting feeling one gets when you go to a restaurants half past seven and it is fairly quiet.   Mend Street Café should be a trademark of the beautiful South Perth.  Its dishes come out looking good but tasting lousy.  For dinner, I ordered the crispy skin pork belly with a salad.


Tragically, the skin was soggy and the meat dry.  Worst of all was the salad that came warm as if it was sitting next to the stove.  The dressing was stingy and I had to request more to relief the dryness.  Over all, it was just nightmare.  The only consolation on the plate was the prawns which were still juicy and nice.  The rest was just horrible.  Will I come here next time?  Maybe with a coupon.  And ordering more typical dishes which I would still worry about a mess up.



Mends Street Cafe on Urbanspoon

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Bites: Village Bar @ Subiaco

Last weekend, the engineers and I decided to have a meet up.  Keen for a new space, I decided to look around town while avoiding all dim sum places which have become to frequent at our meet ups.  Searching around for something casual and relaxing, I stumbled upon a the Village Bar on the Queen of Bad Timing’s blog.  You can see her share of the review here.  Village bar distinct itself from other bars as this was more of a gastropub than your regular one.  The food here is pretty good and the bar prides itself with the title Best Steak Sandwich in WA.  But I was not sold to get one.  I know how overrated titles can get. 


For me,  I decided to get the Honey Vodka battered fish and chips.  It was every bit delectable.  While it was not cheap @ $22, it had my respect.  The fish was fresh, crisp and so moorish.  Beer battered chips were in a league of its own.  But typically being fish and chips with a serve of garlic aioli and tartare sauce, this basket of goodness soon becomes a little greasy. 


While I enjoyed my fish and chips, others decided to try to steak sandwich which unfortunately was just over lukewarm.  I find this things always happen when one tries to serve 10 dishes at the same time.  As a foodie, I reckon the kitchen should do what it does best at its own pace.  So long as the food comes out delectable and hot, everyone will be extremely pleased.  Over all, Village Bar is a pretty impressive bar.  It’s décor was nice, waitresses keen to help and food delicious.  Will I come here again?  Definitely yes, compared to the Brisbane, this place is a downright winner. The only value that is hard to beat is the $15 ribs @ The Shed!



The Village Bar on Urbanspoon

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Bites: Ha Lu @ Mount Hawthorn

Sis have been complaining that I have not bought her a birthday meal for awhile now.  So deciding on what to have for her birthday this time had to be special.  While I was thinking of something a little more fancy like Matilda Bay Restaurant, Friends and such, she wanted something a little more casual and with more choices of food.  In the end, we ended up at Ha Lu.  Perhaps the best small plate option where everyone gets to try a lot of food.  At Ha Lu, I have been impressed once and this time was no exception.  It was equally good!  The dining style here is Izakaya which has a similar concept to tapas.


That night we shared 9 dishes among us and all but one was great!  We started of with a refreshing course of vegetables and meat:P1160006Root vegetable salad with onsen egg and sesame dressing.  A delicious recommendation from the waitress.  The root vegetables of all sort were fried before being mixed with some fresh leaves and tossed in sesame dressing.  It was a textural marvel with all the different type of root vegetables with varying consistency contributing to its flavors!


P1160002While I used to hate sashimi, I somehow took a U turn and have started loving this little fish delights.  Now, it is almost obligatory.  Then again, I found $26 for 9 slices a little steep.  My take on having a delicious sashimi was Ha Lu’s Sashimi Tartar of the day @ $14 below.  It was fantastic.


P1160007This was a fantastic dish which I had in my first visit.  More importantly, it still was.  Marinated in soy and some spices, the tartar was served with a side of crisp and wasabi mayonnaise.  All the magic ingredients for a foodgasm.


P1160005The wagyu tataki was nice  with the dressing but I would have very much preferred it to be served with a side of finely sliced onions.  The fried onions were a tad too heavy on the palate.  In my mouth, it sort of reaches to that extent where it was just too oily to partake in such fresh flavors.


Moving on to the deep fried course:P1160008Dude food with a twist I must say.  But the twist was not in the chicken but rather the concoction of mayonnaise and ume plum mayonnaise.  It provided a hint of ripeness to the sauce making what usually is a rich (sometimes cloying) dipping sauce, light and delicious.   Welcoming addition which added a nice touch to the Kara age.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         A classic favourite of scallops sitting on a fried lotus root topped with some micro herbs.  Finish with a little heat from the Chili Mayonnaise.


Finishing the savory course with braised and grilled foods!P1160011The Pork Belly Kaku-Ni is a slow braised pork belly in soy sauce.  No need for praises here.  Just imagine melt in your mouth pork soaked in a fragrant and rich soy braise.  All with some steamed rice.  Enough said :)!  Cannot wait to replicate this dish in winter.  It is going to be heaven.


P1160012The last time we came to Ha Lu, we had to order this twice.  Maybe thrice.  But this was so small! But oh my god.  This was good! Only complain could be the chicken was not as tender as I remembered it to be!  The flavors though, are your typical teriyaki.  Just a lot better. :)!!


P1160014Another fish on the table.  The  Miso Patagonian Tooth fish was my biggest disappointment of the night.  It felt like Ha Lu was trying to do Nobu’s Black Cod Miso but this was just not what I expected.  I wanted more quality.  More delicateness in flavors.  And the fish itself felt horrible.  This was a big no no for me.  Sorry Ha Lu.  Terrible.


To finish the night, we had our desserts.  This time David decided to opt out as he was not a person who enjoys sweet food.  I do not either but I reckon I would not mind having it with my sister.  It was her birthday lols.  A little sad to have it by herself!P1160017Mine was the Black Sesame Tiramisu while Sis had the Panna Cotta.  Both were delicious but perhaps mine was marginally the better of the two.


Over all, Ha Lu is still a damn good eat.  The first Izakaya I had still packs the great quality it had from day 1!  



Ha-Lu on Urbanspoon

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Bites: Ming Court (2 Michelin Stars) @ Langham Place, Hong Kong

One very simple rule about traveling.  If you are really on a food journey, then you really have to try the best local food.  And so I did.  With so many restaurants in the country, one would literally be lost in translation.  Where do I go to?  This?  That? Where? Whatttttttttt?  But with Michelin guides, you do not have too many to choose from.  Just a simple list.  For my Christmas Eve dinner, I thought to myself, instead of leaving Mongkok and crowd with everyone heading to Tsim Sha Shui or Central, we would just eat in the hotel itself.  But Langham Place is no lousy hotel and that includes having quality restaurants too.  This includes the 2 Michelin Star Chinese Restaurant, Ming Court.  Coming at 8pm we  were promptly attended to and was brought to a table which was already awaiting our arrival.  I have to say even without a picture, that the restaurant looked fantastic.  Its long and warmly lit walkway made me feel like I was in Rockpool for a bit!



Dipping sauces of XO Sauce and Spicy Bean Paste.


Then comes the food we ordered.  While most have praised Yung Kee in Central for their divine roast goose, I have to insist that the one in Ming Court was pretty damn good too.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt has probably one of the best roast goose skin I have ever eaten.  It was really crisp!  But one thing I found rather weird was that the goose itself was not extremely tasty.  It was the sauce the goose was sitting on that tasted really delicious.  The meat was nothing to rave about but it was still fairly juicy for a roast!  However, goose being what it is felt a bit sickening after awhile as these had a good amount of fat in it.  5 ladies and 1 guy had problems finishing this meager first course.  I lol’ed.


Second coarse was the Bean Curd Sheet, Dried Shrimp Roe, White Button Mushroom, Chinese Black Mushrooms.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADespite the bean curd and mushrooms looking extremely heavy in flavor, it was not.  The flavor felt subtle, no Chinese Oyster Sauce overdose whatsoever.  It was just very light and gentle where you can really taste each individual flavors. In fact, it was the broccoli that complemented the dish with a salty braising sauce drizzled over it.  The shrimp roe here appeared to me as a textural element along with a little fragrant more than anything else.  Sandy little bugger.


Fish Maw, Vegetable, Bean curd, Mushrooms.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn my life, I have never eaten such weird looking fish maw ever ever before.  I guess this was one of the higher grade ones.  Then again, I have always though fish maw to be puffy little tubes.  But that does not matter much.  This was great as the broth was awesome.  Could have been better but good thing it was light because most of the dishes I have ordered were quite heavy on the palate.


Third Course was the 2009 HK Silver Culinary Award Winner the Giant Groper Enrobed in Minced Shrimp, Pepper Shrimp.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI really liked this one.  The minced shrimp on the fillet provided a nice chewiness to the fish.  And oh, the still crispy skin of the fish made this really moorish! Definitely could have more of that!  While I did not touch the prawn head, Nigga’s mom happily ate a few.  And while the vegetables look like decorative items, they were meant to tone the dish giving a healthier feel.  Not that it mattered to me.  I was on holiday! hohohoho!


Fourth Course was an in-house signature dish of Silky Egg White, Pepper Shrimp, Crispy Perilla Leaf.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhile this was a feast to the eyes, we slow eaters left it out for too long making these fluffy layers of egg white pillows oily.  The food really came out quite quickly @@!  I guarantee it could have been very pleasant when ate warm but I guess we were a little too slow!  The prawns that was hidden inside though was still delicious with a hint of pepper.  More importantly, it was cooked spot on! :)!


The fifth course was a course of Pan-Seared Chicken, Water Chestnuts,Black Truffle, Buttery Pumpkin.  It was something all us agreed tasted like a Michelin Starred Creation!  More importantly for Ming Court, this dish was awarded a Gold Medal in the 2010 HK Culinary Awards.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe idea was simple a chicken cake mixed with finely diced chestnuts for that little bits of sweet crunchy feeling.  Buttery pumpkin did its job of bring subtle sweetness along with  buttery sensation.  The whole idea for me went really really well.  It was tasty, yet light on the palate despite looking like something drenched in black pepper sauce.  The truffle was used sparingly and provided no more than a modest coating.  Delicious!  It for me was the star of the night!


Our final course to fill the already filled tummies were diced black chicken fried rice.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis although fried to perfection, it did not entice me.  The “wok-hei” as the Chinese calls it or flavor of a hot wok was really alluring but somehow, the flair of an old school yong chow fried rice would have sufficed.  No need for fancy black chicken or additional ingredients.  Nonetheless, this was not a bad fried rice at all. 


Our meal at Ming Court was really enjoyable but in terms of pricing, one would definitely not call Ming Court cheap.  The meal for 6 including tea added up to 2000HKD or $40 a head which is pretty on par with most upper market places in Australia.  However, the quality and ingredients used today were no simple thing one can easily order outside.  But was this really a 2 Michelin Star restaurant?  I really found that a difficult question to answer.  The roast goose felt somewhat lackluster for something so highly rated.  The bean curd dish was special but not quite that 2 stars along with the fried rice and fish maw dish.  But when it came to the shrimp enrobe giant groper or the chicken with truffles, I decided to put the petty issues aside and enjoy the food for what it was worth.  Such special dishes in my opinion might not be super new because fusing two meat together has been done quite frequently, but the way Ming Court does it, I was sold.   So there you have it.  Will I return?   Yes.  Next time around, I know what I would order :)!



Monday, January 14, 2013

Bites: Mr Munchies Sushi @ Mount Lawley

In Perth, I have always found the Japanese food here to be of amazing quality.  However some might disagree, for instance my blogger pal Glenn from Singapore.  While I do not doubt him, I clearly understand his preference.  For S$20 bucks in Singapore, one gets treated to a whole tray of sashimi bento while in Perth, $15 AUD does not get you very far in terms of Japanese unless you settle for the likes of budget restaurants.  Nevertheless, Perth still has a range of daring entrepreneurs who dare to challenge like IS Donburi, Aisuru Sushi and now, Mr Munchies Sushi.  Located in the arcade along Beaufort street, one really has to play hide and seek to find this little establishment.


Nevertheless, coming in early at 6.15pm, we beat the queue to score seats in this little eatery.  No more than 30 seats for sure.  So how does Mr Munchies put itself ahead of others?  Well firstly this place allows you to make your own sushi.  Easily a first in the business.  But why trouble yourself when their menu is filled with rolls named by a rock star?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe new style sashimi was the start to meal where it appears like a fresh salmon got caught and drizzled by garlic crumbs by a Chinese man.   For most parts I have to say, that just because it had garlic crisps sprinkled all over does not mean I was not sold.  It was still deliciously fresh.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANext was a dish where boys will always be boys.  What can I say?  Good old karaage with spicy mayonnaise.  Classily performed.  For me this was better than most, but there is just something about Toraya @ Subiaco which makes it hard to beat.  But still, this worked a treat!


Then comes the most important part of the night.  Rock star named sushi like the Energy Roll:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAt $17.50 a serve, we see unagi, prawns, coriander and this was finished with a drizzle of the unagi sauce.  Over all, good flavors, fresh eel, and an almost useless prawn.  This is where I start to ponder.  The sushi could barely fit in my mouth and there is just something about putting prawns that has no impact in a jumbled up sushi like that.  I think plain unagi would do fine.   My biggest complain would be the rice.  As the sushi was so large, the kids rolling this up had to apply extra pressure to contain it all. WRONG! WRONG! WRONG!  You are meant to give it the baby treatment. 


Next was another fancily named sushi.  The Kilpatrick Roll.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFor me this was my favourite of the lot as all flavors were distinctively noticeable.  The cheese, the chicken, the bacon.  It was all very clear.  What was a let down here was the rice.  It was so overly compressed it felt a little gluggy at times.  For me, it needs to be airy.  Sushi is a lot about the rice in my opinion.  There is a reason why plain sushi balls still sell well in Japan.  Because the rice just taste beautiful.

The Philadelphia roll was another keen creation at Munchies.  It had cream cheese, smoked salmon finished with a drizzle of mayo and sweet chili.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis was our first roll and it was pretty good.  Just that the same issue over and over.  The rice needs more space and perhaps the smoked salmon did not really taste like one.  It felt more like plain salmon rather than smoked.


By the time we got to our last roll, we were so over rolls.  Yes these were humungous.  Get any roll you see and double the diameter of it.  These were not your small as sushi rolls like the ones I had at Aisuru Sushi and still got charge a lot more money.  It was all about value and creativity in this little store.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe concept on this was simple, in a way where perhaps it touched on the simpler things. Simple marinated tuna, flying fish roe and avocado.  It is a combination that is hard to disappoint.


From experience, rarely does one place beat classic good old sushi by displaying skills of a similar level, modern day sushi feels as if it is all about novelty sushi with the typical ingredients plus more.. a lot more.  When I visited Aisuru Sushi, I swore that I would never step in again.  I love my mayonnaise yes.  But at Aisuru, it was all too much.  More so when you pay the bill.  Here at Mr Munchies Sushi, the price was outmost reasonable.  This quick fix that filled 5 guys was only 20 bucks a head.  But there is never no room for improvement.  I only have one major complain.  The rice needs better treatment.  Not people putting their whole body weight to keep the roll together.  If they improve, I cannot help but feel a certain future devotion to this little eatery.  So perhaps next time when you are felling a bit low, get yourself an Energy Roll!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWenY

Mr. Munchies Sushi on Urbanspoon

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Bites: Harvest Espresso @ Victoria Park

While I have so many pictures from my South Korea and Hong Kong trip, I felt like this place deserved a little more priority.  Made known to me by my sister and fellow blogger ChompChomp (see her review here), I decided to pay Harvest Espresso a visit.   Located on 627 Albany Highway, Victoria Park, Harvest Espresso appears very understated thanks to its location next to a secondhand car dealer.  Walk in and be amazed at how this little café appears no bigger than one’s bedroom.  But that did not matter.  What they did on our breakfast plate made fishman and I very happy people!


photo (5)

Harvest Espresso keeps their menu simple and more importantly, gorgeous.  If you like their Facebook link here, you can see their 2013 menu!


To kickoff our breakfast, we had hot drinks and sweet tarts to start!  All tarts were $4.50 each.

photo (1)

The lemon curd tart was my choice as I am now down with a flu and cough so why not reduce the guilt of eating unhealthy stuff by trying to get some Vitamin C for the flu xD!   I loved every bit of this.  This tart was bursting with the flavors of lemon and the short crust was to die for.  It was, thin and crisp!  The perfect base to sit all that delicious lemon curd in.


photo (2)

Fishman ordered the chocolate ganache tart.  I had a small piece and it was gorgeous.  It was rich and to help reduce the intensity of the chocolate I believe Harvest Espresso has decided to add some orange zest to prevent this delicious tart from becoming cloying.


For the real stuff, I ordered the Seasonal Mushrooms, rocket, goats’ cheese, toasted brioche.  As I have gotten bored of eating the full breakfast wherever I go, I tend to look for different types of food.  Food that expresses the creativity of the chef and café rather than the boring big breakfast.  This usually pays off well and this was the case at Harvest.  The mushroom were cooked well, but for fishman it was a little under.  Nonetheless it was joy and the thought of using a dessert bread, the toasted Brioche was absolutely genius.   The crumbled goats cheese finished off the whole experience with a soft somewhat tangy and creamy cheese.  It was slurps!

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Seasonal Mushrooms, rocket, goats’ cheese, toasted brioche


For fishman, he ordered the Harvest Spanish Baked Egg, chorizo, tomatoes.  While I only had one spoonful of the bake, I felt like it was really tasty.  You had saltiness in the dish, the acidity and sweetness of the tomatoes which all worked very well with the chorizos.  Actually, we had meatballs and not chorizos in there so this was new.  But with a toasted baguette to dip, I would have preferred a bun that can actually soak up the sauce more efficiently.  Something soft. maybe more fluffy like a roll maybe?  Then again, this is my preference while all places always use French Baguette haha.

photo (4)

Harvest Spanish Baked Egg, chorizo, tomatoes, cannellini beans.


When we woke up we were starving, but when we were done at Harvest, we were stuffed.  It was definitely a good meal and a great new addition to the ever growing Victoria Park strip!  For me, I enjoyed every bit of my meal today, the tart started the meal well and the shroom, goats’ cheese with brioche finished it well.  Sipping chamomile tea is gay but I do not do coffee.  With a seating capacity of 20 people at anyone time, Harvest Espresso is going to be a very busy place in a not too distant future.  I cannot wait to bring my parents and the little darling there.  They serve her favourite fruit tart from what I see online and I believe they can do it well!  Really have to thank Chomp and sis for the introduction!



Harvest Espresso on Urbanspoon

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Bites: Sage @ The Garden Residences, Kuala Lumpur

Home has now become a lot quieter.  Most of my relatives live outside the country in Australia, Canada and Singapore. So now, even during the winter solstice festival, it would just be mom, dad, sis and I.    Normally such festivals include a whole lot of cooking but this time around, we decided that with only 4 people in the house, this was way too troublesome.  So for this special occasion, mom still made the obligatory tong yuen but we went out for a nice dinner at Sage @ KL, a Japanese – a French fusion restaurant.
The interior is neat with high ceiling.  When we first stepped in, it was super quiet and it pretty much stayed that way the whole night.
Bread with delicious EVOO parsley dip!
Two types of bread.  One white, the other whole meal.  And boy I have to say that the quality of the bread was pretty amazing too a level that it can easily rival Amuse.  But learning from Amuse, it makes sense to serve the bread on lava rocks to keep it warm throughout the occasion or at least for a bit.
The Amuse Bouche:
Scallop Carpaccio with a hint of tomatoes.  Not too bad but it was not the best I have tasted.
Chef’s special of the day.   King Fish sashimi slightly smoked with a edible flowers.
Having eaten it, my first question was why did the chef slice the fish so thick?  I soon realised that it was probably a smart idea since you would want the fish to have enough smokiness without actually cooking it through.  This was pretty yums.  I preferred this to the Amuse Bouche.
The few appetizers we had for our 4 course meal
Seared Foie Gras with Dark Grapes and Red Wine Reduction was sister’s choice.  This was absolutely moorish if you fancy rich, fatty Foie Gras.  For me, half of this would more than justify as an appetizer but for my sister, this was just spot on.  It was insane IMHO.  Other places that I have dined at do not even serve Foie Gras of this richness until I re-visited Joel Robuchon’s Restaurant in Hong Kong again.
I decided to keep the cholesterol low with a small serve of spicy seafood pasta angel hair.  This was delicious and I would expect so as its flavors were very inclined towards the Asian palette.  This means, there is a lot of acidity, salt was perfect for me and woah the flavors were just very nice.  The seafood was nicely prepared with generous servings of fish, scallops and prawns.  A very appetizing way to prepare diners for their next course.
Dad has the Cream of Cèpe Mushroom Soup with White Truffle Oil was dad’s choice to share with mom.  I felt like the soup was just mediocre.  It was creamy and rich but nothing that I have not eaten before.
For the mains:
Mom and Sis called the special of the day which was a lobster pasta.  This featured a generous serve of lobster cooked in a very rich seafood sauce.  It felt like a very condensed bouillabaisse or perhaps a lobster bisque which was fine if you are a big fan of rich seafood but mom said she preferred it to have a little more Asian feel to it.  I understand why because this might feel very one dimensional if the only thing you could taste is a lobster bisque flavored sauce throughout the whole meal.  Normally at this level of dining, it is always about the layers of flavors harmoniously pleasing the tongue.   Perhaps a little more thought?
My choice for the night was the Beef Rossini with Roasted Foie Gras and Red Wine Sauce.  Having chosen this as a main was the only reason why I did not order the Foie Gras as my main.  It was a good call really, because the Foie Gras used in this dish was no lesser awesome compared to what my sister had.  More importantly, this awesome piece of beef fillet puts even Perth Royalty of fine dining Balthazars to shame.    This was just perfect.  No saddening fatty muscle to disrupt the meal.  Just very tender yet decently lean red meat melting in your mouth in each bite.  Mash was delicious and so were the greens which were cooked just spot on the complement the meal.
What dad ordered was even more intriguing when it showed up like that.   Paté en Croute Chicken with Foie Gras and Natural Jus was dad’s choice and eh did not quite like it.  I think probably the fact that is was a free range chicken and they probably used the leaner part of the chicken to make the pate rendering it too dry.   Seems like my dad was on a spree of bad selections that night.  Or perhaps it was not that bad, just not good either.
Then comes the desserts:
I decided to tryout the Mille Feuille of Strawberry with Cointreau Ice Cream.  Which was, sadly, a looker but not quite a tasty treat.  Its Mille Feuille felt shortchanged like I wanted a million layers but you clearly gave me 3.  And the bigger problem was that each of the 3 layers did not each feel like a third of a million.  I expected more crumble.  More crack with my spoon.  For these reasons other than the sour strawberries, this dessert was not my thing.  Oh but the ice cream was nicely prepped!!
Classic Crêpe Suzette with Grand Marnier Ice Cream.  Dad dessert was really nice I felt.  I would have preferred his to mine any time. 
Sister decided to stick to her favourite which was the Ginger and Lime Brulée with Mixed Berries, Almond Tuile.  This was probably the saviour for Sage’s dessert Kitchen.  The brulee has a good taste of ginger and lime but the important thing to me was that the brulee custard was spot on.  It was soft, smooth and creamy.  Not gluggy, hard and sometimes having a lot of bubbles in it.  This was really nice despite me having just one teaspoon of it!
At the end of the meal, we had hot drinks and petit fours which sadly only had 1 chocolate per person.  Sipping hot drinks after dinner the family just stayed there and chilled.  It was a rather good night marred by some underperformers which had really fancy names.     Something like how company sometimes give their workers title like Executives but they are nothing but graduates Hhahaha.
Family photos:
Sis and Mom!
Dad and I!
Not sure really awkward coincidence but out shirt colors are fairly similar according to the gender.