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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Bites: Café Latay @ Northbridge

“Nothing is from the bottle! Sauces, curries, marinades are all homemade!” exclaimed the lady boss who operates Café Latay.   I have been coming down here often and she often looks at us little graduates with care but mainly concern on whether our meager salary can afford the $10-20 dollar lunch she serves.  Working at Hatch for 1 year now, I have often do quick takeaway Café where I enjoy tuna croquettes, curries and their salads which I would not call cheap in anyway but in terms of quality, it was there.  In fact, takeaways usually start at $5-9 dollars which is decent.  Or one could get a mass produced unhealthy meal at Maccas?  Or that ever so boring roast chicken from Coles.


Knowing my background as an amateur foodie, she asked me to come down and sample some of her dine-in options.  Packing with me a crew of 4 guests, we happily headed down for a free meal last week. I have to say we were beaming with joy.  Who would not for a free lunch?OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMC’s lunch for today was the satay with rice, sauce and a cucumber salad.   If you like your satay flavorsome matched with a slightly spicy yet extremely rich peanut sauce, this is kick ass.  Deceiving satay felt hard to dismember using utensils but fell off the skewer effortlessly when bitten of the stick.  It’s the way we roll back home in Malaysia!  Served with rice though, felt unusual as we were more used to the traditional “ketupat” but that was a difficult thing to serve as the Australians do no quiet understand it. YET.  For me this dish was quite on the mark in terms of the flavors that I was looking for but putting health aside, I would have like a slightly unhealthy cut of meat.  A little skin on the flesh just the way it is done back home.  But this all in all was nice although MC found the rice a little dry or undercooked!


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASteph decided to go for steak as she has a slight gluten intolerance.  To her joy, the steak was cook spot on which she found was really amazing for the $20! She commented on how most steaks in that price range always turn out overcooked but this was purrrrfect! But due to my poor ordering skills, she ended up with a mushroom sauce and not a sundried tomato sauce which she wanted.  Nevertheless, she enjoyed the sauce which I have to insist felt really delectable!   It was a mixture of saltiness and sweet with a hint of sourness.  Over all,  a good lunch which she enjoyed!


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACafé Latay changes their curry on day to day basis.  For that day, Ness had the Lamb Rogan Josh with rice, papadams and a side of raita.  Ness started enthusiastically only to find herself  struggling to finish the lamb (the serving was huge).   Sampling her curry, I found the flavors of the Rogan Josh very authentically composed.  However, as a matter of personal preference, I would have liked a higher amount of acidity from the tomatoes in a way that it is really rich.  For the meat, I typically choose lamb chops and take away all the excess fat and sinewy bits.  I like a cut of lamb that balances  well between its leanness and fattiness, all when cooked together becomes rich and full of beautiful flavors. 


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAndrew who has sandwich every day could not depart with his routine.  His sandwich journey continued with Café Latay’s steak sandwich.  Amazingly enough, it looked like a really big sandwich and Andrew was happy that everything was put to order.  More importantly, it came out warm with the steak still tender.   In fact, he found that the one served here beat the steak sandwich he had at the Village Bar @ Subiaco which was was voted the best steak sandwich in WA.  No bad at all!


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFor my lunch, I was craving for something a little more unhealthy.   I had the Chicken Parmagiana with a side of chips and salad.  Biting into the chicken, it was delicious.  Fried to golden crisp especially on the sides, the rich sauce and cheese was a pleaser.  In fact, this was the kind of richness I was looking for in the Rogan Josh.  Just that little added acidity made wonders.  While the chicken was superb, and the chips OK, I struggled with the salad.  I think it needed a little reviving and temperature to them.  Fridge temperature is normally my preference when served with a deep fried goodies.  To add moisture, a good swirl of olive oil does the trick before being tossed with sauce :)!


When we were done, I believe no one felt hunger anymore.  For approximately $16 each, Café Latay had us filled.  We might not be the biggest eater but it was great value which the lady boss need not justify.  It was clear that Café Latay caters not only honest, homemade and quality food, but equally healthy ones too! A little imperfections here and there but there was no compromising on quality which I thought was acceptable.    Of all the food we had, I have to say that some dishes really set itself apart from the rest.  One that I liked particularly a lot was the satay although the rice needs changing.  Its flavors were spot on.  Other than that, the curry was also served in a manner that felt really complete with the side of raita and papadam but maybe a little fixing in the sauce to my liking.  If you asked me whether I would return for my occasional lunch spend? Definitely so.


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