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Friday, March 29, 2013

Bites: Gusto Foods @ South Perth

It is fresh, it is exciting and this is a breakfast place where the queue did not outlast my patience.  While I am not one to chase the café cultures of Perth, time and time over my blog stalks and other Instagramers  put up something that gets me excited.  This time around ChompChomp of Perth had me locked onto this little café just a short drive from my place.  Perth breakfast food is not the cheapest but the creativity on a plate makes it worth the money.  Coming in at 10.30am, the waiter politely served us and put our names down for the next table for 6.  After just 10 minutes, a table was cleared and we were invited in.
Isolation.  A place where the chef puts his thoughts on a plate.

Folks around the table called hot drinks but for me, a delicious orange juice was perfect!  
                                              OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Sister’s cappuccino @ $4.50.  The gloss on the froth looked superb!

While we each had our own breakfast, we called a crumpets @ $13.50 to share.     
                                              OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
What was served to us really deviated from the classic butter and syrup. Instead these little beauties came with a berry and pear compote, yoghurt and  peanut crumbs which was a nice touch.  Crumpets were nice although I have to say they were rather thin to finish the accompanying condiments!  I enjoyed the various textures from all the sides and the flavors were good.  Special mention to the creamy yoghurt and sweet peanut crumb complemented by the slight tartness of the berry compote!


Darling had the smoked salmon with guacamole, potato cakes and hollandaise for $19.50.  It was super massive and darling enjoyed her breakfast!  I had a try and it was pretty damn nice.  Eggs were spot on, hollandaise perfect and most importantly, the smoked salmon had just the right amount of salt!  The little darling thought that the guacamole felt rather redundant but my sister and I happily had it :)!

Fishman decided to skip the cliché brunch meals of eggs and called the sirloin steak burger instead.  Inside he says was filled with thinly sliced beef which were really tender.  However, mid way though he felt that it started become a little too sickening for breakfast food.  The flavors though really good were still unable to beat the gigantic burger.  I guess the gherkins did not offer much consolation either.  Over all, I would still say it turned out pretty yums!  He reckons perhaps some grilled tomatoes to cut through the meat would work wonders!

For me, I was sold when I saw pulled pork on the menu. Who in the right mind does not love tender, moist and with some fatty parts in the meat, a melt in your mouth treat?
My pulled pork with poached eggs, hollandaise and onion relish cost me $19 I think +/- $0.50 haha.  It worked a treat and I really loved the pork.  In terms of flavor, I recently had another at Harvest Espresso @ Victoria Park which  I am really partial to, but in this instance, I’d have to say that Gusto came tops.  It was just flavored really nicely.  With runny yolk, some tangy relish with subtle tang from the hollandaise bringing everything together.  I enjoyed this :)!  Bread used was normal and I could not comment much.  Spinach on the other hand was nice + healthy haha.  How else do I describe them?  Sis on the other hand called something similar but came without eggs and hollandaise.  It had a side of chips!  It was nice and she enjoyed the crusty bread but for me haha, I really thought mine is better xD!

Last was a special dish which I recommended to my housemate Yv.  It was a serve of cinnamon toast and caramelized banana topped with bacon, honey comb and berry compote for $15.50.


Yv was shocked to see its towering appearance but braved her first bite.  She had a moment of silence which concerned me a little.  But fortunately she thought that it was OK.  Her only concern was the intense  sweetness from the compote.  She liked how the saltiness from the bacon gave it that extra edge but still, the sweetness from the compote was a little deafening.  In fact, I shared half of this with her and agreed that it was a little too sweet.  But I really liked the whole concept of mixing sweet and salty along with some spice.  Texture wise, this was really good too.  A burst of juiciness from the berries, mushy bananas, crunchy honeycomb!  It was great thinking IMHO.  Next time if I ordered this, the compote would come in a little jar like the crumpets.  That would be perfect.  I guess everyone has a difference tolerance so it would be great to let us decide although original amounts decided by the chef should be best.

It was a great start to the day which I finished with a run at South Perth.   Over all, Gusto Food is a great find.   The breakfast did not have to revolve about boring ham, eggs, hash browns and sausages.  There was a lot more on there which I would not make for myself! 

It was enjoyable although the inner pigs in us made us bite more than we can chew.  If the six of us goes there again, we agreed that we were better of sharing just 4 + a crumpet.  Brunch was a massive overkill.  I enjoyed all that they provided and definitely want to relive that experience.  My customary brunch haunts have slowly start to die as I have found waits and inconsistent performances plaguing favorites like John Street, Toast, and Sayers.  In fact a favourite called Crumpets in Victoria Park had switched owners :(!  Gusto Food till we meet again!

Gusto Food on Urbanspoon

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Bites: Gordon St Garage @ Perth City

Back before hipsters were cool, a hipster once told me that hipster only have 3% body fat.  The story starts here for this new kid on the block.  Walking in, I was taken away by the retro fittings in this factory inspired diner.  It was very welcoming and felt like the place to be.  Sitting down, a cute chick takes our gave us our menu and we had water on standby.  Little darling, intrigued by the many cakes arrange near the door decided to order a slice of fruit cake.

It did not take long to arrive but we were put off by it.  BADLY.  It was crumbly, dry and sad.  But a strong point though is that there were heaps of sultanas but barely enough to justify what was served to us.   Perhaps a little short on rum and other fruits to constitute a proper fruit cake too.  For me, the only salvage here would be if it was gluten free.  Then I’d be pretty chuffed.

The comes my lunch called 2 Sliders for $18.00                                                                                                           photo (6)It was a slider pair consisting of pulled pork and chutney with another one filled with pastrami.  How would I find these all?  Very very queer.  I found the flavors decent but to say it was a hit,  I would beg to differ.  Everything on this plate was very simple to put together and to have so little means to perfect every element.  The pastrami burger in all honesty felt out place in terms of flavor and to a certain extend, bland.  Not sure how pathetic bits of gherkins are supposed to salvage a poorly constructed pastrami.  Onion rings served on a stack of trio made a good visual but when bitten into, it was sad to find that the first ring was horrible.  No, it was not the batter, but rather the onion itself that was not up to mark.  Saying that is in fact a leniency considering the issue was that the chef him/herself decided to use the harder outer bit of the onion which is usually the part I would put in the bin.  But fortunately, the other two were just joy although it all ended too prematurely.

Next comes the little darling’s chicken salad @ $18.                                                                                          photo (7)Just by looking at it, this salad is clearly inspired by Asian flavors.  But putting inspirations to realization requires more than just dreams, it is either a reinvention of a classic or a classic done well.  The whole thing as darling would put it, felt bland with no distinctive taste or flavors that drives a person to go mouthful after mouthful..  Only consolation was that the poached chicken was tender but unfortunately lacked even the slightest seasoning.  At that moment, I was already cursing our luck.  Who the heck set this horrible Friday for us.  Even the chilies that was meant to bring heat were not finely diced to reinvigorate the salad as a whole, but rather, it was disguised among the greens making some mouthfuls feel rather unpleasant.


Over all, yes we loved the venue.  Yes, the hipster looking chic and dudes were rather spot on.  But when it comes to substance on a plate, it seems like form has gotten the better of the restaurant.  It is rather unfortunate these days.  Sometimes it is even questionable to what hipsters really are.   So may the real hipster please stand up?  Some venues are fancily fitted with the right mix of service and feel but when it comes to serving food, it is where the momentum stops.  Seriously, that serve of sliders and salad are nothing more than misery.  It is pathetic, even more so considering the amount we paid.  Would I ever come back again?  Yeah maybe.  Probably with my lunch box and just for drinks.  Their pot of tea is flavorful and still has what it takes to be a good pot of tea.  It would surprise me if it turned out wrong.


Gordon St Garage on Urbanspoon

Monday, March 18, 2013

Bites: Guzman Y Gomez, GYG @ Northbridge

My fellow colleagues decided to go out for lunch one day and I took this opportunity to show them a bit of what food blogging is on my side.  It clearly felt awkward with me putting so much emphasis of food photos and not them haha.  They probably wonder why have I not even taken any photos of them lol.  Anyways, that day we went to Guzman Y Gomez which for me is a perfect chance to try this new Mexican place.  My first attempt fell short when the queue for free burritos extended to the end of the shop houses and even went around the corner.  Fortunately, it was just a small group of people this time.


GYG is probably one of the latecomers to enter the wave of Mexican restaurants that swept Perth a few years back.  Since then, we have seen Mad Mex, Salsa Mex and other Mexican places appear so quickly around town.  Typically, I would have that coming late would mean a little more than ignorance.  So, is this a case of “last in, best dressed” or “ GYG –> GG”?  GG pretty much just means flop!                                                                                    OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         The GYG list is not the most comprehensive but covers all the Mexican basics like Tacos, Burritos, Bowls, Nachos and Quesadillas.  A small range of salads are also present for the weightwatchers.


So is there really enough substance for it to differentiate itself from others?  I started with 3 soft shell tacos for $10.90.  These felt like good value but what made my day was the fact that I could have all 3 in different flavors.   I started this taste test with a spicy chicken guerrero, a beef guerrero and a pork chipotle.                                                                OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         My first bite into the taco, and I enjoyed the delicious flavors Mexican fare always offers.  The sweetness, and acidity mixed with a little heat from the free flow of jalapeno.  It was gorgeous.  The spicy chicken guerrero was well flavored, with its meat still tender.  Bean provided the carbohydrates and over all it was a satisfying eat.  But when I tried to repeat those with the beef and the pork tacos, it felt way too similar.  There was no differentiating factor between these meats.  Maybe because they were all called guerreros or something.  But even then, the pork chipotle had little to offer.


My mates on the other hand called the burritos in a wrap.  These were really huge stuff with rice, meat and vegetables with a finish of salsa.  Seeing them chow down those whole burritos in under 10 minutes really shows how much the boy enjoyed their wraps.  But I do not blame them, I would have these over Subway anytime. 


GYG is a pretty good eat when you take into consideration how quick and fuss free it is to get decent Mexican.   But what does it offer that others do not?  Perhaps more flavors for your burritos or tacos but then again, I had difficulty telling which is which if not for the color and texture of the meat.  So if I ever had to decide whether it was going to be Mad Mex or GYG or others, it would be important to see who is nearest.    GYG?  Definitely not GG.  A worthy bite!



Guzman y Gomez Mexican Taqueria Northbridge on Urbanspoon

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Bites: Kuza @ Victoria Park

A new Japanese place never fails to tingle my excitement, but dining with such expectations always lead to mixed endings.  Late last year, Kuza opened along the busy Victoria Park Café strip but I was warned by a few friends that the price it charges is no less than my much hated Sake Bar in Northbridge.  Since then, the Entertainment Card recently added Kuza onto their list, so dining there now comes with a 25% discount.  Walking on a Thursday night, the restaurant was not busy and did not require any bookings.  Waiters quickly served us and offered the four of us a larger table meant for six.  Soon, they found other patrons to fill up those seats.  I really found this weird as other 2 person seats were still very much available.


I quickly scanned fellow blogger reviews rather then the menu as it is probably good to know what is worth sharing around the table.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         First starter for the night was the ceviche of salmon.  For me, this was delicious.  While to call it a ceviche feels not quite correct as the acids in no way cooked the fish before it hit the table,   finely shaved onions and a delicious vinaigrette made this a delectable experience!


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         The mock chicken salad was the next dish we ordered.  Hoping to relieve the crispy chicken salad from Bonsai @ Northbridge, I found my enjoyment quickly diminishing with the bitter greens over powering the rest of the ingredients.  Mock chicken is a vegetarian chicken which as really crisp.  One odd member which seemed lost on the plate though, were the little diced bean curd.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         The next shared plate we ordered were two served of Kuza’s assorted aburi nigiri.  Aburi is simply blow torched sashimi but the winning question really is, does all sashimi torched make good aburi?     Simply NO.  Aburi for me is a technique reserved for the fattiest part of the fish like tuna or salmon belly.  In fact most oily fish would do fine.  Simply blow torching delicious seafood like scallops rarely works for me.  Its original sweetness that mellows with good sashimi rice is already an appealing dish.  So why blow torch and dry it out?  An even bigger issue for me was the fact that the lean fish was blow torched too.  If you have a thing for dry, tough fish, it might be your cue, but this was just totally disappointing.  But no problem beats my biggest issue which was the Aburi nigiri’s  burnt rice.  I really think this was a horrible thing because although it smelt pretty nice, but bitter burned rice with my fish?  Sorry, I would rather not. 


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         Our next dish was the gyoza serve on a capsicum coulis and drizzled with a reduced vinaigrette.  Visually spectacular, these gyoza continue its journey to make the taste buds happy.  But really, how hard is it to make a delicious gyoza?  Nevertheless, a perfectly executed dish deserve recognition. 


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         New can be a good thing.  But calling yourself Kaarage only to be something else?  It was mehhhhhh!   Kaarage to my friends and I is more than just fried chicken bring crispy.  It is also about the good flavors in the marinade.  The slightly pungent flavors of the garlic, ginger and onions is definitely a must.  So when one serves me peppery crispy chicken drizzled with mayo and a side of salsa, YOU MAD BRO?  This was definitely a fail.  It would be nice to try blend the delicious flavors of the kaarage with the salsa, but not bland tasteless chicken with the salsa.  NOPE.  For me this was even a bigger fail compared to the aburi.  Probably because even places like Taka pack good simple flavors into their $8 el cheapo lunch.


This brings me to the conclusion that Kuza despite its effort and pricing still have many areas it can work on.  Yes, they did show a certain level of innovation and creativity, but the food really must have taste before looks.  A special mention also goes to the confusion caused by us being seated with another couple.  Foods we did not order came to us.  In fact, every single dish the couple ordered probably landed on our side of the table before travelling up to the couple’s.  WHY SO STINGY WITH SPACE?  For reasons only known to them.  Over all, yes it was hip and cool with all that funky interior, but when it comes to food, it is back to the basics.  Substance before form.  Rather unfortunate but it seems that the gullible little Asian in me took the better side that night and fell trap to the discount.  Total damage that night was $130 with tap water.  Not bad I reckon but neither is it the best value in town.



Kuza Urban Japanese Food on Urbanspoon

Friday, March 15, 2013

South Korea: Jeju Island Pt. 2

Waking up early the next day, we enjoyed complementary breakfast of eggs and toasts before setting out to meet our taxi driver for the day. Our first stop was the teddy bear museum which boasts to a huge collection of bears of various Themes. The little darling decided to become a bear too!  She was beary beary happy! OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWedding Bear!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANaughty  X Terracotta Bear!

Did a little traveling and we stopped by another tourist site but I was not sold by the stone formations. I preferred eating more :)! So it was fish cakes and hot radish broth along with some sweet red bean filled cakes along the way ;)! 
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADelicious fishcakes in radish broth are everywhere! And that includes some or most 7elevens too!
One of the catchy tourist spot I enjoyed most was the mysterious road. An optical illusion where cars roll uphill and water flows upwards. A  bloody amazing sight. Or at least much more impressive than stones xD. Views of the terrain also caught my sight. The driver explained that the bulge were actually graves caused by the effect of the volcanic ground. Other places were flat because live stocks roam freely, applying pressure and keeping the ground flat. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe graves were unaffected due to the rock perimeter preventing livestock from entering.

Next was a UNESCO heritage site. A waterfall site which looked good but fell way short of majestic. Nevertheless, the rock sculptures formed out of volcanic rocks in the area were really eye catching yet so symbolic of knowledge and bravery!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWaterfall!  Told you it was not much… :(

We then went on to the Sunrise Peak but not before a lunch of locally caught mackerel cooked in the simplest manner on the grill.
  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhile the cooking was simple, it freshness was unbeatable!  But we got ripped off! Jeezus!

It was a gloomy day and it shows from this picture! But it was a good thing.  It was not really too hot or anything :)!
Sunrise peak!

But believe it or not, the amazing part of this place was the “lady divers”.  People who carry on the tradition of catching seafood by diving despite this horrible winter chill!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATrue story!
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAs you can see, the ladies are pretty old! Even the youngest is about 60 years old.  Thus they joked the “between us, we share more than 300 years of experience!”.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMe and live octopus.  And only moments later….
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAbalone and octopus sashimi.  ACHIEVMENT UNLOCKED.  Almost died there… @@!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOn the way down, I really enjoyed the views of this little town.  Despite this trip being more than 2 months old now, I feel a growing sense of attachment.  South Korea really is a beautiful place :)!  Oh btw, the tent was setup for the first sunrise of the year event.  An event celebrated every new year’s eve!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMy last scenery shot before we headed back to the city area.   It was extremely pleasant!  Our taxi driver commented that n summer this place is full of chicks. NOTED.

And the most important part of the day, a delicious meal to end the night on a high!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnother meal of fantastic barbecue.  This time, even the cabbage and bean sprout kimchi goes on!  Not the healthiest thing, but as the belly crisps, its oil cooked the kimchee even more, giving it an unforgettable aroma.  All then gets wrapped in a lettuce.  ENJOY!

When we were close to finishing, the owner came out and cooked the remaining pork belly and kimchee with rice.  Cheekily, he made a love shape out of the rice.   Hospitality in South Korea is unbelievable.  Everyone here is so helpful and caring right from the start till the end.   Even from the start, an old aunty has been keeping an eye on us making sure we were alright.  Consistently asking her helpers to bring more food to us.  What can I say?  It was lovely.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA<3! While I wish I know the name of the place in English, I do not :(! Nevertheless, the owner left us a card:
IMG_1742Took this with my iPhone ;)! Hope this helps anyone who needs a good barbecue place in Jeju Island!

After that the little darling and I walked a bit more before settling down to relax over warm drinks @ Tortini café.  Just the perfect way to end our last night in Jeju! OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAGreen tea latte, hot chocolate and….

A delicious slice of moist baked cheese cake! :)!
  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABoth the drinks and the cake were yummy. I do not drink coffee at all and luckily for me, green tea latte has no coffee.  Just really delicious matcha stirred into frothed milk! Delicious! The hot chocolate that darling had was not any lesser too.  It was creamy, rich and sweetness just at the right amount.  The biggest surprise for the night was the baked cheese cake which was so yummy.  It put most cheesecakes in Perth to shame!

Next stop?  Mount Sorak!

More soon :)


Sunday, March 10, 2013

South Korea Trip: Jeju Island Pt. 1

Late 2012 the little darling and I embarked on a journey to South Korea and Hong Kong. I have to say, the trip to South Korea despite its language barrier and differences in cultures, was every but enjoyable. Food wise, it did not disappoint either. Finishing the Hong Kong trip late at night we flew to Seoul in the wee hours of the morning. Awesome flight on the a380! The highlight was probably Korean airs very demure looking ladies which the darling agreed!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFirst stop of our trip was Jeju Island! 6am and no place to check-in gave us the opportunity to experience Korea Jijinbang where we slept in the common hall to regain some strength. Never quite slept with that many people around me before! Maybe around 100 plus beds in that hall? Other levels had spas for men and women. But woke up to the most awkward moment with the little darling when there were no one else but us.  Must have snored too loud! *oops*!

Random bike shop


Jeju on hindsight felt like a dead town at first. But walking into their fish market famed for sashimi grade produce, it was super lively.   But we were so hungry we decided to hunt for lunch first and ended up eating the best bowl of Tteokbokki during our trip.  It was filled with delicious Mandu (dumplings) and Odeng(fishcakes). This was absolute joy for $3! Other snacks we had was the doughnuts which were pretty good. They had plain fried ones, some filled with red bean paste and savory ones with vegetables! Pretty damn nice when the weather is 0 degrees!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALater on we walked through Jeju Island’s underground shopping areas which felt more like an emergency shelter due to the size of it! Oh and facial products were everywhere! A girls heaven for sure.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWalking out of the shopping place, we soon found ourselves at a little traditional government house turned tourist attraction in the city :)!


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMain building grounds

A few pics of the building features :)OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPretty good workmanship!


And to finish the night, the famous black pig barbecue! The highlight typically revolves around the superior quality of the pork which is identified by small little black pores on the skin but for me, it was the discovery of a new leafy vegetable that carries a beautiful fragrant and buttery taste when ate with the pork. That for me was spot on.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAObligatory Korean Barbecue.  Pictures is the La Galbi of beef ribs!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADoes anyone know the name of this heavenly vege? :)! It was superb!!

Keep a look out on this space for part 2!


Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Bites: Hong Kong BBQ @ Francis Street, Northbridge.

Mom and dad were here last week so it was only reasonable if I had brought them out for a meal.  But dad’s preference for Chinese food is a little tricky to work with as my sister does not really like roast.  So when she is not around, I brought them to HK BBQ on Francis Street.  Leaving home for awhile now, decadent roast meats are never too far away thanks to a few restaurants which I frequent including this one and Good Fortune.   For me, both are equally lovely but when it comes to dining in, nothing beats the revamped interior of Hong Kong Barbecue.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALarge roast came with crispy skinned roast pork and deliciously flavored roast duck.  Finger licking good!  No need to provide a description but what is better than that crunchy bit of skin followed by juicy roast pork with the savory bottom bit?  Nothing. Nom nom nom!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe fried tooth fish is another crowd pleaser.  Its crispy on the edges and the buttery fish just flakes of layer after layer.  Not to mention, HK BBQ has the perfect condiments and sauce to make what normally is a common fish, a super treat!  Funny thing how the fish is kept frozen upon being caught from the artic yet stays perfectly in shape.  But the local fish shops in the area always condemn the quality of the tooth fish!  Do not even know why!! This is yummy!!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABraised bean curd with vegetables!  A final course of greens, bean curd and mushroom to finish the meal. While this was not the most refreshing vegetable course, it provided a subtle finish to an already delicious meal!


Being a frequent customer of HK BBQ, I never quite knew what this restaurant ranked in urbanspoon.  Looking it up at work today, this restaurant landed a well deserved 3rd place out of all the Chinese restaurants.  Definitely a kickass place which I would frequent over and over!  SWEET.



Hong Kong BBQ House on Urbanspoon