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Thursday, January 23, 2014

Bites: Brunch at Piccolo’s Corner, West Leederville

This weekend is set to be a long one.  And with the mercury dropping over the weekends, I am definitely going for a run.  Then comes the big question!  What is for breakfast?!   Finishing my run with some friends last week, we settled for a highly rated café in West Leederville.  Do not be mistaken, it is not along the main café strip but rather, near to Lake Monger amongst the homes.  Piccolo’s Corner is a quaint little place, old décor, and with a random matching old antiques.  The sitting on the inside is quite limited with an extra 10 on the outside, so definitely come in early rather than late.


Drinks were aplenty but we decided to settle on some cooler fruit juices.  Piccolo’s Corner is definitely acing it in the juice department.  You can mix and match fruits from the board all for the same price!  My friends were all being lame.  With a base of watermelon, Mei added pears and apples while Andrew only had apple while Hendra had watermelon. =.=! I settled for a more refreshing Iced Green Tea to keep me hydrated.


Piccolo’s Corner has a decent offering when it comes to brunch.  Mei’s choice was the melted cheese bagel with jam and poached eggs.   She loved the melted cheese on the bagel half.  But to finish her meal, she was stealing bacon from her hubby Hendra to sort out the remainder eggs and bread. Andrew had a similar dish without the cheese.  He hates cheese!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA


Mine was the smashed pumpkin, basil pesto, poach egg and ricotta.  Mei felt that it was an overload of carbs and it seemed like that to be honest.  It was after all, pumpkin and bread!   P1180011 But the combination was lovely.  I am not the biggest fan of pumpkins but the mix of pesto, ricotta and pumpkin was flawless.   It was sweet, salty, and fragrant in each bite along with the mild tartness of the Ricotta.  Superb!


Picollo’s Breakfast avocado, bacon, chutney, and egg with an extra serve of bacon.  Bacon overload here.  But who can fault with the king of processed meats.  With all the little bits of salt and crispiness, its lure is hard to resist for sure.P1180003Hendra had no complains here.  A mix of avocado, eggs and chutney was pleasing.  As expected with a good mix of flavors!


Thinking of breakfast this weekend?  Sick of cooking?  Definitely try Piccolo’s Corner if you have not.  There must be a reason why locals love this place.  But then again, do not get killed by the hype.  Just kick back and enjoy brunch ;)!  Also, with the ridiculous queues plaguing brunch spots like Sayers and Tuck Shop, it is a blessing to have other places like this!



Piccolo's Corner on Urbanspoon

Monday, January 20, 2014

Bites: French Dining at Chez Pierre, Nedlands

One week goes and another week comes! With this being the last week of my absolute freedom, it is only sensible that I do what I enjoy best! Eat and Blog my heart out :)!  In this post, I have a place that is slightly romantic and well-suited to special occasions.  Last week, I was lucky enough to celebrate my sister’s birthday with her at Chez Pierre in Nedlands, an established French Fine Dining.  While its ala carte menu tips the scale similar to Rockpool, and Balthazar, Chez Pierre has created a weekly menu called the Taste of France, a 3 course set menu for $58.50.  Complete with bread, amuse bouche and palate cleanser, the menu visits a province in France each week and put some of Perth’s freshest ingredients to the test.  This week was Lorient.


Chez Pierre’s crusty bread was one of the best in town with my sister commenting that it was better than the one she had in Print Hall the night before. The constant chomping of the bread around the table was a constant reminder that my sister was probably right.  Soft on the inside, along with its crusty outside made it a joy to eat.  Now, if only the butter was up to scratch! Hmmm!  As for the amuse bouche, we had a roasted tomato gazpacho, a refreshing start to the meal that she liked too!

First to hit the table was a dish inspired by the Lorient region.  Seared Tiger Prawns, quinoa, summer vegetables and a beurre blanc sauce.P1160019The dish got mixed reviews around the table with my sister and fishman feeling that the prawns were a tad overcooked leading it to being tough .  But I was less judgmental and suspected that the toughness in the prawn’s flesh were more of a size factor but the cooking was undeniably mildly-flawed too. After all, the prawns were huge ass!  I like the textures of the quinoa which reminded me of how flexible this ancient grain was!  Beurre blanc sauce very light and creamy but I wished for a bit more flavor in there.  Speaking of quinoa, I totally am missing the awesome one served at Sepia last May!

After finishing the appetizers, our palate cleanser came.  It was your typical sorbet drizzled with sweet wine.  The end product felt somewhat like a Limoncello sorbet topped with Ribena haha.  It was nice to eat but as a palate cleanser I am not sure whether the strong overbearing sweetness helped.

Then comes my personal favorite for the night, the Amelia Park Rump of Lamb.   P1160028Its cooking style was minimalistic and brought the best out of the lamb.  It was cooked spot on with some parts just melting in your mouth.  XL who does not normally eat the gamey meat was amazed by the quality of the rump and eventually polished her plate clean.  The fricassee which the rump rested on was sautéed to perfection with all of its elements cooked just nice with the lamb jus.  Yummy!

Last but not least was the dessert, a slice of Pistachio & Strawberry Frangipani Tart with Crème Anglaise & Vanilla Bean Ice-Cream.P1160032While I am not the biggest dessert fan, I have a few criteria for a good one which includes having a dessert that is no ridiculously sweet.   In this instance the tart did not taste sweet and the accompanying Crème Anglaise was silky smooth.  However, I was not the biggest fan of the tart mainly because there was a lingering almond meal taste.  Something I really dislike.  Saying that, this is a matter of personal preference.  Jim had absolutely no problems and polished it clean along with XL and YH.   It had to be pretty decadent for them to like it!

I have a few places where one can dine and impress without blowing a hole in the wallet and this definitely gets onto that list.  Kanta, Bonsai, Nine Fine Food, Cantina 663 and Old Crow are a few names on that list too.  Without drinks they all cost below $60 (or $30) for a very yummy meal that portrays sufficient technique and flavor to make one’s evening memorable.  Chez Pierre in Nedlands along with its Flavors of France promotion is definitely a great way to taste a slice of France without being left to feel poor after.  Over all it was pretty good.  Memorable?  Maybe in between?  Oh and I almost forgot, the service was good too!


Chez Pierre on Urbanspoon

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Bites: Five Bar @ Mount Lawley

Mount Lawley has always been a treasure throve for foodies.  From my epic fine dining at Jackson’s to the best tapas at Cantina’s 663, there was very little to hate on this happening street.  In fact, if budget is a concern do not be put off by the likes of Must Wine Bar, Beaufort Street Merchant or Jackson’s as there are plenty of others in town that could feed for $20 or less.  I spent student days eating at a little Japanese shop called Tan PoPo while I discovered Mr Munchies Sushi’s a year or two ago.  And now, Five Bar on 560 Beaufort Street was my latest haunt.  Believe it or not, it was definitely a place that can feed for a moderate amount of money.  Here is my lunch experience.
First up were the Ham Hock & Cheddar Croquettes with Chutney  for $12.  Golden brown croquettes are best enjoyed right away.  It was crispy with a subtle hint of smokiness from the ham hock bits.  More decadent were the occasional bites of gooey melted cheddar :)!   My only dislike was the chutney.  When eaten it had a bitter taste instead of a fruity bite @@!
Next up was the Beef Tartare with Horseradish, shallots and brioche for $17.  While my beef intake has been quite occasional, coming across such a promising dish felt too hard to give a miss.  Fortunately the beef tartare was absolutely moreish with all the bits of pickle giving it a very intense flavor which was a mix of salty, sweet and sour.  Having the tartare with some horseradish and a sprinkling of shallot was a perfect pairing.
P1050017Beef Tartare with Horseradish, shallots and brioche.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFIVE’S Philly Steak Sandwich was around $15.  It was a nice bread with decent chunks of steak and caramelized onions all held together by a slab of melted cheese.  Now, if only we could get a little more sauce in there?! The first bite was good, but by the second one it turned bland.  More flavor and more sauce please!   This could have been a bad ass sandwich that could turn the biggest bread haters to lovers.
FIVE’S Bahn Mi Roll ($13) was another bread dish shared amongst the three of us that day. Hoisin pulled pork, coriander, mayo and chili in a ciabatta. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACould this Five Bar’s rendition on the classic Bahn Mi best its predecessors?  It really depends on how you feel a Bahn Mi should be.  For me the combination used at Five Bar lacked the necessary flavors which I dubbed the South East Asian kick.  A kick where each mouthful should bowl you over with a salty, sweet, and sour flavor with hint of heat.  Not to mention a refreshing bite that keeps you wanting more and more! I liked the coriander and chili bits but found the pork a little unenthusiastic and the use of the hoisin sauce unnecessary for such a bread classic as it feels a little cloying.  Or perhaps unnatural.  
Last but not least on the table were Noona’s Meatballs ($14)
P1050038At Five Bar, a serve of Noona’s will get you 6 tasty meatballs topped with a rich tomato sauce, cheese and a sprinkling of herbs.  Honestly, was would there be to complain about?  Simple pleasures for sure!  Worth ordering! But I wished they would have given a few toasted ciabatta on the side with a little more sauce to go with as it was not very filling for $14.  Saying that, I remember the yummy meal I had at Ace Pizza awhile ago! 
Our bill totaled to $96 dollars including a few rounds of drinks for my companions, but the meal itself would have been slightly over $60.  If you are an OK sized eater like myself, it is definitely enough to fill you up.  While there were a few ups and downs throughout the meal, I would thoroughly recommend the croquettes, beef tartare and meatballs which were delicious!  In terms of bread, I could have tried Five Bar’s highly rated Reuben Sandwich instead of the Bahn Mi or the Philly Steak.  But as I am a trigger happy person when it comes to ordering, I have no regret whatsoever.  Despite disliking the Bahn Mi or the Philly Steak, they were hardly a bad eat and would fall in the upper end of my “OK” scale.  Service was prompt and the environment at Five Bar is so laid back on a Sunday afternoon it feels right to come in and chill out.  There is also a pool/snooker table if you are keen.
Five Bar on Urbanspoon

Monday, January 6, 2014

Bites: Trustee Bar & Bistro @ Perth (revisited)

Having had a stellar meal just a few months back, Yv had massive cravings for the lovely Chateaubriand we had before.  Since she was going back to Malaysia, we decided to pay a visit.  Coming in for our reservation at 8.30pm, our seats were still occupied but we decided that we were not that hungry and could wait.  However, the noise in the establishment was just atrocious which would probably be a Friday night norm.   Nonetheless, we were not any quieter anyways haha.  We ordered a whole lot of food to share with the Chateaubriand the centerpiece of our meal.
First up the table were 3 serves each of the liver parfait and tuna steak tartare.
The parfait was OK, but with the relatively strong contention in the parfait category around town I could barely praise the offerings on the table.  It was creamy as, but somehow the accompaniments did not feel as strong as the ones I get from Cantina 663 or Old Crow.  So for me, it did not leave the best impression for sure. And while I was expecting huge flavors from the fish tartare, it turned out OK but nothing much to rave about.  The highlight was probably the unique addition of the sorbet which was rather nice but other than that it did not quite hit the sweet spot.
Next up was the shiitake and prawn linguine.  The appearance was rustic with the ingredients all chopped up into random odds and sods but hmmm.  In my first bite, it struck me that the flavors were rather bland.  If anything at all brought this dish to life, it was the parsley which was extremely refreshing as well as the occasional burst of shitake juices which have soaked up all the flavors of the pasta sauce.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe also called another beef pasta which was significantly better than the prawn one but still lacked an impact big enough to change the course of the night.  What exactly do I mean?  Well read up my meal at No.4 Blake Street where I had one of the best pasta courses which totally set my horrendous meal on a road to recovery. See my review on No.4 Blake Street here.
Last main for the night were two humungous serves of Chateaubriand. It came in two large trays looking as glorious as it did before. But, does it taste as good? While I would love to say yes, I could not. The beef in terms of cooking came out perfect. The middle was still red and moist while the outside has some really beautiful charred marks. But something about the beef today.. it felt quite bland. I am not sure whether Trustee usually dry age their beef slightly before cooking, but it just did not taste as good as it did before. Some even found the middle to be a little mushy. Is that even possible?OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThen comes the sides of bread and marrow.  The bread were quite nice little things to eat but it just did not go well with the beef.  The marry my old favourite were plenty this time but tasted horribly raw this time.  All those who came with me to the Trustee before remembered it to be very nice, with all the crumbs and herbs stuff onto it.  This time, it was just appalling.
By the end of the night we had ordered 6 appetizers, 4 pastas, 2 chateaubriands and a bill of large numbers for this table of 8.  Satisfied we were not. In fact, while many have lamented the service, it was pretty good as we only came in at 8.30pm and by 9.30pm, most had already left by then.  But the food, oh boy!  I really wished it could be better.  If I had to choose the star for the night, it would be a little bit of everything.  Some parts of the beef were stellar, but the whole cube was not.  I love the shitakes in the linguine as well as the prawns bits but not the mildly bitter leaves which I forgot to mention earlier.  The sorbet on the tuna tartare was nice, but the seasoning was plain.   In the end, it was hard to really say and to be honest with everything so half-baked, the night ended in a mess.  But was it as good of an eat as it was a few months back?  Definitely NO.  A big NO.  Thankfully as always, the company was awesome!  Which brings me to the ultimate question of my visit to the Trustee Bar & Bistro, am I still loving it?  While it will be too hard to write them off completely, I am high skeptical about a place when I have to pay top dollar to roll the dice, and hence, I will feel less interested to pay a visit in the future.  This meal was totally different compared to my stellar meal back in May.


Thursday, January 2, 2014

Bites: Kai Japanese @ Bull Creek

Ramen has always been a pleasure food for me.  The act of slurping piping hot noodles is something mom strongly suggests against, but in cold weather, it is simply joy.  Summer has been quite mild this year and with the festive season kicking in, most places are often close.  But if you are craving for some ramen, it is good to know your choices.  To feed my ramen cravings this time, I headed to a quaint place in Bull Creek called Kai Japanese.  With no more than 15 seats in the eatery, it is highly recommended to come before the peak hours which are normally 12-1pm or 6.30-8pm.
While many people here ordered Bentos and Donburis, their ramen is equally famous.  XL, Fishman and I ordered different types of ramen to see which came best.  To accompany our cha-su (sliced pork) laden ramen, we also called for a side of Kaarage.PC280010Bloody delicious.  It was srispy, fragrant and tender in each bite making the Kaarage at Kai so good it is only to be beaten by my favourite one in Toraya.  Squeeze some lemon to reduce the oiliness of dish dish before dunking it back into a rich chili mayonnaise for a food-gasm.  Outrageous.  Not bad at all.  
The first ramen on the table that day was the Shoyu Ramen or Soy-based Ramen ($9.90).  Initial impressions were decent but the overpowering flavor of the bamboo shoots makes it a hard sell.  For some odd reason, the “canned bamboo shoots” flavor were overly intense.  For this reason, my favourite Shoyu is still the one at Pak Dosukoi Ramen in Fremantle or the City.  After that comes my Miso Ramen ($9.90).OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOne thing to note about Kai’s ramen is their soy egg which is given for all flavors of ramen.  It is superbly moreish and not many places in Perth (if any at all) serves it the way Kai does. In fact, a ramen place called Arigataya (Roe St, Northbridge) served me a fully hard boiled one which was sadly, boring.  But that is where the good news ends for my Miso Ramen.   The soup had a distinctive Miso taste that was slightly spicy.  But my biggest dislike about this was how there were chunky slices of vegetables throughout my soup. It felt in many ways, catered to a distinctive group of people despite the generous slices of Cha-su.  Even more dislike was how the vegetable tended to overpower the flavor of the miso at times.  An OK ramen this was, but definitely to Nao Ramen (Murray St., Perth) for the best Miso Ramen albeit its significantly more expensive pricing.
While the Shoyu and Miso Ramen did not quite hit my fancy, there was one particular ramen that totally hits the sweet spot.  It was Kai Japanese’s Tonkatsu Ramen ($9.90).PC280018It was simply superb this one.  Look at the how rich the soup is.  Ramen for me is all about the soup.  You can take away the egg, the meat, the Naruto and all the other condiments.  But if the soup is good, it is something to rave about already. Such is the story of the ramen.  The noodles like its other less favorable counterparts were cooked to perfection, the Japanese al dente.  Pick it up with a pair of chopsticks and it retains enough springiness to keep its strand of noodle wavy, not withered like a dead plant.    Considering how lardy this was, it definitely is not an everyday affair but when you are in the mood for something like this after a month of fasting, you deserve it.   If it is any consolation, the Cha-su here is extremely lean unlike the ones in Dosukoi, Nao or Ippudo Ramen.  In fact, it reminds me like the one at Menya Musashi. 
While I can really repeat the same thing over and over again, I have to say that Kai Japanese really did leave a great impression.  Despite needing a 20 plus minutes drive to reach, it was worth it.  Tasty noodles, with some really good flavor.  For me, it was all about the Tonkatsu Ramen but you might like something different, so do not limit yourself and give it all a try :)!  Lastly, the price at Kai Japanese in Bull Creek is really reasonable.  All their ramen is priced at $9.90 which puts it on par with Dosukoi Ramen and about $3.50 cheaper(for the Cha-su Ramen) than Nao Ramen in the city.  If you live in the Melville area, you have my envy! But if you are like me who sometimes suffer from a Ramen craving, definitely try Kai Japanese when other venues are exhausted.  Oh and did I mention that parking is a breeze here?  Super convenient ;)!

Kai Japanese on Urbanspoon