Saturday, April 8, 2017
Thursday, April 18, 2013
Chinese food is probably one of the best cuisines in the world with so many techniques and ingredients making the possibilities unlimited. As Yu places itself in one of the most exclusive venues in town, Crown Perth, I expect not lesser than a grand statement on the plate. Or maybe not? I have eaten in almost every venue offered in Crown Perth and I have to say that while many restaurant had me question the cost – quality benefit, it normally still serves pretty kick ass food.
For a birthday dinner, I was invited to join my friend and her family for a meal at Yu where we had the most expensive banquet on the menu. The Pearl banquet for $110 per head is no cheap dining affair. But when the list of dish was read out, it felt like an impressive selection of food. To start the meal, we first asked for tea. And this was how the whole event unfolded. Firstly, the stained napkins of mine which still had lipstick stains on it. Is this even premium dining? I wonder. To make things worse, no one bothered refilling our tea pots and even our glasses of water were dirty. Absolutely horrible.
The first course is a traditional Chinese soup, the shark’s fin soup. Such soup normally uses a rich poultry broth with delicious crab meat and egg swirls with sharks fin in there. Unfortunately, there was close to no shark’s fin, the broth was horribly watery (and taste wise) and even the egg swirls were curdled as if no one bothered to stir it in. That for me was an ultimate failure. It was so bad that the birthday host questioned whether was he drinking a proper soup.
The next dish was the Baked Crab Shell with Portuguese sauce. Digging in with the gold spoon, it looked creamy and luscious. But when you eat it, it just felt weird. The meat did not hold its form. It was a little cloying because of all that sauce that did not pack a punch of flavors. At the end, most of us did not even finish this. The highlight? Gold Spoon.
I love my Peking Duck and my uric acid on the health report shows. For me, this was a fine example of how things should have started. A slightly crisp skin with just the right amount of sauce and those crunch from the flavors are just spot on. It was from this point that I felt maybe there was a chance that things might turn around. All because I really found this to be delicious and really this is one of the highlights of Chinese food in town. Pretty good roast and Peking duck! Especially those in Northbridge like HK BBQ and Good Fortune.
XO Scallops and Asparagus The XO Scallops and asparagus was in no way short of being generous. It looks rich as it was piled onto a heap of asparagus with tasty looking XO sauce. But it was in the first bite when things went a little awry. Most noticeably due to the false sensation of sweetness of the sauce. It felt a little fake and I am not sure whether it was sugar or perhaps MSG? Either way, it was a waste to see this dish fail.
Crispy Fried Fresh Tasmanian Salmon
If I was on a mission to find crunchy cardboard to soak in soy sauce, I surely would not pay 100 dollars. Why would you waste such a beautiful fish? Only they would know. Why not batter it well before doing a rapid fry for a crispy batter but a spot on inside? GOD WHY? This was another blunder that we did not anticipate. It was simply cooked way longer that it needs to be. The whole night really, was starting to crumble.
The next dish was the Steamed King Prawns. I quite enjoyed this dish. it was simple and touched on the basics but importantly, it was done right. The prawns were worthy of being called king prawns and its garnish was just outstanding. The simply spring onion and garlic really complemented the flavors of the prawns. Plus the saltiness and sweetness from the soy, I was pretty keen to eat this dish again.
After waiting for a bit, we had our dessert. But it was not a sweet ending like we hoped. When we ordered the banquet, we asked their permission to each have a different dessert. Initially, they said it was ok and it can be done. But after making us pay $2000 for dinner, they decided otherwise. How can this even be right? Anyways, banana fritter, vanilla ice cream and syrup.
Not much criticism here but neither was this a spectacular finish. It was just banana. Deep fried. At this stage I really have nothing left to say. It was BORING. Is this what Chinese food becomes when it is meant to be a level up?
This really was just PREMIUM GONE BAD. At the end of the night, I had questions. Heaps of question. Perhaps simple ones are such as “Why is Yu even a premium restaurant and not in the food court?” or “How is this even fine Chinese?”. For me, Yu clearly it did not deserve the hype and respect at all. In fact, when we made the booking for 2 tables, we were told to make a PRIVATE booking which would incur a cost of $100 buck or more for just a room. When we said all we needed were two tables, they mentioned that they could not guarantee that we can be seated side by side. All this threat and after a hefty bill which was close to $2000, this was the food they served. No wonder I was told that they were going to change with another restaurant called Silk. Sometimes even a helpful smile or good service can make a difference, but when someone treats you like crap, it makes the meal utterly disappointing. In fact, this was the 2nd or 3rd worst Chinese meal I have ever eaten in Australia. Most readers would know I often leave a decently neutral review even for some really mediocre restaurants. So when it’s a scathing review, it’s a horrible place. To all who found Yu disappointing, please do no think this is how a good Chinese meal should be.
For example, this was something which I had in Hong Kong @ Ming Court last year. See it here. Funny how I thought Ming Court was only decent before. Now that I have eaten at Yu, I might not be so harsh anymore!
Saturday, November 24, 2012
Promising a return to Bistro Guillaume after a disappointing first visit, I am back here just two days after . Some say “once bitten, twice shy”, but in this situation, it is a case of “don’t try, don’t know”. Coming at 10pm, we were promptly seated and served unlike the first visit. From there it was clear that the atmosphere at the Bistro has calmed down a whole lot. The crowds were more settled, the floor less frantic and everything has seemed to have slowed its paces. In fact, even the waitresses are more composed and able. For example, our waitress for the night very enthusiastically explained to us their dessert menu and accompanying hot drinks unlike the first time when we were just left with the menu.Just the restaurant half empty which for me was a perfect setting for a relaxing end to my Friday night.
Having felt disappointed at the complimentary bread initially, I had really hoped to see something worthy produced in this place tonight as part of the renown Guillaume franchise. For dessert tonight, the little darling and I ordered the petit fours and a chocolate soufflé to share.The first three are the cocoa dusted chocolate truffles, aniseed cake, and caramel candy. The petit fours were priced at $5 which was extremely cheap considering the variety we had. And of course curious readers might be wondering why 5 varieties for something called Petit Fours, that is because the terminology actually means small oven in French and nothing to do with the number of mini desserts. The chocolate truffles were one of the best I have ever eaten with its bitter cocoa dusting complementing the creamy velvety smooth chocolate filling. The aniseed cake tasted very familiar but yet delicious. As for the caramel, it was fantastic. I am a big caramel fan and I cannot help but enjoy the buttery rich flavors of a caramel candy!
At the other end, the pistachio macarons and fruit jubes were probably my highlight of the lot. These sugary morsels were top notch. Macarons had the right balance of sweetness with a hard shell which slowly develops to a chewy consistency through. Pistachio flavors were obvious and for me, it was lovely. Lastly were the fruit jubes which I have compared many times across my fine dining experience. Fortunately, this is an extremely redeeming feature for the pastry kitchen who had initially failed to ‘wow’ me with their complimentary bread offering. The jubes from my taste buds felt very fruity. If I am correct, it was
guava passionfruit flavor which had a good balance of sweetness and sourness. The jubes had a good bouncy feel through it too. This easily tops Jacksons and Amuse while sitting comfortably with the jubes offered by Le Atelier de Joel Robuchon.
The next dessert was the chocolate soufflé @ $22. Digging in, I was treated to a luscious warm spoonable chocolate that felt so light it was unimaginable. More importantly, it was rich yet it did not feel cloying. Pistachio ice cream felt spot on in term of texture and in terms of flavor it had a good pistachio fragrant too. Judging by the number of these that were coming out of the kitchen, it was clear that this is a house specialty. And from what I had that night, this will continue to be one of the most highly sought after desserts in town. However though, I was slightly disappoint as I was imagining a small chocolate lava filling in there as well. Nonetheless, this was delicious!
Having finished our drinks, we were very happy. Whether it was a comparison to our dinner two days ago or to our dining experience at previous fine dining establishments, this is how my first meal here should have turned out. I enjoyed the service we received as the waitress showed passion at doing her task and performs it well. More importantly, she picks up the little things such as being able to tell that diners are shy for asking more and does it automatically to help us make our decisions. Absolutely helpful. Even the little darling felt that the service we received was impeccable! But how do you make a great night even better? Why not have a picture with the owner Guillaume Brahimi himself? :)! It was super good! I think I can safely withdraw my negative criticisms now. But even then, there still exist a certain doubt in mewhether we were treated better because they can or because Guillaume was in house or was it just because the crowd was lesser. Anyways, it was a good start to my weekend! I am pleased!
Friday, November 23, 2012
After weeks if not months of anticipation and fully booked venue, the little darling and I landed our booking at Guillaume’s bistro at Crown Burswood, the new restaurant from the renown Guillaume Brahimi. For me, this could not be a better way to celebrate our 29th Monthniversary, a date I came up with lols. As we arrived at the bistro, we were served but told that we could not be seated at our table as it was still occupied. After 15 minutes at the bar, we were finally seated.
Sitting down, one of the most notable feature of the restaurant was its quirky interior and how Guillaume has place his name all over everything. For me I liked the interior as it did not feel to cliché or pretentious. Then comes one of the most dreaded parts of the evening, the ordering process. On Urbanspoon, one user has even came up with a slogan for it called “French or Frantic”. Yes the restaurant was full but with so many waiters and waitresses on the floor it should not be that hard. After trying a few times, I finally got the attention of the waitress who mentioned that she was only here to serve bread and that taking orders were the task of the section waiter. Ok FINE… I shall eat my bread.Crusty Bread! Was pretty damn crusty on the outside but soft on the inside! Served with the obligatory salt flakes and butter, it was hard to fault although Bistro Guillaume being French, I was expecting a twist in its pastry kitchen. Maybe a small Croissant? Ok perhaps that was an insult to think that French only makes Croissant. But seriously, just a bread basket with 2-3 choices would not be too hard.
After a course of bread, our drinks arrived. Darling’s Strawberry Frostie and my Butterscotch.While the little darling’s drink tasted very familiar as she has mocktails every now and then, my cocktail of vodka, orange liqueur, and butterscotch felt delicious at first. And typically being alcohol, it tasted pretty bitter. But still a delicious treat for those not into drinks that taste too alcoholic!
I have always been a safe eater when it comes to my meals. It was always legged or some sort of fish that I would call. But being encouraged by fellow foodie Glenn of Glennlee and Chomp who reviewed this dish before, I ordered the Escargots En Persillade. Judging by what I was served, these tiny morsels which tasted no more than mushroom with an earthier note was covered in a delicious herb sauce. Not exactly sauce but rather a perfect mix of parsley, butter and a very obvious amount of garlic. As a first time Escargot eater, I was very satisfied. It did not feel chewy and neither did it stink. Probably the later was more important than the former. Eating this, I could not help but hoped that I was given more bread to polish every single bit of sauce of this dish. The bread given has this bloody outer crust that just won’t cooperate in absorbing all that delicious parsley butter! Luckily enough, the miniature spoon was handy in making this cumbersome task a whole lot easier! When I was done, I momentarily reflected on what makes a great dish while putting away the exotic ingredient because I felt like something was missing. And it did not take too long before I realized that the dish was missing some sort of depth in flavor. Yes, a few to share would have been absolutely stunning, but a dozen of these soaking in buttery parsley all for myself? I was too greedy.
For the little darling, she ordered the Onion Soup.Onion Soup, Old Bread and Melted cheese. Typically something soupy would have gone down extremely well with the little darling. But the onion soup at Guillaume’s was very rich in onion such that every scoop was filled with it. To some, that might be lip smacking but for the little darling, it was a little overboard. What she disliked even more was the fact that the soup was overly sweet. She was hoping for something a little more delicate, more subtle. The onions were ok but the sweetness was probably the thingy that she disliked the most. I had a bite too and was wondering whether is even possible for onion soup to have such sweetness. With no culinary knowledge, I can only assume that sugar must have been a component added somewhere along the line.
After finishing our appetizers, we talked and talked and talked and TALKED. As we were pushed for time, we patiently counted the minutes and it took the chefs a whopping 35 minutes to bring our mains out despite us mentioning a couple of times that we had a busy schedule planned for the night. Between the darling and I, we had a discussion about whether it was us being subjective because we were pressed for time but ultimately decided that it was just way too slow.
The mains:Veal tenderloin, Beet Root Puree and Baby Swiss Chard. This was for me really delicious. The meat was spot on. Being served with beetroot puree almost felt like a no brainer. Most gamey meat I have had always works with beetroot. Lamb especially. So it was no surprise how this dish went!!!! Beautiful sweet beetroot which was immensely earthy paired with an earth vegetable. Seriously a major amplification of taste. The tenderloins were in a class of its own which was fantabulous! Melt in your mouth feel was spot on. This one I like, but was this French? I could not care less.
For the darling, her dish was the spectacle for the night.. or at least it looked great!For $42, this really had to be a fish and chip with an achievement so high that one could easily pick the clouds after eating it. Presentation was really cool and unconventional with a fish split up to down when it is normally done the other way around. The chips were the fattest ones I have seen in a long time and even the lemon felt cut to impress. The fish came with a slab of parsley garlic butter aka beurre maitre d'hotel that was meant to melt and leave a lingering buttery taste to the fish. And very pre-maturely, the experience ended. Promised before hand was a beautifully filleted whiting, deboned, crumbled and deep fried. From the first few bites which ended just halfway through the fish, the little darling was struggling. Bones here, bones there and that was it. I immediately hailed for the Maitre D’ and expressed my dissatisfaction. He quickly offered a replacement which was a gesture of kindness but as we were short of time, I requested that it be removed from both the table and bill. Over all, the darling found this dish to be good but lacking in finesse. The proper removal of bones and a side serve of sauce would have definitely made its price worth it.
It was a moment of coma as I walked out of the restaurant. This certainly felt like a very premature ending to my night. There were no desserts, the dinner was not cheap as it amounted to $120 excluding the fish, the darling slightly unhappy and it all felt very surreal. Was this how my first French experience was to be? Unfortunately in Perth yes but luckily, not in my life. I lost it at Le Atelier de Joel Robuchon which was probably a very smart thing to do. Speaking of food, Bistro Guillaume was not by any standard crappy or lackluster. It was good. Perhaps very good for most people. But for me, it just was not great. If the little darling’s meal of fish and chips were added to the bill along with two dessert, it was very easily a $200 dollar meal; and that is my benchmark for fine dining where in all honesty, a picture this decadent bistro would never qualify. A bistro is still a bistro. Nonetheless, that does not mean I am not returning. NO that is impossible. Until that chocolate soufflé with pistachio ice cream please my mouth, Bistro Guillaume is not disqualified from a rematch.
Saturday, October 20, 2012
The Merrywell is one of Crown Casino’s latest effort to boost its image from what was an aged complex to a more upmarket complex. This high end pub showcases the dynamic duo chefs Grant MacPherson and Sammy De Marco whom Fishman have seen on the television a couple of times. With a fancy interior and a new courtyard area, the Merrywell clearly distinguishes itself from other more casual pubs. Unfortunately, the crowd is still typical. 5 men all trying so hard to woo one lady hahaha.
Walking up to the reception, we were served but was told that to get a sit on the inside, we would need to leave our names and they would call us back. But guess what? That is the worst system ever. Some people take forever to come, leaving many sits empty! In the end, the little darling, fishman and I decided to sit in the courtyard which means we had to order food from the bar.
When this restaurant first opened, there were rave reviews on food websites giving it a 90% approval rating and such. Since then, it has plunged to 68%. Rocking up to the bar counter to order my food, I totally understood why. Wait for 10 minutes, lean over the counter and the grumpy lady tells you that this is not a service counter, go to the middle to order your food. Head over to the middle counter, wait 10 minutes to be served and the next young lady says we do not do food at this counter. It has now been 30 minutes and still no food. The little darling gave them the WTF treatment and they UNHAPPILY served us. Add this to half drunk blokes spilling their beers over her leg and that was a really bad and shit service.
For the purpose of this review, the quality of the food is kept separate from the service.
What really surprised us after we ordered is that Merrywell actually serves food quite quickly in contrast to what the reviews have mentioned recently. Our wait for the food only look us 15 minutes.
For starters, we ordered a Mac and Cheese with in-house HP Sauce to share.
These delicious morsels of cheesy goodness definitely qualifies to be a Merrywell specialty. It was crunchy with a balance of stringy melted cheese and macaroni making it absolutely yummy! And for me, the HP sauce was definitely another highlight with a rich and tangy taste to it, elevating the taste of the slightly bland Mac and Cheese.
The Lollipop Buffalo Wings were another specialty highlighted on the menu.Coming from home where American Pub food is enjoyed for lunch, delicious buffalo wings are no stranger. To start, I was really pleased with the celery although I do not really like celery. The ones used were well aged and not overly old and fibrous. The Buffalo wings were not dry and was well-cooked. But my complain lies in the lack of robustness of the flavor. I wanted more acidity, more heat and all the other intense taste which one would normally dunk in the blue cheese fondue to cool. For me and Fishman, it could have been better.
For our mains, the little darling ordered mini Wagyu burgers.I think these are easily one of the more impressive burgers I have eaten in awhile. For me, it was the simplicity the stood out. Its condiments were simple cheddar, BBQ caramelized onions, and pickles. While the patty was not as juicy as other burger places like Jus Burgers, these little burger were impressive.
The Fishman as his names suggests, ordered the Roasted Tasmanian Salmon with Potato Pierogi, Pickled Beets, Sour Cream.He said it was pretty good and I would have to agree. It was also the first time I have tasted Potato Pierogi which is a potato filled dumpling. All the elements of this dish worked really well although all I had was one bite. What might be a little turn off was that the salmon felt a little dry. To be honest, such thin fillet should not be cooked for too long!
For me, I ordered Granny Grecco’s Chicken Parma with Spaghetti and Napoli Sauce.Arriving at the table, one thing which instantly caught my attention was the intensity of the sauce. The flavors of the ripened tomatoes were such a hit in this dish that the slightly soggy chicken parma did not bother me the slightest bit. The pasta was smooth and plausible but I really did not care about anything because, at that moment, it was all about the sauce. It was really a good sauce in my opinion. Most places tend to serve a very light and subtle sauce which sometimes makes me feel that the tomatoes used was barely ripe but the one at Merrywell was really just spot on.
At the end, I was really satisfied with my food. It was pretty much a class act for pub food. However though, for $40, it might look a little pretentious because pub food is not only about quality, but QUANTITY. The serving sizes at Merrywell was OK but nowhere near a typical pub. Service is barely worth mentioning unless it is about its crappiness. BUT, would I return? To be honest, I would. Perhaps not on a weekends without an inside booking and service.
Friday, April 13, 2012
These prawns were highly recommended by our waiter that night. Nevertheless, it failed to ‘wow’ me because despite being tasty, it was nothing new. Prawns came out small albeit being called king prawns. Marinade was delicious but it was all too common. This felt like something my aunty would do better than what I had at Rockpool. While it was delicious, it was to me, too simple.