Check out my other Ramen posts:
Nao Ramen @ Murray Street, Perth
Ramen Lab @ Mount Lawley, Perth
Ramen Samurai @ East Victoria Park
Genki SET Japanese @ Den Haag, Netherlands
The Little Ramen Bar @ Little Bourke Street, Melbourne
Ever since the opening of No.4 Blake street, I have seen many positive reviews that swear by the quality of the food this place churns out. Having missed the Press Invitation on launch day, it was safe to say that I felt rather down to know how I have missed out on such a sensational event. But all is not doom and gloom as the day has come where I can have my chance to try out the offerings of No. 4 Blake street. It goes without saying that I was super excited.
Starting with the bread, it came in two flavors which was the plain bread and the olive bread. To get the best of the butter I opted for the plain one. When it came to the texture, I found it to be a little dense and not as fluffy as I hoped it to be. Plus that lingering sourness after each bite made it hard to appreciate the butter. And while the trio of butter looked amazing whilst seated on the plate like that, it was ultimately the truffle and caviar one that had enough flavor to be eaten with the white bread. With 5 courses coming up, I only had the plain one and left the olive one in the capable hands of my dining companions. For the olive bread, they commented that it was a little over salted and hence, it was more suited to the orange zest and the other one, which I am guessing was pistachio. Not the best breads in town for sure.
The amuse bouche for the night was a shot of turnip froth with beef jus and a side of crumbled tendon. In this dish, I found that every element despite complementing each other, did not work by itself. The turnip froth was mildly bitter and the jus extremely salty. But when eaten together, it pronounced a good concoction along with the chewy tendon covered in a crisp batter. Though not bad as a whole, I was not sure whether it built a good enough first impression. It felt lacking the in your face factor. Needed something to lift the whole mood.
As for our appetizers, the first one was the buttered yabbies, blood orange gel, “boudin noir”, purple potato crisp.Buttered yabbies, perfection. Sweet, moist and perfectly cooked. Fruit and seafood? Acceptable though some of my dining companions found the orange gel a tad too strong. Then comes the “boudin noir” or the black pudding. So ignorantly did we order this dish without trying to decipher its ingredients. For me, having the pudding which was made out of blood was very physical, bold, heavy and to a further extent uninviting. A massive clash of identities which I did not like. Fruits, and seafood for me translates to foods which are light, fresh and naturally sweet without much need for too much. Anyways, this for me was a case of too many things on the plate.
Seared squab, green buckwheat, crisp apple, endive.Whilst the meat was well-cooked for a small bird, it suffered from a massive salt overdose. The sautéed buckwheat sauce was just overly seasoned and killed the squab in an instant. Definitely something which could have been easily outstanding if not for the salt overdose.
The last appetizer on the table was the Venison pie & fresh tartare, quail yolk, petite salade.The venison pie was definitely not my favourite. The pie crust felt doughy and the taste was over all very mundane because it was bland. Paired with the liquor gel, it was an even harder bite to swallow. But its pairing just on the other end of the plate was out of this world. The tartare was fresh and the use of a small yolk to sit on the tartare was just sensational. It tasted fresh and light despite being so very meaty. In the end I found it funny how this was paired. One was so very good such that it was to die for but on the other end was a sad looking slice of pie. I was bombed. No idea what happened right there.
After the appetizer, No. 4 Blake street adds a personal touch to the dinner by introducing a course called Al Dente, a pasta course to showcase the chef’s best skills with pasta. One of the lovely things that night was how we had our dietary requirements met by the helpful staff. Very considerate! Before serving this course, the waitress reconfirmed that some of my friends were not able to eat shellfish. For them, their Al Dente course for the night was a Gnocchi ala Funghi.The gnocchi in No. 4 Blake street is flawless. Fluffy little pillows of pasta made this a winner course. But the mushroom sauce was a tad too salty. For XL who ordered the squab and had this after, her eyes was seen rolling in salt-coma. Even Jim felt so too. However, for the rest of the table who was lucky enough to have the crab gnocchi, it was simply fantastic. The crab was sweet and the tomatoes ripe. The bisque was super rich and for some, it might be a tad too strong. But I like strong flavors and this for me, was the perfect accompaniment for those fluffy gnocchi. This was my sister’s highlight of the dinner at No. 4 Blake Street.Gnocchi with Crab, Tomatoes and a Seafood Bisque
With the mains, we were spoilt for choices. There was fish, beef, and a whole other variety of proteins. But upon hearing how the duck was their signature dish, my mind was decided. Duck pave, smoked breast, duck fat Brussels sprout, sprout kraut, chestnut veloute.Seeing the ingredients, you would expect a few things. A slightly crisp duck, salty at the same time and hope for the best that the Brussels sprouts has not gone grey so it all works together. The chestnut typically I would expect it to be naturally sweet with the sprout kraut bringing some acidity. But was it what I expected? Well the duck pave for me was right. I thought it could be a tad more tender on the inside but no. Small issue. The Brussels sprouts came out green but a tad bitter. Bad on that, but it’s a natural trait. For me, the biggest problem was the strip of ? running across the plate. It was thick, bland and with the chestnut seasoning left minimal, I found that the flavors of the dish were very light and felt lacking as the thick strip of puree that ran across the plate killed the dish. Textural wise it hit all the right notes but without the right flavors, satisfaction was rather low and left me wanting for more to be done.
Ranger valley beef flank, textures of parsnip, candied kumquats, brandy braise Textures of parsnip? Checked. Tasty beef? It left those who ordered this wondering. After a spell of strong salty flavors from the start, it left them wondering where did it go this time around. But the beef itself was cooked to perfection which gives the middle a beautiful pinkish red. Over all, not bad.
Pan fried Coral Trout, smoked sardine pate, mussels, Chenin emulsionA special touch when the mussels are topped on an edible shell, doused with wine emulsion. The boys liked this bit but found the trout a little tough with the sardine pate a little mushy. Over all? They still thought it was nice.
Palate cleanser was a table pleaser. Refreshing :)!
As for our dessert, we worked our way through several of their offerings. For me, I had the fresh pear, Pedro, pistachio sponge, wild figs, bay and white choc sorbetThe mild bitterness of the Pedro put a mature touch to this dish. Its presentation was sophisticated but mixing it all up together gave it a pleasurable bite. The springy pistachio sponge went well with the aromatic sorbet and Pedro mousse. Crunchy cocoa powder and fig matched the textures this nicely. Not a love at the first sight, but it was something that I learned to like and love spoon by spoon.
Winter Jar: Tonka bean and vanilla panna cotta, burnt orange jelly, malted crumb, cinnamon ice creamA moment of suspense arose when the waitress said “I will be back to finish the dish.” It made us wonder for a moment about what was going to happen. She then comes back to spray the perfume which sets the scene for the winter jar. If you are a big fan of spices you would be blown. This dessert has a strong cinnamon and nutmeg flavor from the Tonka bean and the ice cream. Good balance of flavors but definitely not a simple man’s dish. The girls who were more used to sweet, fruity desserts or plain chocolaty desserts found this a little hard to finish. Funnily, all three of them ordered the same dessert. @@!
Passion fruit parfait, chocolate gel, passion fruit caviar & curd, chocolate shardsJim’s choice of dessert for the night was the textures of passion fruit. The passion fruit came in the form of a crisp, a mouse, caviar, dust and something else. I officially voted his dessert the best one of the night. I voted for its fruitiness and lightness as well as a balanced sweetness courtesy of the rich bitter chocolate. Definitely a winner this one. He too loved his dessert but wished that the chocolate was sweet instead of bitter. I guess that is what you would expect from a sweet tooth hahaha.
Rhubarb, white chocolate cremeux, orange ash, blood orangeThis was easily the night’s second best dessert if all you want for the night is something simple, refreshing and not too cloying. The rhubarb is a natural sweetheart and when used in desserts, have one of the best flavors of all time. The white chocolate cremeux was creamy and not overly sweet. For fishman who ordered this, he found the pairing just spot on. He truly enjoyed his dessert!
At the end of the night, the satisfaction around the table seemed somewhat mixed. A few of us had a good time while a few people, in particular, my sister found the food here rather average. It is true even for XL who had a salty pairing all the way till her main. To the extent that at one point, it felt rather sickening. From the olive bread to the squab followed by the mushroom pasta, it was all too much salt. The appetizers here were definitely not a strong point but as the meal progressed, things started changing and I found the desserts here to be outstanding along with their pasta course, the Al Dente. But is it truly worth the hype? I find it rather questionable. It was OK and with the bad start evened by the good end, it falls right in between. Even then, it really depended on what you chose. On my side, I found that my main had the most potential to be the game changer. It was nice to see all the different things on there but it could be a tad simpler with more seasoning in the veloute to counter balance that bland strip of rich puree. Even for the yabbies, it definitely could do without the black pudding. Sometimes, less is really more.
I know, I know. I have used this statement a lot but I have seriously had Cantina 663 on my to go list for way too long now! However, shallow pockets requires good financial planning haha. After thinking of where to go for my friend’s birthday, we finally headed over to Cantina 663. With countless mentions and a whopping 49 reviews, I have finally landed on Cantina 663.. and I have to say, it was a place worthy of the hype.
Sitting down at quarter pass 6, the waitress came up and offered to take our orders. However, as I knew we would adjourn for drinks later, my friends and I politely declined! Another 10 minutes, and the waitress returned to ensure that we were OK. I said we were good, but could do with a little guide around the menu. After explaining how we wanted to share the food among the 8 of us, she put forth some recommendations which were really helpful. So, we started with:
2 serves of duck liver parfait, onion jam and bread @ $15 ea. For starters, the bread heated on a grill came out warm. This made the creamiest parfait spread like melting butter before I put some onion jam. The first bite landed me on heaven. It was extremely delicious. Its creamy texture was to die for and the seasoning of the meaty parfait was faultless. There was a sense of enjoyment which Fishman very coyly described as a feeling he gets from a McDonalds cheese burger. Where that came from I have no idea, but to me, this was simply sublime. No wonder the waitress said it was one of their most popular starters! Even my dining companions and the little darling who shy from innards dive in for seconds. That to me, says a lot!
Next were the arancini like balls served on shaved fennel, $17 ea! I can very hazily recall its name but this was another recommended starter. It was another vow. I did complained about my arancini back at Jamie’s Italian here as it claimed to have smoky bacon but tasted nowhere near. The one at Cantina 663 did not say smoky but the flavors in there did wonders. It had good amounts of cheese and the flavorsome fillings meant that one ball is never too much! Some arancini would make me feel sick but not this one. It had the savory sensation that kept me going! Kudos! Problem? The waitress said it had 4 per serve but only 3 came out on each plate. So 2 serves was not enough. But, it was something we easily solved by sharing halves :)!
When we finished out starters, it only took 15 minutes for our mains come out. I have seen most if not all the reviews. No one dish has gotten more praised than the gnocchi. At Cantina 663, the seasonal menu means there is not one but many sauces to compliment the fluffy potato pillows. The choice tonight was a little earthy with strong bold flavors. We had 2 serves of the gnocchi with beetroot puree, gorgonzola and walnuts, $26 ea.The flavors were not exactly my thing as beetroot for me is a red meat’s best friend. Saying that though, the puree tended to over power basic flavors I yearned for. This in particular was the blue cheese. It was there but not quite as bold as I had expected. Nonetheless, the quality of the gnocchi was faultless. Around the table, we all said that this was not bad but the gnocchi deserved better. The melt in your mouth gnocchi had a mild caramelisation which was simply delicious. No wonder it has such a large fan base! One day, I MUST try the gnocchi with pumpkin puree. I was already imagining that on my way to Cantina. Sadly, it I did not come at the right season!
The risotto called another name which I cannot remember was oh my god so yummy. As we shared one, we each had a few table spoons only. Yet, this did not hinder our enjoyment of a great dish. The rice was yum, the spices made it delicious and it was not your typical cloying creamy risotto! Furthermore, it was baked in the oven giving it a crunchiness which was great texture. Hidden in the middle was a small serve of chicken still tender from the moisture of the rice. It tasted like peri peri but not quite. Something along the line I guess haha. Biggest downfall of this dish? Those mussels were so dry it shriveled to the size of a 5 cent coin. That was almost tragic =.=!
We also called a few meat dishes which were complimented by a side of coleslaw, $9 and buttermilk potatoes, $10. Coleslaw was really yum considering how our dishes were either very meaty or rich in cheese. Hence this light, refreshing and at the same time fruity coleslaw encouraged us to eat more. Our only dislike was a hint of lingering bitterness which could be due to the cabbage. The buttermilk potatoes (shown in pic) was not so popular as it was not tasty and felt a little too plain for our liking. For the girls, they could not justify piling on the carbs haha.
Our meat courses consisted of 2 serves of beef short ribs and a pork knuckle for 2. Around the table, everyone commended the delicious ribs. They were cook so tender and soft that the meat fell apart with little effort. It was also very moist with several fatty bits to making it a delicious course. The sauce was sweet and the little artichokes and mash soaked up all the beautiful sauce the rib had! Definitely the best main for the night! I could not help myself but tuck in for more after everyone had finished and eat the little bits of meat and artichokes that were left! SO moreish! Beef Rib, $44.
The pork hock on the other hand was not so popular. The meat was cooked well but we found little joy as it was not tasty. It came with a trio of sauces which had a salsa verde, maybe a vinegar and some sauce but that still did not make the pork hock as enjoyable as we expected it to be. More over, the crackling was very chewy and not crunchy! Fishman was sad :(! We were wondering why it was not left to crackle a little bit more! It is was crunchy, that would have presented the dish better! No one hates a crispy crackling!Pork Hock for 2, $55
With the bill coming to slightly over $300 for 4 appetizers, and 7 mains, I cannot help but feel that I have walked away with a bargain. In Perth, such fulfilling meal for 8 people rarely stays below $50 and very often hovers around the $70 mark. The quality we received today was exceptional. Out of the lot, the only dish which performed below our expectations were the pork hock and the side of cumin buttermilk potatoes. Other than that, no one could fault with the beautiful liver parfait or the tender beef ribs. These were dishes alongside the Arancini and Gnocchi really made Cantina 663 a great dining experience. More often than not, I eat out at such hyped diners feeling satisfied but not extremely contented because the hype felt greater than what I have experienced. And I will be honest, hype kills. Even places like Jamie’s Italian, and Gordon St. Garage fell short on my books because with the queue and all the mentions, one would really expect more. Like A LOT more. However, Cantina 663 is an exception from what I experienced that night. And with this place so well established in the area, their reputation is, hopefully, here to stay.
Miss Kitty’s Saloon shot up to the top of my wish list when I saw the reviews of my foodie mates ChompChomp and Queen of Bad Timing a few weeks ago. Consistently good American food is hard to find in Perth and most of the time, I cannot really differentiate Australian and American although there are some food which are undoubtedly American such as Buffalo Wings or the combination of Chicken & Waffles. So when Miss Kitty’s rose to fame, I was elated and decided to pay a visit after many weeks of delay.
The interior was kind of like an American diner. Bit signs of American pride like Hershey and beers are available in super size form. As we entered, a cheerful lady greeted us. More importantly, she made our experience at Miss Kitty’s Saloon a pleasant one. Fishman was amazed by her energy and the contentment she had from doing her job. Over all, top notch treatment ;)!
For our drinks, we had the bottomless ice tea, chocolate (hot & cold) and coffee. While most of it tasted good, it did little to differentiate itself from the rest. It was IMHO typical. But hey, typical is not a bad thing! Yv on the other hand found little satisfaction from her iced chocolate. She found it too plain and was no chocolaty enough!
Before our mains came out, we called a few things to share:Wholemeal doughnut, custard, toffee apple @ $6. While it was not the most fluffy doughnut on the inside, its consistency was good enough to enjoy. But the highlight for us has got to be the custard toffee apple which had a good balance of spices, sweetness and saltiness that helped the dish shine. :)!
Buffalo wings, blue cheese, celery, carrot @ $15.90I reckon Buffalo Wings have got to be one of the more popular food to leave the US. A good Buffalo Wing should have a mild crunch, with a good level of spiciness and acidity. Delicious blue cheese dip is a MUST. However, good Buffalo Wings despite its EXTREME simplicity seems like a chore for Australia. OR was its originality tainted? I know the lollipop wings at the Merrywell only carries a potency which Americans would dismiss with a sigh! Fortunately, the wings here still carry crunch and a good amount of flavor although for me, its spiciness could go up one notch :)! If I had to complain, it would be the size of the wings which a little smaller than desired! Also, the rustic blue cheese dip left an unpleasant shock due to its chunky nature where blue cheese are still pretty obvious. I loved that though :)! Strong, bold flavors!
As we chatted and nibbled through the wings, time passed really quickly. To our dismay, it took awhile for our food to arrive. Before I could raise the issue with the waitress, we were brought a bowl of orange slices.While I definitely have enough money to buy my own oranges, it is little things like this that counts!
Our first meal to hit the tableSteak ‘n’ Eggs, peas, fries. For $19.50, this was great value. I had a bit of everything I found this to be an absolute joy. The steak was cooked spot on, fries crisp and oh my. I loved that sauce that accompanied the steak. It was a smoky ketchup that really went well with the fries! However, if you expect a melt in your mouth steak, this is not quite there. This was tender minute steak that did not melt unfortunately. But it was good enough! YH says that this definitely differed from his usual brunch but welcomed this.
The little darling and Yv both ordered the same dish.Stone baked mushroom tart, hollandaise, egg @ $16. While I did not even have a chance to have a bite, the girls demolish this little meal in no time. They seem to have loved everything but had no idea what this was going to be and expected a tart. Instead, they mentioned that the tart pastry felt more like a little pancake topped with poached eggs, shrooms and an abundance of hollandaise.
My sister’s Chorizo, Slow-cooked Eggs, sweet potato hash, green sauce @ $17. While my sister ordered this without much thought, she actually enjoyed it heaps but swapped the slow-cooked eggs for Fishman’s fried ones (she dislikes runny yolk). The salsa was delicious and the sweet potato came out golden brown in a crispy batter. There was only one piece of Chorizo but was yummy! One thing that concerns me though, is that this is definitely not a stand alone. Its pint size appearance is all except filling! The price though,is definitely right considering the level of effort required (making the sauce, slow cooking the eggs and frying the hash)! But is is definitely not for the hungry peeps! It is small like the mushroom tart.
My pick for the day was the Waffles & ChickenEach individual element is a star by itself. Crumbled chicken was crunchy but still tender on the inside. Salad topping was refreshing although sweet chili dressing felt like it was one from the bottle. Waffles were cooked just right. But does a collaboration of stars always work ? Unfortunately, this pairing did not work for me. More likely than not, it was a matter of personal preference rather than pure dissatisfaction. I find appeal of pairing of waffles with chicken to be slowly diminishing in utility. My past experience at Merrywell where a friend ordered the Chicken and Killer Bee Honey Waffle also ended up in devastation. This (pairing) felt almost like a cult following rather than a norm. Definitely not for me :P! That does not mean everyone would not like it as I have seen other people enjoying it!
Filled to the brim by my main, drink and appetizers, I was fully satisfied. We went in at 11.30am and came out slightly pass 1pm. I enjoyed my meal here today. Little darling who was concerned about her exams had little thought but the rest of us had enjoyed Miss Kitty’s Saloon. The food here is different and most of the things we had today were really enjoyable with the exception of the Chicken & Waffles. If I had come here again, I would definitely share a buffalo wings before enjoying the Chorizo or Mushroom Tart by myself. In the event that no one shares, the steak ‘n’ eggs is definitely the way to go!
After months of delays, I have to say that I am finally glad to visit Miss Kitty’s Saloon. It was great how the food here was good enough and the service was friendly. This is definitely a promising eatery. While I am less likely to come in for lunch, this place might be a great alternative to Merrywell @ Crown for dinner. Perhaps next time :)!
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?
The 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.
Next 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:At $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.For 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.This 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.The 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!WenY