This afternoon marked the inaugural AHA International Great Waiters Race held over in Claisebrook Cove, East Perth. As part of my official Eat Drink Perth reporting duties I planned to attend this event knowing there would be a number of gluten free options for me to enjoy in the Gourmet Food Village. I took it for granted that the Boy would feel the same way and was quite disappointed when my attempts to convince him to join me failed miserably. It was raining, he had study to do and apparently the idea simply did not appeal to him. As I resigned myself to attend alone, he suggested that we go somewhere local instead and check out the International Vegetarian and Vegan Food Fair at the South Perth Community Centre. I couldn’t find a lot about this food fair on the internet so being curious I obliged to his wish.
Whilst I would never called myself a strict vegetarian, I do eat a predominantly vegetarian diet. I would only really eat meat once or twice a week and it tends to be more of a garnish to the meal than the central point of it. The Boy on the other hand will go out of his way to avoid eating meat and is much more compliant with his vegetarianism than I.
The International Vegetarian and Vegan Food Fair is into its tenth year and they are moving to holding the annual event twice yearly as it has become very popular. The Fair is run by the Dao Ji Association of Perth in order to raise funds for their not for profit organisation. There is a very family friendly vibe with most stall holders very obliging to help work out what is gluten free. There were a wide variety of Malaysian, Thai, Vietnamese, Indonesian and Chinese dishes to try.
All the stall holders had a full list of ingredients on display which made it easy to narrow down which dishes to ask further details with respect to their gluten free status. Most of the mock meats contained gluten however some stall holders used a tofu based product instead. One of my favourite starters were the highly addictive taro and sweet potato rolls. The rice noodle netting was so super crunchy that it was hard to eat without making a lot of noise. Inside the rolls soft, subtly sweet mashed taro and sweet potato felt lusciously smooth and silky in texture.
The Boy had free rein to try whatever he liked as obviously all the dishes were vegetarian and in fact the vast majority of them were also vegan. He really enjoyed the mock fish balls which had a strong, salty flavour. He also tried the “pork” crackling which was made using wheat flour however he didn’t think these were nearly as tasty as his fish balls.
For my main dish I chose the nasi lemek, a beautifully fragrant rice dish made with coconut milk and pandan leaves. The rice accompanied a richly flavoured curry made from coconut milk, galangal, potato, carrot, tofu based mock chicken, chilli and lemongrass. Some fresh cucumber, fried peanuts and tofu skin were served on the side. It was a substantially filling dish and left me feeling pleasantly content.
The Boy ordered the Thai green curry which was made using mock chicken. His dish wasn’t gluten free so I sadly didn’t not get to try any of it however he did comment that my curry tasted much better than his. What a nice change that makes, the gluten free dish tastes better than the normal option!
I couldn’t walk past the Thai sweets stall without buying some layer cake or as it is known in Thai, khanom chan. This dessert was the highlight of the night markets in Thailand as I always knew that they would be gluten free. They have a gelatinous sticky texture with a lovely coconut taste. I planned to take my serve home but ended up eating them all while the Boy wandered off looking for his dessert choice.
He settled on the vegan equivalent of ice cream; ice kachang. For those of you who haven’t travelled in South-east Asia chances are you may not have tried this super sweet dessert. Firstly, a variety of beans, sweet corn, bread and jelly is served and then this is topped with super fine ice shavings. The ice is then drizzled with brightly coloured flavour syrups and condensed milk.
The ice particles are so small that they dissolve on contact with your tongue releasing all the flavours of the syrup. I wasn’t sure if this would be the Boy’s kind of thing but he happily polished off the lot which indicates to me it was a winner.
I cannot believe this fabulous day out has been happening in Perth for a decade and I had no idea of its existence. We had a great day out and I have no regrets missing out on my original plan of attending the Waiters Race. It is an event for all food lovers regardless of whether you are a strict vegan, vegetarian or you are just someone who realises that there are huge environmental, ethical and health benefits if you eat less meat in your diet.
My first experience of Red Hot Spatula’s cooking was at the Clandestine Cake Club last year. Yvonne made these amazing gluten free Asian cakes called Kuihs that were steamed cakes made with rice flour, green bean flour and tapioca flour. I greedily ate a number of them that day before I physically had to stop myself from over eating my welcome. In fact I loved them so much that a few short weeks later I ordered a batch of my own to be delivered to work to share with my colleagues.
Since then Yvonne and I have crossed paths at many foodie events, markets and degustation evenings and I have grown to appreciate her passion and drive for success. Her business has grown from strength to strength and it is so inspiring to see someone reap the rewards from so much hard work.
She recently conducted a series of cooking classes themed on Asian and Exotic food at the Accento Home Kitchen in Claremont. I chose to attend the evening titled “Cambodia and Thailand – The art of balancing flavours from fresh herbs to chillies”. I invited one of my close friends Tara to join me knowing she would enjoy this style of girl’s night out as much as I would, especially as it included wine!
For the duration of the evening we all sat around the exquisite gourmet kitchen in a very relaxed manner laughing, giggling and sharing stories about food. Each course was carefully matched with wines from Swan Valley Wines, a boutique family winery that has produced wines in the valley for over twenty years.
We were all provided with detailed recipes for each dish including tips on where to obtain the freshest and cheapest ingredients around Perth. For someone who has very little spare time in the kitchen, I was impressed with how easy each dish was to prepare and felt confident I could take the recipes and new skills straight home with me and prepare something delicious for the Boy and I to enjoy together.
I offer a word of warning about these cooking classes; make sure you arrive with an empty belly! I was glad I had prepared for such a feast and eaten a very light lunch. By the time we got to the dessert we were all pleasantly full. Needless to say that didn’t stop Tara and I reaching for the bowl of sauce for the sweet sticky rice and scraping out the least dregs with our spoons grinning childishly.
The next round of Red Hot Spatula’s cooking classes kick off from October 2013 and will be held at their new facilities in Middle Swan. She will be covering a variety of popular topics including gluten free cooking, how to make healthy lunch boxes for fussy eaters, how to use super foods to promote better health and how to pull together the perfect High Tea.
For more information on their upcoming events and contact details head over to Red Hot Spatula’s Facebook page.
Part Two: Our Phuket Wedding Villa at Andara Resort
After a few short and very hectic days staying at the stunning Andara Resort in one of their Pool Residences we finished off our last-minute Phuket wedding planning just in time for our wedding guests to start to arrive. This moment signalled our “moving day” where we were to move into the villa of our dreams. This would be the place where we would say our vows, become husband and wife and spend our first days as Mr and Mrs together. Eeeeek! So exciting!
Andara’s villas are situated up high on the mountain side overlooking the Andaman Sea. Each villa has its own full-time staff including a private chef. The villas are kept in an immaculate state and no matter where I took photos from various points around our enormous lodgings; I could never completely capture its incredible emotion and beauty. After an initial scare where our original choice of villa was alleged to have water damage, we managed with some persuasion to negotiate getting a larger but just as beautiful villa replacement.
Our master bedroom opened out onto our private balcony with expansive views of the Andaman sea and angled to afford glimpses of the sun setting into the sea. Our bathroom was as big as our living room at home with a massive spa once again with those incredible sea views. Our bath was filled with rose petals both on our arrival and also for our wedding night. We each had our own separate walk in robes meaning all my wedding attire could be hidden away from prying groom’s eyes until our big day.
The villa was an enormous building set over three levels allowing each of our guests their own private areas. There are two separate indoor living areas; a living room with a ten seater dining table and a separate family room. Both are equipped with large flat screen TVs and entertainment systems.
Despite the opulence and spaciousness for indoor relaxing; most of us spent the week outdoors basking around the infinity pool and eating under the sala. I couldn’t understand why you would want to dine indoors when there was such a beautiful view to gaze upon outdoors.
Our villa’s chef Su proved to be one of the biggest assets to this breath-taking villa and we would have all loved for her to return home with us to Australia! Every time we chose to eat out in Phuket we were reminded how much better Su’s food was and we should have just stayed at the villa and let her look after us.
She would approach us each morning after we finished eating our cooked breakfast in order to plan our menu for the day so she could head down to the markets and buy all the produce fresh. Nothing was too much trouble for her and she never complained about all the “blow-in” guests we repeatedly invited up to the villa to join us.
For our first night we invited all wedding guests up to the villa for a “casual” BBQ to welcome them all to Thailand. Expecting something simple, we were in no way prepared for the half a dozen or so staff that came up hours in advance to set up for the party.
Tables were set with white linen, flower centrepieces placed on the tables, bamboo flame torches embedded in the garden around the pool and a bar was set up complete with a bartender. This was to be the standard of attention and care we received throughout the duration of our stay making us really feel like we were kings and queens. This could be a lifestyle I could easily get used to if I had the money for it to be sustainable!
The only downside of Andara’s villas is their price tag. This level of luxury and opulence doesn’t come cheap. In the lead up to our stay I cannot deny I was cringing at the cost, but in all honesty our week staying at our villa was truly the best week of my life and I would do it all again in a heartbeat.
For all my Phuket Wedding related posts click hereAndara Resort and Villas 15 Moo 6, Kamala Beach, Kathu, Phuket 83150, Thailand
Part One: Finalising our Phuket Wedding Preparations!
Prior to getting engaged I often toyed around in my head with the idea of eloping off to somewhere exotic. Like many people I have a divided family with my real parents and my respective step parents not exactly being the best of friends. Having to brave getting all these loved ones in the same room sounded like a daunting feat and one that could prove best to avoid. Our engagement party at The George provided me with a safe way to test the waters and despite all the anxiety and tension in the build-up to the evening along with very disappointing customer service from the George’s staff; everyone managed to get along wonderfully. In fact we all had an absolute ball. It dawned upon me that I should give my family much more credit.
As with all brides, the last few months before our big day flew past at the speed of light. No day seemed long enough and I forgot what it was like to relax. Some may say I got a bit pedantic about details however I prefer to see it as purely just ensuring everything was done properly and thoroughly. Consequently, despite previously being so paranoid that I wouldn’t be elegantly slim enough, in the last few weeks before the big day I could barely keep weight on for all the running around I did.
Our wedding invitations were designed by Jessica, one of the lovely designers at Annie P Paperie. My theme if you can call it that was “simple elegance”. I didn’t want any froo-froo, lace, feathers or glitter and opted for letter pressed stationary instead. Following with the Thai theme they designed me a simple “logo” of orchids intertwining gracefully around the edge of the page. I used this design throughout our wedding; on our invites, personalised canvas tote bags used for the welcome gifts, small gift note pads, menus and name place cards. The orchid design was sent to the Bella Figura in New York where they used antique cast iron presses to make the invitations the old-fashioned way.
After visiting many different resorts in Phuket during our previous trip in November 2011, we both agreed unanimously that Andara was the place of our dreams. Andara has two accommodation options in its expansive resort; they have massive privately owned villas perched up high on the mountains and then they also offer smaller, apartment style residences lower down the scarp by the beach.
Both are managed by the hotel and ooze luxury and attention to detail. We arrived about five days prior to all our wedding guests and initially stayed in one of their residences for a few days before moving into the opulent villa with our bridal party. Although the residences do not quite have the wow factor of the villa, each is still appointed with great care and attention. We were lucky enough to get upgraded to a pool residence for these few days and on arrival received a bottle of champagne on ice.
Each residence has its own fully equipped kitchen, full sized fridge and all the utensils you would ever need while on holiday. Not that we did any cooking. For four days we busied ourselves organising welcome packs, choosing wedding music, practising our dance and finishing off all the important little wedding details whilst the hotel’s room service kept us well fed. The kitchen went above and beyond to diligently ensure all my allergies were strictly catered for without sacrificing on taste.
Breakfast for the residence guests is served at the hotel’s only restaurant Silk. They provide a combination of a continental style buffet coupled with a freshly cooked hot meal off their al la carte menu. Every morning the food and beverage manager would come over to our table and reassure me that my gluten free bread and muffins along with my hot meal was on its way. The gluten free muffins were sweet, coconutty and fluffy light and I had to stop myself from eating them all each morning. They were served warm and spread generously with Lescure butter they were close to heaven.
If I hadn’t already had my socks knocked off by the impressiveness of our wedding villa then the Andara residences would have had the same effect. However I knew we were soon to move into even bigger and better lodgings and the beauty of our suite was somewhat lost on me. Looking back now on our stay there I can appreciate what stunning accommodation it was and for a couple travelling on their own the suites are a more affordable way to stay at Andara.
In my next Wedding blog post I will take you through our breath taking Villa where overlooking the Andaman Sea the Boy and I declared our vows to the world and became husband and wife!
For all my Phuket Wedding related posts click hereAndara Resort and Villas 15 Moo 6, Kamala Beach, Kathu, Phuket 83150, Thailand
You would think after several trips to Thailand in a relatively short space of time we would be sick of Thai cuisine. That has definitely not been the case in fact it has done the complete opposite. Thai food has become our go-to comfort food, the meal we crave after a bad day at work or when we are feeling run down. There are a number of Thai restaurants in the Vic Park area; Little Ying Thai is one of our favourites and they know us on a first name basis. I’m the “no wheat, no onion, no soy sauce, no gluten” customer that many restaurant owners would prefer to run a mile from yet Little Ying always embraces my allergy request with smiles. So when a fancy looking Thai restaurant named Pinto Thai Restaurant opened up just a short walk from our house I was left feeling torn between my curiosity to try their food and my guilt for betraying Little Ying.
The interior of Pinto Thai is unlike most of the more casual Vic Park Asian restaurants. It is stylish, modern and they even had some jazz playing in the background. We arrived hot and thirsty from our thirty minute stroll paired with healthy appetites. After enquiring about which dishes were gluten free, I was advised that a lot of their dishes were prepared using their own homemade oyster sauce which wasn’t gluten free. This unfortunately left me a little limited with my choices.
We started off with a serve of Thai fish cakes made from snapper with chilli and herbs. This was a bit of a gamble as I have found over here in Perth many Thai restaurants serve rubbery and flavourless fish cakes. The memories of eating them fresh at the Phuket Night markets were still fresh in my mind and I optimistically hoped for good things from Pinto. To my total satisfaction I was rewarded with them having both perfect texture and flavour. Lucky our serving had an even number of fish cakes otherwise there may have been a fight for the last one.
After the wow factor of the fish cakes the duck spring rolls seems comparatively flavourless and needed much dunking in the chilli and lime sauce for added oomph.
During our stay at Andara Resort for our wedding in Phuket we had our own private chef named Su and she is quite possibly one of the best Thai chefs I have ever dined with. Her duck curry was a particular favourite of mine and over our eight days at luxurious Andara we asked her to make it for us on multiple occasions. She is a beautiful person and made our stay even more incredible, both my Dad and I wanted to bring her home with us! To our surprise and extreme happiness, Pinto’s red duck curry actually came pretty close to Su’s wonder-duck curry in deliciousness and is certainly the best red duck curry I’ve had in Perth. It had all the elements of proper Thai food: sweet, spicy, sour and salty.
Unfortunately the papaya salad didn’t met Su’s standard like the duck did. I have to presume this is in part because those tropical fruits just don’t taste the same here as they do in Asian countries. I had just enough room for some dessert and started dreaming of coconut rice until our waitress came over. To my disappointment she informed me they do not do desserts! In all honesty if I waited another five minutes I would have realised that in fact I was too full anyway so perhaps this was a blessing in disguise. I asked the owner if it would be ok if I brought my own gluten free oyster sauce for our next visit so I could try more items on their menu. She was absolutely fine with this and on the walk home I started planning our next visit.
A few weeks later we returned to Pinto Thai with dreams of more roast duck swooning around in our heads. I came along super prepared with my gluten free oyster sauce in hand only to be told they now have their own gluten free sauces to use in the kitchen! Talk about listening to the customer’s needs! In addition to another serve of fish cakes which were just as amazing as the first time, we ordered some Tom Yum soup. This sweet and sour Thai soup is the perfect way to start a meal and it is so refreshing and light unlike many heavy Western style soups. It contained a heap of seafood including Green lipped mussels, prawns, scallops, squid and fish. It was a little too spicy for the Boy meaning I found it to be just right.
Despite a very strong yearning for the red duck curry again, I wanted to try a few more of their dishes to see how many “hits” we could get. I chose the vegetarian Panang curry with tofu. Panang curry, or Phanaeng curry as some Thai people call it is a very light and mild curry and I thought this would be a good choice considering the Boy doesn’t handle too much spice. The Panang curry is also much sweeter due to the pumpkin and it lacks the sour taste found in other red curries. Once again we were nearly spotted licking our bowls to get the last millilitres of sauce. How my Mother would cringe!
Although we showed will power of steel not ordering the red duck curry, we still couldn’t have a meal with no duck could we? During the previous meal we were told the Five Spice duck couldn’t be made gluten free however this time round it was no problem! The meat was just as succulent as it was in the curry and sweetened with a thick plum sauce, five spice marinades and some freshly steamed bok choy. A marginally healthier option but scrumptious nevertheless. I am now torn where is my favourite local Thai…Little Ying or Pintos? They even both do home delivery.Pinto Thai Restaurant 2 Moresby Street, Kensington WA 6151 | 0451 209 892 Price: $$ Food: 7/10 (mostly hits with the occasional miss) Service: 4/5 (Thailand isn’t called Land of the Smiles for nothing) Ambience: 3.5/5 (funky decor) Drinks: BYO Total: 14.5/20
One of the best ways to get a taste of the local street food in Thailand is to head to one of their night markets. Most towns in Phuket have their own markets held on specific days once or twice a week but the biggest night markets are the Phuket Town Night Markets (Talad Tai Rot to the locals). These markets are open on the weekends from 4pm until around 9pm. Unlike a lot of the smaller markets in Phuket, most of the ground surface at these markets is cemented meaning you don’t have to pick your way through the mud. My advice is to get there fairly early as it gets very busy from around 5pm as the sun sets and the weather cools.
I arranged two minibuses to transport our wedding party of over 30 people to the markets. The trip took around 45 minutes one way from Kamala Beach. Once we arrived we set a time and meeting point and then split off into groups. As the Boy and I entered into the markets with Dad and my Stepmum, he had to duck down under the tarpaulin roof as he was too tall! Thai markets are not designed for 6 foot 3 Dutchmen!
The Phuket night markets have a vast array of new and second-hand clothes, wood carvings, toys, DVDs, souvenirs and more. There even is a “petshop” section selling live little rabbits and kittens; this was an area my step mum and I trotted past as quickly as possible. Despite trying not to look I couldn’t help but catch a glimpse of rows of small cages stacked on top of each other all jammed packed with poor little creatures. If only I could save them all!
The best part of these markets is the local street food. The four of us purposely bypassed all the trinkets, clothing and electronics to follow our noses to the heart of the aromas. The Boy was once again attracted to the fried insect stall. I cannot understand why he likes these snacks so much, I think part of his enjoyment is seeing the shock value he creates when everyone sees him munching on a big bug. However even when no one is watching I noticed he continued to happily crunch away whilst picking legs and wings out from between his teeth.
Meanwhile my attention was directed at the plethora of Thai desserts on offer. It was like an Eastern version of a candy store. I found it hard to decide what to try so I ended up trying a little of most things on offer provided I knew they were gluten free. Fortunately the vast majority of Thai dessert are made with gluten free flours such as mung bean flour and rice flour so I was spoilt for choice. Just a little tip, make sure you bring your Thai eating card with you to the markets so you can check with the vendors before purchasing anything.
After a few hours at the markets, we all regrouped and made the short journey up the scarp to Tunk Ka Cafe; a Thai restaurant recommended to me by a friend that lives in Phuket. The restaurant is located on top of Khao Rang Hill and gives practically 180 degree panoramic views across the city from their terraced open styled dining room. Although it is worth visiting just for the views, the food at Tunk Ka can hold its own. The menu is all Thai and is very extensive offering over 100 dishes.
Now seeing as I was on my wedding holiday I have to confess my usual dogged determination to photograph and review all the dishes on show was taken down a number of notches. It was the first night that we were lucky enough to be joined by all our wedding guests and my attention was much more focused on enjoying these precious moments with those I love dearly.
Thanks to my Thai eating card and some very obliging staff, a number of special order dishes were brought out for me specifically made gluten free and onion free. I was touched by the care and attention they gave me to ensure I had enough to eat. I highly recommend the soft shelled crab and the tamarind prawns. All our dishes contained ultra-fresh ingredients with all the elements of Thai food sweet, sour, salty and bitter balanced elegantly. A big thank you to my dear friend Carole for such a fabulous recommendation.Phuket Town Night Market (Talad Tai Rot) Opening Hours: Saturday & Sunday from 16:00 til 21:00
Location: Talad Tai Rot is located along Chao Fa West Road, Phuket’s main thoroughfare, one kilometre south of Central Festival shopping mall and is opposite Wat Naka, a Buddhist temple. Take a left at the first set of traffic lights. Tunk Ka Café Opening Hours: 10:30 – 22:30
Location: At the top of Rang Hill, Phuket Town
Everyone has their favourite types of cuisine but just to be a bit complicated I have three. Staying close to my roots my first favourite is French cuisine. Secondly, thanks to my incurable addiction to raw fish, the logical next player is Japanese. But in more recent years, my love of Thailand and their food has grown exponentially fuelled by some incredible trips to Thailand with the Boy where we have celebrated a close friend’s wedding, got engaged and found the wedding venue of our dreams and ultimately returned there to marry. It holds a very special place in both our hearts.
Many Thai restaurants here in Perth are a little Westernised and cook up what my novice experience tells me is Bangkok style cuisine. Although the immense variety of dishes you can eat in Thailand is exciting, over here in Perth I find a lot of restaurant stick to the more common dishes such as green curries, ginger chicken, basil beef and the like. Worst still, a lot add way too much sugar into each dish meaning the flavours of the dishes become very simplified and sweet. True Thai should have more complexity in its flavour achieving a delicate balance of sweet, sour, salty and sometimes bitter.
Our favourite local Thai is Little Ying Thai on Albany Highway. Although I wouldn’t say it’s the best Thai in Perth, it is cheap; it’s local and hits the spot every time. Better still the owner recognises me over the phone once I ask for “no gluten, no onion” in our order. They have yet to get our orders wrong and I always feel very confident ordering from them.
A new Thai restaurant Red Basil opened up last year on the Albany Highway café strip and being even closer to our house than Little Ying we thought we would give them a try. Immediately upon glancing at the menu I started to get a bad feeling as there were a couple of more Chinese looking dishes on there. Thai and Chinese are two very different cultures and more importantly cuisines! We started with the soft-shelled crab which was deep-fried and served with a “Thai” dressing, carrot, tomato and chilli. I asked for the onion to be omitted but it still was placed on our plate. The crab had barely any meat and was mostly just crispy shell.
Larb is one of my favourite Thai appetisers. It is a mincemeat salad made typically with chicken, pork, duck or mushrooms and flavoured with fish sauce, lime juice, toasted ground rice and then mixed with fresh chilli, mint and other herbs. I love the mixture of sweet mint, the heat of the chilli and the crunchy texture of the toasted ground rice. This version was a small for an entrée, was very mild in heat and a little too sweet. My request for no onion was observed for this dish.
The Boy also ordered some vegetarian spring rolls for his entrée. I was unable to taste them as they contained gluten but he described them to me as being somewhat soggy and tasted like stale oil. They contained carrot, cabbage, corn and glass noodles and were served with sweet chilli sauce.
Unfortunately by this point my disappointment had led to me drinking the majority of my bottle of wine and my ability to capture our last dish on camera failed me. We ordered the ginger chicken with mixed vegetables. The dish came with plenty of veggies but had very little ginger flavour to it and tasted like a basic stir fry.
Overall, neither of us were that impressed with Red Basil. With a couple of other good Thai options nearby our home it would seem unlikely that we would get to return to get them a second chance either. Perhaps some other readers can tell me otherwise? On the bright side, our meal came to under $50 bucks which fitted very nicely into our weekend budgeting!Red Basil Thai Cuisine 2/335 Albany Highway, Victoria Park, WA 6100 | (08) 9361 2661 Price: $ (under $15 per meal) BYO, Cash only Food: 4/10 (too sweet without any other flavour) Service: 2/5 (forgot my allergies, uncertain they avoided gluten as I reacted the following day with my usual skin and gut upsets) Ambience: 2/5 (none really, but then it is cheap so you get what you pay for) Total: 8/20
It was Friday night and the boy phoned me say he had just finished work and was about to head home. We had made dinner plans for in the city and it looked like he was right on schedule to get home in time for us to head straight in. Excitedly I starting thinking that we may even have time to quickly stop in at the Greenhouse for a pre-dinner drink! But as he made his way back to his car, he received a call informing him that the air conditioners in the server room were failing. This meant he would need to wait back for someone to arrive to fix them. What was even more annoying for him was that the repair men would be at least two hours away! So by the time he eventually did get home, our plans to head into the city sounded like far too much like a mission for him, so we decided to go local and head to Little Ying Thai instead.
We have visited this restaurant before and enjoyed its simple charm. The quality of the dishes do not begin compare to some of my favourites venues such as Dusit Thai, but then neither do their prices and when you add in their BYO license it has all the makings of a cheap but tasty night out. The service is very friendly and they are more than happy to accommodate for both gluten-free and fructose friendly requests.
We started off with the Charcoal squid which we have ordered before on previous nights here. It consisted of marinated strips of squid served with sweet chilli sauce and ground peanuts. As she did previously, the waitress warned us this dish takes a little bit longer to prepare than other entrees, but to be honest we were not waiting for long at all. The squid was surprisingly tender and although it appears minimally char-grilled it was still flavoursome presumably due to the marinade. We also ordered chicken larb, a sure-fire favourite of mine. Unfortunately with memories of the scrumptious duck larb we had at Dusit Thai still fresh in my mind, it was going to be a big ask to be able to impress my little taste buds. Little Ying’s larb had a pretty decent kick in it and the addition of fresh mint and coriander made it feel a bit more traditional however the flavours were too subtle leaving it tasting a bit bland.
For mains we shared charcoal grilled pork. I’m not quite sure why I went all out and ordered so much charcoal dishes! In fact, I never really used to eat much pork until recently. In Thailand pork is a very popular meat, and many Thai chefs will use nearly every part of the pig to make a variety of different dishes – including the intestines! This pork dish was quite a standard fare, marinated nicely and the pork pieces were meaty and not fatty. It was a reasonably large-sized serve considering the price (around $16).
When prepared and cooked correctly, Pandan chicken is a melt in your mouth treat. Wrapping the chicken in the pandan leaf keeps all the juices of the chicken inside resulting in a very tender and succulent mouthful of deliciousness. The leaf itself improves things further by adding a distinct sweet and floral like taste to the meat. Unfortunately a number of my previous experiences of this dish have not been that pleasant due to poor preparation and overcooking resulting in dry and chewy chicken. But after enjoying it cooked to perfection recently in Thailand, I thought we would give this another try. Regrettably this time round the chicken was indeed quite stringy and had a strange aftertaste that made me wonder if we would regret our choice tomorrow. (By the way in defence of Little Ying; there weren’t any further unpleasant outcomes the next day.)
This simple but delicious classic Thai dish never fails to satisfy me. I love all things eggie and I was happy to take the opportunity to sneak some into a dinner meal. Coupled with minced chicken, fresh herbs and some hot chilli sauce, we devoured this one very quickly.
Overall, for a cheap, local night out Little Ying Thai hits the spot. The food is by no means amazing and will not blow you away, but nevertheless it’s still enjoyable and the staff are all super friendly and attentive.Price: $$ (Entrée $7-10, Mains $10-21) Food: 3.5/5 Service: 3.5/5 Venue: 3/5 Drinks: 3.5/5 (BYO – my choice was a bottle of Jarrah Ridge Chardonnay that we picked up last time we were in the Swan Valley) Total = 13.5/20 Little Ying Thai Shop 3, 895 Albany Highway, East Victoria Park 6101 | (08) 9362 3899
The excitement for the upcoming engagement party is escalating. The bubbling began at work with our girlie chitter chatter of our personal shopping expeditions for outfits of which some of us had success in our searches but for others it was still a work in progress. As team work is such a vital element of a well-run veterinary practice we are all quite close friends and any social outing sparks a lot of enthusiasm and animated conversations among us all. This level of excitement has further risen up a notch with the arrival of my darling mother early this week. My Mum is the type of person you will immediately love from the first moment you meet her – even my beauty therapists go on about what a gorgeous person she is! With the early arrival of my sister tomorrow, the three of us decided to pop out for a light meal and the perfect cuisine to fit the bill for this was some delicious Thai!
Dusit Thai is something of an institution in Perth and has been open since 1988. The atmosphere in the restaurant is effortless and comfortable, and its spacious size means it’s never hard to get a table. Having eaten here many times on business dinners I figured it would be a sure-fire way to have an enjoyable and quick meal with my love and my Mum. This would allow us to enjoy our last quiet evening together before the festivities really start to kick in.
Dusit Thai is not the cheapest of Thai restaurants in Perth but I have found they reliably serve delicious meals no matter what I choose to order. They are very flexible with adapting their dishes and have always ensured to make an effort to avoid specific ingredients for me which reveals to me just how fresh each meal that is served is. Prior to our travels to Thailand I created an eating card with my special dietary requirements for gluten-free and fructose friendly written clearly in Thai on one side of the card and in English on the other side. Every time we dined out in Thailand I would show this cute little card to our waitress where it would then proceed to do the round trip from my hand via several waitresses to the kitchen and back to the table. Often it would actually make two trips as all the staff would eagerly want to make sure that I have no problems with my meal. Unfortunately I have to admit that back in Australia; even in Thai restaurants this well-travelled little card hasn’t received such glorified attention. Consequently, it was to my delight that on this night I was reminded of its tour of duty in Thailand as it was escorted on a similar round trip around the restaurant to the kitchen before returning back to me.
The waitresses were genuinely helpful in discussing our choice of dishes for the evening and the chef appeared very flexible in attempting to accommodate my requests whenever he could. We started with my latest Thai favourite; some mixed seafood Tom Yum. This delicious clear spicy and sour soup is such a refreshing way to begin a meal, and if you’re not actually that hungry is enough for a light meal on its own. To my great disappointment, prior to the soup being served our lovely waitress came back to inform me that there actually is a lot of onion used in the stock for the soup. I was recommended to order chicken satay instead. I cannot deny my internal reaction to this was “how boring” but seeing as they had already gone to such great lengths to help me order the rest of the evening’s meals I decided I didn’t want to make any more fuss and just went along with her recommendation.
The Tom Yum was requested to be served mild because both the boy and Mum have delicate palates when it comes to hot and spicy food. Despite this request they both found the soup to be too spicy, so for those who do not like heat in their food I recommend that you make sure to emphasize to your waitress that you want your soup very mild. I had a little taste of the seafood contained in the boy’s soup. As I watched him struggle through the spiciness I became quite jealous as I really enjoyed its tangy sourness and wished I could finish it off for them both. I did notice the soup lacked the rich colour I would expect for Tom Yum however the seafood was soft and not chewy or overcooked. The satay was a delicious surprise. The chicken was juicy and tender, the peanut sauce thick and creamy and the ajat (cucumber relish) took me back to Thailand! Many restaurants here in Perth don’t serve their satay dishes with this traditional yet elegant condiment made from palm sauce, cucumber and coriander. Yum!
The duck larb was a tasty alternative to the more commonly served chicken and fortunately for me the kitchen had no issues omitting onion out of this dish. The little pocket rockets of baby chillies packed a fierce punch, but if omitted they allowed this dish to be eaten by my two companions with comfort. I must admit accidentally shovelling two of the crispy numbers into my mouth at once did temporarily take me out of my comfort range!
The stuffed squid is a dish I have eaten here before, unfortunately on this night I felt this wasn’t the dish served at its best. There wasn’t anything overtly wrong with it, it was present beautifully, and the squid was not rubbery but the stuffing just didn’t quite have the flavour I recall enjoying so much in the past.
The beef basil was cooked medium rare leaving the meat tender and succulent. It also contained large pieces of chillies meaning it could be spiced up or down depending on your preference. I double dosed on these babies without much trouble. The stir fried vegetables were the most uninteresting of the dishes and were cooked simply with some oyster sauce. The generous addition of enoki mushrooms saved this dish as some of the other vegetables were slightly undercooked. I enjoy crunchy vegies but not quite that crunchy.
Overall, I never walk away from Dusit Thai disappointed and I know I’ll be back.
Score: Food 7.8/10 Service 8.5/10 Venue 7/10Dusit Thai 249 James Street, Northbridge, 6003 | (08) 9328 7647 | http://dusitthai.com.au/
I cannot believe we are back in Thailand already! It was only about three months ago we arrived in Phuket for the first time to celebrate our dear friend’s wedding and yet here we are again. But better still this time we are here to start planning our own wedding! So exciting! We were both so amped to start the hunt for our venue and after our interesting culinary experiences at the Patong night markets last night we were also pretty keen to enjoy some more traditional Thai food!
I am a bit of an organisational freak – I gain great pleasure in planning things down to the finite detail. So in my preparation for our wedding venue search I had spent hour upon hour back home in Perth trawling over the internet to ensuring we would to check out every perceivable suitable wedding location in Phuket. After numerous emails I managed to whittle my ridiculously long list down to a much more manageable eight resorts.
Our first stop was Andara Resort in Kamala. I was really attracted to the idea of staying in Kamala as there are a lot of little restaurants and bars all within walking distance from each other. A full spectrum of accommodation options can be found ranging from the exquisite Andara Resort and Villas to the much more economical and family orientated Courtyard Marriott Resort that we were staying in this time round. In addition to this it is much more family friendly than the madness of Patong and a fair bit cleaner as well!
Andara Resort sits up on the hillside towards the southern end of Kamala beach overlooking the blue expanse of the Andaman Sea. Immediately upon entering their luxurious lobby we both felt a really good vibe and looking about the place it just felt very “us” which was very good start. We were promptly greeted by the resort wedding planner Mod. She initially sat us down to show us some photos of a few weddings set up around the resort pool and also in their spectacular villas. Having seen many of these stunning photos previously in her emails I was impatient to view the property and was hoping that it wasn’t going to disappoint.
In some ways, it was kind of shame that we both fell in love with the very first venue that we looked at as over the course of the next week we found the majority of other locations we visited just simply didn’t compare. Not even close! There were only two other locations we saw that could begin to match up to Andara’s beauty – Trisara in the far north of the island, and the very expensive Amanpuri.
The villa that Mod recommended as her favourite for us to have our wedding ceremony sits high on the edge of the cliff and is built over three levels giving every room incredible views of the sea. No detail is left untouched throughout the villa with exquisitely appointed interior design using natural dark wood and warm Thai silks to create a beautiful wow factor throughout. She said they could arrange a platform to be placed in the infinity pool allowing us to say our vows with uninterrupted views of the bay as our backdrop! Imagine that! Saying our vows with views like this will be breathtaking!
Mod’s beaming pride as she watched us appreciate the beauty of the resort shone through as she took us on a detailed tour of the whole resort, showing us their world class, icy cool air-conditioned gym (which rivals my university gym back at home) and the enormous and elegantly appointed spa which included a whole level of rooms for the bridal party to beautify. We then ended the tour in their popular restaurant Silk overlooking their spacious pool deck.
After our detailed tour, we were then treated to a complimentary four course Thai lunch where the chef’s had carefully prepared Thai dishes taking into consideration both my fructose malabsorption and gluten intolerance. Unfortunately I didn’t take any photos of this lovely meal as Mod, the boy and I were busy engaged in lengthy conversation talking about further details in which Andara could provide us with an amazing wedding. Highlights of our lunch included Goong cinnamon (Cinnamon prawn – to die for!), Tom yam soup and absolutely huge Tiger prawns cooked in garlic and pepper and presented gorgeously.
To help us to make our decision we headed back to Andara for dinner on one of our final nights in Phuket. I thought seeing as I’m actually able to punish myself with gluten while on the prescribed gluten challenge I wouldn’t be quite so restrictive and let loose a little on the menu. For entrée we ordered a started platter which had some fish cakes, chicken wrapped Pandanus leaves and prawns. The chicken was soft and fell apart in the mouth and was sweetly scented with the Pandanus. The prawns were wrapped in noodles – similar to what we ate at Old Cathay, but less oily and easier to eat. After memories of our enjoyable meal at Old Cathay returning to my mind, I also ordered some satay tofu. This was not silky smooth this time round and definitely didn’t excite either of us.
To keep the boy happy for mains we ordered some soft shelled crab, one of his favourites, which were deliciously meaty and crispy, some tamarind duck and stir fried Morning Glory. Morning Glory is considered a weed in Australia however is very popular in a lot of parts of South-east Asia where it is often called “water spinach”. It is quite sweet in flavour, not bitter at all, and was cooked very simply with oyster sauce and garlic.
After all this delicious Thai food, I can’t help but wonder….I do hope all our wedding guests are happy to eat Thai at our reception? I just don’t feel right going to a country that has such wonderful culinary culture and eating “Western food”.
For more about our trips to Thailand click here
We were so lucky to be part of a friend’s wedding in Phuket earlier this year as it has sparked the beginning of our love affair with Thailand. After a week of wedding celebrations in Phuket, we then flew over to the Eastern coast of Thailand to stay for another week on the island of Koh Samui. It was during this memorable and fun filled holiday that my love proposed to me. He dropped the question during the most amazing private dining experience at Six Sense’s Dining on the Rocks which he had all pre-arranged before we left Australia. A single stunning table was decorated lavishly with roses and orchids and placed romantically isolated on a wide expanse of wooden decking on the cliff face overlooking the distant neighbouring islands and fishing boats. We had our own two butlers serve us a seven course degustation while we sipped our way through bottles of Verve. It was an experience I will never forget.
Subsequently it was a bit of a no-brainer that we both envisioned returning to Thailand for our wedding vows. Choosing a venue for such an occasion wasn’t really a decision we wanted to make via photos and email so this provided us with a great excuse for an impromptu holiday. I planned a busy week for us sashaying around Phuket touring resorts and dining on their food.
To get ourselves in the mood, our first night we decided to brave it into the bedlam of Patong to go the night markets. The boy has a strange and burning desire to eat unusual foods; this is actually something we used to share in common before all my allergies came to light and I starting being more wary of ingredients. Uninhibited and giddy on the street vendors rocket fuelled cocktails (80 Baht/$2.50) AUD), we dived into one of the many night markets and found ourselves surrounded by interesting smells. There was a lot of familiar fare, such as roast pork, chicken and duck but lo and behold we found the piece de la resistance……intestines?? Now you must be thinking we have gone a little mad, but there it was all snake like and coiled neatly in its mesenteric fat like a distorted grotesque fan.
Before I knew it the boy had ordered us a dish and was eagerly watching them dice it up for us into smaller more bite size pieces. I cautiously ate one, and to be honest with all the soy and chargrilling it didn’t taste too bad. There was none of the unpleasant smells you would have expected. However after a few morsels I began to remember my public health lectures at University and stopped myself before I worked myself into a nauseous state. I fell asleep that night dreaming of hydatid cysts in my brain and vowed not to be swayed to such a dark side again!
For more about our trips to Thailand click here
Travelling to Thailand? Be sure to checkout the Lonely Planet Thailand Travel Guide before you go!