At my business we run an externship with the veterinary students every year which gives us the opportunity to put them through their paces. It provides a great way for them to gain further experience and confidence before they head out into the big wide world of employment. It is often during these externships that certain individuals shine and a couple of years back one of these externships led to our decision to offer the student a job.
Since officially joining our team, she has continued to impress us all with her standard of knowledge and dedication to her career. There have been many nights she has stayed back late with no complaints, come in on her days off and pitched in to help others without being asked. She is a valued team member who appears to be fast tracking herself to success. As a token of our appreciation I took her out for dinner with a couple of my business partners.
Thankfully she is also a foodie so I gave her a list of a couple of restaurants to let her choose the venue. She chose one of her favourites; Nine Fine Food. This was my second time returning to Nine Fine Food after visiting them earlier in the year with my dearest blogging friends. Most of my photos from this first visit didn’t turn out very well due to my excessive consumption of espresso martinis at an event prior. My shaking, caffeinated hands produced a number of quite interesting artefacts however very few of the resulting photos were what I would call “blog worthy”. I was keen for a second chance to get it right.
In addition to their standard menu, Nine Fine Food offers two set menus: “Tokutoku” a three course meal for $53 per person or “Osusume” which is four courses for $63. We all chose the Tokutoku. I remembered from my last visit that Nine Fine Food provide gluten free soy and was chuffed that I didn’t need to bring along my own. It is these small things that make me happy. I had the fresh sashimi for my entrée and noticed that my serve was considerably smaller than when I had previously ordered it off the à la carte menu. This made sense as the à la carte version is $10 more expensive than the remainder of the entrée options. Each carefully sliced piece of fish was delicate enough to give that melt-in-the-mouth amazingness that will always elicit a moan of pleasure from me as it hits my tongue. Fresh sashimi is surely one of my favourite things.
During my previous visit I ordered the confit duck leg and this dish is quite a treat so I was excited to see that Chris ordered it. It was a hard decision for me to not order it again as I know how good it is but I was determined to try something new. The duck is marinated in five-spice and served with lightly grilled scallops, sweet potato mash, a tempura onion ring and pumpkin purée. A ruby-red reduction made from red wine and mirin wine splashed contrasting colour against the mash across her plate. Jealous!
Gluten free mains choices are limited as many of the meats are pre-marinated in sauces containing gluten. The chef seemed more than obliging to adapt things for me however so I ordered the salmon and scallops. The Atlantic salmon was cooked in two ways; one piece was roasted and one was lightly fried. It was served with some grilled scallops topped with tobiko caviar on a bed of citrusy Yuzu mascarpone. The normal gluten version also contains a panko fried mixed seafood cake which was omitted for me. Vibrant edamame, pomegranate seeds and fresh grapes decorated the plate adding interesting little bombs of flavour and colour.
The “pork and pork” dish is not for the faint hearted and I would only recommend it for genuine pork lovers. The three different presentations of pork made this the perfect dish for my meat loving, veggie hating South African business partner. A sizable cube of twice cooked, milk braised pork belly accompanied slices of tender grilled pork fillet and some tempura bacon. Yes, you heard right, I said tempura bacon. Now I don’t really get into my pork but THAT was enough to make me swoon. The day I find somewhere that can make me gluten free tempura….it’s game on. Fry me some bacon!
Our star team member of the night ordered the “chicken and lamb”. This was a dish containing multiple interesting elements including some marinated crunchy kara-age chicken, poached chicken breast, grilled lamb fillets and portions of vegetable cake. A sweet syrupy balsamic soy dressing was drizzled over the tender pieces of lamb to finish things off.
I cannot go past any matcha flavoured desserts, they really are the bomb. Even just your run of the mill, matcha ice-cream will get me excited despite not being the biggest ice-cream fan. During my first visit to Nine Fine Food I was introduced to matcha brûlée and despite the food blogger within me chanting that I already HAD a good photo of this dessert meaning I should order something different to give you dear readers more food porn to drool over…..I ordered it again.
And it was so good!
And I’m not sorry.
The others all ordered the Kuro Goma gelato which is made from black sesame. Chris also opted for the additional chocolate banana roll which cost an extra $5. Her plate looked something like a dessert garden with fresh fruit scattered about for decoration.
Nine Fine Food is exceedingly good value for both the quality of the food and service. Even better still, they are a BYO restaurant leaving you with the only drama being what wine to choose to match with your food. Unfortunately many of their beautiful dishes are not naturally gluten free and they require some degree of adaptation resulting in components being removed and not replaced. Hopefully as the chef has now made the move to offering gluten free soy to diners, he will soon move to offering more gluten free dishes that do not require changing to accommodate for people like us.Nine Fine Food 227-229 Bulwer Street, Highgate WA 6003 | (08) 9227 9999 | www.ninefinefood.com.au Price: $$ (Entrees $16-18, Mains $34, 3 course set $53) Food: 7/10 (would have scored higher if more GF options) Service: 3.5/5 (discrete and unobtrusive, the let to food take the stage Ambience: 3.5/5 (moody, dim-lit and quite romantic) Drinks: BYO Total: 14/20
I cannot believe it is nearly six months since the Boy and I tied the knot in Phuket. I still have a long backlog of blog posts from our wedding holiday that I desperately need to finish. Normally I am such a disciplined person and I think part of my procrastination is because I’m sad that it’s all over and our lives have settled back down to normal. I have finally decided to bite the bullet and plan to complete the last of my wedding trip blog posts over the next few weeks including our time in Thailand which was followed by our four day eating binge in Singapore.
Once we arrived in Singapore glowing with post-nuptial love our serotonin levels were high and thus so were our appetites so we filled our days with sleeping, eating and drinking. For our wedding present to each other we both decided that a gift was far too traditional and wanted to have an experience together instead. Memories are always more precious than materialistic objects and some of my best memories are of course involving food. So the Boy suggested I pick anywhere regardless of price to enjoy a meal of a life time together.
In Singapore that is no easy feat. This is a city known for its fine dining and the decision wasn’t an easy one. Our last trip to Singapore we dined at Guy Savoy’s celebrity restaurant so I wanted to choose something other than traditional French and settled for Chef Tetsuya Wakuda’s Waku Ghin at Marina Bay Sands. Ok so there IS a bit of French influence in Tetsuya’s style but it is very Japanese focused. A fusion of two of my favourite cuisines! A perfect way to celebrate the fusion of two people!
Waku Ghin serves a ten course degustation only and you are advised to book your table well in advance as they have a reasonable waiting list and only seat 25 people each evening. They have been awarded number 68 in the San Pelligrino World’s 100 Best 2013 and achieved 11th place in Asia’s 50 Best. I have always fantasised about having a world trip where we visit as many restaurants as possible off these lists, so it was fitting that one of them should feature on our wedding holiday (Note this is NOT our honeymoon!). I had emailed in advance to notify them of my gluten free requirement and asked them if they needed me to bring gluten free soy sauce with me. They do not have their own gluten free soy available so I was grateful I had been lugging it around in my luggage all the way from Perth.
After making a bit of a spectacle of myself at the bar by knocking my cocktail over with my animated flying hands we were shown to our dining room which only seated four people. A lovely Japanese couple were just finishing their meals and left shortly after we arrived giving us the whole room to ourselves.
Our chef for the evening came out and introduced himself before presenting to us a box filled with all the seafood delicacies we were about to commence devouring. Everything looks so exceedingly fresh and some creatures where still alive.
Our evening started with a salad of Buratta cheese with dried tomato, rocket and fennel. Burrata means “buttered” in Italian and you will understand where this fresh cheese got its name when you taste it. It literally oozes creaminess and paired nicely with the full rich flavour of the dried tomatoes. It was the perfect lead into the following much more opulent course.
Next up was one of Tetsuya’s signature dishes, the marinated Botan shrimp with sea urchin and Oscietra caviar. Mind blowingly creamy and luxuriously luscious this dish left us hanging on the edge of our seats for more. The balance of salty caviar, sweet shrimp and custardy uni was an orchestra of perfection.
Our next course was some slivers of slow cooked John Dory layered with smoked eggplant and drizzled with a richly flavoured chicken jus. The fish was slippery soft and melted in the mouth like sushi. I am a big fan of slow cooked anything; it introduces such a silky element of texture to ingredients unobtainable with traditional cooking methods.
Our fourth course was a steamed Alaskan Crab claw with lemon and olive oil. With such simple preparation and very few ingredients the secret of this dish’s success was in the freshness of the crab. The chef shows us the bright red crab claws before proceeding to steam them on a bed of rock salt on the grill right in front of us.
Once cooked to perfection he dressed them with just a light splash of lemon scented olive oil. And it needed nothing more. With four courses down and our eyes wider than saucers we sat on the edge of our seats ready for more.
Our next course was live Tasmanian abalone served simply with fregola, tomato and basil for the Boy with the fregola omitted for my gluten free version. This was my first time having fresh abalone. I found it a little disturbing watching the live abalone squirm before my eyes as the chef cooked it on the stove top.
I consoled myself with the thought that that surely these creatures don’t have enough awareness of self to suffer? I was surprised to find the abalone a little chewy and tough but not having tried it before I’m not sure if this texture was to be expected? Maybe the abalone eaters out there can educate me better.
The next course was certainly one of my favourites; braised Canadian lobster with tarragon. Although I have enjoyed Australian “lobster” countless times I only recently tried Maine lobster for the first time at Sky on 57. Anticipating it to taste much the same as crayfish I was astounded by the lobster’s delicate textured richness. I didn’t realise I would get to try it again so soon.
Waku Ghin prides itself on its fresh produce which is flown in fresh and often live each day. Our Canadian lobster was prepared in front of us braised in a robust flavoured tarragon sauce that is made with stock from the lobster’s shells. The rich sauce balanced the sweetness of the oh-so-tender lobster precisely. I cannot wait to eat lobster again sometime.
Wagyu is such an overused term in the restaurant world and I never realised how truly amazing it can be until we tried Waku Ghin’s version. They serve Ohmi Wagyu beef which comes from the Shiga prefecture in Japan. This type of Wagyu is considered to be distinctive from other types as it is the only type with fat that has “viscosity” which gives it that incredible dissolve-in-your-mouth sensation.
Cooked with utmost precision this meat needed minimal garnishes and was served simply with some freshly grated wasabi, garlic chips and light citrus soy. It had the texture of butter and was truly like no other cut of beef I have ever tasted. The chef was so flattered with our crooning that he offered us another serve which we both wildly agreed to.
It was hard to believe our evening was drawing to an end and we were up to our last savoury course. This last course was a bit of a let-down considering the repeated wow factors we had received consistently throughout our evening. The Boy was served a consommé with rice and snapper which was tasty but had no specific element that amazed him in any way.
My gluten free version didn’t even contain any fish. I received a small bowl of polenta with a scoop of ratatouille. I am a huge fan of ratatouille; it reminds me of my father’s cooking however considering the price of our meal I expected a replacement dish with a bit more effort.
Before being moved into the lounge room for desserts, we were given some gyokuro green tea. Gyokuro is considered by the Japanese as the finest green tea and has a very delicate, sweet flavour. The tea is grown under shade cover, usually made from reed or straw screens, for around three weeks before harvesting. Reducing the available sunlight alters the level of photosynthesis in the young leaf buds thus reducing the chlorophyll concentration in the leaves. This has a direct effect on the proportions of sugars, caffeine, amino acids and flavonoids resulting in a much milder and sweet taste.
For dessert we were moved in to the main dining area which overlooked the stunning skyline of the Marina Bay area. Our first dessert course was a salad of raspberry with wasabi and honey granita. This dish was more of a palate cleanser than anything else and whilst it was refreshing it didn’t have any of the elements of excitement we were anticipating.
The Boy’s main dessert came complete with a message of “Congratulations” for us smitten newly-weds. His chocolate mousse cake glistened like a mirror and I was so jealous it had gluten and I couldn’t steal a mouthful. Gluten schmooten….no fair!
My envy deepened as I looked down at my replacement option; a fruit platter. Whilst each piece of fruit had obviously been carefully selected and prepared it was still just a fruit platter nevertheless. I confess this was my only real disappointment of our evening.
Our night ended with some very moreish petit fours; vanilla and pistachio macarons, chocolate orange mousse, meringues and tangerine jellies. The kitchen kindly separated the gluten free ones to avoid any confusion. I was able to have most except for the orange and chocolate mousse which the Boy took great pleasure revealing to me how amazing it was via his facial expressions and rolling eyes.
Accustomed to missing out on some foods I still gain some level of enjoyment just by watching love ones eat so I requested to our waiter to bring us some more petit fours so I could watch my husband savour the flavours once more. It made a great series of photos but to maintain his privacy I’mu afraid you won’t get to see them!
Waku Ghin was quite possibly one of the most expensive meals we have ever eaten with the end bill entering the four digits for just two people. Was it worth it? Eight out of our ten courses left us amazed, impressed and totally nailed the wow factor that I would expect to receive for such a price. The two courses that lacked wow were still executed beautifully and I cannot fault them with anything specifically except for the fact they just weren’t incredible like the remainder. The service doesn’t skip a beat with a warmth and friendliness that you don’t always see at fine dining establishments.
My answer; yes it was worth every cent.Waku Ghin The Shoppes, Atrium 2, L2-02, Marina Bay Sands, 10 Bayfront Avenue, Singapore 018956 | +65 6688 8507 | www.marinabaysands.com Price: $$$$$ Food: 4.5/5 (they just need a little bit of work on their desserts) Service: 5/5 (impeccable) Ambience: 4.5/5 (feels exclusive and special) Drinks: 4/5 (a very extensive bar; with a very wide price range) Total: 18/20
There are many memories I have about food from my childhood and most of those involve my father. Like many Frenchman he appreciates quality over quantity and cringes at the idea of ordering food from children’s menus. He believes that kids have just as much right to taste the finer food in life as the adults do. Growing up I was the child that was always keen to eat anything whereas my sister was exceedingly fussy. My dad embraced having a least one child with the same attitude to food as him and from a young age had me eating snails, sashimi and oysters amongst other delicacies.
One of my favourite restaurants he would take me to was a Teppanyaki restaurant located near his house in Prahran, Melbourne. Japanese cuisine was yet to take off back in Adelaide making this theatrical dining experience so new and entertaining to my young and impressionable mind. Since then Japanese in all its styles; sushi bars, Izakaya and Teppanyaki BBQs have taken off like a rocket in popularity to become commonplace and finding one that can maintain enough balance of tradition with modern flair isn’t that easy. Fuku Omakase Teppanyaki is located next door to the popular Tsunami in Mosman Park and has been a restaurant on my wish list since its opening about eight months ago.
We have visited their sister restaurant Tsunami many times and although we haven’t returned for a few years I have never been disappointed with a meal there yet. So when I received an invitation to attend their bloggers dinner at Fuku it was an offer just too good to refuse. Fuku offer a degustation style menu, or omakase as the Japanese call it. There are three options: the “Good” which is $100 for 4 courses, the “Better” which costs $135 for 8 courses or the “Best” which is $220 for 10 courses. You can also choose to have matched sake from their impressive wall of bottles for $75 per person.
On arrival you get the feeling you are about to be part of something special. An intercom button must be pressed at the front door to gain entry upon which glass sliding doors automatically open to let you into the restaurant. We were openly greeted by our hosts for the evening owner Brett Carboni and his manager Milan and shown to our seats. Warm lighting and a single row of chairs facing the two Teppanyaki BBQs made this feel like a very intimate experience and immediately my mind started ticking over what celebration of sorts I could plan here. The Boy’s 40th is only a few years away……food for thought. Literally!
Gary our chef for the evening was so humble and gracious and I warmed to him immediately. He patiently answered all our annoying bloggers questions regarding each dishes details and took due care that my meals remained gluten free. Our first course was presented in a lacquered bento box reminiscent of Nobu and contained gorgeous little flash-fried Kawa Ebi and some crunchy sun-dried nori. Kawa Ebi are pint sized freshwater shrimp and tasted similar to the fried school prawns we recently tried at The Stables Bar. These crispy morsels are eaten whole as easily as a bowl of pretzels. Washed down with some sake my hopes were high for a night of feasting for the eyes and the palate.
Being someone who apparently borderlines on OCD at times, I love the perfection and neatness of Japanese food. Everything is presented so immaculately and without clutter or messiness. Our second course contained four carefully plated elements. The standard dish contained slivers of soft Wagyu beef with a sweet white sesame dressing, some marinated red emperor with octopus, a tempura oyster with a refreshing ginger salsa and the most curious addition that initially I mistook for a garnish; soba noodle tempura.
The noodle tempura was fashioned like a cherry blossom tree and looked almost too pretty to eat. Although as crunchy as uncooked pasta it had great flavour I found myself not only munching through mine but stealing the Boys “tree trunk” and munching that too. For my gluten free version the tempura oyster was replaced with a meaty scampi topped with some tobiko.
No Japanese meal is complete without sashimi. Absolute freshness is key as its raw simplicity leaves little room for disguise with sauces and other gimmicks. Chef Gary recommended starting with the snapper with Japanese pickle to clear our palates first allowing maximum appreciation of the remaining pieces. Both the tuna and the salmon dissolved on contact with the tongue and both the Boy and I groaned simultaneously in delight.
Having to have my meals adapted to be gluten free means one of two outcomes; I’m either jealous for what I miss out on, or others around me are jealous for my substitution. You never know which way it will go. The rest of the guests were served quail with Szechuan sauce wrapped in a soba bean pancake. The quails are farmed organically in the Hunter Valley and are supposed to be the biggest quails in the world. Not that that makes them gigantic by any dimensions I’m sure.
As I watched everyone eat their dishes with gusto, I hoped my gluten alternative gave me the same level of eye rolling pleasure. I watched the chef chop up a lamb cutlet in a flash of knives in eager anticipation. It was served with a potato galette and a ball of grated beetroot flavoured with cinnamon and sugar. Now it’s easy to imagine tuna sashimi dissolving in the mouth but have you had that experience with lamb? Each cube disintegrated like butter leaving the sweet taste of miso sauce lingering on my tongue. My manners went out the window and I picked up the bone with my fingers and I gnawed off every last bit of meat.
While some guests were a little nervous at the concept of eating a prawn head, I reassured them that once you have tried them you will never go back. The subtle flavours of prawn meat are humbled by the intensity of the head and my family all consider it somewhat of a delicacy. This dish was served with uni butter which is made from sea urchins. Rich and decadent, uni butter is like the foie gras of the sea and imparted a luscious complex depth of flavour.
As the fish of the day was being prepared, owner Brett commented with a little snigger that this dish was one of the more amusing dishes of the evening. I caught a glimpse of the cheeky glint in his eye as our dish was presented to us.
As I turned to look at our plates the penny dropped. I’m not sure I will be able to look at eggplant in the same light again! It brought several giggles to the table and made the Boy pause for a few seconds before he could bring himself to eat it. The fish of the day was a wedge of swordfish served with a Japanese citrus (Yuzu) and miso sauce.
The final main course allowed our chefs to show us the real entertainment of Teppanyaki style dining. It was hard to catch all the action on film as fast flashes of flames, knives and food were expertly flicked and chopped across the hot plate. The Wagyu beef is the real McCoy sourced from the award winning Mayura Station; one of the top producers in the country.
Having had the chance to eat “real” Wagyu recently at Waku Ghin in Singapore I feel like I can truly appreciate how eye-boggling amazing this meat can be. Whilst this was not in the ball park of the brilliance we ate in Singapore, the buttery cut was still mind blowing and this quality is not one you will find easily here in Perth. (PS My Waku Ghin review is on its way!!)
My final course was a cute collection of a vanilla crème brûlée, a warmed molten chocolate drink, curious mountain peach and a plume of wasabi foam. I am a little biased with my opinion on things like wasabi foam. I have been known to mix wasabi with foods like Camembert and Lindt chocolate just to see what it’s like and ended up loving it so it comes as no surprise the wasabi foam rocked my world. The brûlée had a thin crackable top with a smooth underbelly and the peach was unusually refreshing.
The other guests enjoyed their gluteny dessert of a Yuzu cheesecake. Yuzu is Japanese citrus fruit that is tart in flavour much like a grapefruit. This dish was also served with the chocolate drink, wasabi foam and mountain peach.
And so the journey came to an end. Fuku was everything I imagined it to be and I was left feeling a warm glow of happiness I get from a truly satisfying degustation. I look forward to splashing out on the “Best” menu sometime in the future! A big thank you to Brett, Milan and Gary for providing the Boy and I with such an enjoyable evening.Fuku – Omakase and Teppanyaki 20 Glyde Street, Mosman Park WA 6012 | 0403 470 964 | http://thefuku.com/
Chompchomp dined as a guest of Fuku. As a result I will not give a score on this dining experience as it is too hard to be 100% subjective when the meal is complementary. When I return incognito for the “Best” dego I may give a score.
This year the Boy’s birthday caught us both by surprise as it seemed to come around with lightning speed. Appreciably the first half of our year was a whirlwind hurricane of wedding planning followed by the most fantastic wedding celebrations. I haven’t even had time to stop and catch my breath yet half the year is already gone by. It is such madness how quickly time can fly when you are busy. As we really need to try to fit more exercise into our hectic routines instead of catching taxis to restaurants we have been choosing restaurants that are within walking distance from our house and getting ourselves there on foot. Some of these restaurants have been relatively local and close to home such as Pinto Thai, but others have been a vigorous hour and a half trek away like The Stables Bar in the City.
Funds are a little tight this year and so the birthday Boy was happy to settle for a night out with each other in lieu of a gift. I think experiences make the best presents anyway. We headed off in the direction of the Crown Casino with the intention for a casual night out at The Merrywell. It was a beautiful 45 minute walk along the Swan River that time of the evening but once we got to the Merrywell we were desperate for a drink. I found a table for us while the Boy went over to the bar to get us a round of drinks. More than ten minutes later he was still standing at the bar drinkless waiting to be served. I received an exasperated sounding text message from him proposing we go to Nobu instead. My rubber arm didn’t need much twisting; give me Nobu over Merrywell any day!
We didn’t have a table booked but fortunately for us there were a couple of seats available at the sushi bar. Woot! A spontaneous visit to Nobu is a sure-fire way to amp me up. This was turning out to be a much better way to celebrate the Boy’s birthday. There must be something about this restaurant and our birthdays; I celebrated my birthday here last year.
It was a week night and we both needed to switch off from our days’ work so to ease ourselves into it we ordered a couple of pieces of sashimi. We asked our waiter for his recommendations and on his advice we ordered the Yellowtail and some freshwater eel. Both were exceedingly soft and delicately flavoured. Such simple morsels are so easily perfected when they are fresh.
New Style Sashimi is one of Nobu’s classic signature dishes. The idea came to Nobu Matsuhisa whilst he was trying to find a way to convince people who don’t like raw fish to eat sashimi. Thin slivers of sashimi salmon are plated beautifully and sprinkled with garlic, ginger, spring onions, sesame seeds, soy sauce and yuzu sauce. Boiling hot sesame and olive oils are then lightly dropped onto the fish around the plate which lightly sears it. Although this was quite an oily dish, the flavours balanced nicely and the occasional crunch between the teeth of sesame seeds added a bit of fun.
The spicy miso chips tuna dish reflected the fusion aspect of Nobu’s Peruvian Japanese cuisine. The spiciness was a bit disappointingly subtle for my palate but was at the perfect level for the sensitive tastes of the Birthday Boy. The tuna was as soft as avocado and sat coiled neatly on top of a crispy miso chip. This play on textures was really interesting and I will definitely order this dish again.
Toban-Yaki refers to the method of cooking which involves serving the dish sizzling on a super-hot ceramic dish. Being a self-confessed mushroom addict, this dish was the highlight of the evening for me. Layers and layers of slippery mushrooms bubbled away in the piping hot plate including shiitake, eryngii, shimeji, king oyster and the cutest little babies of the mushroom world enoki.
We had been trying to make a conscientious effort to avoid ordering any dishes off the menu that we have already tried on previous visits to Nobu. Despite the lure of mind-blowing dishes like the Miso Black Cod we have so far had success. However our night was drawing to an end and we forgot our efforts and ordered the Nobu House Special sushi rolls. These tasty rolls are filled with smoked salmon, fresh tuna, flying fish roe, white fish, snow crab and avocado, and then wrapped in nori and daikon. Despite containing what sounds like a considerable amount of seafood to fit in one roll, each perfect bite size roll held together until the end giving a wonderful hit of flavours.
Our last main dish for the night was the sea bass with jalapeño dressing. I wasn’t really expecting the appearance of this dish because I think I muddled up the name of this dish with their signature Yellowtail Sashimi with jalapeños. Thick wedges of sea bass sat semi-submerged in a brilliant emerald green jalapeño dressing that at a first glance looked like pea soup. The dressing was reasonably spicy with a very smooth and creamy after-taste.
Sitting right in front of the sushi chefs as they perform at their craft made it very hard to resist ordering more. The Boy ordered us two more serves of rolls; one was his favourite and the other choice was something we hadn’t tried before. The soft-shelled crab sushi rolls were a crowd pleaser as always. The other choice was the salmon skin rolls. These had a very strong salty taste with a similar crispy inside like the crab. I was nearly home and hosed in meeting my goal of being totally full and only had a tiny bit of room left for dessert. There is always room for dessert.
There are only a couple of gluten free dessert options at Nobu but who really cares about options when you can have their Bento Box. It’s hard to believe that something this delicious can be gluten free. The ooze speaks for itself.
Earlier in the evening when we were ordering our dishes, it came into the conversation with our waiter that it was the Boy’s birthday. It was only a brief comment, yet he secretly took it on board and back to the kitchen in order to surprise us at dessert. What a lovely gesture!
Read my previous review on Nobu from my birthday last year: Nobu, Burswood and a Birthday Surprise
Nobu Crown Casino Perth, Great Eastern Highway, Burswood 6100 | (08) 9362 7551 | www.noburestaurants.com/perth Price: $$$$ (Cold dishes $14-65, Hot dishes $19-85, Sushi $8-28, Sashimi $3-10 per piece) Food: 4.5/5 (this is my kinda food. If only I could eat here every week) Service: 4/5 (Much improved since our last visit) Ambience: 4/5 (Watching all the action in the kitchen was great fun) Drinks: 4/5 (Extensive wine and sake list, I just stuck to my Verve this time) Total: 16.5/20 Half a point up from our last visit due to a perceivable improvement on service.
After nearly two years of preparations and a lot of blood, sweat and tears here we are……finally in Thailand for our wedding week extravaganza! With my insane desire for attention to detail, we had arrived 4 days prior to our wedding guests to finish off all our last minute preparations. There were welcome presents to arrange for each of our guests, gifts for the parents, cake testing, hair and make-up trials and so much more! For the final touches to our wedding welcome gifts we headed into Phuket’s largest shopping centre Central Festival.
I was trying so hard to be super adherent to my dietary requirements as I didn’t want any last minute facial eczema to ruin my bridal beauty preparations. Sushi is always a good option for me in these circumstances provided I stick to simple options. With this in mind we stopped at Sukishi Japanese Restaurant for a bite to eat. I didn’t have any gluten free soy with me and hoped the sashimi would be fresh enough not to need any.
After weeks and week of being subjective to Slim Pasta, the Boy was rebelling against any form of weight loss and got back in to the Thai rhythm of things ordering himself a strawberry daiquiri. Despite not having a girlie bone in his body he certainly loves his pink drinks! I opted for some Japanese Green tea knowing that coffee in this place would be bound to disappoint. The tea was refreshing and uplifting and perfectly calorie free.
The menu was more like an encyclopaedia and it took us some time to look through all of its pages. It contained a combination of Japanese sushi and sashimi with more Korean style BBQ meats. Normally when we eat out we love ordering unusual things but with only a few days to go I didn’t want to risk any sort of reaction. I stuck with a simple, but enormous serve of sashimi. The prices were dirt cheap compared to Perth with the whole “boat” costing us about 350 Baht (about $11 Aussie dollars). Bear in mind that this restaurant was in the middle of a touristy shopping centre so I’m sure it was considered pricey by Phuket standards meaning you could get such a meal even cheaper elsewhere.
To fill the Boy up we ordered a couple of plates of sushi rolls in the hope that there wouldn’t be any gluten. To increase my chances of this I showed our waitress my Thai eating card with information regarding my allergies written in their language. She nodded her head at our menu choices assuring me they were suitable. Unfortunately however for both dishes the rolls contained seafood extender sticks in them and I didn’t want to take any chances as these are generally not gluten free.
After a few annoying attempts at poking the offending ingredient out with a chopstick I eventually gave up and left them for the Boy to eat for himself. Not such a bad thing as it stopped me stuffing me face right before the wedding anyway! The rolls were freshly made and the fish was delicate and soft. Next visit I will be more prepared and bring my own gluten free soy which by the way, I suggest you bring with you from Australia as it is hard to find in Thailand. I usually bring a bottle with me whenever I travel in Asian countries.
My apologies for the poorer quality iPhone photos in this review. Lugging dear “Gordon” (my Nikon SLR) with me shopping all day was not my cup of tea.Sukishi 3rd Floor, Central Festival Phuket, 74-75 Moo 5 Vichitsongkram Rd., Amphur Muang, Phuket 83000 Price: $ Food: 6.5/10 (not bad for a shopping centre sushi joint!) Service: 2.5/5 (meals were slow to come out but were made fresh to order) Ambience: 2.5/5 (tables are set up like booths so although big and busy you still have privacy) Total: 11.5/20
This winter I have had a terrible time with my allergies. My knuckles are often cracked and bleeding and my face can just erupt into hives without any real warning. What has made it all even more upsetting and frustrating is that I cannot seem to identify my triggers. I know very well I cannot touch gluten, but to complicate things I also seem to flare up if I have too much dairy or soy. The problem with those allergens is I can actually have a small amount, says a small piece of cheese or a couple of splashes of soy sauce and I’ll be fine. But if I have loads of cheese, or if I eat a gluten free muffin with soy flour…..scratch, scratch, scratch ALL night for days on end.
Eczema sufferers will empathise with this. When your skin is bad, you become overwhelmingly self-conscious of your appearance such that all you want to do is hide away in a dark cellar where no one can see you. You are so sleep deprived, distracted and on edge because you just cannot stop that burning desire to scratch even though your damaged skin is weeping and sore. With my up and coming wedding, my anxiety levels heightened even more; I don’t want to be a blotchy scabby bride! My mind was in a dark and not so attractive place all week, and so it was a complete relief to learn the Bonsai Restaurant in Northbridge not only have gluten free soy available, but have much of their menu easily adaptable to accommodate for difficult people like myself. Praying for dim lighting I made a partially successful attempt at covering up my skin with some makeup and headed out with the Boy.
To try and get myself in a better mood I started off with ordering some sparkling Yuki sake. The waitress described this drink as Bonsai’s take on an alcoholic bubble tea. In the brief time we sat waiting for our drinks, I envisioned a glass of amber coloured liquid with clear balls of jelly floating around curiously. What arrived was not what I expected and looked like nothing more than some lemon soda in a wine glass. I can’t deny I was initially disappointed by its appearance as it was, well, kind of boring. But upon sipping my drink I was taken by surprise as I felt various sized gloops of invisible jelly slurp into my mouth. I was hooked.
We started off with the roast duck slices dressed with garlic soy caramel and shichimi. Shichimi is a Japanese 7-spice blend typically containing ground red chili pepper (the main ingredient), roasted orange peel, yellow and black sesame seeds, Japanese pepper (sansho), ground ginger and nori. It gave an obvious heat to the tender duck breast yet the flavours were freshened by additional citrus notes and more oceanic layers from the nori.
I used to hate all things pork but recently I confess I have had some mouth-watering experience and I think my tastes are a turning. But I have now learnt that cold pork belly however is not my thing. Pale, fatty slices of blanched pork belly were topped with a shichimi flavoured salsa dressing of red onion, red capsicum, cucumber and olive oil. I should have thought more carefully before ordering this one.
The tuna tataki was seared and served on a bed of avocado wedges and thick teriyaki sauce. The tuna had a wondrous rich dark pink colour and practically dissolved on the tongue.
Of course once again the Boy had to order the soft shelled crab. It is rare that I get to share this dish as it is deep fried and usually coated in a wheat flour batter. This dish was no exception and although there were loads of gluten free options, all the fried dishes were off the menu for me. A big helping of crispy, meaty crab served with some wasabi mayonnaise quickly vanished off from his plate accompanied by much lip smacking and finger licking. I was very jealous!
What is a meal without mushrooms? I am starting to wonder if I can actually survive for more than a few days without my mushroom fix. Being involved in Mushroom Mania month earlier this year has only proved to make my addiction worse as I feel like I need to continue to “do my bit” to promote their awesomeness! The pan fried mushrooms came topped with a mustard miso dressing and a sprinkle of shichimi.
The seared scallops were cooked perfectly with a small amount of bouncy firmness to the outside but soft tenderness on the inside.
The eggplant and capsicum namura was unexpectantly one of my favourite dishes of the night. The eggplant had an amazing texture that was close to that of set custard, held together only by its soft but firmer skin. The goma miso sauce was slightly sweet and salty with a nutty aftertaste. Goma miso is a thick sauce that is made with miso and sesame seeds.
I have to admit I didn’t really read the description of the seaweed salad before ordering and I expected a standard small bowl of brilliant green seaweed. Out came an enormous salad bowl filled with a variety of seaweeds in addition to cabbage julienne, Swiss chard leaf, mizuna, coral lettuce, tat-soy and red radish all coated well with a sweet mustard miso dressing. It was really easy to eat and we both crunched and munched happily away like rabbits .
Although we had ordered a lot of food, neither of us were overly full and agreed there was a tinsy bit of room left to share dessert. There was only one gluten free option; the crème brûlée. The surface of our dessert was hot to touch proving that it was indeed torched traditionally to get the burnt crust that makes crème brûlée such a treat. With a gentle tap of the spoon the wafer thin caramelised shell cracked and broke into bite sized geographical shaped pieces. Underneath the custard was tasty but its texture wasn’t smooth enough and actually looked a little on the lumpy side. It was still delicious however, and certainly didn’t go to waste.www.the-bonsai.net/ Price: $$$ (Share dishes $7-20, Mains $17-29, accepts Entertainment Card) Food: 4.5/5 (must try the eggplant and the duck) Service: 5/5 (impeccable, attentive without being obtrusive) Ambience: 4.5/5 (funky, busy but can get quite noisy) Drinks: 4.5/5 (LOVED the sparkling Yuki saki!) Total: 17.5/20
I have to be the worst person in the world at keeping secrets. I don’t know how the Boy does it but consistently for some years now he manages to crack the puzzle on what his Christmas gift is from me. It frustrates the hell out of me! So this year I thought I’d go way outside the box from the usual gift giving we normally do and instead I decided I would get him a holiday …. and I would come along of course!
Now obviously the first place that came to my mind was Thailand as our love affair with this country continues and I really wanted to organise a trip to Bangkok with a detour via Hua Hin for some beachside relaxation. But after some investigation with our travel agent, I soon realised that with a wedding to save for; going to Thailand during its peak season was realistically out of my budget! She suggested we go somewhere a little closer to home such as Bali. Being only three and half hours flight from Perth it seemed like the perfect place to get in a quick amount of much needed R&R.
For nearly half the price of a trip to Thailand she arranged a five night holiday to Bali including flights staying at Villa Air Bali in Seminyak. I laminated some brochures of the villas and pictures of Bali and wrapped it all up in a big gift box with the Flight Centre travel documents. To my exquisite delight the Boy had absolutely NO IDEA what it was until he opened it! Finally success at keeping a secret!
The flight was over before we knew it and we were collected by our pre-organised transfer. We travelled for nearly two hours from the airport bouncing along on potholed streets in the bucketing rain while our transfer tried to sell us guided tours. It was much to our relief when we pulled into the lobby area and were warmly greeted by our hotel receptionist. The lobby was open plan with a large moat pond surrounding it with some beautiful Koi and a symphony of frogs. The locations of the villas are slightly out of the main area of Seminyak so it was generally a taxi ride to get to the restaurants and beach clubs.
We were taken to our villa where our porter showed us every infinite detail of the villa right down to opening the kitchen drawers and showing us the forks and knives. The kitchen had only basic utensils and enough glasses and plates for two people. Although there was a stove top, there weren’t really enough kitchen bits and bobs to make much more than a stir fry. Not that I planned on doing ANY cooking mind you.
The villa was clean and free of any mouldy odours so common to some middle range accommodation during the wet season in the tropics. The only downside of the villa design was that during rainy downpours, water would flood across into the living area and onto much of the tiles. Both of us nearly stacked it a number of times as the floor became very slippery. The pool was so refreshing and inviting; it was invigorating to stumble out of bed each morning and plunge into the pool.
The bedroom was icily air-conditioned much to the Boy’s delight and the bathroom was enormous. In fact it was bigger than the bedroom. There was a large selection of amenities and in addition to the usual suspects there was some insect repellent and some fragrant bath salts.
Despite the brochure for the villa mentioning it has free WIFI, it took us a couple of days before they could actually get it to work properly. The connection was very poor as reception informed us that the internet in Bali is not very fast. The villa comes with a free stocked minibar but this was a little deceiving as it only contained only a couple of beers and some soft drink. I guess I can’t really complain if it’s free!
Breakfast can be served in villa or the restaurant with six options available: American, Healthy, Chinese, Indonesian, Korean and Japanese. We decided on arrival we would try and have a different kind each morning for a bit of fun.
The first (and worst) breakfast we had was The American. It was bland and very simple but I suppose it was acceptable enough. The scrambled eggs were light and fluffy albeit a little tepid. The black rice bread was gluten free and had a distinct nutty flavour which I really enjoyed. The yogurt was watery and fairly inedible.
The Chinese breakfast consisted of some congee (rice porridge) with a myriad of accompaniments not all of which I recognised and could identify. It was served with some mantou (steamed buns). I carefully selected a number of the accompaniments and placed a sprinkling of them into my congee.
The Boy on the other hand piled all of his on top of his congee and mixed it all through. The end result looked at little scary and was not very pleasant apparently! I quite enjoyed mine but I was a lot more conservative with what I put in it.
The Indo breakfast option gave an option of either Nasi goreng (fried rice with shrimp, chicken and vegetables) or Mie goreng (fried noodles with egg, chicken and vegetables). I ordered the rice and the Boy ordered the noodles. My nasi goreng was fairly run of the mill and was nothing I couldn’t have recreated better at home. Unfortunately I spotted some onion contained in this one and ended up spending a fair amount of time having to sift carefully to pick the pieces out which was annoying. As with our American breakfast, our meals were served a little on the cold side.
The Japanese breakfast was by far and by large my favourite – I actually ordered this one twice I loved it so much! It came with some bean paste soup (miso), steamed rice, a couple of pieces of marinated grilled fish and some steamed white and orange sweet potato. There were also some green beans in peanut sauce. On the side was some dessert containing sweet jelly, red beans and fruit which made a refreshing end to the filling meal. I did make the mistake of tasting the side dish of natto. What the hell!! I always thought I was good with eating weird tasting things but this stuff is definitely an acquired taste – we both thought it was pretty gross. Is there a better way to eat this stuff?
Overall if we return to Seminyak we will probably stay somewhere more centrally located, but if you don’t mind being a little off the beaten track Air Bali was good value, peaceful and clean.
Like Me on Facebook!Villa Air Bali, Seminyak | (+62) 361 737378 | www.villa-airbali.com Price: $$ Package deal with Flight Centre: $1014 per person for return flights with Virgin Blue from Perth, airport transfers, 5 nights accommodation in a pool villa with breakfast included, two massages in villa, free minibar Food: 2/5 (in villa breakfasts should be served promptly after making to avoid being cold) Service: 3.5/5 (reception went out of their way to notify restaurants in advance of my allergies) Ambience: 4/5 (relaxing, clean and modern style villas) Drinks: 2/5 (minibar was scant and was refilled only intermittently) Total: 11.5/20
On the last night of my 3 day birthday eat-drink bender we booked a table at Nobu for a romantic night out just the two of us. My only request to the Boy for my birthday present this year was for him to get me a gift that would be a total surprise! Upon suggesting this to him some weeks before I was met with a number of retorts and complaints as he was certain that there would be no way he could think of something without any guidance. I knew he was wrong – when he puts his mind to it he comes up with the most awesome present ideas.
As the taxi pulled up outside our house, the Boy handed me a birthday card in a red envelope saying “Here’s your present!” I decided to wait until we got to (A)LURE for our pre-dinner drinks before opening it. It was such a fine evening so after ordering our drinks we sat out on the balcony basking in the setting sun. I opened the envelope and in it was a card containing a printed piece of paper……curious….
“Happy Birthday Beautiful! Hope you’ve had a marvellous birthday and looking forward to an extra special one next year!” Before even reading the enclosed piece of paper it suddenly dawned on me what he meant and I felt an overwhelming feeling of excitement and happiness! Next year for my birthday we will be in Thailand celebrating our marriage!!! Wooot!!!
To my even greater surprise the paper read as follows:
“Aerial Combat Flight for Two: If Top Gun looked like fun then you’ll be thrilled by these combat formation flights with your family member alongside you! Strap into a war bird and get set for an adrenalin fuelled flight!
When you and your companion arrive at the airport we’ll have you looking the part in no time when you put on your flight suit! You are then strapped into the seat behind the pilot and briefed on the mission ahead. Then it’s out to the flight line – the fun is about to begin!
The combat formation flight is performed with two CJ-6A Nanchangs. At the beginning of your flight you will experience the art of close formation as practiced by the air forces of the world. Then it’s time to split the formation. The fight is on! Diving and turning to gain position behind the opposing aircraft, your pilot will take you on an amazing aerial combat adventure, using real military rules and procedures. This is not a simulator or computer game – this is the real thing!
The CJ-6A Nanchang is the current primary trainer of the Chinese air force, with a 9-cylinder Radial-engine and sliding canopies. This aircraft is still in use, being employed by several air forces in training military pilots around the world.
After your aerial combat flight you and your friend will climb out of the cockpits, grinning from ear to ear and buzzing all over with excitement after having experienced an absolutely mind-blowing flight!
Far out!!! This has to be one of the most original and brilliant presents yet! The Boy has totally excelled himself! After guzzling a couple of glasses of champagne we moved over to Nobu to continue our evening.
We were warmly greeted and shown to our table where our waitress offered to bring us the cocktail special of the evening. It was something sparkling and peachy but unfortunately I cannot recall much other detail. The drink was very sweet almost overpoweringly so but totally enjoyable nevertheless. Without even needing to ask, she came back to our table as we were sipping our drinks to remove our normal soy from the table and replace it with gluten-free soy.
Our waitress was very knowledgeable about the menu and was thrilled to enthusiastically describe some of the preparation in the kitchen to us. We started with the yellow tail sashimi with jalapeño – a true example of how Nobu does Japanese differently with Peruvian flair. For this signature dish, we were advised to eat each delicate velvety slice of tuna with a coriander leaf to experience all the flavours. The cool freshness of the coriander along with the bite of the jalapeño was out of this world! Being a big fan of wasabi – the heat of the jalapeño is quite a different kind of heat and made a unique and interesting change.
Miso is traditionally used as a paste to flavour a vast number of Japanese dishes. To dramatically increase the flavour Nobu has pioneered the technique of processing the paste to create “dry miso” and he uses it throughout the menu as a powerful seasoning. To make the dry miso, the miso paste is spread out onto baking paper and cooked for a few hours in the oven at low temperature. It is then crushed in a food processor to produce small granular chips of intense flavour. Our white fish was served with dried red miso, fried garlic chips, a sprinkling of chives and a tangy lemony dressing. After the combination of heat and sweet coriander with the yellow tail tuna, the more salty and acrid flavours of this dish was a great progression in flavours. An excellent second choice.
If you are going to order anything off the menu – the Miso Black Cod is a signature dish that cannot be missed. This is where you really better believe the hype. After being wowed by a copy of the same dish at Ku De Ta in Bali, I can truly appreciate how the original version here at Nobu has been perfected and mastered. The fish is marinated in miso for no less than three days allowing it to fully permeate through the thick slab of Alaskan Black Cod. The texture of the fish is so buttery and slithers into your mouth like silk.
The pork belly with miso caramel is another signature dish but this in no way compared to the show stopping black cod. The miso had caramelised to a sticky sweetness but the crackling lacked oomph in its crunch which was a little disappointing.
The marron spinach salad was a bit of a spontaneous order as we originally wanted to have a mushroom dish but were informed that all the mushrooms were marinated in wheat based soy and therefore not suitable. Surprisingly the spinach was the highlight of this dish with the dry miso giving such an incredible flavour. The marron was quite humble in comparison to its salad.
The soft-shelled crab was one of the specials of the evening and I was so pleased to hear it could be adapted to be gluten-free! It was served with fresh watermelon and sesame which I haven’t seen before. Although I know I shouldn’t eat watermelon I did eat some this time and its bursting watery sweetness was an interesting match with the salty crispy crab. I really shouldn’t have though because I did suffer a bit the next day! Watermelon and other melons are a no-no for fructose malabsorbers.
Now that we had sampled some hot dishes and some cold dishes, we moved onto some of the sashimi and sushi. We order some squid, salmon and smelt egg sashimi. The sashimi was fairly good quality but not the best we have ever tried. The squid was particularly well prepared with no chewiness. It was the sushi rolls that we both found most special. The tuna and asparagus rolls looked so simple but they were like little bombs of flavour and the larger house made rolls were even more so. I highly recommend all of the sushi rolls we tried.
For dessert I ordered the Bento box purely based on it having green tea ice-cream which I adore. I couldn’t believe my eyes when she opened the box lid and sitting innocently in there was a gluten-free chocolate fondant with one lonely little scoop of green tea ice-cream. My eyes lit up like a child at Christmas as I cut my spoon into the centre and out gushed delicious chocolaty goo. My birthday celebrations were satisfyingly complete!
Nobu definitely broke the birthday budget, and it may indeed be sometime before we return there but it was totally worth it!
Follow Me on Facebook!Nobu Burswood Entertainment Complex, Great Eastern Highway, Burswood 6100 | (08) 9362 7551 | www.noburestaurants.com Price: $$$$ (Cold dish $18-65, Hot dish $22-52, Sashimi $3-10/piece, Sushi rolls $8-28) Food: 4.5/5 (one word – cod! OMG!) Service: 3.5/5 (although initially brilliant, service slowed significantly as evening progressed) Ambience: 4.5/5 (great lighting and relaxing but sophisticated) Drinks: 4/5 (tried the Hokuetsu Junmai Daiginjo sake – floraly sweet and refreshing) Total: 16.5/20