For our short Christmas trip home to Melbourne we managed to fit in two separate Christmas family celebrations, a friend’s wedding, five days of pre and post wedding celebrations and a spot of shopping. I also successfully squeezed in a quick brunch date with Mum before she flew back to Adelaide and we returned to Perth. We met up out the front of a café called Top Paddock in Richmond on Boxing Day. There was already a reasonable queue heading out the door and round the street so I put our name down and we stood and waited outside in the sunshine. Despite a long queue, the restaurant achieved a quick table turnover and before long we were seated.
Still in a post-Christmas day food daze I could barely focus on the menu in front of me. There were a lot of gluten free options and much of the produce used was obtained direct from the producers locally in Victoria.
Mum has always been an eggs benny fan and consequently ordered hers without a moment of hesitation. It was served with pulled ham hock rather than the usual sliced ham. The pork was soft and flavoursome but sadly her poached eggs lacked any egg porn ooze.
I opted for the gin and limed cured Huon ocean trout fillet served with pickled baby beets, a couple of cubes of potato gallete, goats curd and poached eggs. Each component was awkwardly placed about my plate, without any real relation to each other.
I was in better luck with my eggs and was spoilt with a delightfully sunny cascade of goo after nervously poking a hole into it with my knife.
Is it normal to put such a high level of expectation on something as simple as a perfectly poached egg? Maybe, but then that comes with the territory of being a food connoisseur maybe.
The Boy was very pleased with his choice of a fresh Queensland soft-shelled crab roll. Served in a Brioche bun with a fennel and dill salad, the bun had a satisfying crunchy exterior and light puffy inside with a subtly sweet flavour. In my tired and overindulged state I could have nearly shed a tear hearing how good it was as there wasn’t any remotely gluten free about this dish for me to try.
The service at Top Paddock was much quicker than we had anticipated leaving us with a small amount of time to share a bite of something sweet. I love two course breakfasts. There were a couple of gluten free options in addition to some raw and vegan treats too.
I chose the raw peppermint slice as I wanted to critique it compared to my own version. When it came to the presentation this slice definitely won over mine, it was pretty. I always like to think that my food has a rustic charm however some may prefer to describe it as border lining on amateur. Despite its neat and cute appearance, I cannot deny my raw peppermint slice has a better flavour and always leaves me wanting more. With this slice I was satisfied with just a shared mouthful between three. Maybe that is a good thing.
When I was ordering dessert for us, I wasn’t sure if my mum would be into the whole raw, vegan thing and ordered a safe option of a gluten free lemon and berry cheesecake. There was nothing sugar-free about this one and it came complete with a hit of central berrylicious goo in the middle.
Disclaimer: Chompchomp doesn’t get to spend even half the time she wants with her mum. Consequently she will always try to pay, thinking that the gift of food somewhat makes up for their time apart. What makes this tricky is her mother feels the same and this time round insisted it was her turn to pay. Thanks Mum xx
658 Church Street, Richmond, VIC 3121 | (03) 9429 4332 | toppaddockcafe.com
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.
On our way home from Phuket still loved up and emotionally high on wedding bliss, we stopped over in Singapore for a few days to unwind before heading home. We flew in Singapore accompanied by my Dad and Step mum who were also stopping over albeit only for a few hours. The thought of returning back to a heavy work load loomed dark over their minds so for one last hurrah we took to the incredible SkyPark up on the 57th level of the MBS building. There are two restaurants up in the clouds on SkyPark; Ku Da Ta and Sky on 57. As Ku De Ta served a buffet style lunch we chose to dine at Sky on 57 for a more classy experience with a view.
Our time in Phuket was the most amazing holiday of our lives and we were strongly determined to hold onto the last shreds of celebrations over a bottle of champagne. Still not accustomed to all the bling on my finger, I couldn’t help but take a little cheesy shot as it glimmered in the light. Excuse the shrivelled eczema hands thanks to years of eating gluten.
Head Chef Justin Quek’s style pulls from local Asian cuisines with some hints of European influences. Singaporean classics like Hainanese Chicken Rice and Hokkien Mee featured on the menu alongside more French inspired dishes like pan seared foie gras and mussel veloute. The view from the dining room expands across the whole end of the SkyPark’s end deck giving impressive views across the Marina Bay and the city skyline.
My salmon and oyster tartare tasted like a breath of the sea, fresh, salty and not overly fishy. It was beautifully presented with carefully blobbed pearls of mango and basil coulis polka dotted around my slate plate. The mango gave an added creamy sweetness that wasn’t too overpowering.
Dad and the Boy often share similar tastes in food. It was no surprise to me when they both ordered the soft-shelled crab, a dish that has reached near obsession level with the both of them. These critters were very meaty and the serving size for an entrée was substantial considering this was fine dining.
My Step mum ordered the Buri oh ceviche. Wafer thin slices of sustainably farmed Japanese Amberjack, or Hamachi fish sat on a bed of fresh micro-greens and colourful flowers. It was served with truffle vinaigrette however I couldn’t taste any truffle in the mouthful I tried. Her fish was similarly fresh and delicately soft.
My Dad and Step mum are generous people and love to spoil those they love. When Dad spotted the two of us pretending not to see the Maine lobster dish on the menu he asked us if we had eaten it before. I confessed I hadn’t the only crayfish I have eaten has been Australian in origin. Upon hearing this he insisted we all have the Lobster despite it being nearly three times to price of the rest of the mains choices. It was lightly sautéed in an Asian Pepper sauce and was nothing like any Cray fish I have had before. In a mouthful I understood what all the fanfare and fuss is about, it is surprisingly sweet and incredibly tender. Totally out of this world. I want more. It’s hard to believe this delicacy was once a food reserved only for slaves and prisoners!
We still had a bit of time to kill and looked around for our waitress to order some desserts. Unfortunately it would appear that in the afternoon the restaurant staff seemed to develop a little bit of amnesia and forgot about our existence as they vacuumed around us and moved tables. After a good 15 minutes we managed to catch their eye and finally order our desserts. We ordered two serves of the Milo ice-cream to share amongst the four of us. This dish was ultra-chocolaty with a perfect balance of bitter and sweet. Any excuse to squeeze in a bit of Valrhona chocolate is fine by me!
Once again there was a virtual cloak of invisibility surrounding our table while we were waiting to order our coffees and then again for said coffees to be brought to table. It was a little disconcerting that while we waited for over twenty minutes for our hot drinks most of the staff chatted and laughed standing by the bar. A sad drop in customer service compared to the beginning of the afternoon. The wait was long enough for my Dad to write nearly four pages full in my wedding guestbook. I was so touched to read later that night that he had remembered his speech from the wedding night off by heart and written it down word for word for me to keep forever.
Sky on 57Sands SkyPark, Tower 1, Marina Bay Sands Hotel, 10 Bayfront Avenue, Singapore 018956 | +65 6688 8857 | Price: $$$ Food: 4.5/5 (exceptionally fresh ingredients, faultless preparation) Service: 2/5 (unfortunately didn’t match up to the incredible food) Ambience: 3.5/5 (wondrous views, dining room a little clinical) Drinks: 4.5/5 (champagne, what can I say?) Total: 14.5/20
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
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
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
My sister has never been known for her punctuality. That’s not to say I’m an expert in such matters myself however she does tend to take it to the next level. I guess I wasn’t considering this fact when I decided it was a great idea to book an elegant dinner at Fraser’s for the boy and myself, my sister, Dad and our stepmum for the very next day after our Engagement party. We had spent the bulk of the day nursing sore heads and rumbling tummies and feeling the foggy effects of overindulgence and sleep deprivation. So when I saw it was only thirty minutes before our departure time and that she still had not started to get ready for our special dinner I prepared myself again for a late arrival. Surprisingly she managed to get beautified in a whirlwind of hair straighteners and outfit changes for us to arrive an acceptable 20 minutes late. A record for us as a team I’m sure and it makes me wonder why it normally takes her three and a half hours to get ready?!?
My stepmum has never been to Perth before so I wanted to show her the fabulous view of the city at night from King’s Park. Fraser’s offers spectacular views from the restaurant and it seemed like a logical choice. If you exclude a couple of veterinary functions sponsored by drug companies I haven’t actually eaten here in the restaurant before. Such events generally involve far too much wine and networking for the food to even make a mention.
When we arrived at the Duxton for a few pre-dinner drinks, I was relieved to see the little blue bag containing our shiny gift from Tiffany’s had made the journey from The George where it was initially given to us both as our engagement gift, then returned back to their hotel room for the night only to be handed over to us a second time but in a much more sober fashion. As I pulled it out of its box I couldn’t help but admire its shininess. It is a classic Tiffany’s style silver frame which we shall be placing one of the many gorgeous shots of us as a newly engaged couple from the memorable night.
For the duration of our evening, we were all blown away with the high quality of service. Our waiter for the evening named Justin went above and beyond his call of duty to ensure that our every whim was accommodated for. This flexibility and can-do attitude carried right through to the kitchen where the chef Chris Taylor and his team were more than happy to alter dishes and suggest alternative options for us rather than just omitting sauces or key ingredients and serving us half of the intended dish. (See my next review on Clarence’s for a comparison!)
Justin informed us that the chef makes his own gluten-free bread on the premises and recommended we try a couple of serves. It was accompanied by some Baba ghanoush topped with a sprinkling of Dukkah and some fresh butter. It was grainy bread with good texture – poorly made gluten-free bread can turn out very crumbly like cake or worse still very heavy and stodgy like a rock. This bread had just the right balance of flours to create normal bread-like consistency and was matched well with the Baba ghanoush. The only downside which we discovered at the end of the meal was it cost $14 per serve! We got two serves!!
For entrée my sister and I ordered the Grilled WA rock lobster which was served the only way lobster should be; simply with lemon butter. Lobster is one of my favourite seafood creatures to eat, and its unique sweet flavour is often spoilt by complex creamy sauces and heavy cheese. This time round it was fresh and cooked just to perfection, the meat easily tearing delicately away out of its shell and into my mouth!
The boy is a huge sashimi and sushi fan. He has been known to journey over to Kailis Bros Fish Market in Leederville, bypass all the little packets of pre-prepared sashimi cuts of fish and buy a big chunk of tuna and an even bigger chunk of salmon and proudly carve it up at home for us to eat. The sashimi he ordered was brightly coloured and soft and the size of his serve was reasonable given the location and the price. I did think the Fraser’s card on the top of the dish was a little touristy and tacky however.
My Dad wanted the “Soft crab shell” as he called it (we were all still a little exhausted from the night of fun last night) which was only available as part of the tasting plate of the day. Once again the kitchen was very accommodating and was happy to offer this separately as an entrée sized meal. Such an easy task for a kitchen to do yet this is often something that is refused to customers as chefs allow themselves to become nothing more than a line cook preparing meals without alterations. Having eaten his way around the world hundreds of times over the past years, my French-born father is a natural food critic. He was impressed with the amount of meat on the crab and seemed to enjoy it thoroughly.
My stepmum ordered the crab soup which was vibrantly coloured, thick and creamy. Despite all of us commenting our appetites were a little depressed from the evening prior we all managed to gobble up our entrees without complaint ready for our mains.
For mains I ordered the duck which is originally served with a beetroot jus. As with most jus, there was onion contained in the stock so it was not suitable for me or my sister. To our delight this was no problem to our chef who created delicious gluten-free, onion-free brandy butter jus to pour over the duck instead. Both my sister and the boy also ordered the duck and commented to me that a few of their pieces were a little overcooked and dry. I must have been the lucky one at the table as every piece of my duck was juicy and scrumptious and I could not complain.
Our side dishes were fairly standard and unexciting except for the salt roasted potatoes which looked a little bit like the eggs from the movie Aliens but they tasted absolutely divine. As we watched the smoke from a bushfire roll in over the city like a blanket we all started to infect each other with our yawns. We realised just how exhausted we all were and skipped ordering dessert to head home for some well-earned rest.
In my sleepy content state I foolishly left the little blue bag behind at the restaurant and didn’t realise this until the boy shouted as we drove off in the cab: “The Tiffany’s present!!!” My heart literally jumped into my throat and I was completely awake in a second! Before the boy had even managed to jump out of the cab; lo and behold we see Justin our waiter running toward us clutching our treasure in his hand. This gesture just clinched the deal that I’m happy to say this is the best customer service we have received in Perth for a long time! My opinions of Fraser’s have been completely turned around from previously feeling it may be a bit of an overpriced tourist trap to now understanding that you simply get what you pay for. I look forward to our return; we just might have to save up for a while!
Score Food 8.7/10 Service 9.5/10 Venue 8.6/10Fraser’s Restaurant Fraser Avenue, King’s Park, Perth 6005 | (08) 9481 7100 | frasersrestaurant.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
I decided to buy a Scoopon to Old Cathay Restaurant to give to my beloved as a small token gift to further lengthen our post-engagement celebrations. I’m currently on Doctors orders to punish my body with six weeks of gluten hell in order to determine for once and for all whether I am actually coeliac or just have fructose malabsorption. I am still trying to continue to convince myself that this is a time to embrace this character building experience as an opportunity to have total freedom in ordering whatever I like and just grit and bear the consequences.
Chinese food is not one that can be gluten/onion free very easily so it was exciting to order the tasty dishes we wanted instead of the select few adjustable ones. Old Cathay has a warm and inviting interior and was full of customers on a Thursday night. The staffs were very welcoming despite us being Scoopon customers (something not all restaurants do!). Upon being seated we were quickly informed our Cathay tasting plate was being prepared and our bottle of wine was brought to the table. We had choice of white or red – we chose the white (Rothbury Estate SSB). We requested to order an additional entree to the coupon offer which was no problem.
The platter contained 2 Golden Vegetarian Spring Rolls, two Prawn Twisters, one bowl of Chicken Kerabu Salad and two Crunchy Prawn Kataifi. The spring rolls were fresh and hot. The two prawn dishes were both fried and looked like heart attack central. I’m not the hugest fan of deep fried food; however these were actually very crispy and light and didn’t leave my mouth feeling full of oil. In addition to the platter we ordered the boy’s favourite: Soft shelled crab. This was not the tastiest soft shelled crab I’ve had – it felt like it was missing a dipping sauce? Nevertheless it also was crispy and not soggy at all.
For mains our Scoopon included two mains so we ordered the Old Cathay Gui Fei Tofu and the Kung Po Squid. Being food obsessed, we always both tend to want to order more food than is humanly possible to eat so we ordered an extra main of the sweet and sour pork. I’m not usually a big tofu fan, I don’t hate it, but I never think to order it. But Old Cathay tofu is something not to be missed. They make their own tofu and it was wonderfully soft as silk in my mouth. It was accompanied with shredded chicken, mushroom & carrots. The Kung Po squid was stir fried with dried whole chillies and cashew nuts. The sauce with this dish was scrumptious. Unfortunately this dish was a little lukewarm and ideally should have been served at a hotter temperature. The sweet and sour pork had decent sized pieces of meat with a light batter cover that maintained its crispiness and hadn’t gone soggy in the sauce – fresh! The sauce was tangy and gingery and not overpoweringly sweet. A winner for sure.
To end our overindulgent evening, our coupon included a desert each. I was so excited to see red bean pancake on the menu – a Chinese delight I have been deprived of for many years! Imagine my disappointment when they told me there wasn’t any left! Boo! Instead we ordered the Taro Ice Cream and the Sago Gula Melaka served with Ice Cream. These were fairly standard dishes although I like the extra touch of shaved crispy coconut pieces on the top.
I am already planning our return before my gluten clock runs out – to be continued……
Venue 8/10 Service 8/10 Food 7.8/10Old Cathay | 59 Albany Hwy, Victoria Park 6100 | (08) 9361 1881 | www.oldcathay.com.au