Rasa Nyonya Penang Restaurant

Albany Highway in Victoria Park was once a slightly run-down and shabby street, and full of cheap restaurants and take-away shops. Within the past few years, my oh my, what an improvement! Heart of the Park Shopping Centre, between Albany Highway and Shepperton Road, was closed for renovation and re-opened as Centro several years ago. That was the beginning of gentrification of Albany Highway. More and more trendy places started opening along the street, appealing to younger and fashionable people of Perth.
However, this transformation literally stops at the corner of Westminster Street except for one block between Hill View Terrace and Shepperton Road. A small Malaysian place, Rasa Nyonya Penang Restaurant is situated in that tiny block where you also find Turkish Kitchen at right side and old Food Court opposite.

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The interior is not different from the Food Court with plastic chairs, wood-colourd, laminated tables and minimum decoration. When we entered the restaurant at 12.00 PM on Sunday, there were only two tables with customers. Oh. Did we make an mistake again like most of the restaurants we have visited with expectation in the past few years? But no. we kind of came in the threshold of timing because within 15 minutes more than 10 people popped into the tiny restaurant.

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We first ordered Roti Canai with Curry Chicken ($5.50), accompanied with spicy Sambal. The Roti was thinly layered and ripped easily. Dipping into the Curry Chicken, all my fingers were so sticky that I could not touch my camera anymore (I went to the bathroom to wash my hands before having the main meals). Well, a bit too oily for my taste but still a delicious starter.

After this starter, I checked the other table where two ladies who have got only one fried noodle dish and started pecking it together. They have got the second dish with some Chicken and steamed rice about 15 minutes later when the half of noodle was finished. Hmm….It is very common that we can't expect all the dishes coming together in certain cheap restaurants but hey, we are not sitting at the table with white linen in a fancy restaurant to pay 40-50 dollars for a main.

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While I was observing that table, our second dish (one of mains) has arrived. Assam Gulai Fish ($16.50) is spicy Curry Gulai with fish filets, Okra and Tomato. I love curry (both Indian and Thai) , but what a mysterious flavour this Malaysian Assam Gulai has….I have no idea what kind of spices were mixed into it and although Malaysia is the neighbour country to Thailand, its cooking method and ingredients are quite different. I assume that whole or chunk of fish might be used in Malaysia like most Asian cuisines but here you have tender fish fillets in curry sauce and easy to devour without worrying about the tiny bones stuck in your throat. By the way, if you have a bone there and could not remove them, don't panic. You need to swallow a spoonful of rice instead of drinking water, it will go through your throat with rice into your stomach. Make it as a small spoonful though, otherwise you will end up choking by both bone and rice….

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Kai Lan with salted Fish ($10.50) was accompanying it (just several minutes later) . Crunchy fresh Kai Lan is always my favourite Chinese vegetable to stir fry. Here you get it with a slice of carrot and salted fish was sprinkled on top. I love salted fish but there may be people who do not like it because of its sharp and strong fishy smell and taste. A bit too much of corn flour (or rice flour) was used to make gravy sauce and its taste was diluted by the flour. A tiny bit of complaint, as Kai Lan was fresh and perfectly cooked for agreeable bites.

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Well, by the time above 2 dishes started being finished, we realised that the last one, Salted Egg Chicken hasn't appeared yet. But no worry, it has….after 15 minutes.
Generous volume of tender chicken with strong taste of egg yolk ($16.50). I vaguely remember that I had once this dish in a Chinese restaurant, but this was far better than that of my memory. Unfortunately, as it was quite heavy for my stomach, I could eat only one piece of it.

As you already know that I have a second "hidden" stomach for sweets, I asked the service guy for the dessert, Pisang Goreng with Cheese ($6.50), Fried Banana served with Condensed Milk and Cheese. He smiled me awkwardly and said "Oh it takes long time to make…". Very kind and reasonable to inform us rather than taking the order and left us to wait for longer than 30 minutes.

Overall, I loved the meal and (surprisingly) their service as well.
I read some complaints about this restaurant's service, and yes, I think too that they need some more hands to help out. But they are friendly and helpful without any rude or stressful attitude even though the restaurant started getting busy.
I will certainly come back to taste the dessert and other dishes. Oh I already drool over Laksa!

Rasa Nyonya Penang Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Sandalford

Sandalfold is situated in the Swan Valley and quite a ride from the city area. But I love its Semion Sauvignon Blanc and used to purchase them by the dozen for 'daily' consumption in summer (hey, of course not a bottle 'daily' but a glass or two).

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I still get a news letter from this winery and the recent one stated their 'autumn menu is on'. The menu looks fabulous and the booking was made for Saturday at lunchtime. I was there once and ordered two starters instead of a starter and main, and they were both delicious.

I booked a table for two 'inside' but forgot that they had a nice veranda along the restaurant area. By the time we've arrived, it was fully booked. It is cosy inside too but sitting outside (covered) in the early afternoon would have been comfortable…

Well, it doesn't matter, I thought.

My order for a starter was Pork Belly, Rottnest Scallops, Vanilla Carrot Purée, Olive Oil Caviar ($22.00).

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Well presented and Scallops had nice texture, but Pork Belly was a bit at the drier side and bland. I would prefer 3 scallops and 2 pork belly slices instead of 2 and 3. Vanilla Carrot Purée was OK but nothing special and I didn't taste vanilla in it.

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H***'s order was Masterstock Poached Chicken & Swimmer Crab Salad, Baby Lemongrass, Green Nam Jim Spearmint Dressing ($20.00), and better than mine. In fact, it was absolutely delicious! Deeply flavoured Crabmeat and delicately poached chicken were marinated with coconut, lemongrass and Thai sauce. Perfect combination of Asian fusion salad. I would like to try to make it by myself at home…

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I asked for the second glass of 2011 Sauvignon Blanc Semillon, Margret River range ($9.50 glass, $40.00 bottle), when my main meal come to the table. It was Squid Ink Linguini, Sautéed & Fried Local Calamari, Chilli, Lemon, Parsley, Saffron Oil (Entrée $20.00, Main $32.00). Calamari was cut thin to mingle nicely into the black pasta, and its deep-fried slices on top. Lemony fragrance with chilli spice was perfect for my nose. But. I couldn't believe it first when I bit the pasta, which was far beyond "al dente" texture. Perhaps they did miscalculate the time, which may still continue to cook in its own steam on the plate, from the pan to the table. I loved the taste and calamari itself both sautéed and deep-fried. But over-cooked, soggy Linguini made me VERY sad…. what a shame.

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H*** switched white wine to red, 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon, Margaret River range ($12.00 glass, $55.00 bottle), with his Cumin Rolled Lamb Loin, roast Red Pepper, Slow Cooked Shoulder, Artichoke, Feta, Olive ($42.00). Lamb loin was done as medium, rose colour in the middle and well done outside. Tender with a hint of Cumin. I particularly liked Slow cooked chunks of shoulder meat, packed into spring roll paper and deep-fried. I would try it next time as a main meal, as I couldn't eat much of it with H***'s glare as my fork often lingered over his plate.

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As I left 1/3 of Linguini on my plate, I needed something to calm my sweet teeth at the end. Caramel Assiette was the perfect choice for me with Caramel Fudge, Pink Peppered Popcorn, Caramel Macademia Fudge Ice Cream, Caramel Cheesecake ($19.00). And it hit my tastebud! All three sweets with caramel, yet so different in your mouth. That was my favourite this time.

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Another dessert was Chai Brûlée, Pistachio Baklava, Redgum Honeycomb ($16.00). There is a reason why I wrote "another dessert". Yes, I ate almost half of it! I love Chai and with its intensive flavour of spice and tea, yet soft and light in sweetness. I couldn't stop eating it….Sorry, H***.

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At the end, I smiled with satisfaction.

Oh but our service staff…nothing terrible, however we were facing outside, and she came to our table from behind and between us.Appearing like a ghost behind you in a horror movie. Sure, she said "Excuse me". But every time this "excuse-me" came between AND behind us, we almost jumped in shock. I would suggest you to approach the table from the front.

Overall, I was happy except for soggy pasta and I really hope that was an error which doesn't often happen in this fine dining room with a good reputation.

Sandalford on Urbanspoon

SAKE BAR RESTAURANT

As there are dozens of traditional pubs in Perth, there are hundreds of traditional Izakaya in Tokyo. Izakaya is equivalent to English pub where people enjoy alcohol with some foods for hours in a casual setting. They usually serve nibble sized meals to share and therefore, it is quite difficult to find ONE dish to fill in an Australian sized stomach which has a capacity of 3L beer, 1kg of Chips and half a cow as steak.

Whenever I heard my friends complaining the smallish size of Izakaya nibbles, I used to recommend in zen-like calm manner that they should first go to their own pub to pour beer and devour Chips then join us later for Japanese nibbles.

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A month ago, one of my friends with rather smaller stomach suggested to go to a newly opened Japanese bar in Northbridge, called SAKE BAR RESTAURANT. I was so busy at work but Japanese Bar! Sake! Sushi! Sashimi! How could I resist?

We were quite early there on a weekday and could fit to a small table in the middle of the restaurant without reservation. The interior is traditionally and tastefully decorated with a little bridge at the entrance, with a trendy bar corner to the right. When you proceed to the restaurant area, there are some diner-style boothes for up to 4 people at right side and one private tatami room at left side.

Over 50 kinds of Sake and Shochu can be chosen on the menu. But I first tried a special cocktail of "Sake-tini", probably a mixture of Sake instead of Gin for Martini. It was tasty but as the price was not mentioned ont the menu page, I was surprised when I saw the bill later. $19.00! Phew, for just a dash of each Sake and Vermouth with an olive in toothpick? I often wonder why the eating out cost in Perth is extremely high compared to other "larger" cities over the world…often higher than London, New York or Tokyo.

After the satisfaction with this cocktail (because I still didn't know the price), we ordered a large (250ml) Tokkuri (ceramic bottle) of Bishonen Brand (Sake). Beautiful finish of sweet and mild taste.

Then, our nibbles started coming.

Tofu Salad.
The tofu was coated with rice starch before deep-fried, in a traditional Agedashidofu style. But Agedashidofu is in a sweet and salty broth. This one is coated with seaweed flakes, accompanied with fresh salad. Interesting and delicious!

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Wagyu Beef Tataki ($18).
Wagyu (means "Japanese Beef) is traditionally fed with beer and has small, thin fat nets all over the meat. The result is a bit fatty but extremely soft, like you can cut with chopsticks without using a knife. Tataki is just the cooking method to grill outside only with a strong direct fire. One of the best ways to have Wagyu to taste its subtle and smooth texture.

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Octopus Carpaccio.
I love octopus! This is really a surprising, good idea to turn basic Japanese ingredient into modern cuisine with Italian traditional cooking method!

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Deep-fried soft shell crab.
Recently, Soft Shell Crab is getting more and more popular in Perth, having its delicate shell with strong flavour of crab meat. However, it is unfortunately often cut in too small piece with a huge amount of batter, resulted just a crispy cracker-like chunks. SAKE BAR's soft shell crab is the best in Perth without doubt.
Its form undamaged and with flavoursame meat still intact, the crispy texture mixed with juicy, sweat meat....heaven!

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A variety of Nigirizushi.
The heart of Nigirizushi is actually "rice" itself. How it is coocked, seasoned and then how it is formed. Here it is the real Japanese sushi rice at its best. NOT "too al dente". NOT cooked without lid and NOT stirred constantly like Risotto. The raw fish variety is fresh and generously cut. A piece of eel is obviously made at the restaurant, and not frozen one that you can buy in an Asian shop. Delicious.
However, just one complaint. Why is their soy sauce so "piercely" salty and bitter? The soy sauce accompanied Sushi usually should be mild with rounded taste. This is one thing I disliked whenever I needed to dip and taste their soy sauce.

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Toothfish Chilli Misoyaki.
I have never tasted Toothfish, but it is a kind of Seabass or Codfish, white smooth meat.I love sweet miso paste for fish. This kind of paste can be used for grilled eggplant too. Enjoyable match with chilled sake.

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Zaru Soba ($10).
Japanese Izakaya has a variety of Carbohydrate dishes, like grilled riceball, rice soup, or soba/udon noodle. Somehow the people there love to finish their feast with rice or noodle. I followed this tradition and asked for zaru soba. Zaru means a wickerwoven platter or bamboo colander, so it is not quite the traditional way to serve, but at least on a wooden platter (the noodle doesn't get soggy because the wood will infiltrate the moisture). The soba is buckweat noodle but the type served was so-called Chasoba, with green tea. That's why it is green. I love both standard soba (greyish brown) or this Chasoba. The chilled noodle, coocked perfectly al dente, went agreably through my throat. But another complaint.The Tsuyu (dipping sauce) was again, made by their "special" soy sauce. It was too salty. Sigh...

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Aburi Sushi ($19).
I know after rice or noodle, the feast is over. But as it is Izakaya, you may order anything additionally if you want more! Aburi sushi was included in the nigirizushi set, but I particularly wanted this slightly grilled raw fish and scalop once more. When you grilled just a bit of its surface, the fresh and sweet flavour suddenly appears in depth.What a strange but wonderful experience.

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I am pretty sure that any Australian stmach would be satisfied with this culinary journey of Japanese traditional/modern variety both in quality and quantity. For two of us, it was more than enough and as you see, we didn't have any dessert because the last Aburi Sushi was a kind of substitute to it in a peculiar way...

I would love to go again this Sake Bar Restaurant and recommend anyone who want to taste Sake and nibbles of quality. Well, I will however, bring my own sashimi shoyu (Soy Sauce especially made for dipping Sushi and a bit more expensive than standard soy sauce) as their soy sauce is unfortunately scratching my nerve every time I use it.

SAKE BAR RESTAURANT
71 Francis St, Northbridge, WA 6003
TEL. 08 9328 3380
No Website


View Larger Map

Sake Bar Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Modo Mio, Burswood

One of the few entertainments in Perth is, at least for me, going to theatres. For example in Burswood with lots of people lavishly-dressed (or quite often cheaply dressed too) or in other smaller theatres with more aged people decently dressed. This Saturday, I was among the former people to see the musical "Mary Poppins" in Burswood.

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As the musical started at 8.00, we have just arrived at 6.00 hoping to find a restaurant to serve "pre-theatre" dinner. It's quite common in Europe that the restaurants surrounding a theatre or Arena to serve a course menu in early hour for the theatre-goers so that they can have a quick but tasty menu before proceeding to the theatre.

Modo Mio is one of famous restaurants in Burswood where we usually don't get a table without reservation, but surprisingly a table for two was offered with a short menu for theatre goers. Perhaps were we early enough to leave before other guests would arrive?

Its decoration is bright and chic with a hint of baroque style. Beautiful but uncomfortably large like a conference dinner hall. It would be nicer if there are some dividers for intimate dinner.

The wine list was short for Italian wine as an upmarket Italian restaurant. I wanted to try something new and asked a staff which Italian white wine would be good for pasta and risotto. She was friendly but said she only tasted the first one and it was good but she didn't know other wines. Hmmm… Luckily the floor manager passed by and helped us to choose. We decided for Bollini Pinot Grigio Trentino 2010 ($61.00). Spicy palate with bitter and fresh grapefruits.

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When we finished our orders, two pieces of bread was served with olive oil, balsamic vinegar and salt flakes in three separated mini-dishes. Huh? Do we have to make a hop, step and jump with a chunk of bread each time? I'd rather have a bit bigger dish of olive oil with a drop of vinegar in the middle.
Unfortunately, the bread was not fresh. It must have been warmed up more than twice and the result was crispier than crispy. I was probably lucky that my teeth didn't get chipped.

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My order for the starter was Involtini di melanzane e ricotta, salsa al pomodoro (Eggplant rolls with ricotta & sun dried tomato, tomato basil sauce, $19.00). Quite tasty but it was lukewarm.

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D***'s starter was Carpaccio di manzo, “salsa Cipriani”, rucola e parmigiano (Beef carpaccio, Cipriani sauce, rocket salad, parmesan, $23.00). I asked for a taste. Olive oil used was standard one and NOT extra virgin. Cipriani sauce is a mixture of Roma tomato, cream and parmesan, but I couldn't taste of the density of this kind of sauce. As it was so bland, D*** started putting salt on it.

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By the time when our mains had arrived, I was already half full because of the heavy eggplant starter. Linguini with prawns, brandy, garlic & chilli ($29.00) was elegantly presented with shaved asparagus and cherry tomatoes. The service staff brought a huge stainless steel corn-like grater with large piece of Parmesan cheese. At the sight of this weird "corn", I couldn't resist to watch how to use it. It was a biiiig mistake. I usually never have cheese on seafood pasta, with a reason. The strong flavour of parmesan kills the fresh taste of seafood!
Well, the dish itself was OK but I think it should have something like lemon zest and juice to freshen up the finish.

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D***'s Mushroom Risotto (Risotto with wild mushroom, blueberry marinated in chardonnay grappa, $28.00) was good except blueberry. Oh, I do love blueberry but not with risotto…. mismatched like Vegemite toast with peach slice on it? Both of them are yummy IF served separately.

Unfortunately, we could not think of dessert because of already heavily filled stomach. I left a half of Linguini on my plate.

I should try the full menu once instead of quick, short menu before theatre. The choice of mains includes Baramundi, veal and beaf steak ($40-45.00 each). But, the menu we tasted was not recommendable. Furthermore, the service was not very attentive. We were often left waiting for a staff to take order, to fill our empty wine glasses or bringing the bill. The staff, who didn't know about wine, should be taught not to tell her personal poor experience but immediately ask for help from more experienced staff.

For this bill (total $169.00 for a bottle of wine, a pasta, a risotto, 2 entrees and 2 coffee), I would definitely ask for a culinary trinity of "ambience, service and food" which was sadly not fulfilled.

Modo Mio on Urbanspoon

Belmont Tavern (Silks Bar and Bistro)

I needed to buy a thing or two this Thursday night when Belmont Forum was open till 8.00. Rushed into the Forum and satisfied to find what I wanted, suddenly I got hungry. Then, I became grumpier and grumpier because of low blood sugar level. D*** knew it and quickly suggested to grab something light at the Food Court.

I did have lunch and dinner there at Belmont Forum, but none of them particulary interested me tonight. Hmmm....why not a bit of alcohol too?
I have never tried Belmont Tavern, although I passed it every time when I went shopping at the Forum.

The restaurant is in usual pub style but quite attractively decorated inside. We were early and there was only one table occupied in the dining area. The staff was friendly and hey, there were two kinds of cider on tap, pear and original. Yey, I don't drink beer but I like cider on tap! Pear cider was a bit too sweet for my tast, but the original was fresh and nice on my tangue.

And the service staff didn't come to take our order for about 15 minutes. Well, the restaurant at 6.30 was of course almost empty except us and another table. But being busy laughing and chatting laudly, none of them did look at us and I was tired of watching a female staff's derrière for another 10 minutes. I started waving for the other 2 staff who were facing us. Their heads were toward us but they didn't move. Are they the type of people who don't see what they don't want to see, i.e. the customers whom they have to serve?

Finally I ordered my Garlic Prawn with cream sauce, safran Risotto cake, tomato and basil salad ($25.50)

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I am not sure how long the plate was forgotten at the kichen table (remember, the staff was still busy chatting), but the cream sauce had already a thin layer of fat and definitely not warm enough to serve the customer. Safran Risotto cake was an over-cooked rice tower, just a minute before becoming a porrige.

D*** ordered 400g Rump Steak with Chips and salad (this had a name but I forgot it...$27.50). Huge! The steak was OK but not medium rare as D*** asked for, and rather medium having rose colour all inside. The chips were delicious and crisp though.

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After the main meal, I wanted to try something else and asked for Irish Cream Cheese Cake with decafe Flat White. I can't drink a real coffee or tea in the evening without being awake until 3.00AM.

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The cake came quickly but the coffee wasn't. after finishing the cake (it was OK), the coffee finally arrived with an excuse of "Sorry, the first one didn't come well". Well, the second one neither. I think something wrong with their machine. It was so weak that I remembered famous diluted-coloured "American coffee" in a diner in Chicago. Because of frothy milk, I couldn't see the bottom of the cup but the taste was as diluted as the one in Chicago.
I hope it was an error of their machine tonight....

By 7.30, the dining area was getting crowdy and lively.
The meal price was quite reasonable and after night shopping it would be a cosy little pub for a quick meal. But the floor manager or owner must be occasionally in the dining area to supervise the staff. Although I love their original cider on tap, I am not interested in waving my hand for the staff's attention like hopelessly drowning girl.

Belmont Tavern (Silks Bar and Bistro) on Urbanspoon

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gabyxxx

Author:gabyxxx
I love eating out in Perth and mumbling anything good or bad about what I tasted. So, instead of annoying my poor friends at table, why don't I write them here quietly? All my photos were taken with Nikon D3100 or with iPhone. Yeah, I know I am still learning how to use my lense correctly!

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