Saturday, December 12, 2009

Red Cabbage - So close yet so far

Red Cabbage has built up a very strong reputation over the past 2 years for serving inventive modern British food right here in Perth. And having driven and walked past it almost everyday (its literally a stone's throw away from my apartment), it had up to this point always been one of those places that was so close to home it didn't seem like a priority to visit.

But a gathering of friends from overseas recently gave us the perfect opportunity to sample what has been raved about by reviewers as one of the top 5 restaurants in Perth. Naturally, we proceeded to Red Cabbage with fairly high expectations.

The menu on first glance was impressive - inventive, playful combinations by a chef who obviously is aware of how things read on paper can really make a difference. We were of course excited and ordered a few entrees which read beautifully - the roasted pork belly on watermelon relish , the roasted quail with green papaya salad and tempura oysters topped with a crispy potato chip and aioli.

The result? Beautifully presented food that didn't quite hit the mark in execution. The pork belly was a stunning looking dish - but seriously lacked flavour and to be completely honestly - needed a bit more cooking time to either render a bit of the fat from this prized cut or at least achieve a melt in your mouth texture in the protein.

The oysters - whilst tasty - were nothing out of the ordinary - the potato chip on top was completely unnecessary and in my mind, cheapened the dish (as did the bright blue salt the oysters were garnished on).
The quail was without a doubt, overcooked - which meant it was dry and chewy. Accompanied by a salad that was much too acidic - this dish simply did not work for me.

I could go on to describe the range of main courses we sampled but they were, to put it bluntly, forgettable and not something that I will be coming back anytime soon for. The crumbed braised beef brisket in my beef dish however, was something I will remember for a while to come - purely because it was so dry and unpleasant that I was a little shocked that how different my dining experience was compared to the rave reviews that this restaurant has been receiving.

Perhaps they had a bad night - perhaps sometimes hype gets in the way of honest opinion - but for me, Red Cabbage is one of those places that is so close - yet still very far from what it could be.

Red Cabbage on Urbanspoon
Red Cabbage
49/15 Labouchere Road
South Perth

Saturday, November 28, 2009


We had the joy of celebrating my mum's birthday (who happened to be in town this week for a visit with her closest friends) last night at probably one of my favourite places to eat in Perth - Ha Lu - a Japanese izakaya style restaurant. As usual, I over-ordered and over-indulged. But everything was so perfectly executed that what seemed like a constant flow of beautifully presented clean tasting dishes was a true joy. Highlights included the kakuni pictured above (uber tender stewed pork belly) and the warm japanese salad with roasted vegetables.

We also ordered an interesting twist on the very homely dish of nikujaga (typically a hot pot of sliced beef onion and potatoes). Instead of the traditional simmered dish, Ha Lu has a revamped version that takes the form of a crispy creamy potato dumpling stuffed with sliced beef and topped with sliced onions and a soy dashi broth that is poured at the table.

The tuna and poached onsen style egg was a delicious combination of flavours and textures with tender sashimi tuna, crispy wanton crisps and and a creamy poached egg.

The wagyu beef tataki here is brilliant - melt in your mouth slivers of wagyu fillet served with seasonal root vegetables and an addictive ponzu sauce. The other beef dish ordered however was the only disappointment of the night. Diced wagyu beef steak with yuzu kosho pepper whilst sounding unbelievable on the menu, was overcooked and dry - probably due to the cubes being diced too small and a real letdown to an otherwise flawless meal.

Nevertheless - Ha Lu continues to be probably the best Japanese restaurant to eat in town. I left the restaurant content, very full, and looking forward to my next visit to sample new dishes introduced to the menu (given I had pretty much ordered everything in one seating).

Ha Lu
Shop4 / 401 Oxford Street, Mt Hawthorn

Ha-Lu on Urbanspoon

Sunday, November 22, 2009

First attempts: Daily bread

Keeping in theme with satisfying food cravings from dishes I grew up with in Singapore, I attempted to whip up some roti chanai over the weekend. These were surprisingly easy to make from scratch - although my version probably needed alot more grease and also the very coordinating flipping of the dough to get it paper thin (something which I attempted to do but failed miserably in) for it to taste truly authentic

Roti Chanai
1) Mix 500g plain flour with 2 tablespoons ghee, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon of sugar, approx 1/2 cup of lukewarm water and 1/4 cup lukewarm milk in a large bowl. Knead gently for 10 minutes until you end up with a smooth, elastic dough.
2) Form approx 12 balls of dough from the dough, coat in ghee and cover with clingfilm wrap. Leave to rest in a cool place for an hour.
3) Roll out each ball as thinly as possibly and fold each end into the centre to form a parcel. Sprinkle with olive oil and fry in a hot pan for approx 3 minutes on each side until golden brown.
4) Just before serving, clap your hands together around the roti to fluff it up. Serve with a spicy coconut curry and remember to use your hands!

Pumpkin risotto with chargrilled prawns and prosciutto wafer

Alright, before I start with this recipe - I do realise that it has a strangely high proportion of its ingredients starting with the letter "P". Yes - that's right, pumpkin, prawns, prosciutto, baby peas... and the all important parmesan cheese... it wasn't till I started plating up that I was tickled by the natural pairing of ingredients beginning with the same alphabet (yes I am a geek).

Anyways - here's a simple recipe for this smashing pumpkin dish.

Pumpkin risotto
1) Roast half a pumpkin roughly chopped with shallots and garlic tossed in sea salt in extra virgin olive oil. Add to approx 4 cups chicken stock, simmer briefly and blend with a food processor.
2) Use pumpkin stock to cook risotto in the usual way (ie. fry up arborio rice in olive oil with chopped onion, garlic and a glass of white wine and add stock one ladle at a time for approx 20 mins until rice just gives on the bite).
3) Throw in a knob of butter and a handful of parmesan cheese - mix through and cover for 5 minutes for the rice to rest before serving.

Prosciutto wafer
1) Sandwich prosciutto between two sheets of baking paper and place a weight on top (e.g baking dish). Bake in a hot oven (approx 180 degrees) for approx 20 minutes.
2) Remove tray and remove baking paper.

Chargrilled prawns
1) Skewer each prawn from head to tail to hold its shape when cooking. Season generously with sea salt and cracked pepper.
2) Pan fry prawns in a hot pan with olive oil - about a minute on each side.
3) Reserve oil.

To plate up
1) Plate risotto in a ring mould on one end of the plate. Top with chargrilled prawns. Drizzle reserved oil used to fry prawns over risotto. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese.
2) Lay prosciutto wafer on other side of plate and garnish with boiled peas refreshed in cold water.
3) Bon appetit!

Putting the Extra in Ordinary...

I recently blogged about a new ramen bar in Northbridge, Perth. And whilst I was not overly impressed with the broth that was served with their homemade noodles - I was more than addicted to the toppings that came with each bowl - most especially the roast pork or chashu. Literally melt in your mouth pork belly that has been braised to perfection in a very delicious concotion of what is most likely soy sauce, sake, mirin, sugar and ginger - really special stuff.

And so, in a stroke of genius (at least I like to think so), I visted Arigataya ramen again and ordered a bowl of japanese curry rice (kare raisu) - with... wait for it, the aforementioned roast pork as a topping.

The curry here on its own was very generic and unfortunately made from a packet roux that tasted all too familiar (we rely on this stuff at home when we're too lazy or time pressed to whip a dinner up). However, paired with the delightfully tasty roast pork - this was one very satisfying lunch - and cheap too!

Just goes to show... sometimes the ordinary just needs a dose of something extra to make it oh so special...

Arigataya Ramen
Roe Street
Northbridge, Perth

Arigataya on Urbanspoon

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Sweety and Savoury

I love the contrast of sweet and savoury flavours - when perfectly balanced, its an addictive combination that is strangely moreish. A pumpkin risotto with crispy salty prosciutto... a juicy ripe tomato with a sprinkling of sea salt... or in the case of a brilliant breakfast dish - crispy bacon on french toast drizzled with maple syrup.

We found ourselves at Deli Chicchi in Mount Claremont over the weekend for a lazy breakfast with friends we had not caught up for a while. A beautiful spot for a lazy weekend breakfast or brunch - it even has a section dedicated to cookbooks and produce you can purchase while you're waiting for your food.

This very cool breakfast spot perched on a street corner has simply but very tasty options for breakfast. From the zucchini and haloumi fritters to the roasted tomato, mozzarella and avocado bruschetta.

Oh - and of course the highlight of the day - the aforementioned french toast. Crispy bacon, fluffy french toast, warm maple syrup - yum!

Deli Chicchi
Strickland Street
Mount Claremont

Monday, November 16, 2009

First attempts: Nasi Briyani

I've recently had a longing for some dishes available in Singapore and Malaysia which are hard to find here in Perth. One such craving is for the Indian Muslim dish of Nasi Briyani - there are variations available here in Indian restaurants but these taste quite different from the versions found in Singapore which are less rich and characterised by fluffier, almost al-dente basmati rice grains.

And so - not wanting to deny myself of life's simple pleasures, I set out to find a recipe and attempt to recreate the flavours I miss so much. "Singapore Heritage Food" by Sylvia Tan is a fascinating part recipe book part history of Singapore's culinary heritage. Below is an adapted version from her book.

Nasi Briyani
4 tbs ghee
1 cup shallots, sliced
1 large onion, chopped
1 thumb sized length of ginger, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp cumin powder
2 tomatoes, chopped
2 tbs chopped mint leaves
1 tbs salt
1.5kg chicken pieces
3 cardamoms
1 stick sinnamon
4 tbs yoghurt

4 cups Basmati rice washed and dried
1 tbs ghee
4 cloves garlic smashed
1 thumb sized length ginger, smashed
5 shallots, finely chopped
1 stick cinnamon
5 cardamoms
5 cloves
1 tsp saffron threads
sprinkling of rose essence (omit if not available)
1 tsp salt
4 cups chicken stock

1. Heat ghee in wok and fry shallots till golden - set aside.
2. In same oil, brown chopped onion, garlic, and ginger. Add 2 Tbs water to spice powders to form a paste and add to wok to fry over a low fire till fragrant.
3. Add tomatoes, mint and salt and cook till softened. Add chicken, cinnamon and cardamoms. Cook gently till meat is just cooked. Stir in yogurt and cook for 15 minutes more. Skim and reserve oil from sauce.
4. Fry ginger, garlic and shallots till golden brown. Add cinnamon, cloves and cardamoms. Add reserved oil and rice grains and fry till grains absorb oil. Transfer to a rice cooker.
5. Heat stock and add saffron and rose essence (if using). Add stock to rice cooker and cook until fully absorved.
6. Fluff rice with a fork and place chicken pieces in a well in the rice. Cover and cook for another 10 minutes.
7. Garnish with fried shallots and serve.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Arigato! Arigataya

I have had a soft spot for ramen ever since tasting greatness in the tonkotsu ramen of Ichiran in Fukuoka last year. Sadly, a rameniac would find it hard to satisfy his or her craving here in Perth as there are less than a handful of places where this is served.

So it was with great excitement when I heard about Arigataya ramen which had opened its doors to noodle lovers just this week. With a reputation of having noodles made fresh on the premises, I was keen to slurp out this joint to see if there was hope yet for satisfying a ramen craving right here in Western Australia.

The menu here is basic - you choose from either the standard ramen with a chicken/pork bone broth (with a choice of either shio or shoyu flavour) or tsukemen (ramen served with a dipping sauce on the side). For a few dollars extra, you get to "upsize" your condiments - with ni-tamago (a briliant way of cooking an egg with a fully cooked white but a slightly runny and creamy yolk centre) and extra slabs of the house made charsiu (roasted pork belly).

The verdict? The broth lacked the depth of flavour I love in a good ramen broth and tasted a little generic. The noodles had good texture but seemed to impart a slightly alkaline flavour to the broth which was a little overpowering.

But the stars here are clearly the condiments. The ni-tamago was cooked to perfection - beautifully set egg white and a creamy deep orange yolk. The charsiu was nothing short of brilliant - delightfully "melt in your mouth" pork belly char-grilled on the outside to achieve a fantastic combination of flavour and texture.

Ok - so maybe Arigataya wasn't the life changing noodle experience I had hoped for - but there's enough goodness in the bowl for me to come back for more. And let's be honest - another decent option to satisfy a frequent ramen craving is something I'm happy to say "arigato!" for.

Arigataya ramen
Roe St, Perth

Arigataya on Urbanspoon

Thursday, November 12, 2009

What every cloud has...

Justs stopped over in Melbourne for two days for work and was a little disappointed initially because:
(A) The short stay meant I had little opportunity to pig out like I normally do in this fantastic city.
(B) Accomodation options were scarce because Tiger Woods was in town and that brought with it crowds that took up my usual hotel options. (Britney Spears was also in town but I seriously doubt that would have been a reason for my predicament).

In any case, I remained optimistic and tried to make the best of my 48 hours in the mighty Melbourne. As it turned out, the little serviced apartment that I managed to secure, whilst on the fringes of the city centre at the end of Flinders Lane, meant that I was strategically placed right next to one of the city's hottest up and coming restaurants, Cumulus Inc.

Named after puffy looking clouds (look up wikipedia for a more meteor-logical explanation) and run by Andrew McConnell (the Age Food Guide chef of the year), this very cool spot is famed for inventive food but also fantastic breakfasts.

I popped in in the wee hours of the morning on my second day (it starts getting busy from 8am onwards) and was immediately drawn to the smoked salmon, 65/65 egg, sorrel, apple and dill dish on the inventive breakfast menu. I am unashamedly an eggnophile - and the intriguing description meant I just had to order it.

A 65/65 egg is essentially a super slow poached egg, with its description indicating that it is poached in its shell at a controlled temperature of 65 degrees celcius for 65 minutes. What results is a textural delight - perfectly poached white and a creamy, almost gelatinous yolk of eggy goodness. Paired with the subtle saltiness of the Tom Cooper's smoked salmon, the "it just makes sense" combination of dill and capers, plus the acid from the refreshing batons of green apple, all served on a crusty buttered ciabatta toast, and you get one delicious breakfast dish.

Satisfied from a great first meal to the day, I decided that my initial reasons for disappointment were actually a blessing in disguise. Cumulus is a sophisticated and very smart dining experience, and as far as clouds go - this is one that has reminded me that every situation has a silver lining.

Cumulus Inc
45 Flinders Lane
Melbourne 3000

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Julie & Julia - Boeuf Bourguignon

As any self respecting food geek can attest to - Julie and Julia (starring the phenomenal Meryl Streep and the very impressive Amy Adams) is a unique film that portrays a fascinating story of how food can have a pivotal role in transforming everyday lives. Another thing that this movie brings to life is the idea that French food doesn't have to be daunting and can be accessible to everyday cooks.

Perhaps the best example of this is the classic dish of boeuf bourguignon - basically an extremely robust, earthy, rich red wine beef stew. The large quantity of red wine used in the recipe may seem overwhelming at first but transforms the humble beef stew into something beautifully rich yet subtle at the same time. There are of course multiple variations to this classic dish - from Julia Child's version to that found in the numerous French cookbooks in the market. I have adapted snippets from a few respectable French cookbooks into this version - try it - you'll love it.


1.5kg beef shin (cut into quite large chunks)
10 red shallots peeled and left whole
4 rashers bacon roughly chopped
2 brown onions chopped
4 cloves garlic
2 cloves
1 bottle red wine (something delicious enough for you to sneak a glass while cooking)
bouquet garni (1 bunch thyme and parsley tied in kitchen string)
2 carrots cut into large wedges
10 button mushrooms cleaned and left whole
1 can tomatoes (drained)
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup flour

1. Marinate beef shin in the red wine for an hour. Drain (reserving wine) and season with sea salt, freshly ground black pepper and coat lightly in plain flour.
2. Pan fry bacon until crispy and fat has been rendered. In the same fat, brown onions, shallots and garlic cloves. Remove and set aside.
3. In the same pan, brown beef pieces in batches (do not crowd the pan to prevent beef from stewing).
4. Return browned bacon, onions, shallots and garlic cloves to pan. Slowly add reserved wine marinade to pan to deglaze pan. Add tomatoes and cloves and simmer. Cover pan with baking paper and foil and secure with a tight fitting lid.
5. Pop the pan into a pre-heated oven at 150 degrees celcius. Cook gently for 3.5 hours (cooking the beef gently this way yields a melt in your mouth texture). Remove foil and baking paper. Pan fry button mushrooms and carrots until slightly caramelised - add to pan and return to oven for another hour.
6. Using clean hands, bind flour and butter to form a roux. Fry roux in a hot pan until slightly brown and add sauce from pan - whisk until sauce thickens and return to rest of the ingredients. Cook for another 2 minutes until sauce coats the back of a spoon.
7. Serve with a garnish of fresh parsley, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil (ok - maybe this is an Italian touch but I love it) and serve with warm crusty bread.

Bon appetit!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Flippin Good

I'll just come out and say it - I love Flipside burgers. Ever since having discovered the tiny gourmet burger joint in Fremantle over 3 years ago, M and I have visited this brilliant spot over and over again for their uber tasty burgers and their to die for chunky chips.

It actually is quite surprising that I haven't blogged about this not so secret gem of a place given that its one thing that I always seem to have a craving for and one that always hits the spot.

Since then - Flipside has expanded and started a new spot in yet another leafy Perth suburb of Wembley. Same burgers (although I must admit the Freo joint constructs their burgers better), same char grilled goodness and the same happiness that it brings me everytime I visit. To top things off, both locations are now strategically situated beside very cool bars (Mrs Brown in Freo and the Stanley in Wembley) where you can order a drink and have your burger delivered to you to enjoy in very cool digs.

My personal favourite is the Blue Train (char grilled 95% fat free beef patty topped with lettuce, tomato and garnished a generous crumbling of blue cheese sandwiched between fantastic homemade buns) with the addition of crispy bacon. Be sure to order a side of generously cut crunchy on the outside, fluffy on the inside, chunky chips. Wash it down with an ice cold beer from the bar next door - and you're in burger heaven... flippin fantastic.

Flipside Burger Bar

Flipside Burger Bar on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A moment of silence...

One of the most shocking discoveries in the weekend that just passed was that one of my all time favourite casual chinese eateries in Perth has, or at least appears to have, shut down very suddenly.

Hong Kong BBQ or 顺德 as it is affectionately known by the local chinese has been around forever. And by forever I mean ever since I first arrived in Perth as a student almost 15 years ago now.

For as long as I can remember, this unpretentious, extremely efficient and welcoming chinese restaurant has been a dining home to my friends and I. We found comfort in their delicious beef brisket braised to melting perfection in earthen claypots, marvelled at their large portions of crispy roast pork, were thrilled by the ridiculously moreish wok fried snow crab in a salted egg yolk batter and most importantly, became hopelessly addicted to their house made chilli oil (a potent blend of fried dried chillis, garlic and other secret condiments).

We had our Sunday lunches, late weeknight gatherings, after movie supper catch ups, birthday celebrations even in this very popular establishment... this place was as much about the food as it was the memories that it injected into our lives. The lovely owners that ran the restaurant were always extremely warm and friendly - and having visited this place countless times in the past 15 years, I had become a familiar face that they always acknowledged with a welcoming smile. My only regret is that I had never bothered to get to know them on a first name basis.

And as I take a moment of silence to reflect on the (potential I hope) possibility of losing 顺德 - I realise that just like the people closest to you in life, you should never take their presence for granted... I mean I had never even thought of including this old favourite on this blog until now.

My only hope is that the owners had decided to take time out to renovate the restaurant's premises... and in the process allowed me to appreciate this restaurant for what it really has been - a big part of my dining life here.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Miso marinated roasted salmon

I love this recipe. Deceptively simple, delightfully tasty and definitely one of the best and easiest ways of cooking a beautiful fillet of salmon.

Simply marinate your salmon fillets (pin bones removed) overnight in a marinade of shiro (white) miso, orange zest, grated ginger, grated garlic, soya sauce and equal parts of mirin and sake (brought to a boil to burn off the alcohol content and left to cool).

The next day, remove excess marinade (this can be strained and reduced on the stove for a delicious sauce, and roast the salmon under a hot grill in the middle section of the oven for 4 minutes. Bring the roasting tray to the top section in the final 2 minutes of cooking to get some caramelisation and colour to the fish.

I like to serve this simply on a bed of wakame (japanese seaweed) dressed in rice vinegar, mirin and soya sauce, with miso soup and steamed rice. The orange zest and ginger are a perfect match with the rich earthy miso and the fattiness of the salmon - so simple but oh so good.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Daylesford Dreaming

On a recent visit to Melbourne, M and I decided to spend a couple of days in the day spa country town of Daylesford which is around an hour and a half outside of the city. This picturesque town was very cool - great spots to eat, drink, stay, bath (in one of the many mineral springs bath houses) and unwind (with luxurious massage treatments). Here are just some of the many great little spots in this very unforgettable holiday destination.

Stay - These beautiful self contained villas are perched gently on a hill overlooking the Hepburn Springs woods. Fantastic fit outs, a stone bath, panoramic views from the living and bedrooms and a very functional kitchen - this is a great spot for a relaxing getaway.

Sweet - This well known chocolate cafe on the main strip in Daylesford serves great coffee, hand made chocolates and a to die for chocolate pudding.

Drink - a fine collection of Australian and European beers, this eclectic establishment also serves simple but well cooked light meals. The owner is more than happy to impart his extensive knowledge on the humble brew and will expertly pair your meals with a well matched pour.

Eat - This tiny cafe doesn't look like much from the outside but is a warm and welcoming breakfast establishment that does a fantastic breakfast fry up. The fare here is unpretentious but very well cooked - the black pudding in particular was stunning and well worth the visit for.

Cook - this organic farm that specialises in the rare wessex saddleback pigs is fantastic. The owner, Fiona, has a real passion for humane treatment of her livestock and is truly sincere about producing the best sustainable produce. On the drive in I even noticed her happy pigs munching on organic carrots, apples, parsnips and other delicious vegetables. I purchased some streaky bacon and a pork neck which I used to whip up for dinner that night. A roast pork rubbed in thyme and garlic and wrapped with crispy bacon and served with a apple and roasted vegetable gravy was truly brilliant and testament to how great ingredients make great food.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

I Heart Dumplings

Morsels of goodness - I love dim sum but am always found frustrated, almost violently so, about the lack of decent place in Perth to enjoy some well made dumplings (though I have found a pretty decent place recently which I will blog about down the track)...

In Melbourne however, the availability of good yum cha isn't lost in this food capital of the nation. Whilst some of these might be found in Chinatown... some really fantastic, made to order dim sum can be found in the suburbs.

Purple Sands is a relatively small chinese restaurant located in the leafy suburb of Camberwell (where that ridiculously talented actor Geoffrey Rush lives). Almost too unassuming from the outside as it sits next to an even more unassuming laundromat - the quality of the food and especially the dumplings here is pretty darn surprising.

Everything is made to order here - which is a huge difference to the mass produced gluggy stuff that have become so common around places that continue to draw the crowds (for some reason that continues to baffle me). Call me a dumpling snob - but the quiet, out of the way nature of this very tasty yum cha joint makes this a hidden gem.

Purple Sands
180 Camberwell Road
Hawthorn East

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Grill'd Burgers

Long time followers of this blog will know that I have a soft spot for burgers. Grill'd, a burger chain that originated from a corner shop on Glenferrie Road has expanded into something of a phenomenon. It has since grown to be a hugely successful franchise that specialises in well constructed "healthier" burgers which are oh so tasty.

My personal favourite is the Grill'd mustard and pickled... so simple but oh so good. Served with a side of their famous herbed chips and range of dips and aiolis - this is one kick ass burger joint that's well worth the visit.

Oh - and did I mention that they're licensed so you can purchase a cold beer to go with your meal?

Pearl cafe

Next up - lunch at Pearl cafe... offspring of the upmarket Pearl restaurant which specialises in mod-Asian fare. This casual diner offers a mix of Asian influenced meals (think king prawn mint and glass noodle salad, green chicken curry) as well as hearty cafe type meals.

We opted for two examples of the latter, a duck and chestnut pot pie and an autumn vegetable lasagne. Prices here are extremely reasonable for the generosity of portions and quality of produce. The lasagne whilst plated beautifully lacked seasoning which would have made it a fantastic vegetarian option. The duck pie however was delicious - perfectly braised duck with chestnut topped by a buttery flaky puff pastry. Paired with the caramelised onion jam on the side, this was perfect comfort food for a typical crisp cold Melbourne afternoon.

Pearl Cafe
599 Church Street

Friday, September 25, 2009

Porgie & Mrs Jones

Alright - its been a while and its because I have just returned from the magnificent city of Melbourne. As usual, there is always a fantastic list of places that serve brilliant, well cooked food.

First up we have Porgie & Mr Jones, a very cool breakfast spot in Hawthorn that has a laid back warehouse feel to its space. We ordered the poached eggs on toasted grain bread with spinach, red pepper pesto and hazlenut dukkah as well as the smashed avocado with thyme buttered mushrooms, marinated fetta on whole grain toast.

Both were delicious, generous and a great start to our first day in Melbourne.

Porgie & Mrs Jones
291 Auburn Road

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Colonel's curry

I'm not going to lie to you - I, just like many people who enjoy well coooked food, have a weakness for the Colonel's fried chicken. Yes... Kentucky deep fried "dirty bird" chicken, whilst so bad for me, does manage to satisfy a craving (albeit briefly) before consistently leaving me in a heap of "why the heck did I do that?".

Yes... there are so many things wrong with the idea of eating mass produced, battery chickens deep fried in artery clogging fat in the 11 secret (than God coz they were probably created in a science lab) herbs and spices... but it does appeal.

A genius way to enjoy the "calorie chicken" is to serve it with steamed rice and japanese curry. Yes.. that's right, Hot and Spicy chicken with home made japanese curry kicks ass. The spicy flavours naturally work well together and also means that you can introduce greens and vegetables into the otherwise sinful meal (any opportunity to lessen the guilt works for me). I like to add chopped chillis, onions, carrot, potato and sweet potato to my curry as well as half a freshly grated apple (preferably fuji) at the end of the cooking process to take the edge off the heat with natural sweetness.

Mmmm... this is one of those shortcuts in life that just make sense... try it to believe it.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Kiri Take 2

I have previously raved about Kiri Japanese restaurant which is nestled in the quiet neighbourhood of Shenton Park. This tiny yet elegant restaurant is run by Taka and Noriko, genuinely nice people who have a passion for what they do. A recent visit back proved that they are still feeding this passion as well as lovers of Japanese food who keep coming back for more.

Aside from the standard menu of their most requested items, Kiri also has a changing seasonal menu which reflects the fresh produce that varies from month to month. More often than not, it also includes Taka's new creations which range from the simplest (like cream crab croquettes topped with crispy lotus root) to the more elaborate (a beautifully presented bento box of unagi, grilled duck breast wrapped around grilled asparagus, grilled sablefish and nasu dengaku).

Kiri does well in simple but well cooked Japanese fare that steps beyond your teriyaki glazes (although it also does these perfectly well) and presents beautifully. What is even more impressive is that Taka manages to whip up these beautiful creations in the tiniest of kitchens. I was amazed at the constant stream of takeaway orders that came throughout dinner service and how the kitchen was able to keep up the pace.

It's great to see a deserving place do well - remember to book in advance.

Kiri Authentic Japanese Cuisine on Urbanspoon

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