Shiro Izakaya, Perth CBD

My love affair with Japanese cuisine continues as I finally made reservations to try Shiro. It was an email with a 50% discount off all food that made the decision for me and I’m glad I did!

Shiro opened quite a while ago and is conveniently located at Central Park – right smack in the CBD area of Perth. I’ve always wanted to try it but was waiting for a special occasion to justify the cost.

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We were greeted at the door and shown to our table immediately. Modern decor and soft lighting made the narrow rectangular shape of the ground floor more pleasing to the eye. There is an upstairs and that’s where the toilets are located as well.

I ordered a pot of green tea as it was a weeknight but the best friend tried a sake cocktail – Geisha Blossom.  I had a try and it was strong for me! The best friend enjoyed it though.

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Pot of Green Tea – $5 (was quite disappointed that it was just pure tea without any fresh leaves in the pot)

Now we were onto ordering food and the menu isn’t that extensive at Shiro though there were some interesting choices. They also offer a tasting menu and an omakase (degustation) menu. We decided to order a few things to share as we weren’t particularly hungry.

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Sashimi Salad – $18 (Snapper, salmon, tuna and yellow tail sashimi, mixed green salad with yuzu honey vinaigrette and wasabi ponzu on the side)

I was impressed with the freshness of the salad, the yuzu and wasabi goes very well with the sashimi and greens. And also – there were generous amount of sashimi on the dish, more than greens actually!

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Popcorn Shrimp – $15 (bite sized prawn tempura pieces, tossed in a creamy
spicy sauce served with mayo and teriyaki sauce, chives, and fish roe on top)

This was the best friend’s dish and she loved every bit of it – she does love prawns though and was pleased with the combination of sauces and the light, crispiness of each shrimp – a very textural and yummy dish.

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Tempura Soft Shell Crab – $28 (Crispy fried soft shell crab watermelon, baby spinach, lotus chips with balsamic reduction and wasabi soy sauce)

This was hands-down our favourite dish of the night, we polished everything and wanted more if we could. The baby spinach were like soft flakes of seaweed, I couldn’t believe it was spinach. The little cubes of watermelon were refreshing and surprisingly fit in the dish.

By the 3rd dish, we were both starting to feel full and were glad that we had not placed our orders for ‘main’. However, this dish’s description on the menu caught both our eyes.

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Grilled Snapper – $32 (Red wine teriyaki sauce, port wine reduction, green tea sea salt, bok choy, jalapeno salsa, grilled lemon and snapper with sauteed vegetables)

It was a very pretty dish and the snapper was cooked beautifully. I wasn’t quite sure where the green tea sea salt was but I’m guessing it was part of the seasoning. We both enjoyed it but prefer the soft shell crab.

We were absolutely satisfied with the meal and even more so with the discount. A good deal keeps me happy indeed! Also, all the dishes were served beautifully and looked too gorgeous to eat. Definitely impressive in terms of plating.

The only grouse I have was the (lack of) service. The waitstaff were all friendly and had smiles when serving us but I wouldn’t consider it to be attentive service. I had to ask twice for my bill, was asked a few times to order when I had already placed my order and overall they just seemed very confused and disorganised.

The (lack of) desserts was a slight disappointment as well as they didn’t have a printed menu and only had 3 choices (Green Tea ice-cream, Black Sesame ice-cream or Banana Maki). From the perfect descriptions for the food/drinks menu to a no-dessert menu, I was bewildered for a second and thought to myself that surely they would have a stunning dessert menu.

Nevertheless, after this visit, I am thinking of my next trip to Shiro to try other options on the menu because the quality of the food has won me over.
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Pepper Lunch, Perth CBD

On a wet and cold busy Friday night, I can’t really go past a meal of piping hot beef pepper rice from Pepper Lunch.

I first heard about Pepper Lunch when I was still living in Singapore and was fascinated with the hot stone plate and the whole cooking on the table concept.

And when I was in Japan by myself, I found an outlet in Shibuya which I had to try. Pepper Lunch is different in Japan as it’s considered a fast food outlet. There are no waitstaff and you use the “vending ticket machine” system to place an order. Which worked awesomely well – saves heaps of time and very efficient indeed.

I made it just on time for their happy hour with 1 minute spare (achievement of the day) and ordered a beef pepper rice.

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Beef pepper rice – $5.90 (Happy Hour Price)
+ Egg + Cheese ($1.50)

Piping hot plate with a melted cheese and a soft yolk over rice with corn – I’m just drooling now thinking of it. I drizzled it with the garlic sauce (I prefer this than compared to the ‘sweet sauce’) and mixed it all up whilst everything was cooked to my liking.

It didn’t take long for me to devour this tasty dish. Easy, no fuss dinner and craving satisfied. I was a happy, warm person on that cold winter night.
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Bali and Bandung, Indonesia

I went on a little short trip to Bandung and Bali in Indonesia a while ago. Most people have heard of Bali and head there for the beach villas and a relaxing holiday. Whereas Bandung is less well-known. It is actually a 1.5 hour flight from Bali with a 1 hour time difference, located 2 hours’ drive from Jakarta.  As it’s in a rather mountainous location,  the weather is generally cooler as well. What is it famous for? Factory outlets! (and shopaholics rejoice! )

I was lucky enough to be brought around by locals as I travelled with the best friend that grew up in Bali and has relatives in Bandung,  so accommodation and transport wasn’t an issue at all. They made sure to feed me really well too!

Here are some of the foods I got to experience on the trip:

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Satay ayam (chicken) from a roadside vendor (I thought I was quite brave to try this!)
Ice-cream from a old well-established ice-creamery/dessert place in Bandung

 

 

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From another rather local stall:
Otak-otak (top right)
Mee-ayam (noodles with minced chicken)
Meatballs in soup

 

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At this place famous for Strawberry Juice – we had Mee Ayam again but it was slightly different

 

Heading back to Bali, I caught up with my cousins and we had a feast along the beach at Jimbaran Bay, at Menega Cafe. I was told that it’s the only grilled seafood place at Jimbaran that’s worth trying.

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Grilled seafood including clams, prawns, squid. Served with rice and vegetables.

Everything was tasty and I had a really good time over there. Not to mention the shopping in Bandung – everything was so cheaply-priced, I was overwhelmed. My only regret was not buying more!

The only downside to the trip was that I fell terribly sick on the last day back to Perth. I couldn’t hold food in and threw up many times that day. The minute I arrived in Perth, I went straight to the hospital.

It took me nearly a week to get well and I’m now much more aware that I should’ve been more cautious with food overseas. But ahwells! Lesson learnt and I guess at least I enjoyed the local specialties whilst I was there.

 

 

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Mrs S, Maylands

A friend of mine was leaving Perth for good and we decided to have a last catch-up brunch at Mrs S. I’ve never been and heard so many good things so I was pretty excited to finally make the time to pop over!

It was a chilly winter morning, but thank God for the warmth of the sun. We found street parking easily and walked up to the corner of the street where Mrs S is located at. We were greeted with an almost-full cafe – which is always a sign of good things to come especially for a weekday morning. It didn’t take long for us to get a table (we moved from a squishy corner table to a more comfortable one shortly) and we started to browse the menu.

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Children’s storybook menu – charming!

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Full with little ones and mums

I ordered at the counter for us and we were served rather promptly with our meals.

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Granny June’s Cornbread – with bacon, maple syrup and poached eggs

I had the cornbread as it sounded way to tempting from the menu. When I finally got my fork/knife and dove right into the dish, I was treated to bites of lovely sweet maple syrup, bits of salty bacon and soft texture of the cornbread. It was a lovely dish for sure. Only quibble I have would be that the poached eggs were not perfect – the yolk did not ooze out and was slightly cooked. Also, nearing the end of the dish, I definitely had some trouble finishing it as it was pretty filling.

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Skinny Latte

I also had a cup of skinny latte which was served at a drinkable temperature and was a pretty decent cup of coffee.

Overall, I am looking forward to return to try other items on the menu and some of the cute little cakes/slices on the counter (I was too full to try anything else on this occasion).

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Jamie’s Italian, Perth CBD

I remember the hype when Jamie’s Italian first opened over the Easter weekend. I had joined in the fun with a 3-hour queue just for a table – and vowed never to do that again. My first experience at Jamie’s came down to a word – salty.

However, I decided to give it another go but was definitely going to make a booking this time round. The online bookings system worked but that meant I had to wait a few months for a table. So patience, and I got my table for a weeknight.

W and I arrived on time to quite the queue and I heard snippets of conversations where the wait for a table was about 1.5 hours – I was definitely glad that I made a booking! We went straight up to the counter and had to wait roughly 5 minutes before being shown to a cosy table for 4 at the corner of the restaurant. Jamie’s was just as I remembered – packed/cosy, dim lighting and lots of chatter.

Whilst waiting, we decided to order 2 drinks for the night:

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Left: Ginger Mojito (Mint, lime, sugar & ginger beer) $6.50
Right: Refresher (Fresh lemon, elderflower cordial & cranberry juice, topped with lemonade) $6.50

I had the ‘Refresher’ – it was definitely refreshing for sure, served with lots of crushed ice and just the right amount of tang from the lemons. W was pretty happy with his ginger mojito as well. I stole a couple of sips and thought the mint added a nice touch to the ginger beer.

When the other friends arrived, we placed our orders after a good browse of the menu.

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Left: Spaghetti Vongole (Steamed sweet cockles, garlic, chilli, white wine, parsley, butter & lemon: entree sized) – $15
Middle: Posh Chips (with truffle oil & parmesan) – $6.50
Right: Seafood Bucatini (Tubular spaghetti steamed in a bag with crab, mussels, clams, squid, scallops, capers, chilli, garlic, white wine & juicy sweet tomatoes; main size only) – $29.50

I had the vongole in an entree size as I remember being full just from an entree-sized risotto the last time. This dish was served with 4 clams and I was pretty satisfied with it as a main. Taste-wise, I loved it. On first bite, the spaghetti was cooked to a lovely texture, clams were fresh and the sauce was absolutely yummy. The chips were tasty – just the right amount of saltiness from the parmesan.

W had the seafood bucatini as reading it on the menu, it seemed irresistible. When the dish came though, it didn’t look like it would be enough! Only at 1 size, we were surprised that it didn’t look like it could fill one up. Our friend had ordered the same dish and came to same conclusion – he had to order an additional pasta dish (entree sized) even after sharing a risotto entree.

I had skipped out on entrees in order to save room for desserts:

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Left: Tiramisu (Coffee-flavoured trifle with orange mascarpone & chocolate) – $9.50
Middle: Poached winter fruits (With vanilla frozen yoghurt & smashed honeycomb ) – $9.50
Right: Sorbet (Mango, lemon and strawberry) – $8

I couldn’t make up my mind on the sweets (as usual) but decided on sorbet for a refreshing end to the meal. Mango was the favourite but the 3 scoops were all fantastic – not overly sweet and just the right texture. I had a few mouthfuls of the Tiramisu from W and he was happy with it too – the orange in there helped to cut some of the richness of the mascarpone. The friend however, didn’t finish her dessert of poached pears. She wasn’t impressed with the fruit but did finish her frozen yoghurt.

All in all, service was relatively fast and attentive given the huge crowds. We were pretty satisfied from the meal but the golden question of whether to sacrifice and queue over an hour or two for a table was answered with a no. It was pretty yummy food but not exceptional Italian. I would return if I had a reservation though!

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No 4 Blake Street, North Perth

It’s rare that I’m able to catch-up with the best friend over brunch due to our usual packed mornings but we managed to organised one a couple days ago. The only problem was that it was on a Monday – where most brunch places were closed! On browsing various options that morning, we decided to meet-up at No 4 Blake Street. I’ve heard good things about their dinner menu but wasn’t too sure on brunch.

With plenty of parking and located off Walcott Street (relatively close to the City), it wasn’t too hard to get to and I’ve got to say, the entrance looked pretty nice amongst the other shops/houses in the area. We walked through the entrance (glass door) and was greeted promptly by a waitstaff. It was bright, airy and the centerpiece table had loads of yummy looking cakes/muffins. Relatively quiet and a nice temperature, we took our seats on a side and was served water immediately – a gesture I appreciate a lot.

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Chai Latte

I decided on a comforting warm cup of Chai Latte for the chilly winter morning and was decidedly satisfied with each warm sip – not overly sweet and just the right temperature.  The best friend had a mug of flat white and was in a happy mood as well.

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Florentine – Silver beet, bechamel sauce, baked eggs, hollandaise with toasted olive bread – $17

I was tempted by the Florentine on the menu as I couldn’t get past the ‘hollandaise’ jumping out at me and I also wanted to try baked eggs. The eggs were soft, wobbly and the yolk flowed through the pan – it was how I imagined it to be. I enjoyed it with the greens and the olive bread. The star for me would be the bread that came drizzled in olive oil because the soft-boiled eggs with all the sauces started to become too ‘raw’ for me halfway through and I found myself struggling a little. It was a nice balance of flavours – but I might stay away from soft-boiled eggs for awhile (personal preference maybe!).

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Tomato & Bacon (note my friend swapped the bacon for sausage) – Fried green tomato, poached eggs, pork & fennel sausage, hollandaise with toast – $18

The best friend was tossing up a few options on the menu but decided on the ‘Tomato & Bacon’ except she swapped bacon for the pork & fennel sausage. I asked for her opinion and the verdict was, tasty especially the fried tomato, but not exceptional.

All in all, we had a good time catching up in a really nice ambience. People started streaming in slowly and my observations tell me they were mostly ladies catching up with friends and some with little ones. Service was a delight, attentive but not too much and it seemed to me like a place that’s nice for catch-ups! With a quick glimpse at the dinner/degustation menus, I’ll be looking forward to try dinner there sometime.

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Harvest Espresso, Victoria Park

This cafe’s relatively new and located off the main strip in Victoria Park although it’s still on Albany Highway. I’ve had lunch there a couple months back and thoroughly enjoyed it the last time.

They have a range of freshly made muffins, tarts, croissants etc in the side/front area of the counter which all looked really tempting. But the last time I was too stuffed to try anything else.

So when I was in the area again, I made it a point to try their coffee and something sweet. I’ve seen pictures of their lemon tarts which had me staring for quite some time but alas they only had chocolate ganache. I had it with a skinny latte.

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Chocolate Ganache Tart

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Take-away Skinny Latte

The verdict? The tart was absolutely yummy. I loved every bite. I had my doubts on whether I could finish the tart as the chocolate looked way too thick, glossy and rich but surprisingly I polished every single bit. Smooth,  velvety and rich but not overly powering matched with the crisp tart casing – I was in happy chocolate heaven!

The latte though was pretty disappointing. Maybe it was because I had high expectations but when I first held the cup and it felt way too hot, that’s when the disappointment started. I’m no coffee connoisseur but I know enough from the best friend (who loves her cuppa and has a high standard where she refuses to drink a cup if it’s not good) that this wasn’t a great cup of coffee.  I normally don’t waste, but unfortunately struggled to finish this one.

Service though by counter staff was attentive and very cheerful. Which made the day seemed so much warmer than weather wise! Next time I’ll definitely try more tarts, sweets and savoury food items!

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