Restaurant and food reviews from Perth, Australia

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Gypsy Tapas House, Fremantle

Gypsy Tapas review; Gypsy Tapas house review
A few friends have recently recommended me Gypsy Tapas House, describing it as "not bad food" for the price and in particular the banquet menu which gives you a wide selection of food and how after you complete the banquet meal the staff will come around asking if you are full and if you are not you will be able to order more tapas to supplement the banquet meal at no extra cost. Given the usual small serving sizes of tapas I thought that would be a good thing, so I brought a couple of friends to give Gypsy Tapas House a try.

Gypsy Tapas House has both an indoor and outdoor dining area. The outdoor area is where most people seem to opt first with a live band playing music to go along with the tapas and overall restaurant feel. The outside area also has a very strong yellow lighting (from a yellow light globe fitted to light the outside area) that leaves the area relative dark and with a very casual feel. The band can be quite loud, and as we were unfortunately allocated a seat right up close to the band made table conversation nearly impossible to hold. However, it would have been great for those who want to sit back and listen to the band whilst tasting the tapas selection.

Upon entering the service is quite friendly, though on serving the food the wait staff seem to be rushing around and only on the odd occasion announcing the dish they put down with usually one or no words (so I have tried to guess some of the right descriptions for some courses).

The food menu is a single sheet with a list of tapas all priced at $8 each. However, with the mindset of trying the banquet selection on offer, we had already pre-determined we would go for the banquet ($35/head). This meant that all the courses were pre-selected by the chef, and would be served in the pre-determined order. Though there were three of us, we were provided only one dish of each course except for two of the courses where we were provided two dishes (one meat and one vegetarian dish).

At the beginning of the meal, we were provided with olives and sundried capsicum to snack on through the meal. Dishes also came out relatively quickly, with the aim of getting all courses to you within about one and a half hours.

Hummus with Turkish Bread

This dish consisted of a large dipping saucer of hummus accompanied by Turkish bread that seemed to have been pre-drizzled with olive oil.

Grilled Chorizo Sausage

This dish consisted of sliced chorizo that had a moderate level of spiciness and was lightly grilled bringing out a level of oiliness to the dish.

Scallops with Fennel and Anchovy

This dish consisted of in-shell scallops topped with chopped fennel and anchovy.

Sliced Ham

This dish consisted of slices of nice meaty ham served with a few small gherkin like pickles on the side.

Cuttlefish with Garlic and Chilli

This dish consisted of strips of cuttlefish cooked with garlic and chilli and served with a side serving of Turkish bread. The cuttlefish actually turned out quite good with a good texture that wasn't chewy or tough, and had flavours that weren't chilli hot but made the cuttlefish quite tasty.


This dish consisted of cooked potatoes served with a bit of seasoning.

Baked Feta with Tomato and Olive

For lovers of cheese, the lightly baked fetta turned out quite well. The fetta tasted quite mild and not as salty as some fettas which to me was a good thing.

Chicken Wings

This dish consisted of chicken wings that were well marinated and cooked through but still retained the moist wing meat and skin taste.

Pea and Vegetable salad

This vegetarian dish was light and drizzled with olive oil.

Chargrilled Cut of Lamb

This dish was lightly flavoured and was cooked a bit more than to my liking but still was reasonably tender.

Lebanese Rice Salad

This dish had lightly flavoured rice but stronger tastes of Spanish onion and cherry tomato through it.

Gorgonzola with Honey

This was quite a nice dish with the gorgonzola cheese having a subtle blue vein taste and drizzled with honey that worked well with the taste. The dish was also served with a piece of turkish bread on the side.

Smoked Almonds with Rosemary

The almonds had been smoked giving them that slight smoke flavour and less crunch than raw almonds. Along with the rosemary and olive oil, this seemed like a tastier way of eating almonds.

Sangria - $26 (Jug)

The sangria was available by the glass or jug.

In summary, Gypsy Tapas House does offer a variety of tapas that vary in taste and ingredients. The banquet in particular allows you to try a selection of the tapas on offer, but if you are hungry to begin with you might not be full on the banquet alone and if the experience that I had with my two friends is anything to go by, wont be able to order any more dishes before the kitchen closes and you’ll have to look elsewhere for more food.

Points to note: There are two seatings for dinner - 6:30pm and 8:30pm. All tapas from the most simple to the meat and seafood are $8, whilst the banquet is a fixed $35. The banquet gives a varied selection of the tapas but if you are hungry this may not be enough food before the kitchen closes. The venue is licensed.

Go for: A selection of tapas in a casual environment, accompanied by live music.

Gypsy Tapas House
Shop 3/124 High Street
Fremantle WA 6160
(08) 9336 7135

Trading Hours
Thursday to Saturday: 11am to 11pm

Gypsy Tapas House on Urbanspoon

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Valrhona Chocolate Afternoon Tea - Origins at Sheraton Hotel, Perth

Ever dreamt of being able to eat your way through a house or restaurant made of chocolate, where there's so much chocolate you can eat to your heart's content until you feel sick... rest 5 minutes and then eat some more? Well, maybe not quite so dramatic but I managed to make a fair dent into the world chocolate supply at a massive chocolate event filled with many decadent chocolate creations.

As part of the Eat Drink Perth Festival of 2010, and running only on 28 March as a pre-paid event, Origins at the Sheraton Hotel offered a special "Valrhona Chocolate Afternoon Tea" event. The event was part of the "Indulge" section of the festival and was obviously designed for chocolate lovers. The afternoon tea cost $50 per head and ran from 2:30pm to 5:30pm.

Valrhona is a French chocolate maker that has been around since 1922. According to Wikipedia, it is one of the foremost manufacturers that focuses on high quality chocolate to the world for both professional and private consumption. What better way to have a chocolate event than to use luxury chocolate? But you would expect nothing less from a place with a reputation like Origins, and so you can expect to be in for a real chocolate treat.

As I first approached Origins for the afternoon tea, the distinct smell of chocolate filled the air. Stronger and stronger the smell became as I made my way to the front desk where you wait to be seated. As I approached our table, the large buffet chocolate display was evident.

Chocolate in many forms including chocolate decorations filled the upper level of Origins that looked pretty impressive, that it felt a shame to pick at it and ruin the carefully placed chocolate treats. The chocolate decorations included some big chocolate multi-level and centrepiece like creations that gave me brief naughty thoughts of eating through it thus ruining what seemed like the product of a lot of time and skill.

The chocolate creations on offer included:
  • A chocolate shooter topped with cream that was served at the beginning by a waitperson
  • Valrhona chocolate pralines, truffles, and strawberries
  • Chocolate jaffa mud cake
  • Valrhona white chocolate and vanilla fondue
  • White chocolate pannacotta with passionfruit and basil
  • Chocolate brownies
  • White chocolate and raspberry friand
  • Rocky road
  • A big chocolate fondue fountain with fruit and marshmallows
  • White chocolate fondue with raspberry; and
  • Hot cross buns and Easter eggs to match the Easter festive season.

To accompany the chocolate overload a large range of coffee and tea was included as part of the chocolate afternoon tea, or other drinks such as French champagne were available for additional cost.

It's a little hard to describe all the chocolate treats except to say that if you are a lover of chocolate, you'd be sure to find many things to bring you chocolate joy. All chocolate creations looked expertly made and what you would expect from a place like Origins.

In the end, I think I had enough chocolate to last me a year. OK, maybe a week. But man, even though I don't normally eat much chocolate, was this a good way of treating myself to chocolate galore. Maybe they'll run this again next year?

Valrhona Chocolate Afternoon Tea
Sheraton Perth Hotel
207 Adelaide Terrace
Perth WA 6000
(08) 9224 7777

Date: 28 March 2010, 2:30 to 5:30pm

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Ayami Japanese Restaurant, Northbridge

Ayami Perth review; Ayami Japanese restaurant Perth review; Ayami Northbridge review
Excellent.  That pretty much sums up Ayami’s food.  Started up by renowned sushi chef Kengo Omori, I was fortunate enough to go to Ayami’s much anticipated opening night.  Having previously been impressed with sushi prepared by Kengo Omori I was eagerly anticipating Ayami’s opening and, although Ayami is more than just a sushi restaurant, its sushi menu.  Ayami did not disappoint.

Interior of Ayami Japanese Restaurant in Northbridge

Ayami is situated opposite Russell Square in Northbridge. Inside, the restaurant has good table dining as well as some sushi bar seating giving it a nice relaxed feel.  The staff are also friendly and courteous.

Part of the sushi bar

Reading the menu supports the authentic Japanese nature of the restaurant with a la carte selections and entrees along with sushi and sashimi.  The a la carte part of the menu contains dishes such as tempura, deep fried fish, and traditional Japanese noodles with an average price range of $10-20.  Sushi and sashimi is available by the dish or in pre-determined combinations.

Kengo Omori preparing sushi and sashimi

As sushi/sashimi chef, Kengo Omori brings his extensive and famed experience to Ayami.  Kengo Omori’s name is also well known in Japanese circles as evident by the large amount of Japanese patrons, and the opening gifts and wishes from various distinguished Japanese businesses and people.  Surely, if lots of Japanese people eat there, it must be good?

All sushi and sashimi is expertly prepared at the open sushi bar by Kengo Omori, and it shows.  Overall, the rice in the sushi is cooked just right; is flavoursome with the right amount of sweet and vinegar tastes; has the right texture and consistency; and is pressed firmly but not squashed – thus holding its shape very well when you pick it up (I tend to get a bit disappointed with sushi that breaks apart) whilst retaining the right texture.  Definitely two steps (or more) ahead of your kaiten (sushi train) and common sushi places.

Ayami also has a kitchen that is situated behind the sushi bar that prepares the other food on the menu.

Tataki beef - $12.50

The Tataki beef was lightly seared sirloin, sliced very thinly and mixed with a ponzu citrus sauce.  The beef tasted very fresh and was cooked and cut so that it was very tender and had a soft texture.  The citron ponzu sauce added a nice flavour and right amount of acidity to the beef.

To accompany the Tataki beef, there was a side serving of salad which included gourmet lettuce, red capsicum, and red onion dressed with a light Japanese style vinaigrette that complimented the taste of the tataki beef well.

The dish was then garnished with sesame seeds, spring onion, parsley and fresh lemon.

Sushi and sashimi mix for two - $85

This dish comes served in a large Japanese sushi plate and consists of a large variety of freshly selected sushi and sashimi of the day and can include tuna, salmon, snapper, mackerel, squid and octopus in sushi and sashimi form, prawn sushi, scallop sashimi, tobiko (flying fish roe) or salmon roe gunkan, california rolls, tuna and salmon hosomaki rolls, tamago (omelette), various gourmet seaweed, freshly pickled ginger, and lots of wasabi .  The dish is quite pleasant to look at being decoratively presented with all the different colour and texture combinations.  As the wait person places the dish, they take the time to tell you what every item on the plate is.

Salmon and tuna nigiri (good cuts with lots of healthy good fat lines)

All the ingredients and especially the fish were very fresh, of a good quality, and well prepared.  Even the seaweed and pickled ginger tasted very fresh.  The sushi were of a consistent quality, the fish was cut with precision, and the overall dish offered a good combination and variety of flavours to impress.  The tuna sashimi in particular was a fatty tuna which gives it a softer texture and more flavour and given the good fats in fish is better for you too.

California rolls

The texture of the sushi rolls (and in particular the California roll) when you bite into it was just about melt in your mouth.  Combined with the flavours in the fresh ingredients and seasoned rice, I have yet to try a California roll (or Tobiko roll) made by anyone else in Perth that tastes like this.

Tuna sashimi (a tastier and fattier part of tuna that is good for you)

The dish with the generous amounts of raw fish had lots of variety and taste combinations, and was quite satisfying.

Nigiri Ayami - $35

This was the main course sized nigiri sushi dish and contained a wide selection of nigiri sushi including snapper, salmon, tuna, prawns, mackerel, octopus, lightly cooked and marinated salmon, eel, scallop, flying fish roe, salmon roe sushi, and a block of tamago (omelette) and pickled ginger.

Eel nigiri

This dish felt like an exciting degustation of fresh nigiri sushi.

Mixed sashimi - $35

This was the main course sized sashimi dish and contained a wide selection of sashimi including salmon, tuna, snapper, scallops, mackerel, and octopus.

Similar to every other piece of fish served, the fish was very fresh and sliced very well.  In particular, I like how they use the fattier and tastier tuna in the sashimi (which also costs more than your normal tuna).

Miso soup - $3.50

The miso soup tasted different to your ‘common’ miso soup that many Japanese restaurants offer and in fact tasted more complex with its subtle flavour.  Even so, the combination of the miso soup with the tofu and seaweed had a distinct miso soup taste and was not salty giving it a lighter and yet subtly tastier feel.  Overall, in comparison to many other miso soups, this got the thumbs up from us.

In summary, Ayami Northbridge makes some excellent Japanese food and has a distinctly traditional Japanese feel throughout.  The sushi and sashimi in particular is worthy of note.

Points to note: The sushi is expertly hand made by Kengo Omori, an award winning sushi chef.  The food is of excellent quality and freshness, and traditional Japanese.  Located in a slightly quieter part of Northbridge (opposite Russell Square), Ayami Japanese restaurant is currently BYO as they are awaiting their liquor license which they are expecting around May/June 2010.

Go for:  Top notch sushi, sashimi and Japanese food at a good price for what you get.

Ayami Japanese Restaurant
Shop 2, 182 James Street
Northbridge WA 6003
(08) 9328 2525

Trading Hours
Monday to Saturday: 6pm to 10pm

Ayami Japanese Restaurant on Urbanspoon
Ayami Perth review; Ayami Perth blog; Ayami Japanese Restaurant review blog; Ayami Northbridge review

Monday, March 22, 2010

Hayashi Japanese Restaurant, Applecross

Given food like sashimi and sushi, and lightness of flavours in a lot of dishes (even tempura is a light fried batter), Japanese food often relies on the subtle inherent flavours, textures, and freshness of its ingredients.  Hayashi in Applecross has previously won some Gold Plate Awards, and prides itself on the freshness of their ingredients.

When you go into Hayashi, you get quite a warm feeling with paper lanterns, warm lighting, and lots of light brown wooden furniture.  The music being played softly in the background was alternative chill out music which was a bit different to the Japanese music used before.

The menu is quite extensive with a large selection of standard Japanese food on offer including sushi, sashimi, teppanyaki, teriyaki, tempura, kara age, katsu, noodles, and set boxes.  Prices for mains range on average from $25 to 40.  The venue is also fully licensed, and even has sake (Japanese rice wine) on offer.

Seafood teppanyaki duo -  $31.50

The dish came with prawns, scallops, a bit of gourmet lettuce, broccoli, snow peas, parsley, and served with a bowl of rice, miso soup and sauce.

The miso soup came out prior to the rest of the meal in a regular sized small miso soup bowl and was pretty standard with seaweed and a bit of tofu in the soup.

In the main dish, the prawns were slightly crunchy and cooked in a soy based sauce that made it a bit salty for my taste.  In comparison, the scallops had a slightly soft centre, but comparatively did not absorb the salt as much.  The additional sauce provided was a vinegar sauce that was slightly vinegary and had some other very light soy based flavours.  The sauce helped bring the salt levels in the prawns down for me.

The vegetables were steamed very lightly.  The light cooking technique helped the vegetables maintain a nice crunch, without being undercooked.  The vegetables also tasted fresh and were lightly coated in a nice sweet soy tasting sauce, oil and sesame seed.

Beef tataki meal set - $28.50

The dish came with sliced beef tataki on a bed of finely shaven onion, garnished with parsley, and served with spring onion, and ground ginger and garlic.  The meal also came with a bowl of rice, broccoli and snow peas, side sauce, and miso soup.

The beef was seared very lightly and the meat was fresh.  The method of only slightly searing the beef and the medium thin slices made this quite a good dish.  The side sauce was similar to the sauce provided with the teppanyaki and for the beef tataki was perhaps not as strong in vinegar based flavour compared to some other Japanese places.

The vegetables and miso soup were similar to the ones provided with the teppanyaki.

In eating this dish, to me the overall meal seemed very light and not a filling meal.  Also as a matter of personal preference, I didn't feel that putting the beef tataki with a bowl of rice made this any better and in fact I would prefer not to have rice with beef tataki.  However, as an entree this would make it a good straight beef tataki dish.

Special Hayashi dinner set - $48

This dish consisted of teriyaki fish, chicken kara age, sashimi, superior beef, and vegetables, rice and miso soup similar to the meals above.

The teriyaki fish (fish that is usually pan-fried with teriyaki sauce) was cooked with a lot of flavour that with the amount of teriyaki sauce was a bit saltier than I prefer.  The chicken kara age (lightly battered and fried boneless chicken pieces) had a light lemon flavour to it.  The special beef was tasty and tender and well made.

The sashimi consisted of two slices of salmon, tuna and a white fish.  The sashimi was fresh and served with wasabi and soy sauce.

Chawan mushi - $10

The Japanese egg custard came with a lot of ingredients such as chicken and prawns, but the serving size was quite small and the egg was very lightly cooked (I prefer it to be cooked a bit more to be a bit more solid).

Overall, Hayashi has a variety of Japanese meals on offer with their own slight variations on the way they are prepared and presented.  Whilst the food seems pretty fresh, in comparison to some other Japanese restaurants I have been to, the meals do seem to me to be a bit on the pricier side.

Points to note:  A reasonable selection of Japanese dishes and Hayashi's own combinations of food.  Licensed.

Go for: Decent amount of selections available in their menu.  The ingredients used are very fresh.

2/15 Ogilvie Road
Applecross, WA
(08) 9316 3384

Trading Hours
Lunch - Friday: 12noon to 2:30pm
Dinner - Monday to Sunday: 5:30pm to 10:30pm
Hayashi of Applecross on Urbanspoon