Restaurant and food reviews from Perth, Australia

Monday, April 18, 2011

Iku Sushi, Perth

Iku Sushi Perth; Iku Sushi Perth review
With so many sushi places in the city to choose from ranging from super fresh and traditional sushi through to quick pre-made lunch sushi, it's sometimes hard to differentiate sushi except in quality or variety of product.  This is where Iku Sushi has gone out and done something different with the Cheeseburger and Chicken cheeseburger sushi (see below).

Iku Sushi recently opened its doors in the new 140 William Street complex at the underground train station in Perth.  The decor at Iku Sushi is quite hip for a lunch bar type of venue.  Filled with lots of colour, and modern looking Japanese inspired decorations Iku Sushi looks like a place to go and see what the fuss is all about.  They've definitely created a hip looking lunch bar.

Menu-wise, Iku Sushi has offerings ranging from machine wrapped sushi through to rice meals and noodles.  All these are served in quite fitting (to match the interior) colourful and catchy packaging.

Chicken Cheeseburger Sushi - $7.50

In my opinion the best tasting meal of our visit, the waiter claimed this as their specialty (well, the "cheeseburger" types of sushi which is the beef version of this sushi).

Take a standard sushi roll with chicken and cheese filling (to make it a chicken cheeseburger), then coat it in batter and deep fry it.  Then serve it with some creamy (chilli) spicy mayonnaise.  A sushi that differentiates Iku Sushi from many other sushi places, it's just unfortunate that it was a relatively healthy sushi differentiated by deep frying it.  It was relatively tasty though for lunch bar sushi.

The batter was relatively light and quite crispy, and overall in some of the sushi pieces where the cheese melted the sushi tasted how I would expect chicken and cheese to be in sushi.  Interestingly, they battered the sushi in portions of two such that they could be cut in half, giving it one flat side covered in batter whilst the other side looked like sushi.  This maximised the taste and texture of lightly crunchy batter.

Overall, for me this was worthy of a try but whether you like to have your sushi battered and deep fried will be a personal choice.

Spicy Chicken Ramen - $9.95

Coming served in what looked like a colourful supermarket-cup-noodle container, I'm not really sure what to say about this ramen.  V.K. ordered this and described it as having a milky soup and didn't enjoy it.  I tried a bit of the lightly spicy soup and it was very simple in flavour and lacking the depth and flavour that you get at specialist ramen restaurants.

The serving size was small by many ramen standards (although also a few dollars or so cheaper) and the noodles and chicken were also quite ordinary.  The vertical nature of the container also made it a little difficult to eat the ramen like a normal ramen meal.

I guess they don't specialise in ramen.

Chicken Katsu Curry (medium) - $8.95

E.G. ordered this meal sized curry chicken katsu which was served with rice, spring rolls and salad.

Though this was called a chicken katsu, Iku Sushi covered the chicken in a type of thin coating of what seemed more like fine batter than breadcrumbs and lacked crunch and flavour.  For those of you that don't know, Japanese Panko is what is normally used to crumb katsu and when used right gives a good crumb coating and a nice crunch.  The result was that the chicken katsu was  quite ordinary and plain.  Also, the texture of the chicken itself was very smooth that made E.G. and I think that it looked and tasted like processed chicken.  Odd.

E.G. described the spring rolls (and indeed the meal) as pretty average.  The spring rolls were like a mini entree to the dish, loosely packed vegetables in mini rolls and deep fried.

In summary, Iku Sushi breaks with tradition and offers their own take on simple Japanese dishes served in colourful and catchy disposable packaging.  Though innovation is definitely welcome, I can't say that I enjoyed the experience as many dishes didn't appeal to me - even comparing against the traditional versions.  A shame since the concept seems quite unique.

Points to note:  Iku Sushi is a bit like a funky lunch bar with sushi and hot meals.  The food is not traditional Japanese so might appeal to people looking for something a bit different.

Go for:  A different fusion-Japanese food experience.

Iku Sushi
140 William Street
(08) 9322 6008

Trading Hours
Monday to Thursday - 7:30am to 7pm
Friday - 7:30am to 9pm
Saturday and Sunday - 11am to 5:30pm

Iku Sushi on Urbanspoon

Monday, April 11, 2011

Koko Black, Claremont

Koko Black Claremont reviews; Koko Black Perth reviews
Chocaholics rejoice there is a new chocolatier in town!

Since 2003, a Melbourne start-up Chocolatier by the name of Koko Black has grown to become a well known chocolate institution carrying on the art of European chocolate making in Australia.  After a few expansions by way of new stores over the years Koko Black has finally made its way to Perth, suitably locating its first store in the upmarket Claremont Quarter managed by Hawaiian - a notably classier location than some other chocolatiers that have been appearing around town.

With shelves and glass display cabinets filled with chocolate selections, Koko Black is a true chocolatier.  You can choose from a wide selection of individual chocolates, an in season Easter selection, and even dine in for chocolate desserts, hot or cold chocolate drinks, and even high tea.

Belgian Spoil - $13.50

This board of chocolate delights was one of those chocolate tasting boards for the serious lover of chocolate.

Starting with a square of simple chocolate flour cake that seemed a tad dry, I made my way through the piece of shortbread (that seemed a little plain and lacking of the rich buttery texture of shortbread on the overall chocolate plate), a couple of Koko Black chocolates, chocolate mousse, and chocolate ice cream.

The Koko Black chocolates were pretty good.  One was a raspberry chocolate flavour and the other had a soft chocolate centre and a bit of crunchy praline like nuts.  The chocolates were very smooth and consistent, rich and finished with a touch of Koko Black branding.  Leaving the chocolate to melt in your mouth further showed how silky smooth it was.  A good chocolate worthy of creating an upmarket chocolatier around.  Though to me not quite in the same league as those oh-so-good fresh Leonidas pralines or Godiva chocolates, but also coming under their  prices unless you're passing through Europe any time soon.

Rounding off this dish the smooth chocolate mousse and ice cream were both very, very sweet and very chocolatey.  In particular the mousse was very rich and provided the strongest chocolate hit on the plate.

Otherwise, a bit of a contrast to the chocolate cake and shortbread, the mousse and ice cream are probably the best items on the plate for the serious chocolate dessert lovers (and are available in other dessert type selections).  The crunchy crumbs sprinkled on the mousse were also a nice touch.

Belgian Hot Chocolate - $5.95

This hot chocolate was made with Belgian dark chocolate and according to T.E. was moderately sweet but still retained a bitter taste.  The overall consistency and mix was like a classy but "normal" hot chocolate made with Belgian chocolate.  The hot chocolate however was not quite the same as a thickly rich hot chocolate that is almost like a cup of chocolate that many people (including T.E.) prefer to go out to a dedicated chocolatier for (e.g. San Churros' thicker and sweeter hot chocolates).

Light Hot Chocolate - $5.95

According to "H.T." the light hot chocolate was sweeter than the Belgian Hot Chocolate, but true to its name was also lighter with a milk chocolate taste and a moderate sweetness.  Again, a milky hot chocolate as opposed to a thick chocolatey hot chocolate.

In summary, Koko Black makes a good addition to Perth's growing chocolate scene.  It is a good chocolatier with a good range of take-home and dine in options, however their selection of menu items vary with some items not as chocolate crazy as some other chocolatiers (right now I'm thinking of Guylian in Sydney where ordering a single chocolate dessert plus iced chocolate drink would send me into an ill state of complete chocolate meltdown).  Though none of us were in awe and itching to go back, if I make it here again soon I will have to try the iced chocolate drinks.  In the meantime, I'm sure Koko Black will have a huge following in our ever growing hunger for sweets and chocolate.

Points to note:  Koko Black has everything from chocolate for sale, to dine in hot and cold chocolate drinks, and chocolate desserts.  There is also a high tea for those who like to go that bit extra.

Go for:  Chocolate, chocolate, and more chocolate.

Koko Black
23 St Quentin Ave
(08) 9284 2049

Trading Hours
Monday to Friday - 9am to 10pm
Friday and Saturday - 9am to 11pm
Sunday - 10:30am to 10pm

Koko Black on Urbanspoon

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Hippo Creek African Grill, Hillarys

Hippo Creek restaurant reviews; Hippo Creek African Grill reviews
Are you a hungry, hungry hippo?  Or just outright want to eat copious amounts of meat?  With probably the biggest concentration of South Africans outside of South Africa, it's no surprise that they brought their grill restaurants to Perth for our carnivorous enjoyment.

So when I think South African Grill, I think MEAT!  That's where Hippo Creek comes in with more than its fair share of meat including a good selection of steak, including moderate grades of Angus and Wagyu, and the Hunter's Assaghai (see below).  But for those not so red meat inclined, Hippo Creek has chicken (including a chicken version of the Hunter's Assaghai) and seafood options.

However, if you're vegetarian you then I hope you like garden or greek salad, or are happy with garlic bread and dessert as this restaurant isn't designed for you.  However, if you really are a carnivorous hippo you might want to consider the 2kg rump steak challenge.  I'll leave you alone with that one.

To complete the food side of things, contained in its own cowhide leather bound menu, the drink menu has many of your usual beers, wine (which unsurprisingly includes some South African options), and spirits.

Hunter's Assaghai - $43.50 (500 grams)

Coming in the 350g standard serve, or the "man-sized" 500g meal this is the "piece de resistance" or rather the centrepiece of Hippo Creek's South African Grill menu.  Think 500 grams of rump chunks, skewered and roasted, and  topped with melting garlic butter (or chilli/peri peri butter) oozing down those lashings of beef.  If all that meat doesn't tempt you, how about the bowl of crunchy fries that soaks up the melted garlic butter that drips to the bottom of the skewer.  'Nuff said.

Did I forget to mention that it also comes with a small garden salad?  Healthy stuff.

Chicken Breast - $39

At a different pace to the Hunter's Assaghai, the flame grilled lemon and marinated Mount Barket chicken breast was surprisingly moist and tender.  The chicken breast was topped with a few crunchy garlic king prawns (peeled but with tails left on) and surrounded by a decent amount of creamy garlic sauce.  Finishing off this place was a smooth and creamy mash and asparagus sticks.  It all tasted pretty good, no doubt due to the chicken breast being moist and the very creamy garlic sauce.

Koeksisters - $14

The least mainstream sounding dessert on the menu, to me the main component of the dish tasted like a sweetly (orange syrup) soaked soggy and doughy doughnut that clumped on its way down the throat.  Unfortunately that took the task of finishing this dessert off my things to eat list.

On the plus side, the cinnamon ice cream tasted ok (however it wasn't silky smooth or anything special) and the chocolate dipped orange slices went down a lot easier.

Amarula Mousse - $13

The two scoops of each of white and dark chocolate mousse were sweet and chocolatey.  Though they were definitely identifiable as chocolate mousse, they were quite average in texture and consistency like a soft ice cream.  I could finish this but after all that meat earlier in the meal the four scoop serving was a bit rich.

A couple of fingers of (dense and dry) lady finger biscuits dipped in a bit of chocolate were also present but didn't add a lot to the chocolate mousse.

Cappuccino - $3.50

Even though this was organic Toby's Estate coffee, it was a pretty average coffee that that seemed a bit watery - but hey this is a South African Grill and not an awarded Barista coffee shop.

In summary, Hippo Creek is a place to go for meat.  Despite being most well known for steaks and the Hunter’s Assaghai, Hippo Creek does offer white meats and seafood alternatives.  However you might be struggling for a mains past salad if you're vegetarian, but then again if you're vegetarian an African grill is probably not where you would eat.  Unfortunately, I thought the desserts were a little ordinary.  The service too can be a bit interesting – it’s not bad, but we watched out beer sit on the counter for more than five minutes whilst nearly half a dozen young wait staff were standing around it chatting.

Points to note: This is a South African Grill so expect tons of meat (and usually beef) to come out of the kitchen.  Most of the dishes are relatively simple and this isn’t fine dining – but they do make an effort with a good selection of meat.

Go for:  Meat of course.  And preferably steak.  Though if you aren't into beef you can still survive on chicken or seafood.  Vegetarians - might I suggest you go elsewhere?

Hippo Creek African Grill
Shop 203 Sorrento Quay Boardwalk
Hillarys Boat Harbour
58 Southside Drive
(08) 9447 2238

Trading Hours
Lunch and Dinner - 7 days
Breakfast - Saturday and Sunday

Hippo Creek African Grill on Urbanspoon