Restaurant and food reviews from Perth, Australia

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Toraya Sushi, Subiaco

There seems to be an abundance of Japanese restaurants in Perth, enough so one has to attempt to separate those that offer something to make it stand out.  Whether it be the quality, value for money, or innovative dishes, these are some of the things I look for to help me decide whether the meal was a good experience - even if it was a experience I would probably only try once!

Recently I had a dinner at Toraya Sushi - a place that I would say offered some different or unusual variations on common dishes or elements to at least make the meal interesting.  Although this was a dinner, Toraya Sushi seems to be more known as a lunch venue - and its trading hours seem to confirm this.

For dinner Toraya Sushi's atmosphere is a little strange for the dinner scene.  The warm dim lighting seems a little awkward given the lunchbar-like feel of the decor and tiled floor.  However, balancing that out, the service I received was friendly and helpful and seeing Japanese patrons eating there was encouraging.

For dinner, Toraya Sushi had two menus to order from - the normal menu and a separate page of specials.  The dishes are focused on share dishes, where you can choose a variety of Japanese dishes from sushi to tempura.  Accompanying the food is a drinks menu offering beer, wine and a selection of Japanese spirits.

Rainbow Roll - $16.00

Nicely presented, the rainbow roll was presumably named as such due to each piece of sushi containing all of raw tuna, raw salmon, prawn, crab stick, avocado and cucumber.

Though the inverted sushi rolls (i.e. seaweed inside and rice showing on the outside) were well prepared with the different taste elements combining together, I felt the rice was a little under-seasoned for my liking.  If it wasn't for the four different bits of seafood combined into this sushi, I would have thought it nothing special.

Wagyu Tataki - $16.00

One of the specials for the night was the wagyu tataki.  Although keeping to the main elements of a tataki, this version didn't do much for me.  Although the wagyu was seared well, leaving a good rare layer inside, I found the wagyu to be a bit chewy.

The ponzu "sauce" that dressed the wagyu was a jelly that seemed to have the acidic, salty and sweet flavours you expect from sauce served with tataki.  However, after tasting it, it had me wanting for a traditionally prepared sauce instead.  Sure it meant you could easily combine it with the beef in a mouthful, however I felt the cold jelly texture didn't do it justice.

Cheese Tempura - $8.00

Even though I have eaten tempura seafood and vegetables before, I wasn't sure what to expect of tempura cheese.  The cheese component of the cheese tempura was a soft, stretchy cheese.  Deep frying the stretchy cheese with a light crispy batter was a treat.  I'm happy I tried it.

The cheese tempura was placed into a bowl of thin sauce that tasted like a salty, lightly sweet and strong stock (as it does with many tempura that come with sauce) rich in flavours including dashi (a type of fish stock), salty soy, and a small amount of mirin sweetness.

Mixed Seafood Marinade - $11.00

Octopus, salmon and tempura prawns with a spicy mayonnaise

First up, the diced octopus was tender and mixed with a small amount of Japanese mayonnaise.  The mayonnaise gave the octopus a light creamy taste but was otherwise relatively subtle in taste.

In the middle of the tray, a chilli-spicy mayonnaise was mixed into a few tempura prawns.  The prawns were crunchy, the level of spice in the mayonnaise moderate but definitely enough for you to notice, but combining them did make some of the tempura batter soggy.

Lastly, diced raw salmon was mixed into a similar chilli-mayonnaise sauce.  As to be expected, the Japanese mayonnaise blended perfectly to add its creamy texture to the sashimi grade salmon.  All up, as much as I like raw fish, I enjoyed the spicy raw salmon salad.

Ginger Brulee - $11.00

Rich and creamy, the lightly ginger flavoured brulee was served cold with a freshly hardened caramel top.  The caramel top was quite a thick layer, requiring a bit of effort to crack through in order to get to the creamy brulee underneath.  On top of the caramel was some simple vanilla ice cream (that had started to melt from the still warm caramel layer) and a couple of blueberries.
As a brulee, I quite enjoyed the light ginger taste running through the cream and egg taste of the brulee.  Though not as creamy as some other creme brulees I have had at some other nice establishments, the ginger taste kept the dessert from feeling too heavy and the thick caramel layer added a nice texture and sweetness.

We liked:  The different approach to dishes - such as the cheese tempura or changing the common brulee by adding ginger.

We didn't like:  The venue is a little lunch-bar like with tiled floors; some dishes were hit and miss

Other things to note: Licensed with Japanese alcohol available; dine in or takeaway

Toraya Sushi
Shop 8, Subiaco Square
29 Station Street
(08) 9382 4433

Trading Hours
Lunch - 7 days
Dinner - Thursday to Saturday
Toraya Sushi on Urbanspoon

Monday, June 4, 2012

P'tite Ardoise Bistro

Taking a break from going home to a home cooked dinner, a friend of mine and I decided to go out for something different, something you don't come across everywhere you go.  Going through our bucket list, we booked an early session at the French restaurant P'tite Ardoise Bistro in Highgate hoping to try some of their Normandie-an cuisine and see if it really was as good as we'd heard.

From the moment you enter P'tite Ardoise Bistro, you know you're in a French restaurant.  From the French waitstaff with their smooth French accents, the sublime French background music, the hypnotic smell of crusty baguette, and the quick French language course menus, I felt as though I was truly getting a French experience.  The restaurant itself isn't large, and even though the tables are quite tightly packed, the experience is still inviting if not intimate.

The menu at P'tite Ardoise Bistro is split across two sheets, with what appear to be a classic menu and a daily menu.  Both are written with enough French to really make you feel like you're in a French bistro and enough English so, at least in my case, you can make out what most of the meals are.  Suffice to say there is a fair amount of French cuisine on offer!

Bread basket - $3.50

For $3.50 per head, you can have just about as much bread as you like.  The bread is heated and there are a few choices - generally a white bread, wholemeal bread, and the French baguette.

Duck l'orange - $34

This twice cooked duck leg was served with vegetables and orange sauce.

The duck leg was delicious - it was tender and moist, and the skin was lightly crispy.  The orange sauce added that familiar sweetness that goes with duck so well.

Overall, we were impressed with the flavours of this dish, even though it wasn't a huge serving.

WA beef tenderloin - $44

The beef tenderloin, served on a large rectangular rustic-feel board that really let the presentation of the beef tenderloin stack shine through, was served with foie gras, mushroom duxelle, red wine jus, and mashed potato.  Similar to the duck l'orange, the beef tenderloin (served on a big rectangular board and pictured in its entirety above) wasn't a huge serving but in a two or three course meal with bread it's easily satisfying.

I ordered the beef tenderloin medium rare and, sitting on a bed of silky smooth and rich mash, it was cooked perfectly.  The beef was pink in the middle and so tender it just about melted in the mouth effortlessly.

The combination of the beef with the rich and strongly flavoured red wine jus, silky smooth foie gras and the mushroom duxelle (a bit like a mushroom paste cooked with butter and onions) had a luxurious feel and blended perfectly into each mouthful.

Vegetables for the table

Vegetables were served with the main course.  Nothing too special here, but the vegetables were lightly cooked and seasoned and always welcome.  As you can see above, having the vegetables served separately helped keep the main course presentation neat.

Trio of minis - chef's selection - $14

Why have one dessert when you can have three?

This trio of minis had a chocolate ganache, creme brulee, and custard with a meringue.

The chocolate ganache was hot and oozed chocolate goodness in the middle; the creme brulee was super creamy with the classic crisp caramel top; and the custard with meringue had a soft melt-in-your-mouth light and airy meringue.

We liked: Fantastic French food with a French atmosphere.

We didn't like: To maximise the tables in the not-so-large restaurant, some of the tables can be very closely packed together.

Other things to note: Book in advance to avoid disappointment; very gluten-free friendly menu.

P'tite Ardoise Bistro
283 Beaufort Street
(08) 9228 2008

Opening Hours
Tuesday to Saturday - from 6pm

P'tite Ardoise Bistro on Urbanspoon