Restaurant and food reviews from Perth, Australia

Friday, January 25, 2013

Lido Restaurant, Northbridge

Today we head to a centrally located Vietnamese restaurant that my Vietnamese friends have been taking me  to for some time.  In particular, we would order the broken rice or various Vietnamese noodle dishes (both soup and dry) which are relatively healthy and reasonably priced.  The restaurant's name is Lido Restaurant, and it's located on William Street in Northbridge.

Lido has for years been providing Vietnamese as well as (despite saying it's an authentic Vietnamese Restaurant) Chinese dishes which seem to make up a big portion if not more than half the menu.  The menu for Lido has different sections for the different cuisines.  I'm happy to say there is still a decent amount of Vietnamese dishes on the menu, ranging from rice and noodle dishes through to the sour soup steam boat. Many of the dishes are intended to serve one, and seem to be both delicious and relatively healthy at the same time.  These dishes start from the low teens and usually go to the mid or higher teens, but the share dishes such as the steam boat will set you back quite a bit more.

On the other hand, if you're after something other than Vietnamese, there are the other Asian dishes - mainly Chinese as I said earlier.  These include your sizzling dishes, some stir fries, and some deep fried dish that my Vietnamese friend bans me from ordering (but with a good choice of Vietnamese food, I'm not about to complain).  Thus I haven't tried these to comment on their extensive non-Vietnamese selection.

Lido is also licensed, so you're able to enjoy a beer or wine with your dinner; or if you're wanting something non-alcoholic, Lido's drinks include a variety of other Asian drinks including blends of some "exotic" fruits.

Even though there are quite a few young waiters who looked indifferent to being there, we found the service to be generally quick including the serving of meals, though on some occasions you may need to waive a waiter to come over.

Chicken Hofan Soup - $12

With any Asian noodle soup, the taste of the stock is so paramount it can make or break a dish for me.  This chicken hofan soup used a chicken stock base (as you would expect).  The chicken stock had a strong, full flavour that definitely saw many a chicken (bones) being used to flavour it.  Why just use the chicken meat when you can use the bones too!  It was a deep stock which had been seasoned with a fair amount of additional salt (but short of reaching being too salty), making a fairly flavoured soup base that you could drink on its own without the need for additional seasoning.

The other part of the chicken in this dish was slices of chicken breast that were fully cooked.  Being chicken breast, they were a little dry and plain; however in this dish with the chicken stock they complemented the dish quite well adding to the chicken flavour and best eaten with the flavour from the stock.  Failing that, you could always use some of the additional sauces available.

Rounding out the dish were the glass noodles, slippery smooth and light in texture - combining into this chicken dish really well.

At this point I should also mention that, with most Vietnamese soup noodle dishes from what I can tell, you get a side dish of bean sprouts, cabbage, mint and lemon that you can add to your noodles as you please.  Also, for the chilli-lovers or the adventurous, cut chilli is provided.

Bun Bo Hue - $12.50

This noodle dish was a beef noodle dish made with a beef stock.

Like the chicken stock above, the beef stock was pretty decent with a good strong and deep flavour that you could see in the colour of the soup and made this dish quite satisfying and delicious.  However, for those of you who haven't had it before, chilli is added to the dish making it quite spicy - the level of spiciness is fine if you're used to chilli but you might struggle if not so be warned!

This beef noodle soup (of course) came with thin slices of cooked beef as well as a type of sausage meat.  Whilst the beef was nothing special, almost rough in texture with not a lot of flavour in itself, the sausage meat tasted like a processed cold pressed smooth meat sausage that had been sliced up and put into this dish.

The noodles used in this dish were round rice noodles that looked a little like a pale version of spaghetti.  They were heavier than the glass noodles used in the chicken hofun soup, but were well matched to this heavier beef noodle soup.

Broken Rice - $12.50

Another favourite Vietnamese dish for me (especially when it's too hot for soup) is Broken Rice.  It's a dish that my Vietnamese friend tells me was eaten by the poorer folk (i.e. the broken scraps of rice with whatever else they could put with it) though at current prices you would hardly think that!

The highlight for me in this dish was the grilled pork chop.  The pork chop had a bit of bone on one side, the meat had been half sliced into strips with the bone side still in tact so as to to keep the pork chop together.  The pork chop had been char-grilled with a marinade that was all of sweet, savoury, amongst other flavour marinades further enhanced with a smoky grilled charcoal flavour.  Quite delicious if you ask me.

The broken rice dish also came with the broken rice (rice that had been broken into smaller bits and cooked)  topped with what seemed to be a mix of fine strips of pork and pork skin, a soft-yolk fried egg (with crunchy bits on the base and sides), a slice of a type of sausage loaf that had a sort-of rough minced processed meat with some black crunchy fungus, and slices of cucumber.  Also on the dish was a small bowl of Vietnamese fish sauce, pouring it into the dish (especially the rice) gave the dish a whole kick of additional flavour - but be warned you'll have garlic breath afterwards.

Lastly, the broken rice is served with what seems like a token soup - a light broth soup that is seasoned with a fair amount of salt and pepper.

Ice Chendol - $6.50

Lido offers a small selection of Asian drinks on their menu - many are made on the spot.

This Ice Chendol is almost a cross between a drink and a dessert.  It is layered with a type of bean in sweet syrup, a green jelly-like layer mixed with coconut milk, and sweetened crushed ice.  Overall, the drink is quite sweet and filling so don't order it if you have ordered a lot of food already.

We liked: Some of the Vietnamese dishes are very flavoursome and pretty much delicious whilst seeming relatively healthy for eating out; the place is quite clean and bright for a Vietnamese restaurant.

We didn't like: You're likely to smell like the restaurant if you eat or sit close to people who have some dishes like the sizzling ones; a little pricier than some other "authentic" Vietnamese restaurants

Other things to note:  The menu has Vietnamese as well as a lot of non-Vietnamese dishes; licensed (BYO wine only); mostly indoor but a handful of 2-seater al fresco available.

Lido Restaurant
416 William Street
(08) 9227 5545

Trading Hours
Lunch: 7 days - 11am to 3pm
Dinner: 7 days - 5pm to 10pm

Lido Restaurant Northbridge on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Himalayan Nepalese Restaurant & Cafe, Inglewood

Time for something different.  Time to head up north next to the tallest mountain in the world, and incidentally where it's no doubt freezing right now.  It's time for some Nepalese food.

As its name suggests, Himalayan Nepalese Restaurant & Cafe is a restaurant specialising in Nepalese food and has two branches - one in Victoria Park and one in Inglewood.  For my visit, we went to the one in Inglewood which is the newer of the two.  Himalayan Nepalese Restaurant & Cafe in Inglewood has a modern set up, with a cafe feel from the glass frontage to the furniture but with splashings of Nepalese pictures and decorations on the walls.

The menu is designed around share dishes, offering a decent selection of meat and seafood dishes prepared in a variety of ways, complemented by rice, bread, vegetable and side dishes as well as entrĂ©es.  To end the meal, there is a selection of desserts, largely Nepalese style desserts I haven't seen before.  There's also ice cream in there if you aren't feeling adventurous.

The service from the wait staff was friendly and helpful.  We were greeted with smiles, and served with cheery friendliness and helpful assistance to our questions.  I should also add that the restaurant is BYO so bring a bottle of wine if you fancy.

Chara ko Sekuwa - $21

The menu described this dish as tender pieces of chicken thigh marinated in special Nepalese spices with yoghurt, cooked in a Tandoori oven.  Sound similar to Tandoori chicken much?  Well, I thought this was better.

The chicken pieces were tender and moist, marinated in a mix similar to Tandoori but seemed a little more savoury with a fuller deeper flavour and the spices were infused to give the whole chicken pieces flavour.  To top if off, there was a slight charcoal taste adding further flavour.

The yoghurt dipping sauce was of a creamy sauce consistency, infused with mint.  Though sauces are usually welcome with any meat dish, we felt it wasn't necessary with this already well flavoured and tender chicken dish.

Himalayan Hot Lamb - $20

This dish was described as lamb cooked in a hot Nepalese spicy sauce. Specially for lovers of chilli.

Given I have my limits with chilli, I had to ask how hot this was before we ordered it.  The response was a little vague but we were told it wasn't too hot and we should be able to cope with it.  So we ordered it.

The verdict?  Well, the dish was quite hot but not inedible for me.  For the level of spice, I would say you best be a "lover of chilli" because the chilli is very pronounced and prevented me from indulging in too much of the sauce - and eating more of the Raita (below).

Other than the heat, the sauce was thick, with a distinct tomato flavour mixed into the earthy spices and chilli.  The lamb itself was tender like it had been cooked enough to tear away quite effortlessly.

Hario Sag-pat - $6.50

This Nepalese style salad was prepared with lettuce, cucumber, capsicum and tomato, and tossed with Nepalese dressing.

As you can see from the picture, the salad was basically chopped up pieces of the raw vegetables, and topped with more of the yoghurt mint dressing.  Though salads make you feel better about your meal, there wasn't really anything inspiring about this salad, and we were probably getting sick of the mint yoghurt taste of the dressing by this stage.

Kakro ra Dahi (Raita) - $4

This dish was described as a Nepalese style sorbet - made of chopped cucumber and sweetened yoghurt.

There was a lot of yoghurt throughout the dishes in this meal.  Though the sweetened acidic yoghurt (think natural yoghurt but lightly sweetened) with chopped cucumber helped moderate the spiciness of the hot lamb dish, we had enough yoghurt about halfway through the meal.

Garlic Naan - $5

Though there were different naan bread offerings on the menu (such as plain and topped with cheese), this Naan was topped with chopped garlic before cooking.  The result was that the naan was grilled with thin slices of garlic that crisped up in the cooking.

With a fair amount of oil, the naan had a delicious crispy garlic and salt flavour that we liked enough to order another serve.  Though beware the garlic breath!

We liked: Some good strong flavours with tender meats, without excessive prices; friendly and helpful wait staff

We didn't like: Too much yoghurt for our taste; restaurant can get noisy

Other things to note: BYO; not so vegetarian and even less so vegan friendly

Himalayan Nepalese Restaurant & Cafe
840 Beaufort Street
(08) 6161 9509

Trading Hours
LUNCH - 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM (Wed - Sun)
DINNER - 5:00 PM to 10:00 PM (7 Days)

Himalayan Nepalese Restaurant & Cafe on Urbanspoon

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Fuku Omakase and Teppanyaki, Mosman Park

Ever wanted to dine somewhere that felt very exclusive?  How about a fine dining restaurant that can only seat 16 people at any one time, and you have to buzz the intercom to be let in?  Further, what if you can only get in by making a reservation online (up to about 2 weeks in advance) or else wait on the night and see if they have any cancellations?

Fuku Omakase and Teppanyaki Japanese restaurant has arrived in Perth offering all of that.

From the moment you walk into Fuku Omakase and Teppanyaki (we'll just call it "Fuku") you feel like you're somewhere exclusive.  The long bar style restaurant is centred around the "kitchen" and teppanyaki grill - all for your viewing enjoyment as each of your dishes are prepared in front of your eyes.  Adorning the back wall are countless bottles of sake making quite the spectacle, lit by warm inviting lighting.

Onto the food, Fuku provides a fixed menu where you basically get given what the chef prepares you (i.e. it's the chefs choice, not yours)  However, at the time of my visit, you do have a choice between two menus at different prices ($110 for four courses vs $160 for eight - and I think there's now a third more expensive choice).  The more expensive menu provides more courses, and thus more food giving you more chances to try some of unique imported ingredients (many from Japan).

The service by the waitstaff was generally good and they were enthusiastic.  However, for a fine dining venue I found there be a few peculiarities.  Perhaps I'm being picky but at fine dining restaurants I don't expect dishes to be almost immediately cleared as soon as one person finishes a dish whilst other people they are dining with are still eating (causing them to feel rushed), dishes such as a freshly poured soy sauce dipping bowl being cleared away before it was even used only to have another poured out as soon as the next course came (yet there was no cutlery change between meals), and meals would come out ad hoc without regard to whether you had finished your previous course making the meal seem a little rushed.

Oysters Three Ways

On the left was a fresh natural oyster, followed by a chilli jam oyster, and finally an oyster topped with lightly seared salmon and ponzu jelly.

All oysters were raw, with the chilli jam oyster having a mild chilli and sweet condiment taste, and the last oyster topped with a cold ponzu jelly sauce (lightly sour and salty) on top of diced salmon that had been lightly seared with a handheld blow torch.

Sashimi and sushi

The menu described this dish as having toro (tuna belly), anago (salt-water eel), sashimi-tuna, salmon, and kajiki.

Made by chef Tetsuya-san's hands right before your eyes came this very fresh sashimi and sushi dish.

On the sashimi (or raw fish) side was a couple of slices of each of tuna, salmon, and buri - the latter of which was described by chef Tetsuya-san as the highest grade of Yellowtail fish from Japan, having grown large enough to be called "Buri".  Each piece of fish tasted very fresh, and was sliced effortlessly by chef Tetsuya-san with his ultra sharp knife (chef Tetsuya-san can do some pretty nifty tricks with his knife if you ask nicely).  Might I add that I like my sashimi?

On the sushi side was each a nigiri style salmon, toro, and anago.  Each was made and placed on a separate dish for light torching before being placed on the serving plate.

 Small morsels

From left to right was cooked wagyu beef, lobster meat and avocado salad, and octopus.

The wagyu beef was cooked about medium yet still reasonably tender (I'm not sure why it wasn't cooked medium rare or less - which is what I would have preferred), drizzled with a sauce which was all of creamy and sweet and lightly salty, and topped with some mildly spicy chilli.  For me, the sauce made the beef really stand out.

The diced lobster meat was mixed in with a light creamy sauce, perhaps based in Japanese mayonnaise, and placed on top of a couple of slices of avocado.

The octopus was very crunchy as far as octopus is concerned, served cold with a slightly acidic sauce.

Quail twice cooked with pomegranate sauce

This twice cooked quail breast and wing met its second time cooking on a unique grilled-stove, being turned a few times until it was cooked.  We felt the meat inside was dry - perhaps overcooked for our liking, but the skin was nicely lightly charcoaled and parts were a little crispy.

The accompanying sauce made from pomegranate packed a strong fruity pomegranate taste - a little tangy with a burst of fruit flavour.

On the other side of the quail was a type of salsa that tasted like chutney which I found a little odd and for me and not exactly complementing the pomegranate sauce.

 Japanese scallop and Jumbo prawn with uni butter

This dish, cooked entirely on the teppanyaki stove started with a base of Japanese scallop which was cooked very tender inside.  On top of the scallop was a huge king prawn that had been peeled and split in front of us and cooked perfectly tender and naturally crunchy.  Finally on top of the prawn was a part of the prawn head that had been fully compressed and cooked on the teppanyaki stove until it was crunchy.  The prawn head had a decent prawn smell and taste but was completely edible, though maybe a tad too rough and pungent for some.

Drizzled over the dish was uni (sea urchin) flavoured butter that was melted on the teppanyaki grill before being scooped on top of the seafood.  The melted butter sauce with a light hint of sea urchin combined with the seafood to make a lightly flavoured seafood dish that was complemented rather than drowned by the buttery sauce.

 Fish of the day - Kajiki (swordfish) and daikon radish

This fillet of swordfish was cooked on the teppanyaki stove using a metal cover that helped steam it on the stove.  The fish was tender, but being a bit of a bland fish for me but being well dressed with a slightly acidic and citrus-tasting sauce.

The swordfish was placed on top of a firm teppanyaki-stove-cooked slice of daikon, and topped with a long cigar of palate cleansing pickled ginger that had a strong (quite hot) ginger taste and a tad stringy - especially on the lighter side which was too stringy to eat (be warned as it could look quite uncouth spitting the chewy part back out).

Wagyu sirloin steak Mayura Station grade 7

On the main plate was diced wagyu steak, cooked medium rare (as requested) on the teppanyaki stove.  Though a little odd being diced rather than served as a steak or otherwise sliced after cooking, the steak was tender and juicy, and topped with crispy garlic slices.  Alongside the steak was half a sliced section of onion, grilled on the teppanyaki stove with a special eye-catching flambe style fire spectacle used during the cooking process (though still tasking like char-grilled onion).

The steak was served with two sauces - a savoury garlic sauce, and a chilli miso sauce that was a thick sweet flavoured miso sauce mixed with mildly spicy chilli.

Also served at the same time as the steak was a fried rice, also cooked on the the teppanyaki stove.  The fried rice started out with a raw egg that was juggled with the cooking implements until it was intentionally cracked mid-air onto the stove using the sharp end of the implement - quite a spectacle of talent or practice.  Added to the egg was short grain Japanese rice, finely diced beef, spring onion, and seasoned with some soy sauce and cracked pepper.  The rice wasn't seasoned or special enough to be tasty to eat on its own for my tastebuds (it tasted quite bland) but rather used as a base to the wagyu steak dish.

Just a final note on this - the fried rice was listed as a separate course (out of the eight) on this menu, whilst on the shorter cheaper menu it was listed together with the wagyu beef as a single course (i.e. as an extra component, and not a course in its own right).

Genmaicha pannacotta, Japanese Baumkuchen and mountain peach with kinako

As its name suggests, the pannacotta was flavoured with Japanese Green Tea (a variety that is combined with roasted brown rice).  The panncotta wasn't as sweet as the plain variety (perhaps the genmaicha covered the taste) but it was topped with some caramel syrup.  The pannacotta was also served in a little tea-cup, possibly as the texture didn't seem like it would easily hold form if it was turned over.

The Japanese Baumkuchen was a layered cake, a little like a sweet and rich layered sponge (cooked one layer after the other) which was topped with sugar that was then finished with a blowtorch giving a nice creme brulee like sweet crunch to the cake.  The cake was a good combination of sweetness and buttery-ness without being excessive, and I'm sure would have taken more than a fair effort to make.

Lastly, the dish was decorated with a somewhat tasteless but decorative kinako (soybean flour), and a small preserved mountain peach that was nice but had an inedible seed in it (so don't swallow whole).

Overall, whilst the choice of many special ingredients blended together, along with the entertainment of being prepared food in front of you was something new and fresh for the Perth scene, I can't help but wonder whether the whole experience was special or else fine dining enough to warrant the very high price.  Still, if you want the entertainment that comes with the interaction with the chefs, as well the the exclusivity of being in a restaurant that seats only 16 people, you might want to give this restaurant a try.

We liked: Fresh produce - many sourced from Japan; being able to see your food prepared in front of you.

We didn't like: Quite pricey for what you get; meal isn't evenly paced (we got served some dishes whilst still eating the prior course); service isn't on par or as refined as other establishments in the same price range

Other things to note: Includes all you can drink water and tea; fully licensed with a healthy selection of sake and matching options.

Fuku Omakase and Teppanyaki
20 Glyde Street
0403 470 964

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