Restaurant and food reviews from Perth, Australia

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Boulevard Restaurant, Hillarys

Boulevard Restaurant reviews; Boulevard Restaurant Hillarys reviews
As spring approaches, it's time to get out and about and enjoy some of that sun.  Or alternatively, time to go out and eat lots of food whilst soaking up sun or at least go and eat somewhere with a view.

I went up Hillarys Boat Habour way one weekend, where many restaurants and pubs including The Boulevard Restaurant are located.  Hillarys Boat Harbour has many open areas, nice brick and planked flooring, and views of the ocean (at some locations) and boats - making Hillarys a popular location for tourists and locals alike.  Boulevard restaurant fits into this with its own modern casual atmosphere and large windowed walls overlooking part of Hillarys.

At lunch/dinner Boulevard Restaurant offers an upmarket cafe menu, complete with a modest alcohol list.  There are many cafe style meat and veg type dishes but with a slightly more upmarket feel.  However, vegetarians may struggle to find much worth eating.

Seafood platter - $54

The seafood platter was a plate of tempura prawns, crayfish, salt and pepper squid, wedges, barramundi, and a bit of salad and creamy tartare sauce.

Perhaps the centrepiece of the dish, the half cray was a tad on the dry side but nonetheless it was still a tasty cray that was helped out by the light but welcome garlic butter.

The tempura prawns were crunchy prawns coated by a crunchy and tastily seasoned batter, but perhaps a bit heavy for a "real" tempura batter.  The salt and pepper squid were lightly dusted and again well seasoned with prominent salt and pepper tastes, making a good addition to the plate.

The barramundi was lightly coated and grilled, and also a bit on the dry and flakey side.

The wedges were pretty standard - that is good and nicely done, but nothing out of the ordinary.

Thinking about the different elements of the plate, this didn't seem like a bad seafood platter - just a bit on the pricy side.

Moroccan spiced chicken breast - $40

The chicken breast was seasoned with Moroccan spices giving it a nice Moroccan spiced flavour, and overall the chicken breast was cooked well and not that dry - and thus I thought it was well prepared.

The chicken breast was served on top of a preserved lemon cous cous, pomegranate and extra virgin olive oil.  The pomegranate sweet and lemon sour flavours were both prominent and at times seemed quite intense in competing with the Moroccan chicken flavour but otherwise I did enjoy the refreshing nature of the cous cous and the fact that it wasn't just plain cous cous.

On top of the chicken was a pistachio nut butter, adding yet another layer of slightly nutty buttery flavour to the chicken.

All up, a different but good dish, but yet again $40 did seem a bit steep.

Drunken strawberries drowned in Contreau - $13.50

This dessert was a cocktail glass of some pretty standard creamy vanilla ice cream, topped with strawberry halves that had been soaked in Contreau.

The strawberries themselves were good, being nice looking and nice tasting.  The contreau added its citrusy flavour to the strawberries with a nice mild kick.

Green tea - $4

I didn't actually taste this tea, but the usual green tea drinker on the table said it was pretty bitter and not that pleasant.  Maybe this was a combination of too many "standard" grade green tea leaves soaked in boiling water a little too long?

We liked: Some of the flavours were surprisingly ok if not necessarily complimentary (eg the cous cous) and generally well cooked; the location at Hillary's can be a good outing especially on a nice sunny day; the service is friendly and helpful.

We didn't like: The prices seemed a little on the high side for the food.

Other things to note: Vegetarians may struggle to find much worth eating.

Boulevard Restaurant
Shop 64, 58 Sorrento Quay
Southside Drive
(08) 9203 7722
Boulevard Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Memories from Marque, Surry Hills

I always find it exciting to read up on those annual top restaurant lists.  Not only do they offer some inspiration into what restaurants to aspire to some day dine at, but I like to see what the "experts" have to say and it's always exciting to see Australian restaurants do well in the lists.

As I'm sure many of you know, Marque in Surry Hills has been making some good impressions on the national and international levels having entered into the San Pellegrino's top 100 list, and topped a few Australian and Sydney restaurant award lists.

Last year, I managed to get myself a booking for a Friday night at Marque to try out their ever evolving degustation dinner.  Although Marque is situated in the suburbs, is not a large restaurant, and it doesn't have the spectacular view of say Quay; the food, service experience generally (including a very friendly, helpful and knowledgeable wine sommelier) were impeccable and we left there raving about our experience.

Of course, I managed to get some photos to share of our meal that night and here they are.

Chaud-Froid Free Range Egg

Almond Jelly with Blue Swimmer Crab, Almond Gazpacho, Sweet Corn & Avruga
2004, Markus Molitor, Riesling Spätlese, Zeltinger Himmelreich, Mosel, Germany

Ike Jime Squid with Smoked Goat's Curt, Young Coconut & Black Radish
2008, G&J-H Goiso, Aligoté, Bourgogne Aligoté, Burgundy, France

Roast St Helen's Oyster with Mustard & Ham Vinaigrette
2008, Gulfi 'Valcanzjria' Carricante/Chardonnay/Albanello, Siciliy, Italy

Veal Sweetbread with White Asparagus, Rosemary, Celriac & Onion
2005, D. Ostertag, 'Barriques' Pinot Gris, Alsace, France

Roast Muscovy Duck with Steamed Eggplant, Yoghurt and Dried Scallop
2007 Quinta de la Rosa, Touriga Nacional & Franca, Tinta Barroca & Roriz, Douro, Portugal

Wagyu Sirloin with Beetroot, Radicchio, Cocoa, Peanuts and Vanilla
2009, Jamsheed, 'The Garden Gully' Syrah, Great Western, Victoria

Sauternes Custard

Chocolate Mousse 'écrasé', Eucalyptus & Coconut
'Provencal Musketeer'

Salted Caramel Chocolates & Bitter Bon Bons

A great experience, maybe next time I'll do a narrative too!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Izakaya Sakura Japanese Restaurant, Northbridge

Izakaya Sakura Japanese Restaurant Northbridge reviews; Izakaya Sakura reviews
For me, when it comes to Japanese food it's hard for me to go past traditional food with traditional service.  I find that the flavour combinations (which are also present at good modern Japanese restaurants) are often subtle and enhance the flavours of the core ingredients.

Izakaya Sakura has taken over the former Ayami restaurant situated across from Russell Square in Northbridge - much to my disappointment as I thought Ayami offered the best sushi and sashimi in Perth.  However, I'm pleased that Izayaka Sakura has been a good successor with good traditional food and a great Izakaya experience.  The restaurant has been decorated with Japanese decor (see their website for more photos) and is complete with friendly and helpful Japanese service.

Izakaya Sakura's name says it all - izakaya meaning Japanese small dishes designed to be shared.  Most of the dishes are of that izakaya size - smallish and designed so you can order multiple dishes to sample and share, however there are a few set meals for one such as bento boxes.

The menu of these izakaya dishes offers quite a large choice of options with many traditional Japanese offerings as well as a few other exciting ones.  What's more, the menu doesn't heavily rely on deep fried food or unhealthy rich creamy sauces making it a more pleasant experience for those who like variety and moderation.  Instead, there is a decent choice including cold dishes, sashimi, hot dishes, teppanyaki, deep fried food, noodles, and salad.

Beef tataki - $12

Thinly sliced beef that had been lightly seared was served with spring onion, dried garlic slices, a spicy garnish (possibly chilli ground daikon), and ponzu sauce (the ponzu sauce was quite vinegary and sour, but also had light hints of sweetness and a stock taste).

The beef was noticeably marbelised and nearly melted in the mouth, and the garlic when eaten alone was very strong.  Quite a typical Japanese dish, this dish met my expectations for a good virtually raw been dish.

Wafuu beef steak - $10

The beef steak in this dish was sliced at about a centimetre thickness, cooked pretty much well done so that it didn't melt in the mouth, and served with a "special sauce".

The chunks of meat were welcome in my mouth, and despite being cooked more than I would have liked the sauce made this a moderately tasty dish that wasn't dry nor tough.

Maguro ponzu - $14

This dish was on the specials menu for the night and was lightly seared tuna with ponzu sauce on a bed of daikon.

In searing the tuna the outer crust was light brown with darker specks and had an almost smokey flavour and harder texture.  The inside of the tuna was cooked (or rather uncooked) perfectly.  The ponzu flavour was light around the tuna but definitely added its flavour to each slice of the tuna.

The dish was quite simple and perhaps a bit like a variation of tuna sashimi.

Sashimi moriawase (medium) - $22

This mixed sashimi dish was a combination of raw salmon, tuna, scallop, squid, and a white fish.   Served with wasabi, this dish was quite standard fare though noticeably the tuna looked pale compared to other tuna sashimi I have seen.  The scallop was sliced very thinly (seemed to be like 1 scallop sliced into 4 slices) and it melted in the mouth.

The variety was decent and the fish was fresh, but the serving wasn't huge for the price and the cut was quite simple.

Tuna sashimi - $12.50

This dish was similar to the sashimi moriawase above.  Again not the biggest serve, but there aren't many authentic Japanese restaurants that give you good servings these days.

Kisu fry - $8

Four whiting fillet strips were coated in panko (Japanese breadcrumbs), deep fried, and served with Japanese Worcestershire sauce and alongside some deep fried rice noodles.

The whiting fillet was firm and seemed fresh, and the panko was noteably crunchy.

All up, a good Japanese "fish fingers" style of dish - only better.

Takoyaki - $7

These takoyaki, being six octopus dumplings, were balls of pan fried stock flavoured dough balls mixed with octopus and spring onion.  They were served garnished with bonito (fish flakes which to me don't really taste that fishy), pickled ginger, and Japanese mayonnaise and Japanese Worcestershire sauce.

For me, this was a pretty average tasting takoyaki with perhaps a tad too much sauce.  I always enjoy watching the bonito "move" when placed on top of hot food though.

Tori ball - $8

Four crumbed chicken balls filled with cheese and garlic were served with Japanese Worcestershire sauce and deep fried rice noodles.

The chicken balls were slightly crunchy on the outside, and inside the cheese was melted and gooey and the garlic flavour was noticeable but not overpowering.

Agedashi tofu - $7

This deep fried tofu had a starchy outside coating (a bit like a golden stretchable jelly that had absorbed some of the stock based soup) and was silky smooth inside.  The fish stock soup surrounding the tofu had a good depth of flavour, well seasoned and having a mild nice fish flavour running through it.

With the coating on the tofu and the fish stock, I found this to be a tasty-for-tofu dish.

Renkon chips - $5

Forget potato chips, try lotus root chips.  Surely lotus root is healthy for you?

These renkon chips were very crisp and crunchy, and seasoned well to make a great alternative to potato crisps.

Salmon teriyaki bento - $19.50 (lunch: $13)

The bento boxes come standard with steamed rice, salad, edamame (beans where you only eat the inside peas), miso soup and pickled ginger.  All of these were quite standard, but well prepared.

The salmon teriyaki was pieces of skinless salmon cooked in a moderately thick, golden sweet and soy sauce flavoured teriyaki sauce.  The salmon seemed like it had been infused with the teriyaki sauce as it was quite flavoured with the taste throughout which also helped to reduce the otherwise strong salmon flavour.

Karaage bento - $17 (lunch: $12)

The karaage bento had chunks of chicken lightly coated in flour and deep fried.  The skin was only very slightly crunchy, the chicken seemed moderately tasty from seasoning/marinade, but the seemed a tad on the dry side.  Also lacking was any Japanese mayonnaise and/or Japanese Worcestershire sauce which would have helped it.

However, all up the karaage bento was an ok meal.

Chicken teriyaki bento - $19.50 (lunch: $12.50)

The chicken teriyaki was a fillet of chicken with skin on that had been cooked with the same teriyaki sauce as the salmon above.  The skin seemed like it had been rendered out of a lot of the fat, and again the chicken seemed like it had been well infused with the teriyaki flavour.  Though it seemed like it was cooked for longer than I would have liked, the chicken fell apart easily and wasn't dry when with the sauce.

In summary, Izakaya Sakura brings to Perth another traditional Japanese food experience.  The food is of a good standard and the style of eating allows everyone to taste a lot of different dishes whilst enjoying each other's company (not to mention some Japanese alcohol).

We liked:  The authenticity of the dishes; the variety of dishes; Japanese patrons actually eat here; a reasonable selection of shochu and some sake and plum wine too.

We didn't like: Whilst it's cheaper than some other izakaya out there, the more simple nature of the dishes can make this not a cheap eat out if you are very hungry.

Other things to note: Whilst the full menu is available at dinner, at lunch they only serve a limited menu consisting of bento boxes as well as some noodle and rice bowl meals.  Vegetarians may also be quite limited in what they can eat so check out the menu on their website beforehand.

Izakaya Sakura
Shop 2, 182 James Street
Northbridge WA 6003
(08) 9328 2525

Trading Hours
Lunch - Wednesday to Sunday - 12noon to 2pm
Dinner - Wednesday to Sunday - 6pm to 10pm

Izakaya Sakura Japanese restaurant on Urbanspoon

Monday, August 8, 2011

Sinabro, Northbridge

Sinabro Korean Restaurant Northbridge reviews
Winter nights are the perfect time to have spicy and hot food.  In Perth, alongside a good warming Korean barbecue, the Koreans are known for their warm-you-from-the-inside spicy and hot food.  Just be prepared for the chilli!

Sinabro on Francis Street in Northbridge (closer to Russell Square) is a Korean restaurant I got recommended by a Korean expat to try a year ago and did.  When I went the first time (last year), the first thing I noticed was there were definitely Korean customers - a good sign.

Sinabro consists of two separate dining experiences - there is the indoor restaurant at the front which I understand serves buffet, and an outdoor area out the back (go through the driveway) which serves a la carte.  I haven't yet tried the buffet but have had the a la carte a couple of times.

The menu at Sinabro has a good selection of Korean food - the chilli dishes through to non-spicy dishes in precooked, cook at your table and barbecue at your table form.  Most dishes have meat or seafood in them but there's the odd vegetarian dish.

Kimchi jungol - $35

A soup based dish that suits winter nights is this Kimchi jungol.  The soup, which is meant to serve 2-3 people (I would suggest three unless you are very hungry or don’t order anything else), was hot in two ways – being served on a portable gas stove, and having kimchi and gochuchang (a chilli based paste) that you mix into it.  For those of you wondering how spicy the dish was, it was quite spicy though if you didn’t add all the gochuchang it wasn’t impossible to eat if you are used to some chilli.  However, chilli novices might do best to avoid this (or ensure they have lots of water on hand).

Mixed into the soup was a range of ingredients including clear vermicelli noodles, dumplings, pork belly slices, tofu, onion, Chinese cabbage, mushrooms, and of course kimchi.  Of the ingredients, I enjoyed the dumplings with their outer pastry filled with a well marinated pork based stuffing.  Despite the layers of fat, the pork belly slices added even more (very welcome) meat to the dish but I felt the dish could have had more meat in it.

The rest of the ingredients blended together to form a relatively chilli hot dish with lots of clear vermicelli noodles and Chinese cabbage.  Just be careful of red staining splatter and be prepared to smell a little like kimchi when you get caught in the wafts of cooking smoke.

Overall, this dish was quite spicy but otherwise a decent feed - though I could have done with more meat and dumplings as opposed to noodles and veggies.

Hot Seafood Soup - $25

The hot seafood soup came in a pot meant for sharing.  In the soup were king prawns, calamari, mussels, onion and egg.

The soup was of a watery consistency and filled with seafood flavours and spices such as chilli.  The soup was quite spicy, just bearable for my tastebuds - though I find that with that level of chilli I struggle with noticing a lot of the other flavours.  Definitely not for the non-adventurous.

The prawns were de-shelled and through the cooking process seemed well overcooked, but it also helped it absorb some of the soup flavour.  The calamari was very soft and not at all chewy, whilst the egg was mixed in and cooked to form small clumps soup flavour.  All components, being cooked in the strong spicy soup, had the distinct soup flavour.

Not a bad dish, but not quite as exciting as the kimchi jungol.

Seafood pancake jeon - $13

Pancakes for many of us are sweet and often consumed at breakfast.  Turning that upside down, you get this seafood pancake dish that consisted of a single savoury pancake – not something I would ordinary think of eating for breakfast.

The pancake's dough had a light flavour through it (perhaps it was made with a stock similar to okonomiyaki – a savoury Japanese pancake dish), but still had a doughy taste and a heavier but slightly aerated doughy texture.  As “filling”, the pancake was cooked with octopus and vegetables such as zucchini and spring onion.  All up, this pancake was a meal in itself.

A sauce would have been nice.

Kimchi Bosam - $25/$35 (small/large)

To me, this dish looked pretty interesting and I couldn’t wait to try it.  This dish came as separate ingredients that you were to assemble yourself.  The ingredients were a cooked pork belly, kimchi, garlic, chilli, and a couple of sauces.

The pork belly was the best part of this dish - it had its skin removed though, but was cooked with a mild seasoning, and was soft and moist.  The kimchi was long pieces of kimchi cabbage that you were meant to take and eat with the pork in a single mouthful.  Garlic, chilli, and sauces were provided as condiments to the dish, however the sauce really just added much of the sale flavours already present (i.e. the chilli flavours of the kimchi).

I enjoyed this dish despite the obvious question mark over how healthy it isn't.


Common with many Korean restaurants that I have been to, Sinabro provides some side dishes that come "free" with every meal.  Sinabro serves kimchi, along with a salad and a rice vermicelli dish.

The kimchi was quite normal in that it had kimchi cabbage marinated in the chilli based sauce.

The vermicelli dish was lightly oiled, and had small bits of spring onion, garlic, and carrot throughout.  The vermicelli was comparatively mild, cooked till it was soft but not fragile, and had a distinct garlic aftertaste.

The salad consisted of apple, onion, chilli, red capsicum, cucumber and cabbage seasoned with a light and slightly sweet vinegar.  The salad was quite refreshing (especially with the apple and vinegar) but the chilli and raw onion stood out quite a bit.

Steamed Rice

Steamed rice is served in a stainless steel made bowl - again something that I've seen in other Korean restaurants.  The rice was cooked so that it was quite soft but still reasonably firm.

In summary, Sinabro is a Korean restaurant that given its Korean patrons makes me think it's quite authentic.  The flavours are strong, and chilli is very apparent in its menu.

We liked:  Some of the dishes were full of flavour; the authenticity; menu had a decent range of dishes available.

We didn't like: The set-up is quite basic with one of the toilets being in a near state of disrepair when I went; the smells from the barbecuing but the outdoor area has good ventilation (and sometimes cigarette smoke).

Other things to note: Many dishes are spicy - so be warned and be prepared to ask if you are not sure whether you can stomach a dish.  The restaurant is licensed and has shoju, and has an indoor area up front (a buffet - book ahead) as well as an outdoor area out back which is a la carte.

100 Francis Street
(08) 9227 1222

Trading Hours
Tuesday to Sunday – 6pm to 10pm

Sinabro on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Just Bar, Como

Just Bar Restaurant Como reviews, Just Wine and Tapas Bar Como reviews
I'm sure I've heard it's healthier to eat smaller portions of food over longer periods of times.  Grazing over multiple meals over a day is something I've become accustomed to, and I think I've even heard someone allude to the hypothesis that the French are relatively thin despite their affinity for butter and cream due to the dragging out of eating meals over a longer period of time.

Tapas, like those served at Just Bar in Como, could be one way of achieving a slower meal (over some good company, and perhaps a bit of wine) and is also a great way of trying lots of different dishes without filling yourself up too quickly.  Not to mention that I'm a big fan of trying different dishes.  I just have to make sure I don't eat too much in one sitting!

Just Bar is a modern looking, yet simple and smallish restaurant that specialises in coffee, wine, and tapas.  Given I was driving and it was a Friday night when I went for my tapas grazing, I concentrated more on the tapas than the wine and coffee (well I kept it to only a couple of glasses of red).  The tapas on offer easily fit onto a page and had about ten smaller tapas (generally one piece designed for one) and half a dozen slightly larger tapas (generally designed to share).  The tapas were supported by a few dessert selections.

After the initial friendly greeting, table seating and drinks order, we found the service to be a little slow compared to what we were expecting - with a bit of a wait at times for service or wait staff being hard to get a hold of.  However, despite the somewhat inattentive service the staff were friendly and helpful when available.

Scallop - $4.50

The scallop was cooked relying on its natural taste and served with a crispy and sweetened bacon slice, or candied bacon.  The crispy and sweetened thin bacon slice did taste how I would expect bacon candy to taste: bacon and candy = yum.  I could have done with more of this.

Exmouth tiger prawns with paprika - $9

This single prawn was grilled with head and tail intact, and served with a chilli salsa.  The prawn seemed a little on the overcooked side (possibly due to the grilling process) and the chilli salsa seemed a little powerful for the subtle sweet taste of prawns.

Rabbit Terrine - $10

The terrine of rabbit showed chunks of meat when broken apart, was a mild taste with seasoning, and served cold.  Accompanying the terrine was a red capsicum jam, light mustard and pickled caper berries.

Lamb cutlet - $12.50

The lamb was done close to medium and not as tender as a lamb cutlet can be.

The lamb was served with a type of herbed dressing, a bit like pesto.

Tortilla with black garlic aioli - $9

This potato tortilla tasted a bit like a potato and egg quiche.  Thin layers of potato were topped with an egg and red capsicum based mixture and cooked, chilled, and served cold.  Unfortunately, the different layers of potato slices were cooked to varying degrees, some cooked soft and some still crunchy, whilst the overall taste of the tortilla seemed bland and lacking much flavour.

Spiced chicken wings with red onion jam - $7.50

The spiced chicken wings were nicely cooked and juicy.  Marinated with very mild spices and some salt they had a good balance of chicken wing flavour and added spice.

The red onion jam was a sweet caramelised red onion and red capsicum chutney like jam that was very strong in flavour.  Personally, I thought the chicken wings didn't need this red onion jam and could have done with something lighter as opposed to a sauce that could pretty much cover the taste of the chicken wings.             

Grilled Baramundi - $12

The barramundi was cooked perfectly.  The fish was cooked with the inside remaining so lightly cooked it was very tender, and the skin was very crispy.  There wasn't a lot of added flavour to the barramundi apart from crispy slices of shaved garlic but as the fish was cooked so well I forgot the need for sauce.

Duck rillette - $4.50

The duck rillette was quite salty but I guess rillette more often than not is.  However, the crisp bread base when eaten with the duck rillette was a nice appetiser like snack.

Patatas Bravas

Slices of potato were lightly covered in a paprika mix, roasted, and covered with a quite spicy chilli tomato based sauce.  Though the potatoes were cooked till they were soft, they weren’t crunchy – perhaps I’m used to my potato chips, roast potatoes or even a potato dauphinoise.

Frozen nougat - $15

This frozen nougat had the taste of nougat but the texture of cassata, much like a hard ice cream but still smooth in texture.  It was set on top of what tasted like a strawberry and orange juice jelly and topped with a frozen strawberry tasting top layer.  Quite a different dessert, the flavours combined to provide a sugar hit that was also somewhat refreshing.

The nougat was served with a strawberry sorbet that was mild in both strawberry flavour and sweetness generally, as well as rocky road, and chocolate crumbs.

In summary, Just Bar is a different tapas experience which for me was a bit of hit and miss.  However, the combination of some tapas alongside some wine and coffee isn't a bad proposition for a casual meal where you want to graze whilst relaxing to a casually served meal.

Points to note: As a tapas bar, there are tapas that vary greatly in sizes - from small single serving tapas to larger share-tapas.  There are a few vegetarian options available but not a large choice.

Go for: Tapas, coffee and wine of course.

Just Bar
20 Preston Street
Como WA 6152
(08) 9474 1977

Trading Hours
Mon,and Wed to Sun 7:30am-11:30pm

Just Bar on Urbanspoon