Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Suria Cafe: Authentic Malay Food

Suria Cafe on Urbanspoon
So when you read blogs describing how YUM restaurants are, you sorta want to go check it out.
And then when you Urbanspoon the place and it comes up with a rating >90%, you definitely go check it out.

And THAT, is my life story on how I ended up here at Suria Cafe on a Monday, which of course we all know is a perfect day for pigging out on some Malaysian cuisine. Just like how Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, etc etc also is.

Teh Tarik - $3
I've only ever come across 2 or 3 teh tariks and have never tried one from where they supposedly taste the best back in Malaysia, so, frankly I don't know what a good one is meant to taste like. But all that matters is that you like how it tastes yeah? Who gives about all that authenticity shiz.

Tried deciding between a tea and a coffee, and the guy behind the counter was really friendly and accommodating. You rarely get staff nowadays who actually take the effort to find out your likes, dislikes, preferences and general pickiness before actually recommending you something that fits after you tell them your life story. But in my case, after a simple "I think I like tea better", he very wisely suggested the frothy pulled milk tea :P

The glass was a bit on the small side compared to other teh tariks I've had, but still good. Bit too hot to hold seeing the glass is thin and...glass...a handle would have been good. As well as a bigger cup of hot, milky and sweet pulled teh :)

Kway Tiow Soup with Seafood - $11.50
Deciding from an array of foreign names that were on the menu needed a bit of time and a bit of imagination. So alongside experimenting with new dishes at a new restaurant to us, we decided to stick to something that sounded a bit more familiar, being the kway tiow soup.

When it came out, it looked a little too familiar, because it exactly resembled what we have at home many mornings. The dish consisted of flat rice noodles in a clear broth topped with various seafood (fish ball, squid, seafood extender (aka fake crab meat)), green choy sum and fried shallots. I have heard some not so nice things about those dried fried shallots that come in plastic jars that have some horrific ingredients (melted plastic anyone?) and while this suggests some nasty health implications, you can never be too cautious your entire life.
So...I love fried shallots! :) and ate all of it.

This is a good bowl to order if you don't want anything too heavy, everything tastes light and feels relatively healthy to devour.

Mee Rebus - $8.50
 When you go to a new place, it would be a safe bet to seek out what they do best. This Mee Rebus boasted SURIA SPECIALTY! and without a doubt, it would be stupid to not try something that's recommended by the restaurant itself. Like going to a buffet while you're on a diet - stupid. Or going on a diet in the first place - stupider. =D

Admittedly I was hesitant to order this at first because while I am impartial to all foods and love them all fairly and equally, sometimes I don't feel the same way about sweet things that are not in the form of dessert. The description of this was egg noodles with spicy sweet curry gravy and while that sounds enticing, I don't know my tolerance for sweet based savoury meals...if that makes any sense.

And indeed it got a bit too much for me the more I ate it, but if you are a sweet person and like your things sweet, this could be for you. Alas I am not sweet nor am I hot, hence the need to pick all those bright red rings of chilli out before I dived in head first.

Murtabak with Curry Chicken - $8.50
I asked the guy working for a description of what murtabak was and I think I was like yep! before he was finished with his description. I love anything that is freshly made and hot to touch and burns your fingertips when you're an impatient little one who doesn't care about burnt fingertips and says "and" too much and ends up with pathetically long unreadable sentences.

Moving on.

Anyway. I was very happy when this came out looking all toasty and hawt as. So it was described as paratha with chicken, egg and onion filling with curry, and being hand made in house. It seems like adding "in house" makes all the difference on menus these days, cause it sounds so much more real and genuine and with love rather than something out of a packet.

It arrived a lot thicker and crispier than I had imagined in my head: a measly floppy looking package with sparsely given fillings. This was the exact opposite! It was bulky and it was thick, and it felt like you were actually eating something when your teeth meets with the crispy pastry and makes a crunch crunch noise. And the filling was very filling indeed!

Curry Chicken
I reckon the murtabak did fine without any additional dipping sauce or curries but the inclusion of this is always welcome...but with an additional $1.50. You get a lone piece of drumstick bathed in a pool of curry sauce. And... well...there's not much to say about a chicken leg in curry sauce.


If Urbanspoon was a god, I would be an adept follower. No need for that though, as I already follow numerous food blogs religiously and constantly look forward to doing my readings everyday. Through these food hunters and the delicious stories they spread, I had already read many reviews on Suria and the piece of Malaysian goodness it brings to Perth.

It is actually quite secluded, in the middle of nowhere suburb of Girrawheen, so one would not find this place if they didn't live around here or didn't hear of it and specifically trek up here. First thing I noticed was how clean and polished and clutterless the place was, but also how empty it looked. Maybe I had come after the lunch rush or something, but the place was very quiet indeed. All good, means our food comes quicker and we get personalised service :)

I am unsure how close it resembles the dishes you'd find back in Malaysia and how good it replicates them, so I am unable to comment on that aspect for you comparers out there. But the dishes are pretty tasty, with some being value for your money spent while others are a bit small for the price. So choose wisely!

If you're looking for ambiance, this place probably won't excite you that much with its white walls, white ceilings, white tables and (shiny) white floors. But you're here to eat and that will probably be enough to excite you. Add to that the friendly, helpful and smiley staff who actually look interested to serve you and suddenly the ambiance becomes so much better :D

It's amazing how bright a smile (and floor) can be!

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Yu: Burswood Entertainment Complex

Yu Restaurant on Urbanspoon
My stomach was getting particularly excited as I made my way into down the dim lit cave-like entrance that is Yu, at Perth's Burswood Entertainment Complex. I frequented this "grand", "world class" entertainment precinct multiple times in a week back in the days...before I decided to do something about my gambling problem.

Just joking :) I used to frequent Carvers a lot. For work. *shudder* So so so happy I only visit Burswood now for leisure purposes! Makes the place appear a lot more friendlier.

Admittedly I had never dined at Yu after its major transformation from when it was formerly Genting Palace. The critic in me always believed I could get better tasting, more scrumptious fare in a less classy and posh restaurant for like, a tenth of the price charged in restaurants situated in a "grand" and "world class" entertainment complex.
I seem to like using quotation marks today! No implications attached...

And so tonight, I had this breakfast at around 7.30pm. It was my first and only meal of the day, not counting the chips and lollies and cookies after dinner or the pack of oreos we routinely devour at badminton before dinner. And after 3 hours of sport earlier on an empty stomach, yeaaahh I know I'm not the best at looking after myself. Which explains my over-reliance on others and also on 24 hour McDonalds drive thru's.

Choosing a banquet between 2 people occurred to be a no-brainer. This gave us exposure to this whole mixture of deliciousness, as opposed to only choosing 2 dishes (or maximum, 5 dishes) to share between 2 people. After waiting like what seemed like an hour, happiness was FINALLY served, one after another, with hour gaps in between. Think I just get delusional with the time when I am starving my ass off.

Spicy Sea Salt Squid
Surprisingly after the long ass wait, I did not dive my face into this when it came delivered to the table. As much as I wanted to, I held that impulse in as I reached for the camera and fiddled with lighting for as long as 5 minutes to try and get a decent shot of the food to come in this limited-use-of-lights dining room. Just like many of the other premium restaurants at Burswood, where dim and dark suggests intimacy and classy.

By the time I tucked into this starter, it grew colder and that is purely my fault. But that's ok, squid that is cooked right is still tender and still has that right amount of chewiness I enjoy gnawing on. Although not hot, the batter was still crunchy and tasted so golden that I didn't mind eating it. So much so, that I sneaked in alot of batter bits, which I neverrr do because of my condition.

One thing I never learn is to properly tell the difference between a green circular piece of spring onion and a green circular piece of FIERY HOT CUT CHILLI before I stuff it in my mouth. Ooh I always pay for that by crying my eyes out.

Sweet Corn Soup with Crab Meat
Sweet corn and crab meat soup was served next, with limited sweet corn and crab meat. Sad :(
I already expected the limited crab meat part but I would have appreciated more corn though! That's two posts in a row where I am left craving for more corn. What is it with corn and I?!

From memory this was served just warm, which is good for drinking it without needing to worry about blowing to let some steam escape from the liquid before you proceed to shove it in your mouth. I'm used to scalding hot soup, so this lukewarmness made it less enjoyable for myself. Still nice and sweet though.

Pancake holder
This next thing was very much a teaser for about, ages. The wooden steamer basket sat atop a very golden and shiny "stove", sporting a low blue flame burning away to maintain the warmth of whatever was hidden inside the basket. This trolley was wheeled next to our table, and it sat there, waiting, patiently, for the next 20 minutes or so while I sat at our table, waiting, impatiently for a long 20 minutes.

Being in your sight but out of reach just makes your curiosity climb. I hell wanted to get up and sneak a peek but alas, we were at such a restaurant and such acts of embarrassment would probably not be tolerated by my friend and you know, I don't like to make people uncomfortable around me :P So I stayed put.

Peking Duck
Turns out they were housing a couple of layers of these pancakes, forming part of our next dish - Peking Duck. It was a nice gesture but the warmth didn't REALLY come through to make a huge difference. Preparing these wrapped parcels usually happen in front of you, and it really is like watching a form of art. Intricately placing a single item of each ingredient makes you savour it more cause you know, scarcity is the problem here. Some things just stay with you from high school Economics... sorry for being a geek! :/
It makes it that much more special cause you see it in front of you, instead of it being done in the kitchen.

Explains why I'm so much more inclined to buy Subway as opposed to ready made rolls from display cabinets!

Peking Duck - innards
After being presented with a delicately wrapped parcel, I then ripped open the wrapping paper to reveal the contents inside, as you do with any normal present. Took a picture, re-wrapped it and re-gifted it, straight back into my stomach :D

Yu's version of Peking Duck I like very much indeed, as the piece of duck you get comes with a decent portion of meat still attached to the crackly skin. I can't eat skin so to me this dish is nothing when I painfully give the skin to someone else while I chomp on the remaining vegetarian pancake. Here the dark, caramelised honey roasted skin is crispy while the meat's tenderness is preserved, with the usual accompaniments of spring onions, cucumber and sauce in a light and still warm! wrap.

Deep fried Patagonian Toothfish
Looked at this and immediately thought, holy crap I can't eat it! Why must you be covered in deep fried deliciously crunchy and golden batter?! But that's okay, I'll just have to spend a little longer time peeling it all off and soaking excess oil away, blotting it on tissue paper. It's quite crazy looking at the now-see through tissue paper and realising how much oil intake you shove inside you.

The toothfish here was cooked to a state of DELICIOUS, smooth and slippery flakes of pure white flesh encased with a lining of crispy skin. Oh man. Who needs that sweet soy sauce it's served with when it might potentially rob the crunch crunch away from the skin? Cause the skin is oily, I ripped off all the skin and formed a little rubbish pile, only to find myself eating back that own pile of rubbish. Mmmmm.

Special Fried Rice
I always wonder how normal average fried rice managed to join up with the word "special" to heighten its superior status in Chinese cuisine. It does sound specialer but you know, it's not really! :P Back when customers asked for special fried rice, specifically not wanting the fried rice already in the hot baine marie, we said, alright, and threw in whatever we thought would make it more special.

We got a plate of this, fried rice fried with specks of barbeque pork, prawns, egg and spring onions. Usually with Chinese food I NEED plain steamed rice to balance out the oiliness/heaviness of the food, but this was tasty and light enough to go with the meal. But still, we needed a Coke by our side to get us through our feast -

M: "Urgh there's sand in these vegetables!" *gulps down Coke to wash it down*
Me: eww, I can't just swallow sand like that 
*bite down hard on sand - gulps even more Coke*
"omg wash it down wash it downnn"
-That was my only reason needing a Coke I guess.

Sauteed Fresh Scallops with Vegetables
This was a winner for sure! I couldn't stop blabbering on about OMG HOW GOOD IS THIS SCALLOP, omgaah this thing is HUGE, MMM its so bloody sweet, and look how shiny they look! These were by far the biggest scallops I've come across, or maybe I just don't have the $ka-ching enough to come across big scallops very often.

But boy were these scrumptious :D Cooked just right so they tasted sweet and springy, no fishy flavour around at all. Paired with mushrooms, carrots, snow peas, crunchy asparagusesssss and Chinese vegetables that needed a bit more of a wash downstairs.

Chinese Fillet Steak with Spicy Szechuan Sauce
This was another stunner of the night that left me speechless. Actually no, quite the opposite, I couldn't stop praising it! They left the good stuff til last, which was pitiful as my stomach was already filling up fast.

I think this may be Yu's signature dish from memory, and it could certainly pass as being it. Albeit not looking very flash or fancy, the bed of spinach was indeed average but the marinated and grilled fillet is sooooo soft and tender. I couldn't stop eating it even when I really ought to have stopped eating everything. A bowl of Szechuan sauce came with it but I felt it didn't enhance the flavour all too much so I went without.
*I very nearly mistook the sauce to be a bowl of soup and gulped a spoonful of the stuff before I'd realised my stupidity. Do not follow in my footsteps! :(

Coconut Pudding with Sago
After waiting around for half a decade, we were absolutely certain that we had been forgotten. We were waiting on our dessert plus tea/coffee, which took its sweet ass time to come out after all the other dishes. Or maybe that was purposely done so that our food could be half digested before we stuff this finale into our fat selves.

Alas, our tea and coffee never actually made it to the table, but at least we got our dessert. This particular banquet included a very refreshing coconut pudding trapezium with translucent little sago balls on its roof. As coconut pudding is, it was sweet but not too sweet, smooth but not too slippery, as it's just a little dense. Much like this description :/

Sure the strawberry makes it look better, but a sour face was pulled with every bite! Didn't really add a welcoming flavour to complement the pudding, so wasn't really a great combination...

Lobby Christmas Decorations
Went on a little walk after dinner, allllllll the way to the Lobby situated outside Yu which takes around 30 seconds to get to on foot, which probably burned up a grain of rice or so.

No, Burswood doesn't leave Christmas decorations way past the festive season, I am just rather late with my posts. Too much food, too little time, life is too short to eat crap food!


Overall Yu is quite a contemporary Cantonese restaurant offering the usual plus more and is a good culinary experience. It adopts quite a dark theme that echoes through to its surrounds, where you have limited lighting to guide you, right from the entrance all the way to when you're even eating your food. The displays and decor within are decorated to give off a lavish and wealthy type of feel, but all too ostentatious for me.
Yeah, I had to Google that...just to be sure :P

Yet at the same time, this fanciness you dine in is sure different to the usual, late night eating establishments that also feature Chinese cuisine but in a much more casual, relaxed and dare I say hobo atmosphere with quite a different group of patrons. All the waitresses float around wearing Cheongsams, traditional Chinese costumes that make the job quite impractical in my eyes. But...it goes a great way to promote a whole air of what Chinese culture is depicted to be.

But you know, it stands as a high class Chinese dining restaurant, and every dish that is presented is enhanced and made unique with the service and method it is presented with. This isn't really worth the long ass waits however, the time between being seated and the first dish coming out tested my patience. And umm, you really shouldn't do that cause...I might kill you.

And, heads up, no eftpos facilities. Yeah I hate it when customers give me attitude and be all like "its the 21st century, get eftpos" and I'm just thinking yeah **** off, but in this case, it's Yu, it's Burswood, you Yu SHOULD really get some eftpos. And considering this banquet was $78 per person, minimum 2 persons - might make you think hmm, this isn't really worth the $156 I'm paying. But you do have to remember the sort of establishment and reputation Yu has prided itself upon, and you're paying pretty much the dollars to eat that reputation.

But that big reputation comes with a big price tag that makes it a bit hard for me to swallow without choking on it first! =(

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Nao Japanese Restaurant

Nao Japanese on Urbanspoon
A typical late night shopping expedition consists mostly of walking up and down every aisle at a supermarket, filling up our shopping baskets to fill up our cupboards to fill up our tummies.
"Gah, Danish butter cookies!" *Grab*
"Eeek Buenos for $1!" - "Is that even cheap?" - "Dunno. Don't care." *Grab*
"Omg, ___" *Grab*
"Hey, this is edible!" *Grab*

And then we head straight to the Twilight Hawker Markets that run in the heart of Perth City on Friday nights, abundant of a selection of food stalls serving up different cuisines attracting hoards of hungry hungry hippos. So what should you do after stuffing your face with eats like this?

Potato on a stick - $5
Maybe, get full and be satisfied and maybe, STOP EATING you say?

Oh no no no no way.
So what did we do instead?
We headed down Murray Street, for dinner. Straight from one food joint to another. HA!
Even with food in our bellies, food in our shopping bags, food in our minds, we want more food in our bellies...and so went straight to Nao for some RAHHH MENNN.

5 people: 7 mains, 3 sides - 5 insatiable pigs!

Japanese Green Tea Hot Pot - $2.50 (>4 cups) or $1/cup
Green tea is praised to bring much health benefits to the drinker, and this is exactly not the reason why we ordered this first. Shopping tires you out and makes you damn thirsty but since tea is always served scalding hot, it's impossible to drink.

It came out served in a teapot that reminded me of those magical Aladdin genie lamps, the type you can rub and suddenly I dunno, green tea magically pops out. The lack of tea leaves in green tea always makes me feel it's lacking flavour, but that's just green tea itself. Or...that's just me?

Grilled Gyoza - $4.50
Unfortunately this dish came out with 4 pieces which meant we had to share 4 pieces of gold among 5 gold diggers. Which was actually okay, because these weren't super duper fantastically good, just okay. Guess they do what Gyozas are meant to do.

Grilled pork dumplings served with chilli oil dipping with a chewy exterior but never really tasting porky or meaty enough for me. The fillings are usually too mushy to how I like it, probably cause I am used to war teep, the stuff that's pretty much identical to this but served at Dim Sim with a much prominent meaty textured fillings inside. Guess I will forever have a soft spot for Dim Sim <3

Chicken Cutlet Curry & Rice - $13
Didn't try this, but it looked a bit stingy for what it was worth. Some more, it looked distinctly different to its depiction in the menu, sporting a lot lot LOT less meat than what was shown. Initially I thought they had given so much sauce that it had drowned out the meat and that it had sunk to the bottom...of...the flat plate...I was wrong.

Disappointingly little serving of chicken cutlet Japanese style curry with rice. Taste? No idea.
I probably wouldn't bother trying it out judging from the serving size itself lol...

Chicken Ramen - $9.50
So this is the real reason why we ventured to Nao. It boasts fresh homemade noodles every single day, full of authenticity and flavour. Being spoilt for choice (sort of), you get to construct your own bowl of perfect Japanese ramen by choosing your own soup base out of 4 flavours, 3 noodles and various toppings. I've yet to try all the combinations, and I probably will, one sweet day.

This particular night saw me trying the Chicken Ramen with Miso flavour soup base, as Japanese as it can get. All Ramen bowls come with "simple toppings" including bean sprouts, spring onions, bamboo shoots, wakame, nori and a slice of chashu. And simple indeed they are, with only a few strands and pieces here and there. It had me begging for more, as it was just so sparsely seen and eaten.

2 pieces of chicken...small pieces and they take out the chashu too, because it is specifically CHICKEN ramen you ordered and technically, it is CHICKEN you should get only. It's like they take it out because pork is incompatible with chicken or something. But yeah, don't really like how they skimp on the ingredients.

Takoyaki - $6.50
Takoyaki is a word that will forever stick in my head, cause, everything delicious always sticks around in my head. Chopped up octopus deep fried in a seasoned batter til golden and served with Japanese BBQ sauce and mayonnaise is always delicious. But could have been hotter. I've painfully learnt through burning then cursing myself numerous times that these need blowing before eating.

I always find these vary in price around all the restaurants and takeout joints, and sometimes the quality varies largely with that price. I used to love buying 4 takoyaki balls for $2 until I eventually got sick at eating them lukewarm and soft. 6 balls here between 5 people meant 1 extra ball meant yes I was the one to have 2 balls.

Butter & Corn Ramen - $11.50
In my head, I see...me being all over this Butter & Corn ramen. In reality, I was bitterly disappointed. As you can see, or probably can't even see, the butter and corn that was given here is that whole slab of unsalted butter plus sweetcorn, which seemed like 5 normal corn kernels. Nope, there weren't any more kernels underneath anything. I tried to dig too. And dug and dug and dug and found no more gold nuggets. Much more treasure would have been appreciated!

Here, Shoyu Ramen - Soy soup flavour paired with white noodles was chosen. White noodles are just the normal noodles, described at Nao as "plane egg noodles" :) With the exact same toppings too, I believe this cost $11.50 because it was dubbed Butter & Corn Ramen. Not worth it. Had me scooping...and scooping...and scooping towards the bottom hoping for a buried corn kernel that never appeared.

Fried Gyoza - $6.50
Golden, deep fried pork dumplings...is all I can say as I did not try this dish.

Deep fried = a no no. Definitely not out of my own choice. Stupid lack of gall bladder me!

Red Noodles
This was my bowl of Chicken Ramen once again, mixed through. Here you can catch a glimpse of what the Red noodles look like, and maybe try to vaguely imagine what red chilli infused noodles taste like, which is practically impossible. Just gotta go try it for yourself I guess ;)

If you do decide to be different, that will cost you an extra 50 cents when you choose noodles other than those plane egg noodles. I can take a certain amount of hotness with no sweat, and really these noodles didn't actually taste hot, AT ALL. I'm going to be an ass and say it seemed like just noodles dyed red but nah, they're probably not. A chilli wuss would probably find these hot while others would probably just find these...red.

Chashu Ramen - $12.50
The Chashu Ramen falls into the popular section of the menu, probably cause it's one of the ones that includes the most amount of meat at that higher price...but still not quite enough meat, with only 4 thin wobbly slices.

Think this was Shio Ramen - Salt flavoured soup, which leaves only one choice we didn't choose: Spycy Ramen, a spycy miso flavour costing $10.50. I guess turning up the heat burns up an extra $1 for them.

Green Noodles
Eating coloured foods is usually a bit weird if they're not the natural colour they are born with. It seems abit too artificial, only exception being candy, cause candy has always meant to be bright and multicoloured :)

So here, Nao's GREEN noodles are looking all eccentric in my eyes. Apparently the greenness comes about due to the mass amounts of spinach that have been infused into the noodles, which also costs an extra 50 cents, just like the red noodles.

Teriyaki Fish Plate - $9.50
And because the boys appetite isn't satisfied with JUST a whole bowl of ramen, they played it safe and doubled up their order with another plate of Teriyaki Fish. This looked a lot more appetising than the other black plate of curry...or maybe cause I could be bothered moving this plate to a location that had some light before I took the photo.

This was simply grilled fish with NAO's teriyaki sauce...which I didn't have a taste of. So can't comment on anything...besides the vegetables which I polished off, as boys will be boys and never really eat their vegetables. Just a bunch of meat eating machines...who probably are just because girls are probabbblyyy more health conscious.
Mmm not really, I take that back. Because I too, am a meat eating machine.


I'm not one of those who get excited at the thought of ramen, but if I was, Nao would probably suffice if I needed my ramen fix. Not really hidden as it has quite a central location in the city, but hidden in the sense that it is tiny and so easy to walk past and miss. A walk down the very busy Murray street but very hard-to-find-parking city in general. Increasingly hard everywhere else too, which helps me use the excuse of THERE WAS NO PARKING! whenever I am late which...if you know me, doesn't happen too often ;)
And if you know me, I know what your reaction to that would have been.

It is quite a small shop, with limited tables and seating, catering mostly to small dining groups with benchtop seating as well as outside. Outdoor seating wouldn't be too awesome on a Summer afternoon, especially on scorching 40 degree days that poor Perthians have endured for the whole past week! :( I've been melted, reheated numerous times switching from indoors to out and burnt to a crisp in the oven outside, time and time again.

Eating on the pavement outside is ok if you like eating with cars, pedestrians, fumes and general city sounds accompanying/interrupting your Ramen time. This was minimal as we got there and dined at 9pm. Staff were starting to stack chairs and as their closing time was 9pm meant Nao were closing, like, now. But nice enough to still welcome our business and we weren't turned away like many other restaurants do, even before closing time.

Their menu offers choices centred around ramen, non surprisingly, and gives you alot of choice in that area. Extras cost more than what they should, which would be okay if they gave a decent amount of it in your bowl. Yeah, think I'm just really bitter about that butter and corn ramen, and its lack of. A few other rice and soup dishes, but pretty safe to say most people would come here for their ramen.

Soupy meals are always stomachwarming on cold nights. But it is along with good company, good laughs and good friends that it will also become heartwarming :-)
Which is exactly what I remember this meal to be, and exactly how I want to remember the rest of my life to be.
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