Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Soda Sun Lounge

Soda Sunlounge on Urbanspoon
When it's a sunshine adorned day nearing dusk, heading down to the coast to catch the magnificent ocean views and feel the sea breeze is one of those priceless, carefree, irreplaceable moments. It's one of the best sights Perth has to offer, even though one many can argue Perth doesn't offer many sights.
But to catch a glimpse of fading sunlight at its last moments before the world becomes one big black canvas, with a single special person - it doesn't get any better than that.

Unless of course, you do all that with a WHOLE BUNCH of friends instead! Why just settle for one?!

Especially if it happens to be a big group of retards you've unfortunately come across and are destined to become acquainted with. 8 years later down the track, I am now also a retard. The friends you choose can really change you as a person. So. DON'T MAKE THE SAME MISTAKES AS I DID

Fate is at play in one way or another. When we all crossed paths that day, to when we're all on separate paths now, but we make sure we all come to the same intersection, at least one day in each year. It doesn't sound like a lot, but it means a lot. I'm ecstatic we've kept up the tradition of our annual Christmas get-togethers during that magical time of year.

And for 2011, Soda Sun Lounge was our location for celebrations. Sun(set), sea and friends - a much better replacement for sand I reckon. Add food to that list, you can't ask for much else.
Except maybe for better food...

Many dishes ordered that night, and many dishes not tried as a result of a very long dining table and I happened to plonk my butt at the end of it. I made the effort to walk around the table taking photos but had the decency not to help myself to the dish after I did so!

Summer Berry Smoothie - $7
My cousin, soul mate and best friend came to dinner as a potato as a result of getting her wisdom teeth out. Yes to me, she is all those things and more :) That aside, her puffy cheeks were the biggest attention seekers and she was the target of botox jokes the whole night week. Poor girl. I'm getting botox soon too. Craaaaaaapp

So to make sure the stuff inside her mouth didn't melt or something along those lines, it was probably best for her to consume cold stuff and, well, stuff that don't require chewing. She opted for a chilled smoothie but I don't remember much of it. It was cold, it was tangy, it was all I can remember.

Apple Dew Spider Mocktail - $9.50
A few around the table wanted drinks but kept it PG rated and got mocktails instead. To be honest if I felt like staying sober, I'd prefer a mocktail over cocktails anyday. They taste better to me without that bitter undertone and aftertaste. Maybe I just suck.

I had a sip of this and was close to ordering one for myself. It was dainty and sweet, a very girly drink overall with its contents of sparkling apple juice, fresh mint and honeydew melon sorbet. The addition of mint always adds a refreshing feel to anything, and a refreshing colour burst for presentation purposes.

Caramelized Duck Tacos, Sichuan Pepper - $16
I took a photo of this and thought, where's the duck at?! It makes for a very appealing name but as for the dish itself, looks don't win me over. Elements like Sichuan Pepper, a spice commonly used in Chinese cuisine as well as duck give the dish certain touches of an Asian inspired dish but with a modern take with the addition of tacos.

It's a smart idea to present the dish as Make Your Own tacos though.

Sour Dough, EVOO & Balsamic - $5
Also making an appearance was the very conventional bread and dip starter. Here we have a few crunchy looking sour dough bread, with a dipping dish of balsamic vinegar and Extra Virgin Olive Oil. I guess EVOO adds a touch of class to the name somehow.

I wonder if the oil dips are ever finished. Bread drenched in oil isn't my type of thing. On a side note, I had the choice of drinking a litre of oil in a night, or, surgery as the 2 options for my gallstones. Never has surgery sounded like such a good option!

Chermoula Spiced Barramundi - $34
This wasn't my dish at all, but since it was conveniently located just across my seat, I'd have to say it was pretty much my dish by the end of dinner. It's what happens when you sit next to me!

A quick google search tells that chermoula is typically a marinade consisting of herbs, oil, lemon juice, pickled lemons, garlic, cumin and salt. I don't remember the taste of the marinade much but I do remember the fish was cooked nicely with moist flesh. The addition of yoghurt didn't complement the fish as much, but it was ok with the tabouli.

Having said that, the tabouli was quite bland, yoghurt was bland, 2 wrongs didn't make a right here! But I finished it anyway cause it was light and interesting, contrasting temperatures and textures with the cous cous and cool yoghurt. Contrasting things seem to go well together, much like opposites!

Angus Scotch Fillet - $34
Absolutely no idea how this tasted but taking a picture of it sure didn't tempt me into asking to try it. I love my beef but I don't love how this looked as much. The beef looks tender enough but having served it on top of the chips, you just end up with bloody chips - literally!

Soggy, limp, sad, heat cooked chips as a result of being on the bottom. Which is a waste if the chips are freshly cooked to a crisp, crunchy bite, only to be absolutely ruined. The slab of Angus Scotch Fillet is supposedly served with cafe de paris butter, which is said by Wikipedia to contain a whole party of ingredients of herbs, spices, mustard, dill, rosemary, paprika, capers, chives, curry powder, parsley, shallots, garlic, ANCHOVIES?!, smothered inside the butter.

And all I see is a slab of cow and chips...

Pizza - $22
Soda Sun Lounge offers a few pizzas to share, or just for yourself if you are that epic. The base looks pretty thin but ingredients looks pretty sparse for a $22 pizza. But yes yes, what other price could you expect at a place with a view right?

I believe here we have the Chorizo, Potato, Rocket, Red onion and Chipotle pizza tonight. You don't see too much except cheese do you? Cheese always dominates in terms of smell and place on a pizza.

Beetroot Gnocchi - $26
Gnocchi is something many are fond of, but it didn't win me over the first few times I tried it. Nothing more than a ball of cooked flour for me and I am aware I may have offended many people with what I just said...but really! Maybe I'd appreciate it more if I had booked that cooking class and learnt the technique of making it properly.

And because I wouldn't consider eating dirt, I wouldn't consider eating beetroot. It tastes like the ground! So I don't love gnocchi, hate beetroot. My reaction to beetroot gnocchi? NOT BAD! Maybe you can try mixing your hated foods together and they'll suddenly taste better. Spooky stuff. Or maybe cause the flavour of beetroot wasn't as intense as its red colour suggested. The rest of the dish made up of broccoli, peppers and goat's curd could have had more flavour to it too.

Sumatran Roast Duck - $34
Finally we come to the dish I'd ordered to share between 2. As I was sharing the plate with marshmallow cheeks :), we'd specifically asked if the duck was soft to eat. We went with the uncertainty in the waitress' "yeah? It's okay". This took a while to come out and sadly, the wait wasn't really worth it. The meat came out dry and tough and was difficult to separate from the bones. Disappointed for a price of $34.

The side of green mango salad didn't help this Sumatran Roast Duck much either. It was hard and crunchy with the vegetable choice and while you might like it, the firmness of the mango flesh is not something I enjoyed giving my jaw a work out to. We'd pretty much made the worst choice in terms of hard textured food. I'd noticed by the end of it how I pretty much took over eating the dish as poor Puffy Cheeks couldn't eat a thing.

Green Mango Salad
Here's a better picture of the green mango salad without the colour distortion created by silly flash. It is quite yellowy/orange in appearance but with a completely different and opposite texture to the heavenly tropical summer fruit when it is ripe.
I go crazy during mango season and could quite easily go through 2 a day, everyday for about 3 months.

Maybe not, but I wouldn't mind accepting that challenge.

Result of my hard work
I am quite aware food blogs post pictures of food BEFORE they are eaten but I can't help but admire my own effort. Now I just sound proud. But I am! :D And the small servings weren't exactly filling either, but the prices of them sure were.

In the middle are the leftovers of Real Chips as per what they are called in the menu, served with aioli dip and set us back $9. A very filling price right?! If real chips are like so, I'm fine with normal chips that cost less dear. As I'm sure we all still had a hankering for dessert or just more time together, we left Soda Sun Lounge for elsewhere, but not before numerous attempts of a group portrait with the camera balancing dangerously on balcony ledges and on randoms' car bonnets improvising as a tripod.

Even so, the camera was probably safer in those conditions than in the hands of C, who fumbles and trips on air every 5 minutes or so. Watching her, I'd have to stereotype and say that Blondes, heels and cameras are a fatal combination.


After experiencing Soda Sun Lounge for myself, I would have to agree with the reviews on the internet. They say it upfront and honest and summarise the place pretty well. It is definitely a place with a view, a freaking STUNNING view too, but it could really be something more if it made improvements to its food. It's not particularly bad, but for the sky high prices you're really paying to look at the ocean. And you can do that for free, just across the road.

It was unfortunate we couldn't get seated outside on the balcony, overlooking the water with the sun setting into the horizon, a perfect backdrop to dinner. Indoors has more of an intimate feel with dim lighting and atmosphere while seating outdoors takes on a more relaxed, wind-in-your-hair feeling. Quite a large restaurant provides for many different seating options - our wooden communal-hall-style bench tables and chairs, sofas, outdoor deck and sails, private dining areas and mezzanine bar seating options. Ours was probably the least attractive but catered best for large groups.

The area is very spread out and spacious, accommodating to the beachy, relaxed feel really well. It's probably a notch up from being absolutely casual, but not to the point where it's fine dining or anything remotely close to being so. The menu is not extensive, as we'd pretty much tried more than half of the selections available in the main course section. Value for money? I'd say you could do better, and so can Soda Sun Lounge.

To be honest I can't comment on service as I don't remember much of the staff, and that's because they didn't seem to exist, not because I ordered one too many cocktails. They took our order, and I didn't see them until our dishes were delivered, and then I never saw them again. It wasn't bad service or anything, but just felt a bit unwanted and unloved when our empty bottles of water sat alone and unfilled. Not much attention given but otherwise they do what they do.

The restaurant is located upstairs on top of a real estate business, and is a bit tricky to find if you're coming from side roads and use the parking at the back. Heaps of parking on the street, in the carparks above and below, which ended up being the lovely backdrop of our photo. Which was an awesome substitute from the natural sea horizon across the road, purely because we were too proud or too embarrassed to ask a stranger to take a photo for a flock of giggly loud school girls.

We seem to take on that embarrassing identity whenever we migrate together once a year.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Kitchen Inn Cafe

Kitchen Inn Cafe on Urbanspoon
Would you go to the other side of the world just to try a new restaurant?
I would.
And I consider an hour's drive in peak hour traffic to be the other side of the world!
The lengths a glutton would go to for good food. Seriously.
Seriously ridiculous.

When we arrived at around...I dunno, dinner time, the place was chock a block. The restaurant is small, and even with a few tables scattered outside the building, it was absolutely full house. We were forced back out to the pavement outside, tired...cold...rotting from hunger, but only for a short while before we were invited back inside.

Soya Bean Milk
To start, we had dessert. I don't fancy starting meals with sweetness but being refreshed is always good. The only downside to beginning with drinks being served first is that you don't want to have too much of it before your meal, but then as you leave it sitting there receiving no attention from you, ice gets bored and it starts to melt melt melt. To the point where your soya bean milk becomes bland iced water.

Kampua Special - $8.50
 I had this on my first visit, picking this dish because it seemed to have a little bit of all the meats. A bowl of handmade noodles visibly loaded with prawns, BBQ pork and minced pork on top with  crunchy fragrant fried shallots and spring onions. Truthfully it was a very tasty dish of noodles but the downfall was the thick slick of oil that coated them. Usually you'd make the effort to avoid fatty 2 minute instant noodles right? Housemade noodles probably sound a lot better than Indomie packet noodles but they probably aren't, in terms of fat offerings. Needed a trusted old mate called Coca Cola to wash this down.

As this isn't a roast house and they don't specialise in roast meats, the BBQ pork aren't as nice or succulent as BBQ pork can be. Bit dry and a bit burnt but doesn't stop the whole dish from tasting nice. Just like how one bad dish shouldn't immediately put you off a whole restaurant!

Kampua Special
Just as a size comparison,
A: Shit how big is that prawn?!
Nah. That's just the small size of the bowl buddy.

I love claypots. I love the puff of steam that explodes in your face the moment you take off the lid. I love steam burn that impatience brings.

Bak Kut Teh (Large) - $9.90
With its walls adorned with banners promoting the tastiness and health benefits of Bak Kut Teh, this is one of the more popular dishes here. Which is sad, because it means you are very likely on missing out if you come any later than when mass diners come to dine. And then you have to travel to the other side of the world AGAINNN

This is traditionally Malaysian herbal soup cooked with pork spare ribs, with tofu, plump Chinese mushrooms and the like. Kitchen Inn's rendition includes iceberg lettuce as an ingredient with quite a good quantity of meat on the bones in the dish. It's not strongly marinated with the flavours of herbs and spices, as it is in the soup where the flavours really shine. I initially used the excess soup to wash the oil off my noodles as I ate them, but in the end I couldn't resist and ended up drinking the soup anyway cause it was so delicious. Disgusting, I know. But disgustingly delicious.

The dish is available in Small and Large but I have no idea what the Small looks like cause small doesn't exist in my food vocabulary. At $9.90, you'll probably be filled up well with all that liquid plus a bowl of steamed rice. It's tempting to tip the rice right into the claypot and eat it that way!

When asked what size I wanted, my no brainer answer seemed to make the waitress pause and look at me, her disbelief not obvious at all.
Me: "Oh large please"
Her: "Large?"
Me: "Is it too large?"
I felt a bit self conscious at this point :$

And this was the second time I ordered Bak Kut Teh on a different occasion. Very noticeably, all there is is 2 soup soaked tofu protruding from the soup, which BURNS like a m^%!@!%^^&**&, and not much else. What you don't know is that there was close to nothing else in that claypot.

That is what happens when you get there too late and you hear the dreaded sorry we've run out tonight! Still in the mood for some tea in our food, we agreed to their offer of giving us whatever they still had. So we were presented with this sad, little empty pot that still made us happy.

Accordingly, they apologised for serving us nothing and said they'll charge for a Small. When it got round to paying, guess they felt charging a small was still too large of a price, and rounded the bill's total down another $2 or so. Naw. Small, thoughtful gestures like so go a long way. Happy days.

Hainan Chicken Rice
After having this twice at Kitchen Inn, I would say it's probably not one of their specialties like their other favourites. Their steamed chicken served with chicken stock rice could do with some minor improvements. Still ok, but maybe the chicken could see a bit more moisture, be a bit more...slippery :/


Sometimes if you are persistent about something, it pays off. And what's more important is not to believe everything you hear before you see it for yourselves and well, taste it for yourselves. Hold an air of skepticism about life in general. I have heard a mixed bag of reviews about this place before I visited, directly from friends. Because I know them to be liars about every other thing, I trusted the numerous positive reviews I'd seen on the internet, my most trusted friend.
The internet never lies, friends can. And after I went? Friends do lie.

The menu does stand out from what you usually spot, and I have read lots about people even making the comparisons between here and the authentic dishes they eat in Malaysia, saying they are on par with the taste and make them reminisce about home. I have also heard complaints about bland tasting, watery, tasteless dishes being served, but to each their own and what (wise) choices you make! Unique and (to some), weird dishes like their Special soup comprising pig intestine, liver, kidney, pork and preserved vegetables make an appearance, but to me, those sound all too familiar. As horrid as it sounds.

Clean, polished and simple is the decor style here. A casual and relaxed dining atmosphere with casual staff in casually dressed clothes. And I mean seriously casual, staff wandering around in shorts and thongs level of casual. It appears it is very family owned and run with a variety of staff ranging from adolescents to (nearly) elderly. All are equally as friendly and smiley, which is a good contagious disease :D

One of the ladies was very friendly and observing of her customers - I was fanning myself and shortly after, the air conditioner came on.  I glanced at her and exchanged a nod and a smile, which the words thank you and you're welcome were exchanged even though they were unsaid. It's really amazing how much can be said - and how much you don't need to say - with one simple gesture.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Hong Kong BBQ House Chinese Restaurant

Hong Kong BBQ House on Urbanspoon
When you're suffering with a bad dose of jetlag, you don't realise your hunger creeping up as your normal
eating and sleeping pattern is so wildly messed up.
But then when you're back to your senses and re-adjust yourself to your so called normal life,
you realise, shit. I haven't eaten in about 18 hours. Why am I not that hungry?! And because 3 krispy
kremes for breakfast at 3pm doesn't even count as food. Crap, that's why...

We got back home to country town Perth way too early, at around 8am - the perfect time to get straight back to sleep. No doubt that is exactly what happened, only waking up in the afternoon to suppress my grumbling
tummy with about a day's worth of calories of KK donuts. Then it was straight back to bed until my stomach
told me it was time to get up again for dinner.

-Sleep til' you're hungry, eat til' you're sleepy

Yeah, life advice doesn't get any better than that. And that is why I swear my life by it.
Hence, life doesn't get any lazier than that. Blah!

Between 7 of us, 6 dishes were demolished. Fair teamwork effort, but with me working harder than
everyone else, it hardly seems fair.

Barbeque Ribs - $35 
"Can we have some roast pork?" - "Sorry, we're sold out."
"Some BBQ pork then?" - "Umm we're out of that too."
"...What DO you have?" - "There's BBQ Ribs?"

And that is the only reason why this plate of BBQ ribs made an appearance at our table. We arrived at such a devastatingly wrong time, where everything was already sold out for the day! When this came out it looked SO much like BBQ pork that I thought the waiter was nuts for saying they had run out. Like psshhh, run out my ass. And then when I bit down hard on a bone, crap why did I think he was nuts?!

So as you can see, it bears a great resemblance to the normally shiny and red BBQ pork except this has bones within it. It tasted pretty much the same, with a little bit of inconvenience added due to the bones. The pinkish red flesh was sweet, juicy and fragrant from perfect cooking. The natural fats in the meat coupled with the shiny glaze of oil over the top is enough to give you an oily film across your lips and a little bit of regret :)

The oiliness of these delicious ribs made me stick to the peanuts underneath all the meat, which were also drenched with oil anyway. Who am I kidding.

Chicken Sweet Corn Soup - $7
Hot sweet corn soup would have been a nice addition to the oily meal, if you have the mindset that hot stuff has the ability to melt the fats that are already inside you. This was what it was, no better nor worse than what sweet corn soup usually tastes like.

Nothing that really stood out for me, except the memory of there being little chicken.

Roast Duck (whole) - $40
You go to a BBQ house, you can't forgo the roast duck. For me, I'd say the roast duck is the staple dish of an Asian roast restaurant. And this place does it better than well, with 3 tiers of golden brown crispy skin, fat and juicy tender duck flesh, sitting in a pool of its own juices.

Sooooo good. Duck meat may be fat. ...REALLY fat, as the way it is roasted seals in all its fats and juices, and none of that good stuff gets released out until inside you. The sight of these you see behind the restaurant's glass windows may put you off as you see its juices sliding off and drip, drip, dripping into its own fat collection pool. But then eat them, and your now guiltless sense of taste will take you for a ride past all those thoughts about dieting, aka self torture.

Spinach in 2 Egg Sauce - $22
Just to help a tiny bit to counteract an already super healthy, nutritional meal like this, some effort has to be made to stay healthy. We went with the waiter's suggestion of spinach in 2 egg sauce and actually, this turned out to be my most touched dish of the night.

It wasn't particularly a stand-out dish that made me dig around hungrily for sunken bits at the end, or reach for it so much that the whole dish ended up being positioned right in front of me, but because it was pretty much the only thing that wasn't FAT LADEN, or DEEP FRIED, or BATHED IN OIL, or LEAKING OIL FROM ITSELF. All the delicious qualities that my dining companions look for in a satisfying relationship with food.

Boring spinach is otherwise made more exciting with the inclusion of salted egg and century egg cubes, along with whole caramelised garlic cloves. Century eggs are a matter of hit or miss with most people, and admittedly they smell a bit like urine. And even though I just put myself off with that comment, I encourage you with all my heart to still go and try them. They have their own distinct characteristic, and smelling like piss isn't what I'm referring to.

Plain Noodle Soup - $4
Noodles are a winner with most, so $4 for a big bowl of noodle soup plus vegetables is definitely a champion. Just eat these quickly before the hot broth excessively overcooks the noodles and turning them soft and mushy. Taking too long will cause the strands to become dull, lifeless and losing their original bounciness, much like hair. Mmmmm!

Panfried Toothfish - $30
This dish is almost always scrumptious, with its golden crispy fried skin and smooth, flaky white flesh. Usually being served a small proportion ensures that it leaves you wanting more, and for $30 this was indeed quite a small serving.

Given too little of something breeds lust, given too much of something breeds indifference. Life and food: why so damn hard to find balance in it?!

Combination Roast Noodle Soup
If you can't decide on one type of animal, you can satisfy your greed and ask for a mix up. Soya chicken here has a just-cooked texture, tender meat that is never dry or overcooked. The darkened chicken skin doesn't taste oily or even look visibly fatty, seems like they use quality chicken here!

Prices and portions are a bit of a two way street here, one goes up and the other has seemed to head in the other direction. This was around the $14.50 mark from memory, which is considerably higher than the general prices of an average bowl you can find from other restaurants. But people don't seem to care paying a higher price for the good stuff, as ratings on Urbanspoon suggest!

Roast Duck Noodle Soup
This is the one choice that is always ordered without fail through rain or shine, regardless of whether we even feel like it or not. The restaurant used to place the chopped up duck on a separate plate to the noodles, which I reckon was a better idea. If the serving size wasn't bigger that way, at least it gave the illusion that it was!


The things you'll probably notice most about this newly refurbished (by new it's probably been like over a year) are the slow but steady price inflations and, well, the newly refurbished insides. It looks majorly different from its facelift, and the renovations and decor are minimalist but stylishly simple. Dark and white contrasting coloured furniture with different textured walls is the running theme throughout.

It's not all about oily roasts at a BBQ house, as you're greeted with live swimming seafood awaiting their fatality in large glass tanks as you step through the entrance. This forms part of the animal decors this restaurant displays! One of the "decorations" that are evident in every BBQ house are the masses of poultry and pork mannequins hanging on display, showcasing what Chinese BBQ is all about. It definitely looks a bit cruel, but it's a delicious sacrifice.

Asian cuisine restaurants usually holds the concept of quick in, quick eat, quick out. As such, staff service is very swift, even in times of traffic in peak eating hours. Hong Kong BBQ House sees a range of different customers and it gets very rowdy and busy at times with queues for takeaway and dining in. But you definitely won't be kept waiting, as it is in the best interests for the customer and the restaurant itself to kick out serve diners ASAP so that new ones get in.

It is by far NOT your usual cheap go-to Chinese feed, with prices being very much higher than what you can usually find in Chinatown or other Asian eating establishments. Does higher prices translate to higher quality eats? Not definitely for all dishes on the menu, but yes for some. You'll find your usual dishes on the menu plus BBQ roast meat options. Takeaway for duck is considerably cheaper than dining at the restaurant, which is a bonus if you prefer your own service at home and some more $$$ saved.

And then spend those saved funds at an even MORE expensive restaurant!

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Tra Vinh Vietnamese and Chinese Special Noodle House

Tra Vinh on Urbanspoon
You probably have a special person in your life, someone who gives you gratification, provides comfort when you need it, makes you happy. They never really disappoint you, and if by rare chance they do, you forgive and forget in a heartbeat. There's something about them that makes you keep going back for more.

And indeed I do have something special in my life that I can turn to, give comfort when I am needy, and rely on in times of HUNGERRRRRR! A place where you can come back again and again, to give you an all rounded satisfying experience and you never really leave disappointed. And even when it does screw up, you let it go, telling yourself it's just a one off bad day. No no not biased at all.

Tra Vinh is one of those eateries we have been going to frequently for yearsss without getting bored of the same things on the menu. It's not like you can get sick of your other half in a relationship right? RIGHT? 
And because I was catching a plane that night to schmancy Gold Coast, I aimed to maintain a good palate and didn't introduce any new foods that might have shocked my very weak digestive system. And for that, Tra Vinh was a safe bet as it has been an old favourite hunch for as long as I can remember.

Bun Bo Hue - $11
Of all the different Vietnamese restaurants I've tried, each has their own version of the bun bo hue and they all taste different - some spicy, some salty, some as bland as water boiled with chilli and seasoned with salt. To each their own at the end of the day.

This bowl filled with deep red stock suggests a rich, flavoursome broth with a chilli bite to it. Quite a traditional Vietnamese dish of Rice vermicelli in spicy soup with pork and beef, along with the inclusion of a pig knuckle which you may or may not eat. It's not that hot if you can brave chilli foods but on a hot day, you'll probably eat this with your sweat.

Hu Tieu Mi Tra Vinh Dac Biet - $11.50
Here we have a bowl that has a little bit of everything, a combination of animals from land and sea. In this Tra Vinh Special, there are rice noodles, there are egg noodles, there is seafood, there is meat, and then there is offal. Along with the very tantalising pig liver pieces, there exists pork pieces, prawns, fish balls and squid, topped with a deep fried golden cracker embellished with a prawn shell.

The rice noodles used to form the above dish above. They are springy and light with a satisfying chew to them, cooked to just the right level of "done". They are good in retaining their texture even when being soaked in the hot broth, which continuously cooks them. Makes you wonder at times what the hell goes into making it and how well (or unwell) you can digest it.

Hu Tieu Tra Vinh Dac Biet - $11
So I wasn't joking when I said we wanted to keep it simple and basic. This is just like a duplication of the previous dish minus the noodles and substituted with different rice noodles. Very exciting.

So as you can see, these noodles are the ones that replace the transparent kind. They are less chewy so require less mastication before swallowing lol. Another addition is the mini quail egg and cashew nuts in the soup, along with bits of fried pork lard and caramelised onion bits that do their magic in enhancing the fragrance and flavour of the dish.

Many of the noodle soups have chives as a topping and surprisingly, a while ago back when chives were supposedly unknown to mankind, I'd came across a customer who came back with their bowl of soup with a horrid, shocked, disbelieving and utter disgust expression on their face demanding a refund because,


The location of Tra Vinh, although seeming to be a bit lonely and separated from most of the other restaurants in the heart of Northbridge, turns out to be quite favourable for them and the customer. Being on the outskirts of the entertainment district of Perth means there's less hassle and headache for the diner to find parking. A meal is much more enjoyable when you don't have a sky high parking ticket as accompaniment!

It is also open all day morning to night, and around peak hour it usually overflows with Asian clientele - always a good sign. Menu has all your usual dishes you'd expect, and all taste pretty good without the help of much MSG...but that is a guess that I'm making based on the fact that the mouth doesn't go all dry and you don't need to gasp for water afterwards. Fair prices that you'd expect from a casual eatery with basic and no fuss furnishings. But the abundance of mirrors in most Vietnamese restaurants always has me wondering, WHY!

Like the decor, the service is also no fuss, but it's there when you need it. Frankly, we all know it, places like this sprout up to give you the good food, good service is a bonus! You get what you need, no more no less. Serving sizes are good and are in proportionally correct sized bowls unlike ones that use huge bowls to give the illusion of generosity. You're also presented with free tea as you sit down! - a nice gesture that immediately scores brownie points :)


Saturday, 3 March 2012


Jun on Urbanspoon
People often walk into dark side alleyways to either do their business or, do some dodgy business. Feeling like a thug, venturing into these hidden locations away from the busy side of town and into an underground hideout unknown to many, I made my way cautiously down a steep staircase, hoping whatever was to come better be worth it.

Relaxxx, I'm no killer, I'm only here for my dinner! Ho ho hooooo :D
And after a few thorough rounds of menu scanning, we realised there was less than 30 minutes til closing time, and we should probably hurry the hell up.

Salmon Sashimi (Small) - $9
I think it's incomplete to visit a Japanese restaurant without trying out their sashimi. Jun's raw salmon tasted fresh and even though $9 would be the expected price for 5 pieces, I can't help but feel I deserved more, MUCH MOREEE of this for a small.
This ain't a Small, this is a TINY! :(

Garnish wasn't very appealing however, and I say that because I am usually a garnish eater but even I wasn't attracted nor tempted to eat this. The salmon pieces were sliced to a good thickness though, and salmon, I really really love you and can't ever get enough of you <3

Chopstick Covers
Between the first dish and the next dish, a considerable amount of time passed and pretty much all the other tables had left with dirty dishes all around. I hate being the last table because you feel like a nuisance to the staff.

So I did something productive with my time, like admiring their very pretty cardboard paper chopstick covers. I have always been fascinated with the art and details of origami and I went through my own paper crane folding phase, although I am about 750 frickin' cranes away from making my wish :(

Shio (Salt) Torime - $4
Judging from its menu, Jun does its grilling the best and specialises in this area. The large range of an assortment of meat, offals, skin and other body parts/sections coming from an assortment of animals on the menu gives you a whole choice of tantalising (or sickening to some people) skewered foods. From the normal chicken tenderloins to chicken liver to chicken soft bone to chicken tail, nothing goes to waste in this kitchen. Yep, by chicken tail, probably means you have the choice to eat ass. Even a chicken's ass can earn some money for them!

Since nothing really excited us besides meat, we played it simple and got the chicken thigh with garlic sprout skewer with salt marinade, rather than Teriyaki. The chickens' thighs were very tanned, to the point of being blackened by the flame in some areas. But still tasted juicy thanks to the marinade, coating all over the meat and garlic sprouts. And these must taste pretty darn good or were cooked well, cause -

M (an avid garlic hater): Hey these taste goooood *om nom nom*
Me:'re eating garlic sprouts you know
M: PUHHH WHAT?...oh well *om nom nom*

Sooooo I wanted to be different and wanted to try something new from the menu that looked distinctly different to the usual dishes you see on a Japanese menu. I came across something called the Tori Zousui and well, different it was! The presentation alone had me intrigued already. I half assed regretted my decision cause I thought I had just ordered...rice in soup. Aka congee.

When this came out, I thought, oh well. At least it looks interesting? A little black stool which maintained the warmth of the metal bowl that sat on top with a wooden lid on top of that.
Very snug.

Tori Zousui - $10
When I lifted the lid and a non-congee sight greeted me, I was happy. It was warm and toasty, a very nice matching dish that complemented the restaurant's surroundings of wooden and yellow tones and dark colours. Not that it matters.

I was a bit sad at seeing how shallow the bowl was and thinking no way would this ever fill me up...or even 2 of these. But when I put my spoon in, it sorta just...fell inside the bowl. The depth of the metal bowl is very deceiving! I plunged my spoon down and got frightened at how deep it was. It felt like a neverending drop bowl for second or so.

Risotto - Closer (not really)
Oh hello, Japanese style Chicken Risotto. To me this really looked like wantons. Or like tofu skin. Or even like floating scrambled eggs. But no, it was the look of Chicken risotto. I had expected a dry cheesy dish even after being told it was rice in soup. Brain's just bloody stubborn and only had Italians on its mind.

Stirred everything through and it became a little pot of warm, toasty goodness. Calling it a risotto is a little misleading though! The stock though, was tasty and can make you consume 3 bowls of rice without even realising it, when you're eating the two together. You momentarily forget your carbohydrate overdosage and really, I don't really care.

Contents of Risotto
Best not to eat straight out from that heat-conducting-metal-bowl which I stupidly did, and only used a bowl when it was too late. So here you can see (not really), the ingredients of this risotto, namely sliced mushrooms, eggs, rice, and chicken. YES believe it or not, there WAS indeed chicken, just the invisible kind.

But yes there was chicken in this chicken risotto, just very very very very very very very very very very little of it though. A more generous inclusion would have been greatly appreciated and devoured.

Coffee Jelly - $4.50
Seeing as the portions were a bit, well, TINY, we decided on this dessert. M sang much praises for it before it came and well, yeah, it was okay I guess :P I am a party pooper like that.
I only wish it came as a bigger serving ... ok ... I notice the pattern here ... as this was just nowhere near enough to satisfy :(

Coffee flavoured anything usually tastes awesome, and jelly is no exception. It seems relatively simple to make (although I don't dare say that too loudly!) and had a pretty strong flavour to it, topped with a little condensed milk and cream on the side. A nice and refreshing way to tell your stomach to calm down there's no more food coming in!


Seriously this place is initially impossible to find, even when it's right in front of you (well, me) and I don't really have a habit of walking into dark alleyways to find my dinner. Truthfully, slowly but surely, the streets of Perth are becoming increasingly tainted with violence and crime, and one might find coming to the city after sunset to be insecure and dangerous. I for one, am a chicken, and didn't feel particularly comfortable being alone there.

Being underground and everything, I suspect this place gets by via alot of word-of-mouth referrals. I had heard many good things about this place and if going on a busy night, it may be best to make a booking beforehand. I have a tendency NOT to do this, but I have a tendency to dine out on quieter days and as close as possible to closing time ... the sort of customer I tended to hate when I was a staff and not a customer :P

Offering something different to your usual Japanese fare, some dishes are unique and prices are reasonable. Staff do their job as per their roles and were very patient with indecisiveness. That's bound to happen when you get a menu that has so much choice and you get overwhelmed by what to try. It's probably best to visit Jun with a heap of other people so you can try a lot of their little sized dishes...or you can just do so yourself. But it's probably better for you and your waistline to be greedy in a group, rather than be a pig alone.

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^ Poor and embarrassing attempt of a self portrait :(
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