Saturday, 16 March 2013

Himalayan Nepalese Restaurant & Cafe

Himalayan Nepalese Restaurant & Cafe on Urbanspoon
This was my first restaurant meal of 2013.

If I had to describe this meal, it'd be somewhat like how I feel towards the year so far - not completely underwhelming, but nowhere near overwhelming either. Like this meal, it's brought in a bit of sweetness, bits of spice, and glimpses of gold among the rougher bits I'd rather forget.

There were a few dishes here that looked like they'd be genuine gold but unfortunately, they were gold plated at best. Beneath the golden batter, a lot of them lacked that type of flavour and excitement we were hungry for.
Free nuts?! That's nuts!
I'd have to thank this bowl of addictive roasted spiced peanuts and soy beans for helping make the long, unbearable long wait for our entrees slightly more bearable. Judging by the ~25 people table that ordered JUST before we did, I suspected a couple more bowls would be needed.

Surprisingly, a little goes a long way :) Like most good things in life.
Momo - $14.50
I'd like to introduce you to the affectionately named momo, which I suspect is one of their most well known and ordered dishes. Momo here is a traditional dumpling dish and comes with either minced chicken, lamb or vegetable fillings and a sweet, tomatoey homemade sauce.

The little dim sim-like parcels are specially spiced and wrapped in dough with coriander, ginger and garlic. The skin that holds filling and liquid inside is delicate but not too fragile, so the journey from the serving plate to your plate can be a successful one.

After our last entree arrived and trudging through them (entree being the only thing we ordered - 5 of them), I think this first dish may have been the best one. I don't think people save the best til' last anymore nowadays!
Masu Ko Tandro - $12.50
The next dish we picked out from the entrees list was a minced lamb one - 4 stubby lamb cigar-esque rolls seasoned with Nepalese herbs and spices, skewered and grilled in a Tandoori oven.

I enjoyed these on their own without the minty yoghurt sauce, which I felt seemed to mask their fresh, meaty fragrance.
Chara Ko Sekuwa - $15
I don't normally order chicken unless I have to, and usually when you are dining with a group of friends, you have to.

Chicken is a foolproof, trusted food and these tender pieces of grilled chicken don't differ. I couldn't really taste the marinade of yoghurt and herb mixture the chicken was described to be marinated with though, unless I was meant to marinate the chicken in that herbed yoghurt sauce myself right before I ate it.
Jhinghe Machha Poleko - $15
Probably scoring the least points with our tummies this meal was probably this grilled prawns dish, that came in a batter that could have made a lot of improvements. The prawns were small and not too appealing, and tasted sadly ordinary at best.

And before I sound like a broken food record, all these dishes were indeed described on the menu as marinated in a special seasoning of Nepalese herbs and spices and cooked in a tandoori oven. And in hindsight, remembering how similar in tastes they all were, that description is heck accurate.
Machha Tareko - $14.50
The panfried fish fillets were last to arrive and definitely looked the most flavoursome of the lot. I'm pleased that these were moist and flaky, even though their cut is on the thinner side.
Garlic Naan - $5 per serve
This is actually 2 serves of garlic naan, studded with chopped garlic. The thin pieces of aromatic flatbreads were missing their trusty sidekick - which is usually a generous serving of thick, fragrant curry sauce to wipe plates clean of.

Should have ordered some mains, like normal people do.

The restaurant promises authentic Nepalese cuisine for all of us out there who have been through the same old Japanese-Indian-[insert overdosed to death cuisine here] rotation. It's a nice change from having purely Chinese or Indian cuisine, as Nepalese cuisine draws upon both these cultures.

Prices have definitely risen, and even with just a dinner purely comprised of entrees, this stacked up to a total that could get us not too shabby main meals elsewhere. The kitchen has also taken a one-size-fits-all approach to dressing the plates, so while presentation is nice, I can't help but want a bit of unpredictability to the overused cucumber, carrot, lettuce and lemon wedge look.

Seating is quite packed and the tight squeeze elevates the volume of noises to an uncomfortably loud level where we had to lean across the table to hear and talk to each other. It's a busy, happy environment but hinders on service as a result; staff were a little slow on the floor and in the kitchen.

They do have a fantastic feedback system by leaving a little review notepad on the front counter, which was absolutely drowning in positivity. To our table of surface scratchers who only tried entree dishes, the food was hit and miss.
Not ordering their Nepalese Homemade Mango flavoured Ice Cream made with almonds and pistachio nuts though, could be one of my biggest regrets.

(08) 6161 8645

Open 7 days
Lunch: 11am to 3pm
Dinner: 5pm to 10pm


Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Da Vinci Ristorante Pizzeria

Da Vinci Ristorante Pizzeria on Urbanspoon
I have driven past Da Vinci pretty much everyday at one point in my life, and did nothing more than just that.

The restaurant is situated on one corner of an intersection that I never visit, as by complete coincidence I always found myself on the other side of the road where McDonalds' beckons me with its big, tempting, beaming golden arches.

A group of us gathered here one weekend, where it was absolutely packed. Inside felt just like one huge happy family in an Italian home, where everyone is wining, dining, and probably comparing the food to their Mum's homemade pasta (which always seems to be the best version).
Calamaretti - $18.30
I met these plates of entrees by surprise as someone had ordered starters for sharing, and with complete self restraint as it was placed directly in front of me. The pieces of squid came lightly seasoned, shallow fried and with quite the price tag for what they were (or how much there were too).

Although bite sized, the squid pieces were extremely small, making the batter the more dominant on in the battered squid relationship. It came with a small dressed salad, that I ate all by myself. I just wish they'd called the marinated and grilled version of this starter.
Pane E Aglio - $7
And of course, the thing I wasn't surprised to see - the ubiquitous garlic bread that is always the prelude to an Italian meal. Da Vinci's version is 4 thick, fluffy slices of garlic buttered bread with crusty perimeters, and speckled with garlic.
Soup Special - $12.50

Penne Arrabbiate - $20.50
Seeing as we are one big sharing, caring group, the dishes we order individually become communal plates that get traded around the table like currency. I tried this Penne Arrabbiate, a pasta dish combining tube pasta with spicy italian cacciatore sausage, onion and chilli with fresh tomato sauce.

It isn't too heavy or rich, which is something typical of many pasta dishes, but overall it is nothing too exciting or to hurry back to.
Fettuccine Al Salmone - $24.50
A ordered a very creamy ribbon pasta main with crumbled pieces of smoked salmon, capers, leek, spanish onion and a hint of lemon zest, which all quickly melded into heavy, creamy mouthfuls. Perhaps if the salmon pieces were not as finely chopped, it would add more textural components to the dish to make it easier to eat.
Fettuccine Gamberi - $25
The fettuccine trend continued on either side of me, with a friend ordering the Fettuccine Gamberi - a good looking dish of fresh ribbon pasta with tiger prawns, anchovies, capers, onion and wilted english spinach tossed with garlic, chilli and extra virgin olive oil.

He said the pasta was really quite bland, and I offered him the contrarily very salty sauce from my main dish to pour over his pasta, which cried out for some flavour as he did.
Tortellini Alla Panna - $21.50
J ordered tortellini - travel neck rest-shaped pasta rings filled with veal and tossed with limited button mushrooms, bacon and onion in a cream sauce.

Penne Pollo - $20.50
The Penne Pollo, consisting of long strands of tube pasta in a creamy garlic sauce with strips of chicken and snow peas.
Spaghetti Marinara - $25.50
This is one of the dishes which appeared more substantial, that looked to fill up the stomach and appetite with meat rather than creamy sauce, which usually gives you the feeling of premature fullness.

J's Spaghetti Marinara came with tomato sauce and an assortment of seafood, including mussels, prawns and fish.
Pasta special - $24.90

The pasta special of the night with prawns, fresh tomato and snow peas was ordered by someone...somewhere... along the table.
Arrosto Di Agnello - $31.50
I think all of us at the table had a serious case of food envy when the only non-pasta dish (except mine) arrived. D challenged the norm of ordering pasta at an Italian restaurant and chose the honey and balsamic roasted lamb rump, served on top of a vegetable stack of potato mash, grilled eggplant, roasted capsicum and wilted spinach.

The masterpiece was garnished with a sprig of rosemary and dressed with a mint and rosemary jus. D shared his little piece of gold around, and we all welcomed our piece of tender juicy rump with open mouths. Very enjoyable, or perhaps just a really good refresher from all our carbohydrate-laden pasta plates.
Cozze - $24.50
When my dish arrived, I felt every head on the table turning in my direction. And while it is because I have probably said something stupid, this time it's because of my impressively big miniature wok-sized serving of mussels; which in hindsight, really are a guaranteed head turner.

My main arrived on the table with a spectacular entrance, piled high and proud. The dish comes with a little something extra - a very useful paper bib that is personally tied around your neck by the waiter.

Trust me, you'll need it. It certainly saved me from becoming a giant sauce drenched garlic mussel myself.
The fresh mussels have a mild chilli taste and come with the choice of either cooked in a traditional tomato or a white wine sauce. I chose the latter, which is quite a dry version and a strong, pungent garlic flavour that you see and smell very clearly.

My initial enthusiasm when I dived in hand first died off quick when I cracked open my first mussel, which I found was very salty. I'll stress now that this is definitely subjective to each person's taste! I did enjoy ploughing my way through my dish though, and I think a piece of trusty bread on the side to soak up the fragrant sauce would have worked wonders.
Da Vinci entrance
I really looked forward to Da Vinci, from the amount of times we never succeeded at trying the place and the amount of times it was talked up by a friend. This particular experience was unfortunately quite unremarkable, and we were all a little underwhelmed at what we each came across.

The overall consensus was that the food generally came as one of two extremes of being either too salty or too bland, and had people reaching for water, salt shakers or even the salty sauce from each other's meals to add to their own tasteless dish.

I spied the desserts blackboard labelled Today's Desserts which I assumed to change frequently, however I came across Perth Food Engineer's post from one year ago showing their dessert menu with the exact same offerings of wildberry meringue; warm sticky date pudding; apple pie; creme caramel; Da Vinci special cheesecake, and the heavenly sounding mango filled vanilla crepes with vanilla bean ice cream and butterscotch sauce.

If these are as amazing as they sound, I guess it's a good thing they stay unchanged.

(08)9201 1144

Lunch: Wed, Fri & Sun: 12pm to 3.30pm
Dinner: Wed - Mon: 5pm to late
Closed Tuesdays


Saturday, 2 March 2013

Picco's Kitchen

Piccos Kitchen on Urbanspoon
If every neighbourhood had a hidden gem, Picco's Kitchen is probably one of the shiniest, polished, most exquisite gem in the suburb of Maylands.

Deep within the regular residential streets in Maylands, far far away from where a restaurant would be expected to be in this growing foodie hub, is indeed a quaint little restaurant looking like a residential home itself.

"Unsuspecting" would be the word for the place - location, furnishings, right down to the changing daily menu that is posted on their Facebook page that promises gourmet homestyle food.
No printed menus available and ordering your meals off a handwritten menu on a sheet of paper strung up behind the counter really proves, that "daily menu" actually means DAILY menu.

I guess the only down side to such a temperamental menu is that we all have to imagine the yumminess of each dish and judge based on looks, because you will probably never see my dish again when you visit, and nor would I see yours.
Lucky No. 7 :)
I really like the ambiance of the place, with all its wood themed furnishings amongst the dark, earthy colours that make up the walls, counters and cabinets.

It is a cafe styled typical of others but with loads of natural sunlight streaming through to brighten up the dark colours into lighter blues, browns and greys.
Cakes, brownies and other baked distractions
Right next to the counter where you order your mains is a nice little setup of your usual evil cafe temptations, ready to sidetrack your brain into ordering more than you (or your thighs) really need or originally intended.
Chicken Cutlet - $26.50
A ordered the crispy coated chicken cutlet, which came with a red cabbage and fennel slaw, watercress, pecorino cheese and tomato relish on the side. 

It looked deliciously golden crumbed and comfortably massive. In fact, many of the day's dishes we ordered were generously sized and looked attractive, even presenting a threat of food wastage to smaller eaters on the table.
Sausage Roll - $21.50
M, the smallest eater of mankind, ordered the sausage roll.
But this wasn't just a sausage roll. This is the mother of all sausage rolls, that she only managed to get through 1/4 of.

At $21.50 for a sausage roll, this was accordingly supersized and blown out of its normal proportion by around 300%.
Sausage Roll monster
I am not sure if you understand the size of this, and it took us all a good while to get over it. I tried a bit of it; all the layers of flaky buttery pastry just about melts on your tongue and made even creamier with the aioli.
It's no wonder the hand-cut chips went unfinished on the plate, along with a 3/4 sausage roll.
Linguini Pasta - $25
This scrumptious pasta dish was laden with a garlic cream sauce, heaped on with smokey pancetta pieces (albeit a bit tough), mushrooms and garnished with slivers of pecorino.
Sources say that although yummy at first few mouthfuls, the dish does get a little heavy.
Salmon Baguette - $14
And me, I went down the road of simplicity today, and chose something out of their cabinet instead.
The admittedly smallish buttered baguette was filled with chunky salmon pieces, mixed with dill and sauce, to which I asked if my bread could be toasted.

They did this for me happily, with a warning that the bread will turn hard with toasting. I thought this was really nice of them to do, along with the very pleasant service we received the whole time we were there that's best described as cheerful.

Just a bunch of people loving what they do, yields fantastic results and happy customers :)
This is an extremely rare sight, as I do believe Picco's Kitchen has quite the cult following of the community for its food and coffee. If you want your dining surroundings to look like this, I suggest you get out of bed a little later and have your brunch here past noon in utter serenity.
One section of the cafe is set up with a shelf of assorted items for sale, from honey to sauces to Rubra coffee beans. There's also the general mish mash of furniture like the old chesterfield lazing in the corner, that's exactly like the ones I have at home.

Which I gotta admit, is uncomfortable as hell, unless you like the idea of coming home at the end of the day and relaxing onto a plank of wood.
Picco's Kitchen
There's a very agreeable slogan that you see scrawled on boards, paper and walls throughout the cafe that reads Love food, Love life.

Thanks for the advice Picco's, but I think I just might love food more than life itself :)

(08) 9272 4491
Mon - Wedn & Sat: 7am to 4pm
Thurs - Fri: 7am to 9pm
Sun: 8am to 3pm

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