Monday, 25 November 2013

Swan Festival of Lights 2013

The Perth Swan Festival of Lights is an annual festival, spanning across three days in 2013 to coincide with the celebration of Diwali. The theme of inner light is ever present at the festival, with light radiating from the big screen, traditional performances, fireworks displays, glowing candle lanterns from childrens' hands and of course, the stunning picturesque Perth City skyline as the backdrop of this luminous event.

With all these different sources radiating with light, colour and beauty, the simplicity of light on its own is used as a symbol to unite our differences while never forgetting to embrace the cultural diversity of our world.
Navigating the crowds
There's a big turn out for the festival, despite the night I visited being the last of the three nights it had already been running for. The food tents are bustling towards the later hours and I'm intrigued by the vegetarian spread prepared by the folk from Annalakshmi, whose restaurant overlooking the river operates by a simple yet most noble of all principles - the diner pays with their heart. Bless them.

I learn there's an impressive menu of dishes on offer as I swiftly skip past all the food vendors noting what's on their signs while trying to make it obvious that I am not pushing in front of everybody!
Beverages tent
There is a constant stream of customers at every single food and beverage tent spread across the grass, and the lines at each one progressively build longer and longer. It's a good idea to come early to avoid the crowds and minimise the wait - both in line and for your food.

The beverage tent sold an assortment of drinks; the one at the top of their menu seems to also be their top seller for the night, observing the amount of people at the festival with a mango lassi in one hand and food on the other. There's also a tea infused with Indian herbs and spices called masala tea, which sounds like a better option after not having much luck with the masala lassi at the Blue Ginger Club.
One of many vegetarian food tents
Food and celebration through eating is a significant aspect of the Diwali festival and although the options at the festival are limited to vegetarian dishes, there really are no limitations at all. Everyone is spoiled with a plethora of choice ranging from mee goreng and nasi lemak to more traditional dishes which I only learnt of on the night. The tents are distinguished by categories of food - main meals, snacks and desserts with the last category especially intriguing, with options like lentil donuts with coconut condiments or the cham cham, a ricotta cheese dessert.
Food and drink coupons
Although the cartridges of the people trains in front of every tent get longer and feelings of reluctancy to wait surface, the lines move quickly and the wait is not annoying in the least. The waiting time is slashed with an efficient coupon paying system being in place at each of the tents - these are pre-purchased at designated coupon tents and all orders are paid for using these and saves the fumbling around and delays that cash causes. Coupons are the official and only currency in operation at the Swan Festival of Lights, and the efficiency is tops.
Pilau Rice with Vegetable Curry - $7
We decided on a vegetable and chickpea curry with pilau rice as a hot option to inject some warmth against the cool weather. Pilau rice is a rice infused with spices and the meal was actually so simple but so nourishing as much as it tasted delicious. I haven't had a light, meatless meal in a while (shocking I know) and this felt really comforting and hit all the right spots.
Plain flour breads and wheat flour puffed breads, components to form the Puri or Paratha sets, which are both served with curry.

Plain Dosai: Flat rice pancake served with sambar and chutney

Masala Dosai - $8
Sambar is typically a stew, or a slightly chunky chowder with vegetables and dhal. The masala dosai is served with two accompaniments, and sambar is one of these. The liquidy, yellow-tinged sauce is initially not to my taste, but as I give it further tries due to my strict policy of no food wastage, ever makes me start to enjoy this a lot more than I thought. I like the slight chewable texture of the sambar, unlike the chutney which has a subtle hotness but no texture. A lack of eating utensils and a finished pancake later, I end up using my fingers to scoop out the remaining sauce - it's a messy encounter, but meh, it was good.
Crisp rice pancake
The dosai is a crisp scroll, a thin crepe-like pancake made from a fermented rice and lentil batter. Griddled until golden brown, they are served hot and with a potato masala filling that's pulpy but still holds its form. The dosai is softened in the places the potato filling touches but the paper-thin outer edges retain their crispness; I break off the pieces with a snap and practically scoop up the sauce condiments like a spoon. I'm all for using all sorts of food as makeshift eating utensils :)
Perth weather is a blessing!
What's a cultural festival without showcasing its culture through traditional music, dance and performances? Along with song and dance, there are fashion shows with beautiful traditional costumes and acts on the stage broadcasted onto the big screen. The huge grass area of the park is a relaxing place to leisurely sit the night away, watching the festival go by under a perfect clear cloudless sky.
Different stalls set ups dot the festival grounds, selling handicraft works among a variety of workshops teaching meditation and the cooking of traditional dishes. Festival goers can also experience the intricacy of henna tattoos.
Out of the festival's tents, the arts tent gathered a good crowd interested in its offerings. Other stalls sold clothing, sarees and delicate accessories with intricate detailing.

Entertaining children is catered for through face painting and - I thought I was going to fall off and die when I first got on this friendly animal at 7 years young - camel rides around the park. These kids looked pretty chilled - I remember gripping ever so tightly for dear life with my tiny hands!
This is one of many cultural festivals that Perth holds and to immerse myself into new food, the arts and everything else these types of festivals offer is a really great experience to recognise and embrace the multicultural diversity of our city. There's a big sense of community that is felt at such cultural festivals as people from all backgrounds gather together to learn about each other's culture, and Perth is growing into a bigger and better place to live because of it.

Happy festival going, there's more than just a few in the lead-up to Christmas!

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Dark, sinister cocktails at Big El's Latin American Fusion

Kinda like over-eating when you're wearing unforgiving tight pants...
Big Els Latin American Fusion on Urbanspoon
The mixing and matching and combination of different cultures and cuisines seems to be the latest trend on the food industry's catwalk, with the season's hottest style being fusion. This distinctive and daring fashion seems to be donned by chefs of all backgrounds and seen in new restaurants everywhere (opening new eateries follows closely as the next hipster thing to do lately).

This surge of new restaurant openings in our little quiet city is phenomenal - Perth is experiencing the rise of everybody eating, talking about and wanting to take pictures of food more than they do selfies. I've never felt more comfortable pulling out my brick of a DSLR in a restaurant than now.
Tapas and tortillas at Big El's Latin American Fusion
Big El's is the bright new kid on the ever-improving Northbridge block, taking over the premises where Sake Bar once inhabited. Its menu boasts a whole range of fare that's suited to share for a casual weekday dinner or a less greasy alternative to late night kebab pig-outs for hardcore party goers, as the place opens 'til an early 4am on peoples' most loved nights of the week.

Only looking through my pictures now did I notice that we managed to fill the entire table with food for two people. Some reassurance please; this is NOT crazy right?
Mural and ceiling, equally as striking
I came here with a good friend (hardly; we both haven't been arsed to see each other for more than a year) for my earliest dinner ever at 6:30pm. Which is pretty crazy for me - even the place was empty at this time. We dawdled our way through dinner and miraculously, the time was 9:30pm when we checked our phones - I was wondering why we had a few staff members who came more than a few times to ask if we wanted more to eat or drink! It's the casual, relaxed vibe of the place that keeps you from checking the time.

The restaurant itself is spacious and loud in terms of colour; the walls are a bright, happy sunshine yellow and the place is decked with chairs alternating red and green - perfect for the Christmas season really. The colours are echoed in the awesome puzzle of milk crates attached to the ceiling, the most prominent feature of Big El's if you don't count the huge mural at the entrance.
Daintily sipping vodka by the jar, as you do
Mei ambitiously suggested we order one of everything from the menu to which the waitress said something along the lines of, "Hmm. Uhh, perhaps not for TWO people. That's a lot of food". I would have accepted the challenge, but my intolerance of cheese and deep-fried food wiped off practically half the items on the menu.

After explaining my annoying food intolerance, the staff members are really patient in making recommendations - although I told her it's not helpful when all the dishes are being recommended as really, really good haha! Spicy is a popular theme at Big El's, as are their visually appealing, unconventionally named cocktails.

I love how water is served from crystal head vodka jars and cups are screw-top glass jars; it fits perfectly with the restaurant and its quirky ways. The water however, did have a strange taste to it, like it was tainted with the remains of the alcohol once in the jar.
First to arrive
The dishes - all of them - arrived at lightning speed, which is always a good start. It also makes you a more forgiving person if the food induces you to think meh later on. I heard from friends prior to coming here myself that the food was of the meh category as it was collectively described as a bit of a salt overload, but thankfully none of my food was.
Ceviche - $18
When ordering dishes like this, your best tactic is to take someone who has an aversion to raw food. It was easy to finish this off by myself, as the serving is actually on the small side considering the price. The small diced salmon pieces have been liberally doused in a citrus and herb mixture and are a little too tangy for me. The ceviche is served atop a crispy tostadita, which I learn is nothing more than a bed of corn chips that quickly disintegrate from the juices.
Nacho Bowl - $14
The Nacho Bowl is a hefty serving of tri-colour tortilla chips loaded with a seven chilli con carne, a mountain of gooey melted cheese, big chunks of guacamole and lashings of a savoury, creamy sauce called Potato's Companion swirled on top. The textural combination of creamy, soft, crunchy and warm stringy cheese makes a fab plate of nachos. I would have dived into this wholeheartedly if I could, but I still enjoy picking at everything but the cheese off the plate.
Tortilla Chiplets - $6
In hindsight this was a stupid order on our behalf, to order something with ingredients already present in three of our other dishes. Rookie mistake, as this is essentially a starter item involving, again, corn chips and a choice of a side condiment from a salsa, chilli con queso or guacamole. The guacamole is made at the table by staff and is smashed in a stone pounder before being scooped out for you, or you have the option to have a bit of fun and smash some avocado yourself.
Patron Tequila Prawns - $17
This dish, along with many others (meaning, all of them) was a recommendation from staff as an option that is not laden with cheese nor deep fried. The six pan-fried prawns are marinated in the juice of a lemon and are simmered in Patron Tequila before finally being seared in the pan to seal in the juices. They smell fragrant and the hint of alcohol is present but only subtle.
Soft Shell Tacos (5) - $30
Soft shell tacos come in quantities of two, three, five and ten per order with varying combinations of salsas, meats and sauces which you have the freedom to choose your own. I decided the more filling option would be to order five soft tortillas, which come with guacamole, two meats, two salsas and three sauces. The tortilla discs are handmade using masa harina, a traditional flour used in Mexican cuisine and makes for a thin and light tortilla shell strong enough to encase the most soggy of fillings.
Big El's fresh made salsas
The salsas at Big El's pack a huge punch of flavour in them, and are as good to eat on their own as much as they are a perfect match for just about anything on the table. The 'Mango and Jalapeno' salsa is a tangy, refreshing concoction. It is a reminder of Summer, complete with chunks of mango mixed with creamy avocado and goes down like a fruit salad. The salsa in the foreground is Big El's 'Oven roasted Tomato and Garlic'; a smoky, tasty and richly flavoured salsa made up of chunky ground up tomatoes and a heavy but aromatic garlic taste. Even though I came to the impression that I was full, I found myself spooning this up and eating it like it was a chunky tomato soup - oooh goodness.
Soft tortilla meat choices and Big El's famous sauces
There is more than enough serving of sauce for the tortillas and it's sad to see that we wasted quite a lot of all the sauces we barely made a respectable dent in. We chicken out of the sauces that sit higher on the 'hot' scale and our hottest choice is just the chipotle mayonnaise. Even so, Mei puts a big dollop on her tortilla and it sends her reaching for the crystal head water jar like it were actually vodka inside. It's a good level of spiciness if you aren't the type who can eat chilli like they're just another vegetable, and enough to add a tolerable heat to your food. If you like it hot, the 'twin chilli roasted paprika sauce' and 'devil peach chilli jam' would probably satisfy - their names already hint at their strength!

The garlic aioli and potato's companion sauces are both strong and creamy, chosen after being told the 'creme of mushroom' sauce will be taken off their menu. They add a much needed creaminess to offset the slightly dry (although delicious smelling) pan-fried crispy chicken. I really like the softness of the slow cooked pulled beef, but I can't help but wish I'd had ordered the scorched ginger salmon instead - it sounds like it's something a little amazing.
Demonstration of tortilla formation - finished taco in preceding photo, next to the pulled beef
Like the guacamole making, staff ask whether you want a demonstration to make your tortillas and do so at the table. The process involves starting with a freshly made salsa base, layered with meat topped with a spreading of their guacamole before being finished with generous squirts of their sauces. It's a nice touch but I'd much prefer to whip out some crazy and make MEGA tacos, not stopping until they burst at the seam with every bite. Kinda like over-eating when you're wearing unforgiving tight pants I guess, for comparison purposes. Ha!
My pulled beef, garlic aioli tortilla
I love the idea behind this DIY project - mixing and matching your own fillings to suit your taste and coming up with weird, wild and maybe wonderful combinations of ingredients but I think my only gripe is the amount of meat which is given for five tacos worth - not very much. My other tortillas were already sparsely filled and my last tortilla was close to being a salsa and sauce tortilla. I can't ask for much considering this was a 50% Dimmi deal, but at the normal $30 price tag I would probably expect a littleeeee more meat. Perhaps overly greedy, as I am.
Private booth seating
The booths offer privacy and refuge from the noise and whatever is going on around, which is a factor adding to my illusion of time not passing at all. Staying for as long as we wished was not a problem in the slightest; staff were very accommodating the whole night and checked up regularly, in a friendly but unobtrusive manner. If we had designated drivers for the night, we surely wouldn't have declined their cocktail recommendations which really deserve a mention - how does a 'tall black cocktail combining the essences of evil served with glowing redness' sound? Evil, yet kinda tempting and kinda like a blockbuster movie protagonist in the making?

Then it shouldn't be a surprise that this dark, evil spawning creation is suitably named The Darth Vader.
Big El's Latin American Fusion, Northbridge
Big El's
Tues-Thurs & Sun: 5:30pm-Midnight
Fri-Sat: 5:30pm-4am

Tel: (08)9328 3380
71 Francis Street Northbridge WA 6003

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Freshly barbequed satay sticks at Bibik Chan's Satay Garden

It may well be the best coconut rice I have ever had...
Bibik Chan's Satay Garden on Urbanspoon
I had every intention in the world to get along to the Claremont Showgrounds a few weekends ago, which was hosting the Festival of Lights in Perth. The Diwali Mela is a significant festival celebrating the triumph of good over evil, and while this alone is more than enough reasons to rejoice, the large quantities of food typically present at all Diwali festivities adds so much to this important cultural festival. After all, the harmonious effect that food has in bringing all people together is one that is very strong, and one that is truly worth celebrating.

I was ogling at all the food options available at the festival, however thought it best to forgo these desires seeing that we were almost stationary in traffic for 20 minutes right outside the destination. While I can tolerate crowds and queues, hunger is not as patient. I hate the congestion and navigating through masses of people, but I love how the people of Perth are really starting to embrace the city and all its cultural happenings!
Bibik Chan's Satay Garden Restaurant
Being stuck at the same set of traffic lights five times and even being front row witnesses of a car crash at the intersection later, we did a U-turn and looked for a new dinner option. I remembered our visit to Bibik Chan's a while back, though what I remembered most of all is how much the meal disappointed. I crossed my fingers and toes and hoped this was our second time lucky.
Restaurant seating
Upon stepping indoors, the sight was no different from the last time we were here - every table and chair is occupied and the place is packed with diners who are all closely wedged together. The room is small so voices and conversations rebound off each other, and by the end of the night I could probably write a small biography of the people sitting next to us based on everything I unintentionally heard. The restaurant's size makes it cosy, but is on the verge of being cramped as we feel a little restricted in our seats.
Chilli Seafood - $13.50
Remembering the lukewarm (and some parts, even cold) chicken curry we ordered the previous time and hence even asking for it to be microwaved, I didn't really want to take the gamble with round two of cold curry. Instead the option of seafood appealed so I chose the Chilli Seafood, which was an assortment of squid, fish and prawns tossed in a thin chilli sauce which became a spicy broth intermingled with a tamarind sourness. Among the seafood were also pieces of what tasted like a crunchy pickled vegetable of some sort, but we left these behind as they left an unpleasant and slightly bitter aftertaste.
Chilli Seafood, another angle
Andy's tolerance of chilli is as low as you can go, but for the last five times we have eaten out I've unintentionally ordered dishes which are unexpectedly hot (how on earth could an innocent sashimi rice turn out spicy, seriously!) I've done this so much that I've coined this occurrence as "Chilli Fridays", which is the day we typically eat out (and I typically happen to order chilli meals).

As fate would have it, the spiciness of this dish is hotter than I had guessed and I end up finishing most of it as Andy prods around his rice and cucumber pieces, which were pretty much the only items that were not hot. Ooooops, I did it again.
Nasi Lemak - $10.50
Similarly, the beef rendang was also very spicy but had such a strong, fragrant aroma and taste that I hissed my way through the four large chunks of stringy beef. The ikan bilis were moreish; they had a delightfully crunchy texture and I kept on picking it up with my fingers and eating them as I would with chips out of a packet. With our mouths burning up at this stage, the cucumber was a godsend at providing a much-needed cooling effect against the seafood, rendang and chilli sambal. The true humble star of the nasi lemak however, is the rice - infused with a rich coconut flavour and aroma that I almost ordered another serving to have on its own. I think it may well be the best coconut rice I have ever had in a restaurant!
Assorted Satays with pineapple and onion (6 skewers) - $9
Satays are a big thing at Bibik Chan's, considering their whole restaurant name is dedicated to their satays. The only saving grace of last time's mediocre dinner were the satay sticks, which have a note on the menu guaranteeing the meat to be tender with a juicy, succulent finish. The beef and chicken satays are marinated and barbequed over an open fire for a charred and aromatic flavour, however this is compromised with the dryness of the beef satay. I fix the problem by first dunking the meat into the cup of peanut sauce then lathering on more of that same nutty sauce on top to completely saturate it with moisture. That sauce my friends, is good stuff.
Interior, taken after the busy dinner rush
One lone chair for the pre-dinner queues, or post-dinner dawdlers
The secret garden of Bibik Chan's Satay Garden
A quick bathroom visit led to the discovery of the garden behind the restaurant's name, which is a large outdoor seating area hidden behind the small restaurant. It is like an enchanted little forest plastered with greenery - so full of trees, plants and charm. I'd imagine it would be quite the experience to sit outside in the warm summer air under the blanket of night sky, if it wasn't so eerily silent and abandoned for squishy indoor seating.
Mini lanterns strung across the front window

The reason why I come back to Bibik Chan's despite their mediocre food is the real, unpretentious aspect of the restaurant. The place can pass as a place for a quick meal if you are in the vicinity, though I would not make an effort to come specifically to satisfy any food desires. With that, I would consider coming if I had any pressing satay cravings, as I have yet to find a restaurant that grills a mean satay stick worth my cravings.
The tight, rickety entrance
The style of cooking at Bibik Chan's is a very home style way of cooking, with influences from Chinese, Malaysian, Indian and Thai cuisine. Sure enough, feelings of deja vu surfaced when I was eating a chilli seafood stir-fry at home the following night, which tasted like an exact replica of what I ordered at Bibik Chan's. Home style alright!
Bibik Chan's Satay Garden, Nedlands
Bibik Chan's Facebook Page
Dinner: Open 7 nights from 5:30pm

Tel: (08)9386 8492
134B Stirling Highway Nedlands WA 6009

Thursday, 14 November 2013

A taste of globalised Korean at The Gaya

This would be making all the headlines...
The Gaya applecross on Urbanspoon
Disclaimer: Hungry Again Perth was invited as a guest to The Gaya to sample the dinner menu, however all opinions expressed hereon are nobody's but my own.
Normal prices are shown with dishes.

When I think Korean food, I think traditional. I think strong, bold flavours that come out of a style of cooking that tastes like and reminds me of home. When I came across dishes like arancini on their menu being served with pan-fried kimchi, I was puzzled. Is The Gaya meant to be something else?
The Gaya Korean Restaurant
Partly right. Turns out that's what Leo, chef and owner of The Gaya envisioned it to be - a homely, nostalgic restaurant serving traditional dishes that are made with a creative and contemporary touch. The chef has used traditional Korean food as his canvas and played around with more modern cooking techniques to prepare them, resulting in dishes that are not only sound good but look visually stunning.
Yook Jijimi - $12
We started off with the 'Yook Jijimi', a type of 'pancake' made using glutinous rice flour, egg and slices of thin-cut beef. The 'pancake' was not what I had expected at all; the pancake is the beef itself, coated in a very thin layer of flour and egg before being pan-fried to a golden finish and crowned with a bouquet of battered enoki mushrooms.

The beef slices are aromatic but lack a bit of seasoning, though the subtle flavour is compensated by eating it with the roasted pine nut salt grains sprinkled on the side. The crumbs melt in your mouth and are deceptively salty, and remind me of the golden salted egg yolk crumbs that are sprinkled on top of deep fried crab dishes at Chinese restaurants. Each component on the dish is not fantastic on their own, but come together surprisingly well.

Besides the beef option, there is also the choice of vegetable, kimchi, mung bean and fish jijimi.
Salmon Gravlax - $14
The second entree was a neatly arranged plate of salmon gravlax, intercepted by mounds of wakame. Salmon gravlax is typically a dish of cured salmon and here it is marinated with gin, salt, sugar, plum and dill. The pieces of salmon are smoky and salty; the tobiko mayo that sits on top even saltier. We eat it the combination of salmon and mayo together and assume it is the salmon that is giving it that intense savoury taste, until we deconstruct it and try each element separately. I'm very surprised that amidst the tobiko, capers and onion that give the mayonnaise a textural crunch, the mayonnaise itself is unnecessarily salty. Thankfully, this is where I stop using the word "salty" to describe the rest of our dishes.
Side dish - $4
Upon ordering a "side dish" (as it is named in the menu) to be included with our main dishes, we are told that this already comes with main meals. The three items are uninspiring; the pickled cabbage crunchy and sour, the spicy radish dull and the sliced potato soft - and my most preferred out of the three. Considering these replicate the complimentary side dishes that are served at other Korean restaurants and can be refilled as you please, I wouldn't justify paying $4 for this side dish.
Beef short rib, parsnip, red date - $30
After reading Weny's review on The Gaya, I had to try for myself this monster size of a dish. It seems more of a communal dish to share at the table rather than being meant for one, with the five or six chunky pieces of short ribs in the pool of savoury and slightly sweet broth. After the mighty efforts of Andy and myself, we still had to leave a lonesome short rib behind.

The large chunks of short ribs seem all tough guy, but are big softies on the inside. This traditional hearty Korean dish involves simmering beef short ribs for 24 hours to give it that unbelievable tenderness. The softness is from a combination of the cooking time as well as the thin layers of fatty deposits in between the meat, giving it that moisture after being saturated in the broth.

We both agree there was one thing that was missing, that would make this dish the best it can be. It's a subjective call but it held true for us; we flagged the waiter over and he consequently plonked a large bowl of rice on the table for us. With this, we ate more of the dish despite stopping before - it's amazing how loading on more carbs opens up our appetite isn't it?
Tteokgalbi: Beef spare rib, rice cake, yoghurt potato salad, pine nut - $30
I contemplated on whether it was a good idea to order two beef dishes as our mains, and decided the answer was quite obviously a YES! As the Tteokgalbi does not mention "eggs" anywhere, I was a bit of a worry wart that I had ordered the Bibambap when I realised the waiter asked how I wanted my egg done.

I quite liked the yoghurt potato salad, as it was a refreshing and lighter taste to the rest of the food on the dish, which was very tasty but was high in oil content by the way the food gleamed. The two grilled beef spare rib patties fit this bill especially; it was so indulgently fatty, moist and soft, that makes other burger patties taste like a joke. Very dry jokes that aren't funny, like this one.
Egg yolk: "PIERCE ME!"
I asked for a sunny-side up egg, and received an egg yolk that was screaming to be poked. It balanced precariously, but I refrained from letting the egg yolk lava loose as I wanted to retain the crispiness of the seemingly endless discs of deep fried rice cakes. I was ADDICTED to them, but only me - Andy had one and I had the rest, which meant I probably had twenty or so.
Most of them gave a good chew. I couldn't stop chewing.
Gaya Ho-Tuck - $8
The dessert menu at The Gaya doesn't have much description supporting the dish's name. I resorted to asking one of my Korean friends what "ho-tuck" actually was, and the fact that I still ordered this without having a single clue what to expect only means that she wasn't any help, at all.

The presentation of the ho-tuck is really sweet; the walnuts, strawberry, pine nuts (chef likes his pine nuts!) and three blood-like drops of strawberry syrup adorn the rim of the plate while the ho-tuck and caramel shards sit on top of perfectly straight lines of caramel syrup that extend outwards from the centre. In comparison to the rest of the components, the nuts are exactly that: nuts. Had they been candied or something similar, would have added to the dessert.
I snapped a picture and later that night showed the said friend from before. Her reaction was amusing; she burst out laughing with a big "LOL" and followed with a long, extended "HAHA", and left me very confused. Who would have thought that this Korean pancake - hotteok - was a 50 cent street food sold in Korea? This fancied up version sure dazzled her, but I think it's clever to work such a well known snack food into a modern style dessert.

Usually with a sugary syrup filling, The Gaya's version has a pillowy, nearly gelatinous centre in stark contrast to its crisp exterior, which has been deep fried until a golden crust has formed. I can see why they're popular; it would be so dangerously easy to down five of these in one go.
Red Misu - $8
My pick of the night is this finale for the night - a very cute tiramisu style dessert served in a small pot. If No.4 Blake Street hadn't already dazzled us with their very realistic chocolate pot plant which I named my post after, I think this would be making all the headlines if we haven't all become a little indifferent to eating dirt for dessert ;)
Digging for treasures
The Gaya's Red Misu is a play on the traditional tiramisu; this one features red beans nestled amongst the creamy "soil" and liquor laced sponges dug up with your spoon. There is less texture overall as the red beans are quite soft, but the sweetness of the dessert is pitched at a perfect level and is not mind and teeth-numbingly rich. It would be great if more crunchy textures could be thrown in addition to the chocolate pebbles scattered on top of the Red Misu. Its petite size really makes it unworthy for sharing. Order one for yourself, and make sure you only get one spoon.

Along the back wall
It is easy to see the chef's intentions to rework the concept of Korean cuisine that people have in mind into something a little new and modern; or in The Gaya's terms, globalised Korean. The word 'fusion' is frowned upon by many but I throw open my arms and welcome it with a big friendly hug; change should be embraced!
A big, spacious seating area
The menu is different (Korean tapas anyone?), the presentation is beautiful and the servings are generous. Tick, tick, tick. Friendly and extremely courteous waiter? Bigger tick! By the end of the night, we were absolutely stuffed. One of us even loosened our belt accidentally in front of the waiter, and it wasn't me :-)
Definitely has that homely feel
The Gaya, Applecross
The Gaya
Lunch: 11:30am - 2:30pm
Dinner: 5:30pm - 10pm
Open Tuesday - Saturday

(08)9364 8887
Unit 3/4, 3 Kearns Crescent Ardross WA 6153
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