Tuesday, 5 May 2015

The Ministry's Guide to Gluttony - Ramen in Perth

Regular readers and friends will know that I'm a sucker for a good bowl of noodles, and that Ramen reigns supreme as the noodle dish that is closest to my heart. First introduced to me years ago by my friend Dan Bankowski (better known as the hip-hop artist Coin Banks), the combination of deliciously umami broth, thin alkaline noodles with bite and toppings of pork, egg and/or chicken quickly stole pride of place from the Wanton Noodles of my childhood, and I've been obsessed ever since. The first meal Alissa and I ate during our honeymoon in Hong Kong was at Ichiran Ramen - a branch of a Hakata-style Tonkotsu specialist chain from Japan, and I've always made it a point to visit a different Ramen joint everytime I go to Sydney and Melbourne.

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Sunday, 26 April 2015

Lucky Chan's Laundry + Noodle Bar, Northbridge, Western Australia (Alissa and Don Eat Australia)

Unless you've really not being paying much attention, the online marketing for Lucky Chan's has been unavoidable. Late last year, the restaurant's innovative Pozible campaign drew a lot of attention from the media as it is the first restaurant in Perth (and apparently Australia) to be crowd-funded (at least partly; the venue is the brainchild of the team behind Cocktail Gastronomy and The Classroom who are hardly unsuccessful). With the Chinese Laundry theme suggested by the restaurant's name, it was to my surprise and delight to discover that Lucky Chan's would in fact specialise in Ramen - that most delectable of Japanese noodles, and a dish for which my love and obsession is well known and documented. When a preview of Lucky Chan's Shio Ramen at the Night Noodle Markets turned out to be a massive disappointment (it was the absolute worst Ramen I've ever eaten), I was worried that Lucky Chan's was going to be a very well publicised dud, and the restaurant's first week jitters of poor service seemed to all but confirm this. Still, as someone who actively Google searches to discover Ramen joints in Perth, I had to try Lucky Chan's for myself, and Alissa and I paid the restaurant a visit on the Wednesday of their second week.

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Kanta Japanese Kitchen, Langford, Western Australia (Alissa and Don Eat Australia)

When it comes to dining out, its probably safe to say most meals are either eaten or taken away from conveniently located local restaurants within 10 minutes from a diner's home, or at places in a major dining precinct and/or eat street. These two options would probably be sufficient to cover most meals - from a dinner when you can't be bothered to a cook to a special occasion meal - however it doesn't cover every possibility. For every legitimately excellent restaurants in a Northbridge or along Beaufort St, there are just as many hidden gems known only to those lucky enough to living in the area and/or the most ardent of foodies willing to venture out to often far flung suburbs in sometimes dodgy neighbourhoods just to have a great meal. Well known in foodie circles while otherwise relatively unknown, Kanta Japanese Kitchen in Langford is one such restaurant.

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

The Modern Eatery - House of Aburi Sushi, Fremantle, Western Australia (Alissa and Don Eat Australia)

With a seemingly endless stream of notable restaurant openings in Perth and Northbridge, its nice to see my old stomping grounds of Fremantle finally getting in on the action as it slowly but surely works its way out of its early 21st century funk to reclaim its rightful place as our state's Second City. During recent visits to the Port City, Alissa and I have been impressed by the concerted effort being made to make Fremantle vibrant again, whether it be the innovative activation of the old Myer Building as the cutting edge retail/new business incubator MANY 6160 or the work being done to bring vibrant life back to the High St Mall. With many new if somewhat underrecognised restaurants around, Alissa and I were particularly excited to hear about the opening of a new sushi restaurant called The Modern Eatery. Being massive fans of Japanese food, we bumped The Modern Eatery high up our never-ending wishlist and found ourselves there for an early Thursday night dinner last week.

Monday, 30 March 2015

Low Key Chow House, Leederville, Western Australia (Alissa and Don Eat Australia)

If you ever want to see me irrational and highly frustrated, then hop into the car with me while driving on the freeway during peak times - especially on a Friday night. There have been so many occasions when Alissa and I have wanted to head into Perth or Leederville for the evening and decided against it, as even going against the flow by trying to drive north can be met with sometimes inexplicably slow moving traffic and the lose-lose choice of either getting off at Canning Hwy and going through the suburban rat run or committing to the Freeway with no hope of escaping a traffic jam between there and South Perth.

Every time Alissa and I have had a free night to visit Low Key Chow House in Leederville, its been a Friday night and the thought of the drive has been enough for me to not want to go - especially since Leederville is only 15 minutes away from home if we have a clear run. With Alissa dying to try their food, I eventually gave in, and after a race against the clock we found ourselves in on the Oxford St main strip in time for our 6pm reservation.

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Hikaru Ramen, Perth, Western Australia (Alissa and Don Eat Australia)

Being something of a ramen obsessive, I always live in hope of discovering new or hidden ramen shops in my home city of Perth. Although the worldwide ramen craze has definitely taken off in a big way in Sydney and Melbourne, there are far fewer ramen specialists of note in Perth, and in a recent discussion with a friend we both expressed our dismay over the fact so few in the CBD are open at night, and when they do its only on Friday nights - don't they know ramen is an anytime food?!? One Friday night, Alissa and I headed into Perth to try relatively new ramen joint Hikaru Ramen only to discover they were no longer open for Friday evenings - or any evenings at all for that matter! With both of us not working in the CBD, it would take Alissa and another 3 months before we finally got around to try our first bowls from Hikaru Ramen.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

The Raw Kitchen, Fremantle, Western Australia (Alissa and Don Eat Australia)

Keen followers of the Ministry will note something of trend in introductory paragraphs when it comes to our visits to restaurants in the Port City of Fremantle - namely, that our meals are few and far between and that the city's lack of vibrancy has led it to be a distant second city when compared to the exciting developments happening throughout Perth and Northbridge. While I still contend that Fremantle has a long way to go to catch up to Perth and the sight of the horribly boring and dead High Street Mall fills me with great sadness for a city I grew up in, there are signs that change is slowly finding its way into a city that is strangely conservative when it comes to progress considering it renowned progressiveness when it comes to social change.

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Marumo, Nedlands, Western Australia (Alissa and Don Eat Australia)

Almost 2 years ago (sadly, in pre-blog days), Alissa and I had the great privilege of booking a table at Marumo in Leeming. At the time, we were still fairly new Bateman residents and the $39 omakase-only restaurant was the best rated restaurant in the area. Bewildered by its seemingly crazy low asking price for a degustation, I tried in January 2013 to book a table for Alissa's birthday in March, only to discover that the next available month was July. Thankfully I got in when I did, as by March the restaurant was booked out for the entire year! Dining with our friends Justin, Sarah, Trevor and Annaliese, we were all blown away by the quality of the food we were getting for such a low asking price, as well as how disparate the clearly converted fish and chips shop's Ikea level furnishings were compared to the refined quality of the food. Thoroughly impressed, Justin tried to book a table straight away only to be informed that the restaurant was not accepting any further bookings as they were deciding whether to move or renovate.

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Print Hall (Dining Room), Perth, Western Australia (Alissa and Don Eat Australia)

It's hard to believe that Print Hall - the multi-storey, multi venue centrepiece of Brookfield Place  - has been brightening up the previously dead night life of St. George's Terrace for two and a half years. In spite of Alissa and I having kept abreast of many of the new restaurants that have opened up around the future Perth City Link and having dined at many of the West Australian Good Food Guide's former and current 1 and 2 Star restaurants, we've neglected the many wonders of Brookfield Place. It's not for want of trying; there were the odd false starts and failed gatherings at the Apple Daily and the Trustee that never came to be, and there have been many wistful walks through the precinct on a Sunday as we planned for future meals. After initial plans for our first wedding anniversary in November were changed to a meal at Co-Op Dining, the celebration of Alissa's birthday seemed like as good a reason as any to finally dine in the precinct, and we decided to go all out with a reservation at the Print Hall Dining Room - the Good Food Guide's Restaurant and Wine List of the Year.

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Juniper & Bay, Como, Western Australia (Alissa and Don Eat Australia)

Over the last few years, Perth has really seen a massive improvement in the quality and quantity of its middle-upper price bracket eateries. Most of this growth has been concentrated in the booming Small Bar and Share Plates restaurant model typified by places like Varnish on King and The Standard, however if you're looking for something a bit quieter for a date or a special dinner without jumping into the $100+ price range of truly high end restaurants like Restaurant Amusé, the $50-$85/head price bracket has a lot less impressive options than major eastern states cities like Sydney and Melbourne. While Share Plate food is very much the flavour of the month these days, its nice to see some restaurants stepping up to fill this niche.