Sunday, 20 December 2015

Petition Beer Corner, Perth, Western Australia (Alissa and Don Eat Australia)

The redevelopment of the the Treasury/State Buildings at the Corner of Barrack St and St George's Terrace has been one of the most anticipated I can remember since the opening of Brookfield Place gave us a plethora of good dining options in the CBD. Although all eyes are on Long Chim, and the COMO the Treasury restaurants like Wildflower and Post look to be aiming at a more fine dining market, Petition is arguably the most ambitious multi-concept restaurant and bar in the precinct. A restaurant, wine bar and beer hall across three large separate rooms, Petition dominates the Barrack St side of the building with three distinct experiences. Although we had a reservation for dinner at Petition Kitchen later in the week, we decided that a catch up with some friends was a perfect excuse to check out Petition Beer Corner.

Saturday, 19 December 2015

Hot Star Large Fried Chicken, Perth, Western Australia (Alissa and Don Eat Australia)

In spite of being fairly frequent visitors to the Asian continent, Alissa and I have never tried Hot Star's famous Large Fried Chicken. There are branches of this famous Taiwanese chain in Hong Kong, Singapore and Bangkok, however limited time or the call of something else exciting has always meant that while we've been aware of Hot Star as a dining option, the stars have never aligned for us to visit one of their establishments overseas - or even over east for that matter. Given Perth's booming dining scene, we should have known it was only a matter of time before Hot Star would come to us. Opening in June this year, a lot of holidays and a busy work schedule delayed our visit to this fried chicken mecca, however a catch up with our friends Jason and Verity served as perfect excuse to finally dine at the Barrack St branch of this famous chain.

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

No Mafia, Northbridge, Western Australia (Alissa and Don Eat Australia)

As much as Alissa and I love degustation dining, such meals are often the most draining of all when it comes to writing about them - and its all the worse when there are multiple back to back. Such was the case in August this year; with the month spent writing about epic degustations in Sydney at Cafe Paci and Sepia as well as Nomad's Shared 9-course menu, I just had no energy left in me to write about any of the meals we'd had in Perth over that month, and when September came around I mainly just wanted to write about, well, burgers. A Sauma post is still on the back-burner from then, and an incredible Il Capo meal at Lalla Rookh accompanied by a marvellous bottle of Barolo will sadly go undocumented as we were so busy over the month that we forgot to take down notes!

One place we visited during that time was No Mafia in Northbridge, and for that meal we had made extensive enough notes to be able to come back to months afterwards. A spur of the moment decision driven by the better than expected tax return we would be getting, Alissa and I drove into the city to finally dine at this pasta-free Southern Italian restaurant we'd been wanting to try for months.

Monday, 30 November 2015

Shadow Wine Bar, Northbridge, Western Australia (Alissa and Don Eat Australia)

With Alissa and I having travelled a lot in the last 6 months, it seems like a long time since the Ministry of Gluttony has had a chance to really focus on our continued coverage of developments in Perth's food scene. With a glut of posts from our Sydney trip spilling over into a glut of posts from Bangkok and Hong Kong, its nice to finally be out from the over east/overseas backlog and be able to shift our focus back to our hometown. The timing is particularly momentous as this month marks two years since our first post as the Ministry of Gluttony, as well as our second wedding anniversary and four years since our first date. To mark the occasion, Alissa and I decided to make a booking at restaurant we've had our eye on for some time - Shadow Wine Bar in Northbridge.

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Mott 32, Central, Hong Kong (Alissa and Don Eat Asia)

In the lead up to our 2015 trip to Hong Kong, I happened to be walking through the local supermarket when I noticed the latest issue of Gourmet Traveller fortuitously featured an article about new restaurants in Hong Kong. The informative article featured a number of restaurants we had heard of and were considering booking tables for, with one in particular catching our eye. Named Mott 32 after the location of New York's first Chinese convenience store, the restaurant's eye popping interior design and the promise of unusual and luxe Dim Sum was enough to convince us to reserve a table for our visit, and it served as our last meal in Hong Kong before catching our flight back home to Australia.

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Butao Ramen, Central, Hong Kong (Alissa and Don Eat Asia)

When making our initial plans for our 2015 Hong Kong trip, our dining options were significantly more fanciful and upmarket, including an ambitious plan to dine at no less than three separate restaurants with 3 Michelin Stars. The serious decline of the Australian dollar over the year really put a damper on those plans, and we realigned our meals to better reflect the changed economic situation. Thankfully, Hong Kong has many excellent restaurants at the more affordable end of the spectrum and we refocused our energies on trying many of the city's best bowls of Tonkotsu Ramen. Having tried Ichiran in 2013 (and revisited it as part of this trip) as well as the equally excellent Kamitora Ramen, Alissa and I decided to visit Butao - the noodle shop often credited as having started Hong Kong's Ramen Craze.

Saturday, 14 November 2015

Lung King Heen (Weekday Dim Sum Lunch), IFC, Hong Kong (Alissa and Don Eat Asia)

During our honeymoon, Alissa and I had the great pleasure of dining at Caprice, the then 3 Michelin Starred restaurant located in the Four Season Hotel in Hong Kong. Almost two years on, our dinner at Caprice remains one of the best meals of our lives, with the excellent standard of cooking equalled by some of the finest service we have ever experienced in a fine dining restaurant. With such fond memories of our meal at the Four Seasons, Alissa and I had often wondered about Lung King Heen - the hotel's 3 Michelin Starred Chinese restaurant - especially since it was the place where Mak Kwai Pui worked as a Dim Sum Chef before going on to open Tim Ho Wan. Particularly keen to try the restaurant's Dim Sum selection, Alissa and I made a lunch reservation at the first Cantonese restaurant to ever be awarded the top star rating.

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Chicken Hof & Soju (AKA Lee Family Chicken), Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong (Alissa and Don Eat Asia)

Who doesn't love Fried Chicken? It's such a simple dish in a lot of ways, but there is something immensely satisfying about well breaded and fried poultry, with a crispy exterior encasing perfectly juicy meat inside. For many people growing up in most places with a strong American influence on their fast food, the Colonel's Southern-style secret recipe would have been their first taste of Fried Chicken but in the hipster-driven shift away from fast food conglomerates, smaller restaurants serving more idiosyncratic takes on Fried Chicken have come to the fore. Although the ascendency of independent American-style food establishments has seen many a 'craft' take on the Southern Fried style, it is Korean Fried Chicken that I find particularly interesting given the Asian influences on the Fried Chicken format. Having tried versions of Korean Fried Chicken in Australia, Alissa and I were keen to visit a specialist while in Hong Kong, and we decided to check out Chicken Hof & Soju (AKA Lee Family Chicken), a restaurant credited as having started Hong Kong's love for this other KFC.

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Oddies Foodies, Wan Chai, Hong Kong (Alissa and Don Eat Asia)

Along with Dim Sum, Wanton Noodles and Roast Goose, the Egg Waffle must rank amongst Hong Kong's most iconic must-try dishes. Shaped as rounded bubbles rather than the gridded waffle shape more common in the west, Alissa and I ran out of time to try them during our last Hong Kong trip in 2013, and as such Alissa wanted to ensure a dessert of Egg Waffles was added to our dining itinerary this time around. Scouring blogs and Instagram feeds, Alissa came upon Oddies Foodies, a Wan Chai hole in the wall serving a particularly food porny take on the Egg Waffle.  Little more than 500m away from our ramen dinner at Kamitora, we decided to pop into Oddies afterwards for dessert.

Monday, 2 November 2015

Kamitora Ramen, Wan Chai, Hong Kong (Alissa and Don Eat Asia)

During our last trip to Hong Kong in 2013, Alissa and I had the great pleasure of dining at Ichiran Ramen. A branch of a well regarded Japanese chain, their Tonkotsu Ramen was the most refined we had ever tried, and it remains our benchmark for the Hakata-style. The only problem with Ichiran is that a bowl of porky goodness comes at a price - you have to earn your bowl by queuing up outside the restaurant for quite a significant amount of time, only to then have to wait in another line inside the building! During our 2013 trip, the wait was made acceptable due to the mild December weather, however we were greeted with uncomfortable humidity during our recent return visit, making the wait not very fun at all. Given Hong Kong's well known addiction to Ramen, Alissa and I were keen to try a few of the city's other Ramen joints of repute to see if we could find a bowl as good as Ichiran without the queues. We decided to check out two places - Butao Ramen (the shop often credited as started Hong Kong's Ramen Craze) and the lesser known Kamitora Ramen in Wan Chai.

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Little Bao, Central, Hong Kong (Alissa and Don Eat Asia)

Although a long time favourite order at Dim Sum restaurants and as a snack throughout Asia, the humble steamed bun or Bao has reached even greater heights of ubiquity in the post-Momofuku culinary world. The Momofuku Pork Bun must be one of the most heavily copied and replicated dishes of modern times, with entire restaurants and menus almost obsessively based around variations on the steamed bun theme, such as Wonderbao in Melbourne. Given its almost viral spread and continuing influence over a decade since the opening of Noodle Bar, it begs the question - have we reached Peak Bao? Not yet, if Little Bao in Hong Kong is anything to go by.

Thursday, 29 October 2015

Nahm, Bangkok, Thailand (Alissa and Don Eat Asia)

To say that Alissa and I are fans of David Thompson would be an understatement. Earlier this year, Alissa, my parents and I cooked a Banquet Menu from Thompson's Thai Food Cookbook (as well as Grilled Pork Skewers and Mango Sticky Rice from Thai Street Food) and it was one of the best Thai meals we've had the pleasure of eating. I thoroughly recommend both books as essential reading for Thai Food enthusiasts; Thompson's encyclopedic knowledge of Thai cuisine results in recipes that are at once familiar and yet unusual as they revive recipes and versions of recipes from centuries ago.

Saturday, 17 October 2015

Gaggan, Bangkok, Thailand (Alissa and Don Eat Asia)

"Oh shit... Gaggan is #1!"

Such began my panic in March for a meal that was at that stage 6 months into the future. Having originally planned for a holiday to Japan with stopovers in Bangkok and Hong Kong, only to have our Bangkok time extended (and Japan leg cancelled) on the strength of Nahm and Gaggan's ascendency to the upper echelons of the restaurant world, a table at Gaggan was one of the highest priorities of our trip. I'm pretty organised when it comes to reservations, and had already planned a rough schedule for our holiday when the news broke that Gaggan - the Progressive Indian restaurant in Bangkok of all places - had beaten such luminaries as last year's winner Nahm and perennial favourite Narisawa to be voted Asia's Best Restaurant (later coming in at #10 on the World list). Having had some experience with how tough this kind of reservation can be once a restaurant gets this level of good press - booking a table at Attica when it came #21 in the world was hard enough - I immediately got onto Gaggan's website reservation system and made a booking. Thankfully, it was a fairly painless process and Alissa and I managed to secure a table for our visit in September.

Thursday, 8 October 2015

Err Rustic Thai, Bangkok, Thailand (Alissa and Don Eat Asia)

When planning for our trip to Bangkok and Hong Kong, Bo.Lan was one of the restaurants high on our list of places to check out. Unfortunately, the poor Aussie Dollar vs Hong Kong's pegged currency meant our time in Hong Kong was set to be much more expensive than we had initially planned, so cuts had to be made to our initially more extravagant plans for both countries. Bo.Lan was one of the restaurants that was unfortunately cut, however we were alerted to the existence of Err - a new 'urban rustic' Thai restaurant from chefs Bo and Dylan of Bo.Lan. Excited by the chance of trying their food (albeit in a more casual setting), Alissa an I quickly added it as a last minute addition to our itinerary.

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Le Du, Bangkok, Thailand (Alissa and Don Eat Asia)

Although long highly regarded for its national cuisine, its only been in the last few years that Bangkok's fine dining scene has come into its own in terms of international recognition. With both Nahm and Gaggan having topped Asia's 50 Best Restaurants lists in 2014 and 2015 respectively and reservations made at both, Alissa and I were interested to try one of the more up and coming restaurants as well. Having seen Chef Ton in David Thompson's Thai Street Food series and receiving some solid recommendations for his restaurant, we decided to try Le Du,  a restaurant serving thoroughly modern food that builds on ideas and flavours from Thailand's rich culinary tradition.

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Krua Apsorn, Bangkok, Thailand (Alissa and Don Eat Asia)

In researching places to eat in Bangkok, Krua Apsorn was a restaurant repeatedly recommended, including multiple shout outs by David Thompson himself. Something of a Bangkok institution frequented by foodies in the know, Krua Apsorn have a few branches in the city, however the original branch on Samsen Road near Samsen Soi 9 is considered the branch to visit. Although the restaurant does apparently take reservations, their website is in Thai and I wasn't sure if sending them an email in English would be understood, so we decided to chance it and get to the restaurant for their opening. Just as well we did - almost every table was already booked, and waiting outside in the hot weather would not have been very fun at all.

Saturday, 3 October 2015

Mango Tango @ Siam Square Soi 3, Bangkok, Thailand (Alissa and Don Eat Asia)

After our meal at Thip Samai, Alissa and I wandered down the street in search of one of her all-time favourite desserts - Mango Sticky Rice. Eating this classic Thai dessert at a street food stall was a fun experience, and it was a well made example of the dish. While doing research on Bangkok's best Mango Sticky Rice stalls and stops, I stumbled upon a post by friend of the blog WenY, recommending a very deluxe take featuring Mango Ice Cream and Mango Pudding from a small chain called Mango Tango. Given the heat and humidity of Bangkok's climate the ice cream sounded like a winning addition, and with a Mango Tango outlet just across the road from Siam Centre, it was very conveniently located for a cooling afternoon snack.

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Som Tum Nua @ Siam Centre, Bangkok, Thailand (Alissa and Don Eat Asia)

In Australia, we tend to think of food courts as being greatly inferior to 'real' restaurants. This is not an unfair point of view given that every shopping centre food court seems to feature the same selection of generic brands selling the same unexciting chain store products, there is a certain low quality homogeneity to Australian shopping centre food. This presumption does not follow in many Asian countries, with the food courts in Bangkok's shopping malls featuring a plethora of genuinely excellent places to eat. Having decided to ease our way into Bangkok with a stroll through the main shopping malls of Siam Square and Siam Centre, Alissa and I popped into Som Tum Nua for lunch after hearing good things about the quality of their namesake dish - Som Tum, better known in the English speaking world as Papaya Salad.

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Thip Samai, Bangkok, Thailand (Alissa and Don Eat Asia)

After a wonderful five week honeymoon eating our way through Asia in 2013, Alissa and I were excited to head off for the continuing adventures of Alissa and Don Eat Asia in 2015. What started as a Japan trip with stopovers in Bangkok and Hong Kong ended up focusing on our stopovers to the point that we decided to drop Japan altogether - especially with the considerable rise of Bangkok restaurants like Nahm and Gaggan making a convincing case for Thailand as a truly great candidate for destination dining. With the risk of flight delays and missing our reservations meaning Gaggan and Nahm would have to wait until later in the week, Alissa and I headed out for our first meal in Bangkok at Thip Samai - a restaurant said by many to serve the best Pad Thai in Bangkok.

Saturday, 19 September 2015

Sarawak Hawker Cuisine, Willetton, Western Australia (Alissa and Don Eat Australia)

As much as we love trying new restaurants and visiting unexplored areas in unassuming suburbs, Alissa and I also keep a selection of local restaurants on rotation as regulars for the nights we can't be bothered to cook or drive any great distance away from home. Kai has always been our most visited go-to, however our restaurant of choice for the Singapore/Malaysian Hawker niche has been in a state of flux over the two years. Initially, we used to go to Bull Creek Hawker until we discovered Kitchen Inn, however we felt that the standard of food and service dropped significantly after Kitchen Inn moved to a bigger premises. Thankfully, a tip off lead us to Ah Mei Cafe, which became a fortnightly favourite for their handmade Bakmie Special noodles. Unfortunately, we found that Ah Mei was recently sold and the new owners no longer offer the handmade noodles we used to know and love. Having recently picked up the Gourmet Traveller Restaurant Guide, I read about a recently opened Hawker restaurant in Willetton that specialised in Kolo Mee and Chicken Rice. Both amongst our personal favourite dishes, Alissa and I decided we had to given this new restaurant a try. What started as a single visit has ended up being more than a few occasions, even bringing my parents along to get their opinion last weekend.

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Chimek, Fremantle, Western Australia (Alissa and Don Eat Australia)

Some dishes seemed destined to be stars of Instragram Food Pornography. From strikingly beautiful desserts like Sepia's Chocolate Forest or something idiosycratic like a Cronut or Tim Ho Wan's crispy take on the Char Siu Bao, these dishes can be found at restaurants at every level from street food to fine dining, but all share one common characteristic - they can be eaten with your eyes. As the prevalence of Food Porn has increased, restaurants seem increasingly driven to make their food interesting looking. The benefit of this is that presentation is given a lot more attention than it used to be, however the down side is that sometimes the visuals are more impressive than the actual taste of the dish itself - and at worst are really just an exercise in viral marketing.

A restaurant that has recently been featured on many a Perth foodie's Instagram feed is Chimek, a stall located in the Fremantle Markets known for their 'famous' black coloured burger buns and Matcha Cheesecake. The Food Porn move definitely worked; Alissa and I were definitely intrigued, and had to find out for ourselves whether Chimek's food was as good as the visuals suggested.

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Short Order Burger Co, Fremantle, Western Australia (Alissa and Don Eat Australia

Friends who know my deep love and almost religious fervour for Ramen Noodles are often surprised by my lack of regard for the western fast food equivalent - the Burger. It's not that I don't like Burgers of course, its just that I'm so often let down by how ordinary even supposedly gourmet burgers are; the amount of times I've asked myself 'is this that much better than McDonald's?' and answered in the negative vastly outweighs the times I've said 'yes'. My image of the Platonic Form of a Perfect Burger is not particularly unreasonable or unusual either - soft brioche style bun, a flavoursome and tender patty cooked rare to medium rare, cheese and pickles, not overly sauced or sloppy and not so big that its hard to take a bite of. And yet, that perfect combo is a real rarity, with the Merrywell Burger the only burger I've written about on the blog that fits the bill. That is, until now.

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Sepia, Sydney, New South Wales (Alissa and Don Eat Australia)

2015 really seems to be Martin Benn's year. After years making his mark as the Head Chef of Tetsuya's, Sepia - the 3-Hatted restaurant owned by Benn and his wife Vicki Wild - has been named Sydney's best restaurant 3 times in the Good Food Guide in its 6 years of existence, and was voted by a panel of critics, fellow chefs and restaurateurs as the best in the country. Winning the One To Watch Award from San Pellegrino's World's 50 Best Restaurants will undoubtedly mean Sepia's stature is likely to grow internationally, so our eating excursion to Sydney seemed eminently well timed to dine at what is undoubtedly Australia's restaurant of the moment.

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Nomad, Surry Hills, New South Wales (Alissa and Don Eat Australia)

Nomad at Surry Hills was one of those unexpected finds that pop up when your search for one thing on the internet leads you to something seemingly unrelated. While planning for our upcoming Bangkok trip, I was looking for a travel write up published a few years back where a journalist was taken on a food tour of Bangkok by David Thompson (some people have all the luck!). I found the article in question, but also found a short interview with Thompson where he nominated Nomad as his current favourite place to eat in Sydney. As we just so happened to have a Sydney trip planned before our adventures in Bangkok, this was a very serendipitous tip, and after reading about Nomad's wood fire-focused cooking and the restaurant's hyper artisanal approach to everything from polenta to charcuterie, it was settled - we had to booked a table for two at Nomad.

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Cafe Paci, Darlinghurst, New South Wales (Alissa and Don Eat Australia)

Alissa and I almost had an opportunity to try the food of Pasi Patanen back when we first started the Ministry of Gluttony. Fresh from our honeymoon eating our way around Asia, we took a brief break from the gluttony upon our return to Perth, before deciding to try the Tuesday night experimental dinner at Co-Op Dining in East Perth as an early Valentine's Day meal. At the end of the meal, we were alerted to the fact that the Tuesday after was going to feature a Riesling Rocks event dinner, with Pasi Patanen flying over to collaborate with Co-Op's chef Kiran Mainwaring for a special one-off menu paired with Riesling - our favourite white varietal. Having spent most of our money overseas and having just dined at Co-Op, it was a bit too soon for a return visit, however reading up about Patanen and his semi-permanent pop-up restaurant left me very intrigued. Located in a building that was former Mexican restaurant Cafe Pacifico, Pasi simply dropped the 'fico' and rechristened it Cafe Paci - a wildly experimental and relatively affordable degustation restaurant. It was only meant to last a year, however when we discovered Cafe Paci was still going strong it became one of the first restaurants that we booked for our Sydney trip.

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Momofuku Seiobo (Bar Menu), Pyrmont, New South Wales (Alissa and Don eat Australia)

When creating the shortlist of places to check out during our trip to Sydney, Momofuku Seiobo was one of the places that I knew was non-negotiable. As long time fan of David Chang (I even cooked a dinner of Momofuku Ko dishes late last year), a visit to a Momofuku restaurant has been on my restaurant bucket list for many years, and I was not going to let the opportunity to cross one off the list pass me by. The only problem? We had already reserved degustation dinners at LuMi, Cafe Paci and Sepia months in advance, and with other banquet/chef's choice menus at Ms. G's and Nomad also planned, Seiobo's reservation window of 20 days before the requested date came a bit too late to an already crowded and expensive party, and I didn't want to cut any of those other meals out of our plans either. Thankfully, Seiobo had a perfect compromise; their small 5 seat bar offers a limited bar menu for walk-ins, and features that most famous of Momofuku dishes - the Pork Bun. With the promise of Pork Buns and other dishes in the more casual Momofuku style of Noodle Bar and Ssam, Alissa and I set off early for dinner in Pyrmont to avoid any potential queues for the bar.

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Tim Ho Wan, Chatswood, New South Wales (Alissa and Don Eat Australia)

Okay, something that I've just got to get out of the way first - just because a certain restaurant in a chain has a Michelin star does not mean that by extension all branches of that restaurant are Michelin Starred. Some branches will invariable be better than others and even a chef as illustrious as Joel Robuchon - who has more Michelin Stars than any other chef in the world - cannot claim to have consistent 3 Star level restaurants in every territory with a Michelin Guide. Likewise, if a restaurant with Michelin stars has a branch in a territory without a Guide , it may well be Michelin Star quality cooking, but it is not by definition Michelin Starred cooking.

While Tim Ho Wan's ventures out of Hong Kong never outright claim to have stars for each outlet, they push the Michelin angle very, very hard as a selling point. However when not even all the branches in Hong Kong can claim stars, there is something disingenuous about people referring to it as Michelin Starred Dim Sum. Still, having actually eaten at the impressive Michelin starred branch in Sham Shui Po as well as the less incredible but still good Orchard Rd branch in Singapore, the idea of a Tim Ho Wan in Australia really excited Alissa and I, and we were very interested to see if the recently opened Tim Ho Wan in Chatswood would live up to the standard to which its marketing aspires.

Monday, 20 July 2015

Gumshara Ramen, Haymarket, New South Wales (Alissa and Don Eat Australia)

While in Sydney for work a few years ago, I was fortunate enough to try a bowl of ramen so intensely porky and delicious that it was life changing. After sitting over a giant bowl of literally Pork, Pork, Pork and more Pork, I called Alissa and my parents up to tell them I'd just eaten the greatest bowl of Ramen in my life, and jokingly (but also half seriously) added that I was also about to have a heart attack due its rich unctuousness. Along with the more refined (and possibly even better) Hakata Ramen of Ichiran in Hong Kong, that bowl has been a high watermark for Tonkotsu - and Ramen in general. Called Super Mega Ramen and the most deluxe and impressive bowl sold at Gumshara Ramen in Sydney's Chinatown, Gumshara was the top priority of places to check out again while we were over from Perth for a week. Having eaten a lot of Ramen in the years since - and even written a guide to the different Ramen Joints in Perth - I was interested to found out if Gumshara was as amazing as I'd remembered it being.

Saturday, 18 July 2015

Harajuku Gyoza, Potts Point, New South Wales (Alissa and Don Eat Australia)

With such finite time while on holiday and seemingly endless things to see, eat and do, I like to be a very researched and well planned traveller. For our 2015 trip to Sydney, I booked all our major meals months in advance to avoid missing out on some of the more difficult to book places, and worked out journey times and opening hours for places that didn't take bookings so we could be there to beat the queues. I've mellowed out somewhat from the extremely detailed planning of our honeymoon however, and now fill some spaces in our schedules with the words 'Something Simple' - code for a meal that does not require a reservation, queuing or even any pre-planning to visit. Flying into Sydney in time for a late lunch, Alissa and I agreed that Something Simple was called for, and went with whatever we could find close to our hotel. As luck would have it, just two doors down from our hotel was Harajuku Gyoza - a cool looking Izakaya-style bar specialising in Gyoza and Beer. With its convenient location we decided to visit the place twice, and the following is an overview of both our meals.

Monday, 13 July 2015

LuMi, Pyrmont, New South Wales (Alissa and Don Eat Australia)

Although there has been a fair amount of cross-pollination of French and Japanese cuisines in a fine dining context, the crossover potential of Japanese and Italian cooking is relatively underexplored. Inherent conservatism and striving for authenticity may have kept playing around with Italian food off limits for a long time, however the strong focus on umami in both cooking traditions make many Italian and Japanese culinary ideas strongly compatible. 

With Modernists like Massimo Bottura having shown that one can be at once progressive while deeply respectful of cultural heritage from within Italy, its been interesting reading about a similarly progressive and open style of Italian cuisine developing here in Australia. Only having been open since September last year, LuMi and its head chef Federico Zanellato have already become critical darlings for the restaurant's innovative Japanese influenced take on Modern Italian. With Zanellato's resume including stints at such culinary meccas as La Pergola, Ryugin, Noma and Attica, LuMi was high on our list of places to check out while on a culinary tour of Sydney - so much so, that it ended up being our dinner on the Sunday of our arrival.

Saturday, 11 July 2015

Eat No Evil (Pop-Up Restaurant), Mosman Park, Western Australia (Alissa and Don Eat Australia)

Regardless of best intentions and levels of gluttony, the chances of trying every single truck of the annual Food Truck Rumble in the Perth Cultural Centre is near impossible. Alissa and I had to make our choices, and inevitably some food envy set in when we heard of great dishes from some of the less busy trucks while the half hour wait for a Mac and Cheese Toasted Sandwich proved to be far from worth the absurd wait. One of the trucks that we kept hearing praise for was Eat No Evil, a truck with a mission 'to create a food experience that brings people together, breaks down barriers and gives an interaction with local ingredients and dishes that will inspire you to try something new and really think about what your eating.' Although we had considered trying to find the truck in the ensuing months after the Rumble, a meal from the Eat No Evil truck never eventuated. So when our friends Jarrad and Lexi invited us to a dinner at Eat No Evil's Pop-Up Restaurant at Good Things Mosman Park, we immediately jumped at the chance - what better way to try their food than to order the entire menu in a tasting format for $45 per person, with BYO for a very reasonable $5 a head?

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Mary's, Highgate, Western Australia (Alissa and Don Eat Australia)

While Degustations and Noodle Shops are clearly food genres for which we have high levels of enthusiasm, Alissa and I rarely go out for breakfast. Being more a fan of the kinds of food available at lunch and dinner and somewhat bored of the conventions that define breakfast foods, I'm usually a bit utilitarian in my approach to breaking the fast to save more room for the lunch foods I really want to eat. Plus, with long weekend queues at the places that do serve interesting breakfasts, I'm more likely to end up grabbing an early Banh Mi or heading out nice and early for Dim Sum just as they open than stand around for an hour at all the breakfast hot spots.

For this reason, breakfast at Mary St Bakery has long eluded me. Alissa has been and raved about how good the food was, and blogger friends continually spruiked its greatness in conversation. So when I received an invite to attend a blogger's dinner at Mary St Bakery's nighttime alter-ego Mary's, I jumped at the chance - even when it turned out it was a night Alissa was unable to make it to.

Monday, 22 June 2015

La Sosta, Fremantle, Western Australia (Alissa and Don Eat Australia)

In spite of (or perhaps because of) Fremantle's Cappuccino Strip's long association with Italian food and culture, its surprising how hard it is to find an impressive Italian restaurant in the Port City. Being an Eat Street that predated Perth's recent leap forward in terms of food quality and authenticity, The Cappuccino Strip has fallen victim to the very thing that made it a success in the first place - its relative safeness and catering for Australian tastes may have made the street, but with increasingly discerning and demanding tastes the term 'Fremantle Italian' is often said with an underlying tone of derision.

Having recently enjoyed some excellent meals in Fremantle at The Modern Eatery and The Raw Kitchen, I became increasingly curious to find out if there actually was an Italian restaurant along the main strip worth trying out. Consulting the Index of the 2015 Good Food Guide, I was surprised to find in this year's guide that a Fremantle Cappuccino Strip restaurant actually made the cut - La Sosta. With some expensive dinners planned for our July trip to Sydney, Alissa and I decided to forego what would have been my birthday degustation in May, and instead made a reservation at La Sosta for a decidedly more low key celebration.

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

McDonald's (Create Your Taste Menu), Willetton, Western Australia (Alissa and Don Eat Australia)

Let's face it - McDonald's are a pretty soft target when it comes to criticism. During the late 90s/early 2000s, McLibel and Supersize Me did not do wonders for the image of the massive multinational corporation as they were justifiably criticised for unhealthy food in unhealthily large portions. While I myself stayed away from McDonald's for a number of years, I felt some sympathy for the company when Ronald McDonald seemed to become the sole posterboy of all things unhealthy in the world, while companies like KFC and Hungry Jacks were able to continue business as usual without the same level of critique - especially when McDonald's actually took major steps to address the unhealthiness complaints (in Australia at least). Additionally, while the majority of so-called gourmet burgers that I have eaten have been tasty, many have often left me thinking; 'yeah, but is this really any healthier or that much better than McDonald's?'

Monday, 8 June 2015

The Brisbane Hotel, Perth, Western Australia (Alissa and Don Eat Australia)

Although I'm obviously a very active supporter of the culinary arts in Perth, my early to mid-20s were more focused on the performing arts. Studying Fine Arts at university, working on music projects and knowing a lot of performers meant I went out a lot to shows, happenings and exhibitions around town, and one of those semi-regular haunts was the Brisbane Hotel. Having friends in comedy and friends who had friends in comedy saw many a Tuesday night at the Hotel's Lazy Susan's Comedy Den for Shapiro Tuesdays, seeing new comedians performing for the first time or experienced comedians testing out new material all for an affordable door fee. Its been quite a few years since last seeing a show, so when Alissa and I were invited for a dinner and show at The Brisbane, we immediately jumped at the chance to take a nostalgic trip as well as try out dishes that we had heard good things about.

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.

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.

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Boston Brewery, Denmark, Western Australia (Alissa and Don Eat Australia)

With the food at cellar door restaurants generally leaning towards fine dining and an environment unsuitable for young children, it was perhaps inevitable that something had to fill the more casual, family friendly dining niche in the South West. Considering the fact that the location of a brewery is arguably less terroir driven than wine (though cannot be discounted), the explosion of the 'Pizzas and Brewery' business model as the answer to this niche has been a surprising runaway success. Breweries are now such an ubiquitous fixture of all of Western Australia's major wine regions that families with younger children are probably more likely to have dined at a brewery than a winery during a trip Down South. 

Monday, 2 March 2015

Kojonup Bakery, Kojonup, Western Australia (Alissa and Don Eat Australia)

Just as progressive dining experiences like Wills Domain amd Foragers are recommended parts of a tour of the South West, the town bakeries of regional WA are a charming slice of classic Australiana that simply cannot be ignored. Many seem to make wild claims of award winning greatness, and there can be heated debate about which bakery really makes the best pies. While Alissa and I have not written about any of these bakeries before, we have visited a number of them during our many visits through the South West. As you'd expect, some are justifiably praised while others are somewhat overrated. We had the worst, most burnt coffee at one bakery during this trip, and on an earlier holiday we found another seemed very much caught up in its success to the point that they even told us that no photography was allowed, as if their menu was such a major trade secret! Considering they advertise all the pies that won them awards all over the outside of their premises, this secrecy seemed utterly laughable.

One bakery that I do really enjoy visiting is the Kojonup Bakery, a quiet achiever on the Kojonup main strip on Albany Hwy. The bakery is simple and honest looking, having none of the flash of some of the other bakeries in the Great Southern, however their Pies and Sausage Rolls speak for themselves.

Mrs Jones Cafe, Denmark, Western Australia (Alissa and Don Eat Australia)

Regular readers of the Ministry will notice a dearth of breakfast related posts. Arguably the meal of the day that is most tied to convention and thus (for me) the least artistically satisfying, I just don't get very excited about going out to eat breakfast, and with the exception of dim sum, I prefer to wait for real lunchtime rather than by going for brunch. Every now and then however, a breakfast cafe makes it onto our list of places to check out. Over many trips to Denmark, Alissa and I have heard our family in the area rave about the food at Mrs Jones Cafe, and after a failed attempt to have breakfast there last year and a few coffee-only visits, Alissa and I managed to finally check out a cafe that has fast become a Denmark dining institution.

Monday, 16 February 2015

Petite Villaine, Denmark, Western Australia (Alissa and Don Eat Australia)

Two years ago, Alissa and I visited Rockcliffe Winery for lunch. Back then, their cellar door restaurant was Silas Masih's Pepper & Salt - arguably the best and most interesting restaurant in Denmark - and Masih's spice-driven fusion cuisine combined with the ambiance of Rockcliffe's idyllic vineyards and gardens made for a very satisfying, lazy afternoon in the South West. By the end of that year, Pepper & Salt had moved out of Rockcliffe to take up residence at Forest Hill. I understood the move - Forest Hill's grand dining room is one of the best you're likely to find at any of WA's best cellar door restaurants, but I felt a bit sorry for Rockcliffe in a way, and hoped that the restaurant space would once again house a restaurant worthy of its setting.

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Joop Thai, Albany, Western Australia (Alissa and Don Eat Australia)

During our last few trips to Albany, Alissa and I have been a little disappointed with the lack of really interesting premier restaurants. The cafe's on York St and the Terrace are fine and all (Gourmandise and Co is particularly impressive), however its really hard to find places that really shine as true contenders for the city's best and most interesting restaurant; even the better dining options recommended by our family in the region have lagged behind memorable dining experiences like Pepper & Salt in Denmark, and Foragers in Pemberton - strange, considering Albany is a city compared to those much smaller towns.

One strong recommendation we hadn't followed up on during our last few trips was Joop Thai - a restaurant that is apparently a firm favourite with the locals and was thus a top priority for us to investigate this time. Located on Lockyer Avenue, Joop's premises look like it had once been home to a Sizzler or one of those old Pizza Huts before they stopped doing dine in service.