Friday evening in the city (Perth that is)… a group of news friends and acquaintances gather to catch up, drink wine, talk coffee, and listen to some great Jazz (with accompanying impromptu tap dancing) and ease their way into the weekend with some quality dining. The scene is set for one of the best restaurant experiences I’ve had in a long time.
The venue for the rest of the evening was Nine Fine Food, a modern Japanese restaurant on the fringes of Northbridge that is doing some excellent food at the moment. They are tucked away in a relatively nondescript area of Northbridge on Bulwer St, not particularly close to the rest of the Northbridge scene, but equally far away from North Perth or Highgate, and certainly not somewhere I’d expect to find a restaurant of this quality.
So Sharon and I, and our dining companions, laden with bottles of wine, whetted appetites, and great expectations, made the short trip down from Hotel Northbridge to Nine.
On arrival we were greeted cheerily by the waiter who remembered our dining companions from the last time they came. It’s nice that even in a place where they must get a lot of new people coming through all the time, they can still add a personal touch by remembering names and faces.
The waiter then seated himself casually at the head of our table and proceeded to take the order.
The menu all looked interesting. The modern Japanese theme is worked through almost every dish, each having it’s own unique take on traditional style Japanese ingredients, in beautifully presented combinations and what could be called a European style setting.
We started off with a couple of tasting plates that were mostly little morsels of deep fried goodness. Tempura fish, spring rolls, karaage chicken, with 3 different dipping sauces, a wasabi cream, a chilli soy, and another mayonnaise… Now with a taste of things to come and rapidly moving our way through the first bottle of wine, it was time for mains.
As is generally the case when you get a group of food lovers around a table, there was much tooing and froing of ideas and opinions on what we should try, who should get what, and how best we could suitably get to try a bit of everything on the menu. That was until we saw the specials board, of which almost everything sounded more intricate and alluring than the last. With great difficulty I finally settled on one of the cooked specials… basically a tasting plate (mental note: remember names of dishes next time) consisting of scallops, duck, prawns, octopus, mussels wrapped in chilli seaweed and fried tempura style. Sharon had the spider crab and tuna, Marhsall and Linda had the sashimi salad, Daniel had a sashimi tasting, Alex I think had a steak dish (?) and Cathy… crushing all my hopes of thoroughly enjoying my meal… ordered the Wagyu rump.
Now all of the dishes I sampled were fantastic, beautiful clean flavours that effortlessly combined the best of Japanese and European cooking, with wonderful presentation. But the waygu was something else entirely. Cooked medium rare the way any steak should be, it literally melted in my mouth as I savoured the morsel Cathy was nice enough to let me try. Combined with an excellent choice of wine in a Glaetzner Shiraz, it was heaven in a mouthful… and made it that much harder to go back to my own plate… however lovely it was.
We finished off the evening (and a few more bottles of wine) with dessert, choosing the Azuki bean and chocolate pudding with ice cream. Another taste sensation and a perfect way to round off a great meal.
Perhaps it was the wine talking, perhaps the fact that the company was so enthusiastic, but I can’t remember enjoying a restaurant experience as much in a long time. I can now easily see why Nine Fine Food won “Best Asian Restaurant” at the 2007 Restaurant and Catering Industry Association Awards. An accomplishment only detracted from by the the fact that the term “Asian” is relatively vague, and to my mind means about as much as “meat” when you’re reading through a menu wondering what to order. Though I suppose that’s more of an indication of the lack of variety in the Perth scene when it comes to “Asian” restaurants that are pushing the envelope in terms of taste, quality, and presentation.
Still, credit where it’s due… this place is a welcome addition to trendy dining in Perth, and deserving of it’s status.
Fully satisfied, and a little merry, we stayed long past the time when everyone else had left… getting an impromptu piano recital from one of the staff, while the rest of them cleared up. Not even a hint of stern “will you just bloody well leave already” look was seen, which is a credit to their commitment to their customers.
Definitely a place to go back to soon.
Nine Fine Food
227-229 Bulwer St (corner of Bulwer and Lake St)
Phone: (08) 9227 9999