Tag Archives: byo

Suraj Indian Cuisine

Suraj : Indian Cuisine - Dine In & Takeaway

What can I say about Suraj ? Ever since being introduced to it by my good friends Ben and Jen, it’s been a regular place for dinners of both the rowdy and refined version, a point of reference to every other Indian restaurant I’ve been to, and a wonderful example of food that is honest and simple and good.

Suraj is run by Roger, and his wife Susan (get it… Su-Raj). It’s also convenient that Suraj means “Sun”. He’s been in business for close to 15 years in the same spot, and I’m willing to bet that the menu hasn’t changed a hell of a lot in all that time either.

Suraj is not so much a restaurant but an institution of traditional Indian cooking, often dwarfed by it’s elaborate and decadent neighbours in the ever trendy Highgate strip. But while places like Jacksons, Veritas, Must, and Soto try to ooze style and charm, and fancy looking Indian chain restaurants start up across the road promising glitz and glamour… Suraj is unchanging in it’s quaint approach to no frills dining.

So after yet another great night of dining there with a group of friends and curry lovers. I thought it best to put something online about this place, as it is sorely under represented in the high stakes (steaks?) world that is the Perth restaurant scene (which may or may not be an oxymoron) .

Of course I can see why it would be easy to overlook Suraj. The decor is drab (and that’s being polite), the florescent lights normally flickering overhead are more reminiscent of a hospital waiting room than a restaurant… and when there is more than 2 people in the place it’s almost impossible to hear anything over the resounding din caused by a complete lack of sound insulation.

But really… does any of that matter ? (Feel free to skip that question if your favourite restaurant is the Witches Cauldron, because you clearly enjoy spending stupid amounts of money on bad food, for the sake of supposed reputation).


Click here for large menu

Roger makes regular pilgrimages back to India to refill his spice coffers with the right quality of stock to use in his exacting recipes. Garam Masala is all ground by hand and even though I reckon I’m a dab hand at making the odd curry at home, Roger said it’d take me at least 3 years working full time to be able to reproduce any of his… which I will reluctantly concede may be true.

The menu is simple and consists of a number of curry dishes that for once actually taste different to each other. I can do no more than to point you to the blackboard above which is in essence all he does, aside from the occasional goat curry that manages to slip its way onto the menu depending on what his Halal butcher has in stock.

Highlights for me personally are the chickpea curry, the masala dhal, the beef vindaloo, and the magnificently airy pooris (or puri, i’m not really sure which, but i’ll go with what’s on the menu). The great thing though, is I can turn up to the place whenever I want, regardless of how late it is, and know that if people have already ordered I will love everything that comes out.

Suraj is not the kind of place to go if you’re in a hurry. Something I had to get used to the first time I went. But given the nature of the food, and the atmosphere of the place, I’m not sure you can rush things without losing some of the magic. Certainly the look on Rogers face when a large group of people all come in at once is a little troubling… but when the food arrives all is well and right in the world.

Chicken Curry Kulfi tower

On a sad note however. It seems that this little slice of Highgate history may not be too long for this world. The owners of the building are planning to take the shop back over within the next few months, and according to Roger, turn it into one big restaurant / bar combined with the shop next door. I asked if he’d be moving elsewhere and it doesn’t sound like he has the energy to start from scratch all over again. So the days of simple Indian pleasure Suraj style may be numbered.

If you haven’t been yet, then do yourself a favour. Get a couple of good bottles of wine, a few close friends, and swing by Suraj for a taste of food the way it should be made… from the heart.

Suraj Indian Cuisine
513 Beaufort St
Highgate, WA 6003
(08) 9328 2858
Get directions

Nine Fine Food

Nine Fine Food

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.

Cooked Special Pierro Pinot Noir

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.

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)
Northbridge
Phone: (08) 9227 9999
BYO

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That Little Mexican Place

Rejoice… good Mexican food exists !!

Just recently I was lamenting as to the state of “Mexican” food in this city, or any city for that matter. I was musing that it would be a sad indictment on Mexican culture if the pinnacle expression of their cuisine was to be found in a greasy burrito smothered with sour cream and ‘tasty’ cheese, with an indiscernible concoction of meat and bean filling.

Alas, this was my experience of Mexican restaurants. I’ve tried Pancho’s, Acapulco Annies, Santa Fe, and numerous other places that can only really be described as Tex Mex nastiness, that no amount of cheap margaritas and dodgy sangria will ever wash down.

That was until we came across “That Little Mexican Place”. We got the hot tip from some friends who had been there recently and described it as delicious and unassuming, and definitely out of the ordinary when it comes to Mexican restaurants.

My interest piqued, it was time to pay a visit.

That Little Mexican Place is located on Fitzgerald St in North Perth, in what might soon become a small hub of restaurants and bars. It’s up the road from the Rosemount, and in amongst a couple of other Chinese restaurants and Kebab shops, and I’m certain if I didn’t know it was there I would have missed it.

The owners traveled to Mexico prior to opening the restaurant, and attended some kind of cooking school, which means that the dishes they are serving are at least based on authentic (there’s that word again) Mexican dishes, and where possible made with local equivalents or ingredients sourced from Mexico.

The restaurant itself seems a little awkward to me, the tables and cutlery are ridiculously big for the space they have, and it feels a little bit Ma and Pa’ish when you walk in and have to squeeze past people to get to the front to indicate you’d like a table, and then feels vaguely like the kebab shop next door when you need to loiter around outside waiting for a table to be free. Personally speaking (in my capacity as a completely unqualified restaurant consultant), I’d be making the tables much smaller, and arranging things better so as to make better use of the space, which I think could fit at least 12 more people at once.

Perhaps the number of people is how they’d like it for now though, as there seems to be an air of “still working things out” hanging over the place.

That’s not to detract from the food however. Everything we ordered was great. We started off with the nachos de napolita which were (from the menu) “an individual serve of tortilla chips topped with sautéed mushroom, chayote and cactus and oxacan style cheese”. It was in fact one big nacho with a tasty mixture of the cactus, chayote, and mushroom on top… and was not dripping with cheese or sour cream and sprinkled with spring onion (as I was dreading).

Along with the dishes, there is a complimentary trio of salsas served at frequent intervals during the meal. They were a roast chili salsa, a salsa verde, and another one I’ve forgotten that name of… but I think it was tomato based. They came in handy for dipping and spooning over basically everything… and as soon as we’d used one up a fresh bowl arrived to replace it.

For mains Sharon had the mole negro, which was “roasted chicken breast and a sweet, dark sauce of chilies, spices, nuts, seeds and Mexican chocolate, served with banana chips”. I got a few tastes of that before it was devoured and it was nice. Great flavours combining together with the chocolate and the chicken were not strange at all.

I chose the barbacoa de Borrego “slow roasted lamb in oregano and mexican chilies”, another fantastic dish, combining the lamb and spices together beautifully.

We finished up the night with some churros, and sopapillas. Both great Mexican desserts of deep fried dough dipped in cinnamon and sugar and served with chocolate sauce.

All in all we had a fantastic meal. I’m not sure if it was because I couldn’t get over how non “Tex Mex” the food was, and how sincere and unpretentious the service was, but I was left with a definitely impression that these guys are trying their hardest to distinguish their food apart from the greasy masses of deep fried cheese topped Mexicana slop bucket places.

Definitely go in and give them a try if you want to experience something a little different.

That Little Mexican Place
382 fitzgerald street
North Perth

phone: 08 9227 5755
www.thatlittlemexicanplace.com.au

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Italy Home Made

Italy Home Made - North Perth

At a recent Perth blogger meetup I ran into Kay, who raved in a nonchalant but cooly excited way about Italy Home Made, a little pasta bar on Charles St in North Perth.

I know the place pretty well, although in its former incantation… Poppies. Poppies is a cute little cafe tucked into a small group of shops, along Charles St in North Perth, a few streets before you get to Scarborough Beach Rd. We used to duck in there for late breakfasts and early lunches on the way back from the city on a Sunday afternoon or morning, and always managed to find a decent coffee and tasty meal.

Well Poppies is still there, but they have now extended the shop out to twice the size, and turned one half of the place into “Italy Home Made”. Basically a DIY pasta bar whose main angle is that all the pasta is made fresh on the premises daily.

So one afternoon last week I happened to be driving by and thought… I must just try this new place that Kay was raving about. Never one to turn down a good recommendation (until the day someone recommended Fasta Pasta to me that is), I decided to head in and check it out again.

Pasta Maker

So basically you choose the size of the pasta you want. Small, Medium, Large, Jumbo

Fresh Pasta

The you choose the type of pasta you want. Fusili, Linguini, Fettucini, Spaghetti, etc

Pasta Fillings

Then you choose what you want to have on it. I chose Atlantic, which was a creamy sauce mixed with smoked salmon and capers.

Pasta Sauces

Then the dude goes away and collects all the bits he needs, drops the pasta into some water and puts the sauce and toppings into a pan, and then combines it together. Toasts some little bread rolls for you and puts some grated parmesan into a little cup.

It was pretty quiet when I went in, and I had my meal (which was a large, and there was a lot in there) in around 10 minutes, which is pretty good for food of that quality. The pasta was nice, the sauces complimented well, and the fillings were very tasty.

I’d still like to know who decided that smoked salmon and capers were the perfect combination for each other though. I’m imagining some big conference where all the foods get together and have some kind of speed dating face off to work out who should is right for one another… Salt and Pepper clearly hit it off, Olive oil and balsamic vinegar were drawn together by their differences, and poor little Anchovy sat alone in the corner, in a pile of his own salty tears.

But I digress…

Italy Home Made is a great cafe with top food that will serve you well for a quick lunch, easy dinner (they are open in the evenings til quite late and are BYO wine with no corkage), or “I can’t be stuffed cooking but don’t want some crappy fried chicken type meal” takeaway solution. Check em out.

Italy Home Made
Shop 1 & 2, 299 Charles St
North Perth
(08) 9328 6350

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Hippo Creek African Grill

Lions Kill @ Hippo Creek

This is a semi review, mostly rambling, dramatic re-enactment of a visit I took to Hippo Creek Restaurant in Scarborough quite a while ago. It was previously on another blog that has since ceased to exist, and so it now gets rebirthed into a hopefully more appropriate environment.

Hippo Creek is an African themed restaurant on West Coast Hwy in Scarborough, that is run by some South African people. They have some really interesting meat on the menu, like Ostrich, Buffalo, Crocodile and a whole range of other african inspired dishes, and apparently some of the best steak in town. So being a self confessed meat lover and part time carnivore, I had to check it out.

So Dtm, Mabes, Sharon and I headed down there to see what we could see…

Once we got there I happened to find out that there was a 1Kg T-Bone steak on the menu, and that if I finished it all I would get my photo taken and put on the wall. This is the first restaurant I’d been to where they do that kind of thing (which I thought was normally reserved for Texan Steakhouses with an over supply of beef and no space in the freezer). My competitive instincts kick in, as never one to pass up the chance to show how manly I am by eating large quantities of flesh, I thought… why the hell not…

While ordering the 1kg T-bone, you are strongly advised to order it medium rare, or rare… If you want to be eating it that night. I have no idea how long it would take to cook something that size to well done, but it would be just wrong anyway. I chose medium rare.

In the meantime, Dtm and Sharon ordered this crazy dish called the Hunters Assaghai. Which was basically a huge metal stake with five (count em) fist sized chunks of meat stuck to it suspended over a plate of chips with garlic sauce dripping down it. This was definitely shaping up to be my kind of restaurant.

So the steak arrived and took up basically the entire plate, and was about 2-3 inches thick… It was served with chips that were tasty but uninspired, and salad that didn’t exactly rock my world either. Basically this restaurant is all about the meat. If you don’t like meat, then don’t bother going, because you’re really not going to get your moneys worth. My steak was huge… and I tore into it with all the fervency of a malnourished grisly bear who got left behind at hibernation. Unfortunately however… it wasn’t really a challenge worthy of my ability, and i flew through it… and managed to get through a bit of Sharon’s as well… I also made sure I ate all of my chips and the salad, because I didn’t want to miss out on getting my photo taken on a technicality.

The steak was good. On the outside it was perfectly medium rare, although when i got right into the middle it was very much on the rare side. People who order their steak well done might also be best to avoid this place, it’s not exactly designed for people who get squeemish at the first sign of pinkness.

All in all it was a good night, and although feeling massively bloated, we left feeling very satisfied… I left a “There’s nothing finer than being in your diner…” Seinfeld reference on my photo, which hopefully stay there for a while to come :)

I’ve been back a couple of times since, and it has always been a great night. Definitely one to check out. Take a bottle of big red wine (like a Cab Sav, or a spicy Shiraz), and you’ll be set for a carnivorous experience few restaurants in Perth can rival.

****hunters assaghaiLions killperi peri butter waterfallLions Kill**

Hippo Creek
251 West Coast Highway
Scarborough, 6019
Tel: (08) 9245 8004

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The Prophet

No, im not referring to myself… (bom! bom!). The Prophet is a great little Lebanese restaurant in Victoria Park that i used to frequent when i lived in area.

The Prophet is a nice cosy restaurant near the Balmoral Hotel in Victoria Park, it’s run by a cool old guy called Jihad who makes his own garlic dipping sauce from a secret recipe. You get a bowl of it along with some flat bread and pickled beetroot (i think, it could be anything?) free with every meal… it’s a really tasty way to start… the garlic dip is strangely moreish and tastes best when you dip the pickled beetroot into it and then wrap this little package with the flat bread.

In terms of the menu itself, there’s a whole range of traditional Lebanese foods, and some more western oriented ones. For the die hards there is a Lamb Kibbeh (raw minced meat in a ball with wheat and spices), and for the light weights, theres the Shish Tawook (garlic chicken shish kebabs). Most meals are served with chips and a tangy salad (kind of similar to a Greek salad, but without feta and olives). There is also a few other lamb dishes, and a ‘hot’ fish dish, basically a whole fish with scarily hot chillli sauce over it.

There is no wine list as it’s completely byo, but if i recall correctly they dont charge for corkage. The meals aren’t what you’d call fine dining…they’re simply presented but quite filling (especially when you’ve eaten a stack of flat bread to start with), and are really cheap. Most meals range from $14 – $20. I think last time i went the bill for two of us came to $28, very low in my book, and for what you get, amazing value.

As always, check it out for yourself :)

The Prophet
907 Albany Highway
East Victoria Park, 6101
Tel: (08) 9361 1101

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Cinnamon Club

After a tiring volleyball game on a dark, cold, late night, Matt and I decided to drop in to Cinnamon Club in Leederville to feed our empty stomachs. It was only a few weeks prior that we saw a sign on the vacant room advertising for “exceptional waitstaff” for this restaurant, so we were quite curious to find out what it would be like.

Well, unfortunately it didn’t meet my expectations as I feel that indian restaurants trying to be different and unique, have to ultimately achieve this goal – which I feel Cinnamon Club does not (well not yet anyway).

We ordered a couple of standard indian dishes including butter chicken, an eggplant curry and a lamb vindaloo. The food was nice, but didn’t differentiate itself as much as I thought it should have to match it’s pricing. I felt the food was not as cheap as what you could get at other indian restaurants but for the price you pay, I didn’t feel the food was that much better either.

The music didn’t set the appropriate mood for the restaurant as it sounded like a cheesy 80′s “best duets with a saxophone” CD. This was a pity, as the restaurant looks great with its stone walls, suede booths, and unique red lamps but this atmosphere is quickly destroyed by the music which made me cringe with memories of my Dad’s St Elmo’s fire and Kenny G music.

However, the waitstaff were friendly and attentive and the food arrived quite quickly, which still made it a pleasant dining experience.

To summarise, the restaurant wasn’t bad, but wasn’t exceptional either. You can try Cinnamon Club at:

228 Carr Pl
Leederville 6007 WA
Phone: (08) 9228 1300

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