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)
Phone: (08) 9227 9999


24 thoughts on “Nine Fine Food”

  1. No worries CW, what I didn’t mention in the post is that I went there quite a while ago, like over a year or so ago… and was nowhere near as impressed. They have definitely taken the level of service and the style of the dishes up a notch since the last time I went.

  2. Hey what a great recollection of a great night out! Glad you enjoyed yourselves as much as we did! Let’s do it again. (make sure you have the wagyu beef next time!) :)

  3. Wonderful write up there Matt. A definite addition to my “must eat” list before heading off to the wild blue yonder :D

  4. Its great to have someone to go and eat at restaurants for me – particularly when our own opportunities to get out in the evenings are diminished. This place sounds like one that we might have to make an effort to get too however!

  5. Thanks guys… glad to let my stomach be your guide in the culinary quagmire that is Perth :) Any suggestions for places I should try out are also welcome… I don’t need much of an excuse :)

    Speaking of which, I must get back to Star Anise… went there last year and it was great, but I’ve heard they’re doing some very cool things lately… and if the caramelized pork belly I had at the Feast Perth festival was anything to go by…they are in a class of their own over there.

  6. Oops here goes… raining on someone elses parade again :(

    We went to Nine Fine Foods Saturday night with two other couples.
    The place was packed but they had obligingly added 2 extras to our booking for 4 when at the last minute the other couple who came found a sitter. Big points for that.

    The setting is nice but very noisy when full. The waitress told us the (very complicated) specials but due to the noise she had to shout and was losing her voice hence i missed most of it.

    The service was attentive but with only 2 waitstaff they struggled to keep up with demand. The lady on the table next to us ended up pleading (jokingly) with the waiter for a dessert menu.

    We ordered a couple of tasting plates (hot and cold) between us leaving it to the waiter to choose for us. They arrived and I was impressed with the presentation. They were all tasty and conversation and wine flowed freely.

    The mains arrived and I loved my salmon/scallop combo. It was beautifully presented and perfectly cooked. The sauce was a little muddy but lovely all round. My wifes chicken/prawn was a little lacking in presentation and was a little on the dry side. The singular king prawn was a little disappointing too.

    Dessert was a trio of ice creams, the black sesame one being a winner. Coffee was well made.

    We were nearly the last to leave with no subtle or otherwise hints from the staff. The chef even thanked us for coming as we walked off.

    Now I am a big fan of simple clean Japanese food which this isnt. Its fusion food and well done. The general consensus on the table was “Very nice but we won’t rush back” When the receptionist at work (also a Nine fangirl) asked today “Didn’t anything there blow your hair back?” The answer was sadly no.

  7. In a word disappointing. In three, style over substance. A rather tasteless tuna special, so so beef tataki and main of duck which was ok in a nice sauce. I had the hot tasting plate, the crab was good but nothing sang and in particular the produce did not seem up to scratch. The positive? It has renewed my appreciation of my place down the road, Senoji.

  8. Well boo to you both :)

    I guess it just highlights how different people appreciate restaurants in different ways… which is why I guess there are still so many Sizzlers and Starbucks in the world.

    I personally had a great time, and would recommend this place to anyone to try, but it’s unfortunate that other experiences haven’t been as rosey as mine.

  9. “… which is why I guess there are still so many Sizzlers and Starbucks in the world.”

    Ouch!!! Them’s fighting words partner! Pistols at dawn :)

    Fellow readers please dont take my negative comments as reason to avoid Nine, I just submitted my experience to show that nothing in this world is perfect. We had a good time – Yes, Food looked and tasted good – Tick, Service – very good, Revisitability – Thats the big question.

    Nine is a good Perth resturant and should be tried and experienced by all. Just dont expect Nirvana ;)

  10. Haha, not that I was implying you were a Sizzler or Starbucks fanboy Steve… but yes, well put. Experiences are always subjective, which is why anything I write (and comments left) should be taken with a great big pinch of Maldon salt flakes. :)

    I try not to go to a restaurant with too many expectations, and preferably without hearing too much about it other than a couple of casual recommendations. I personally find I enjoy myself more when I’m not consciously evaluating anything, which is much easier if I’ve gone in with a blank canvas of expectation.

  11. Really Matt a life time of experience is going to tell you if it’s good or not!! I must try your non-evaluation followed by posting technique!!!

  12. Although not a “professional food blogger”, I have read the recent exchanges here with great interest. This is where I think food blogs have it over formal restaurant reviews in many ways. They’re anonymous visits with no suspected conflict of interest in terms of possible advertorials, etc. They’re also a visceral response to an evening out. Some of the exchanges here reminded me of David Stratton and Margaret Pomeranz! hahaha Food experiences can be just as subjective as movies! ;) Great line about Starbucks and Sizzlers Matt! Can I pour you a saucer of milk? ;) For those “armchair critics” out there, I’m reminded how a winemaker once commented to me about how he used to duck for cover when “wine afficiandos”, who knew more about his wine than he did visited his cellar door. Better go and pour myself a saucer now.. :)

  13. “….should be taken with a great big pinch of Maldon salt flakes.”” Have you tried the Murray River salt, Matt? A lovely pink tinge to it, flavour quite distinctive, though perhaps not quite as soft as Maldon. But fewer food miles…..and it’s helping to save the Murray! Try it folks.

  14. Hey Alex, excellent points mate :) I’m pretty sure I’ll never be a “professional” food blogger either…as I can’t see someone wanting to sponsor my frequently slanderous comments :) But I am glad that I have the chance to write about my experiences, and that people feel inclined to share their own in return… always a positive in my book.

    Linda: I have indeed tried Murray River salt… at a food and wine fair last year they had a stand where I stood for a considerable amount of time sampling their various wares… much to the disbelief of my companions who couldn’t understand why I was so worried about salt. In the end though I came to the conclusion that I liked the soft flakey Maldon much more.

    How exactly are they helping to save the Murray ?

  15. Something to do with de-salination. Here we go – found this:

    SunSalt is pumping saline underground water onto existing salt-affected sites, where high evaporation rates and low humidity create the right conditions for crystallisation. Naturally occurring minerals give the resulting salt an attractive pink colour. The award-winning range of inland salt products is receiving widespread support from the hospitality industry locally, nationally and internationally.

    They also donate money to fund the programme for ridding the river of carp.

  16. Recently I slated Nine comparing it unfavourably with my East Vic Park local, Senoji. Nine may have had an off night, no worries it happens. Last night my wife and I visited Senoji and in the spirit of experience and non-evaluation, I offer my thoughts.

    In two words, simply excellent. We ordered largely from the blackboard menu (as we has at Nine). Octopus and potato stew was earthy, fishy (classic juxtaposition with great depth of flavour. We had an old fav beef tataki with this beautifully rare with an excellent dressing. Next we had a sald of tuna, avocado with some very fresh leaves and a delightful wasabi mayonaise. The word sublime comes to mind to describe this fresh and superbly balanced dish
    We then had a very clean raw okra and tofu dish with perhaps the winner of the vnight charcoal grilled yellowtail which was fresh out of the water, smoky and salty perfection. Along the way we had rice, pickles, a couple of sapporos and a byo red and the bill was $60. I offer this only as a complete and perfect experience in itself. You should go.

  17. I wish to record that I had another fabulous meal at Senoji in East Victoria Park last night. It really has an authentic feel and is definitely worth crossing the river for. Go for a collection of smaller dises and check whether that sashimi tuna and avocado sald is available.

    No regrets!

  18. Antony,

    Are you sure you don’t own the place or work there ??

    I went to Senoji a couple of weeks ago and thought the food was nice and the service was friendly. But I wouldn’t be writing home about it, and I wouldn’t be comparing it to Nine Fine Foods either.

    The two places are completely different. One is a simple Japanese restaurant with a range of small dishes and sashimi, cooked well, but presented very plainly, and the other is a modern Japanese inspired restaurant catering to a completely different market, that is trying to do something different.

    It’s like comparing Jackson’s to Hogs Breath Cafe… They both do steaks, but if you go to Jackson’s expecting an 21 day aged 500gm t-bone, you’ll be sorely disappointed… So why you would try to draw parallels here is beyond me.

  19. Senoji is a great place for simple and ‘authentic’ Japanese food. I definitely prefer this place to other simple Japanese restaurants in Perth, however, I find that I still compare restaurants like this to places in Japan and it’s hard for me to say whether it does authentic food well.

    Senoji can’t compare with Nine Fine Foods because to me, it’s not comparing ‘like with like’. Nine Fine Foods is Japanese inspired, and not trying to replicate ‘authentic’ and popular dishes in Japan, instead the chef is blending modern Japanese and Australian flavors to be more creative and unique.

    A restaurant such as Tetsuya’s in Sydney has Japanese influences but it’s better known for ‘Australia’s best restaurant’ than ‘Australia’s best Japanese restaurant’.

  20. A retraction

    On Saturday night after the disaster at the G,a fiasco at restaurant which ofter visits the regions of its cuisine, we found ourselves at 9 pm with nowhere to eat.

    So we gave Nine a try again.

    Simply said the food was superb, the service, knowledgeable and friendly and the brisk walk for wine beneficial to my health.

    The cold entree plate had the best sashimi since I don’t know when and I loved the eel.

    I’m getting this place now and am done with comparing. We’re lucky to have Nine, the elegant straddler!

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