Itsara – Nedlands

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Itsara Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Itsara, a high-end Thai eatery on Stirling Highway, is an unassuming spot from the outside. The modern restaurant is packed with locals and it’s not hard to see why, once you’ve stepped inside. Never in Perth have I seen such a breathtaking eating space than the garden dining room at Itsara. You can imagine that you’re eating in a Thai jungle as you are completely surrounded by the lush greenery of the vertical and hanging gardens.

It’s comes as no surprise that their thriving indoor garden is down to Head Chef and co-owner Itsara  Pracharoenwattana, who has a PhD in plant molecular biology. As well as nurturing this dining oasis, Chef Itsara also grows a great deal of his own vegetables and herbs.

We step into the busy restaurant and are shown to our table at the door of the contemporary main dining room, which has large windows spilling out to the garden dining room below. I can hardly take my eyes off the greenery long enough to look at the drinks menu. I choose a glass of Pierro LTC Semillon Sauvignon. The delicate drop from Margaret River has tangy stone fruit flavours and compliments Thai food well.

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Most people share dishes at Itsara, though you don’t have to if you’re feeling greedy. The tempting modern Thai menu is completely gluten free, besides a couple of deserts. The kitchen makes all their own pastes and sauces from scratch, using fresh ingredients, meaning MSG and other nasty food additives aren’t used in their cooking.

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Soon enough our “Pretty Duck” arrives, $18, which is indeed a pretty dish. Char-grilled marinated duck is served with fresh julienned green mango, shallot and cashew nuts. The sweet dish has crunch and is drizzled with a cracking house made dressing, made of pineapple and sweet chilli.

Pretty Duck Continue reading

Wok St Chow House – Northbridge {CLOSED}

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Wok St Chow House Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

I love discovering a new restaurant. I’m a Yelp Elite for 2016 – which means from time to time I’m invited along to dinners to check out cool new spots in Perth. Anyone can become a Yelper – simply review your great foodie and retail finds on the Yelp app and if you do it a lot, you’ll be chosen to take part in some delicious dinners with fellow Perth foodies. For the uninitiated, Yelp is a review site, similar to Trip Advisor and Zomato.IMG_2294

I was checking out Wok St Chow House in Northbridge. It has been open just a few months and has already gained an excellent reputation for it’s authentic Thai street food flavours. What I soon realised as I approached the Lake Street eatery was that not so long ago it was home to Darlings Supper Club.IMG_2297_Fotor

The interior is dim and moody – lit with a green florescent panda light. It seems as though years ago this building would have been an old cottage. It’s charming and cosy with many little nooks to sit in.IMG_2373

We were sitting out the back in the leafy covered courtyard, overlooked by the adorable murual of Yum Yum the panda. There were about 30 of us in the Yelp group. I was excited to sit opposite fellow Perth Food Blogger and fountain of food knowledge Nini of Nini Foodielicious. We were all lucky enough to sample a lot of Wok St’s dishes. Though mostly Thai – the Wok St Chefs also draw inspiration from Filipino and other Asian Street Food. Here’s what I tried…

IMG_2303_FotorThe crisp prawn crackers with a house made chilli jam didn’t long! Everyone was hungry and ready to eat!

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I’m not usually a fan of wings, but these fried marinated chicken wings were super meaty and the Sriracha sauce was finger licking good.

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The Kililaw fish was similar to a ceviche an coated in a mild lime and coconut sauce.IMG_2344_Fotor

The house made Thai fish cakes with sweet chili sauce were very tasty little morsels!

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The marinated beef strip with a Loas Naam Jim had a spicy chilli kick. But nothing compared to the “miang larb ped”.

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Flaming hell!! That’s where my poor mouth was at with just one bite of the “miang larb ped”. Hot & sour chopped duck and roast rice with herbs is served on a betel leaf. I love duck, but I didn’t even taste this one – there was too much burning going on! As a sidenote, the “crying tiger” beef flank is even spicier, certainly not for the faint hearted!

 

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Unfortunately we weren’t forewarned about the extra spicy dish and hadn’t seen a menu. All the dishes have some level of spice, but I’m never one to choose hotter than a medium heat. A kind waitress got poor Nini some watermelon to cool her down! There is a “cooling plate” at Wok St, which tells me that there are lots of hot gobs here!

And that was just the “starters”! Already feeling a little full, out came the main dishes…

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The vibrant Thai green chicken curry was full of fresh herbs.

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Wok St’s traditional pad Thai was easily the best I’ve had outside of Asia. The fried noodles were brimming with egg, chicken & prawns.

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My favourite dish of the night was “Kanna muu grop”. The sticky and crisp pork belly was absolutely do die for and brimming with Asian greens. The Kai-lan oyster sauce brought the dish together – I could have eaten the whole bowl.

So that was our feast! All that food was shared between four of us and I was absolutely stuffed afterwards. If you love Asian street food then head to Wok St. I’m impressed – just no crazy spiciness for me next time.

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Wok St is taking part in Eat Drink Perth this year and is holding a dego at Wok St Chow House… the epic 8 course “Degust-Asian” is a delicious and spicy feast of authentic street food, with the option to match your meal with a cheeky cocktail or two. Not to be missed!

When: Wed 6 April & Thu 7 of April

Time: 5pm – 9pm

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Night Noodle Markets – Northbridge

IMG_8901If you haven’t been to the Night Noodle Markets – get down to Perth Cultural Centre quick!! It’s part of the excellent Eat Drink Perth festival and on for just a few more nights (till Sunday the 29th of March) – well worth checking out. There are three distinct areas, all with a bar and plenty of seating.IMG_8931

What we found is that the Night Noodle Markets is not just about noodles! It’s a celebration of Asian cuisine and proving to be a huge hit. We’d heard that you should get down to Northbridge early to avoid the queues – and so it seemed had everyone else!

IMG_8894There was a BIG queue for Hoy Pinoy before the Filipino street food stall had even opened! Hoy Pinoy is usually found in Melbourne’s’ Victoria Markets and Perth was giving them a big welcome. At 4.55pm there was a line at least 50 people long – we took it as a good sign and were happy to queue for 15 minutes whilst smelling the BBQ aromas! Once Chef and I got our mitts on the prize pork belly skewers, with a banana ketchup glaze, we were pretty stoked. I happily tucked into my crispy pork belly – the heat from the bbq all but rendering the fat away – leaving crisp, but tender meat. $12 for two sticks.IMG_8900

Low Key Chow House on Urbanspoon
Next we popped next door to the Low Key Chow House.Usually, it’s home is on Oxford Street, in Leederville. We’ve heard a lot of positive buzz about LKCH. Chef and I ordered chili caramel pork buns, which hit the spot perfectly, two for $12.IMG_8905

There was a great atmosphere about, foodies chatting excitedly about their yummy finds,people enjoying a glass of wine at the Yulumba pop up with their food. There was a real mix of ages too, a lot of families, office workers and retirees. IMG_8936

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The Apple Daily Bar & Eating House on Urbanspoon
We then moved onto the food area opposite the WA museum. Chef made a beeline for a favourite restaurant of his – Apple Daily (found at Print Hall). He absolutely loved the Linley Valley pork ribs ($12). The sticky and delicious ribs are flavoured with a tamarind, chilli and coriander marinade – which he washed down with a Japanese beer.IMG_8909
Turban Chopsticks on Urbanspoon

IMG_8912I popped next door to Turban Chopsticks, to say hi to the lovely Mei and to meet her husband Suresh – the other half of the Turban Chopsticks team. I enjoyed some potato ricotta balls and a scrumptious curry. I actually lost most of the balls to Little Chef who to my surprise (and delight!) loved them. We have a box of them at home and Little Chef has plans to cook them – success! The lychee drink was so refreshing and he even liked that. I’m slowly getting there – I’ll convert this fussy eater!IMG_8913

The three of us then headed over to check out the last night noodle market area at the Urban Orchard.IMG_8932Here we found a sneak peek of Lucky Chan’s Laundry. The soon to be opened crowd funded restaurant. Chef ate a spicy Thai Green curry from Shallot Thai, where the curries were being cooked in traditional clay pots, $12.IMG_8928

It was a fantastic family night out and the three of us all enjoyed it. It’s great to try a bit of this and a bit of that and there’s still pleanty more to try if you go back for a second or third night! We’ll be back next year for sure!IMG_8880

Ocean Spice Café – Cottesloe

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Ocean Spice Cafe on Urbanspoon

I’m constantly looking for new places to dine. Truthfully, it’s a bit of an obsession – part and parcel of being a Perth food blogger! The web is a never ending source of restaurant news and new openings in Perth. Sites such as Urbanspoon and Tripadvisor can be a bit of a mixed bag though and I tend to take them with a large pinch of salt. The “urban-trippers” can get a little carried away on their imaginary soapbox, ranting and raving about disappointing meals and awful service. On the other hand, when I find a restaurant with an unblemished record and nothing but praise online, I take it as an excellent sign. One such place is a casual Asian restaurant, Ocean Spice Café, which has been open just a few months – to rave reviews.IMG_8554

Ocean Spice Café is on Eric Street, right next to the Ocean Beach Hotel. It’s modern, airy and has sea views if you can secure a table next to the large open window. We dine at 6pm on a Tuesday night and already the place is bustling with people and take away orders.IMG_8558

We are very warmly welcomed by the owner Maria. Ocean Spice café isn’t licenced, so Chef dashes to the neighbouring OBH for a bottle of white. There are soft drinks on offer, as well as such Vietnamese delicacies as “Sinh To Bo” an avocado milkshake, for the more adventurous.

There’s a lot of choice on the menu for meat eaters and plenty of vegetarian options too. To start, Chef and I chose a few entrees. We have Little Chef in tow. It is the notoriously fussy five year old’s first dalliance with Asian food. The four vegetarian curry puffs, $8.90 brimming with potato and peas are only mildly spicy and to our surprise Little Chef tucks into them. The pork spring rolls, $7.90 are deliciously crisp too.IMG_8561

Many years ago my yard stick for satay sticks was set impossibly high during a trip to the Satay Club at Clarke Quay in Singapore. Never before had we tasted such delicious morsels of nutty meat and sadly, never again since. Our chicken satay sticks, $8.90 at Ocean Spice Café are very tasty, but fall short of our impossibly high benchmark for satay sticks. They are missing something – perhaps the smokiness of being cooked on a chargrill.IMG_8566

I choose a chicken cashew nut stir fry, $18.90, also available with beef or pork. The thinly sliced chicken is perfectly sautéed and oh so tender. It is packed full of fresh, crisp vegetables; snow peas, capsicum and spring onions all covered in soy sauce and sesame oil – absolutely delicious!IMG_8573

Next, we devour a pile of crispy roast duck, $21.90, which sits atop a mound of crunchy noodles. The duck is moist on the inside and is smothered with a lip-smacking sweet plum sauce.IMG_8568

Chef enjoys his favourite staple Thai dish of Chicken Pad Thai, $18.90. He practically demolishes the traditional street food dish of soft stir fried noodles, perfectly cooked chicken, fried egg, tofu, bean sprouts, garlic and chives.IMG_8572

The khong wan menu, which translates as “sweet things”, looks tempting. Feeling rather full, the three of us decide to share the kow neow manung with ice cream, $10.90. The traditional dessert of sticky rice with succulent fresh mango, sesame seeds and coconut milk with a generous serve of ice cream is the perfect end to our meal.IMG_8580

The busy café offers outstanding value for money and is incredibly popular – even Mark Barretta from Channel Seven’s Sunrise was spotted dining there recently! We noticed many of the other diners seemed to be regulars – Ocean Spice Cafe seems to have filled a much needed niche in Cottesloe.

*First published in the Post newspaper*

At a glance

■ Ocean Spice Café

2/1 Eric Street, Cottesloe

Phone 9383 3303

■ Opening times

Tuesday to Friday

5pm to 9pm

Saturday & Sunday

11am to 9pm

■ Rating

food 3

service 4

ambience 3

value for money 4

■ style – Thai & Vietnamese

■ wine – byo

■ Chef – Pop Samasorn

■ Owner – Marie Grace

■ feel – Casual and unpretentious

■ wheelchair access – small

step at entrance

■ cost –

Entrée – $7.90 to $8.90

Mains – $11.90 to $21.90

Dessert – $8.90 to $10.90

■ all in all – well priced and

well cooked food with a

warm welcome from Marie.