The Gaya is one of the most talked about eateries in town, and with good reason. Chef and owner Leo has extended a generous invitation to a slew of Perth bloggers to dine in his restaurant, and I was lucky enough to be part of that experience.
The menu is Korean fusion and offers the stalwarts of Korean cuisine like kimchi and savoury pancakes, but then gives them a contemporary twist.
Unfortunately the Gaya decor is a bit cold and uninspiring. Although there are touches of Korean whimsy dotted around the walls of the venue, it still feels somewhat stark.
Scotty, one of my regular dining pals, was my foodie partner for the evening and eager to sample Korean cuisine. She’s never tasted kimchi and this was at the top of her list. It was a quiet and rainy Thursday night when we visited, and the hordes had obviously stayed at home.
Our meal started with a Korean version of amuse bouche – a plate of homemade potato chips and cheese puffs.
The beef cream rolls were filled with asparagus, cream cheese, capsicum, enoki mushrooms and cucumber, and garnished with fried garlic chips. The beef was tender and this unusual combination of ingredients worked well together.
The Gaya has several varieties of savoury pancakes (jijimi), and the kimchi jijimi sounded intriguing. Scotty also thought this would be an appropriate and gentle intro to the world of kimchi. Whilst the kimchi flavour remained strong, the dish was interesting and not at all like you’re eating a plate of knock-your-socks-off kimchi. Scotty often dislikes very strong-flavoured salty foods like olives and anchovies, but she really enjoyed this dish. I have to say though that if I had my druthers, my preference would be for the Korean seafood pancake, a firm favourite of mine.
Next up was the Gaya T & P steak, a dish of lightly grilled tuna accompanied by two giant tiger prawns on a bed of fennel salad and a side of pureed celeriac. This is one of those simple dishes where the emphasis is on the freshness and quality of the ingredients, and it was a welcome change from the richness of the other dishes. I can’t say if this is a typical Korean dish, but the seafood was fresh and grilled perfectly.
Our final main dish was the Gaya duck, a successful fusion dish that marries the exquisite moistness of duck with brown and orange rice, pineapple and a light chilli sauce. This was my favourite dish of the night; I adore duck in various incarnations and this was unlike any duck dish I’ve had previously. The presentation was beautiful and the flavours complemented each other very well.
As lovers of tiramisu, Scotty and I decided we couldn’t possibly leave without trying the Korean fusion version of Redmisu made with red bean paste. Truth to tell, we were both pretty stuffed at this point but we managed to share one of these and were glad we did. It’s still creamy and decadent like your traditional tiramisu, but with a subtle flavour twist.
The Gaya was an enjoyable experience, enhanced by our waitress’s helpful dish suggestions. Although this was a complimentary meal, my opinions are my own (and Scotty’s of course) and they are honest and reflective of our experience. We would happily return as paying customers.