Lantern, Seminyak

Lantern may not have a particularly comely appearance from the road, but step inside and this self-proclaimed “Urban Asian Eatery” will quickly enthral you. With its mix of Asian cuisines – think Malaysian, Vietnamese, Indonesian , Thai and Indian – and cheap prices, it looked promising. Lantern had been recommended by another foodie, and we were keen to see if it lived up to its reputation.

There’s a cooler indoor section if Bali’s humidity is getting to you, and an outdoor/smokers area for the brave or the addicted. We sat at the back near the counter, and admired the mixed decor with its wall paintings, lanterns, cane furniture, lattice work and splashes of bright yellow. We ordered drinks and a complimentary dish of tiny peanuts was served. Drinks were cheap, and we alternated between deliciously minty lychee mojitos and Balinese white wine (surprisingly good).

As we were intent on savouring our own dishes, we each ordered our own mains, rather than sharing, though Lantern’s food is ideal for just that. TJ’s Penang Chicken  Curry with roti had him singing its praises, and as a Malaysian born aficionado of Penang curries, he knows a good one when he eats it. My Sindhi Biryani was light (unlike many versions I’ve eaten) and tasty – filled with morsels of tender yoghurt-coated chicken pieces, and scattered with raisins, cashews, fresh coriander and fried onions.  Cam wasn’t as enamoured with her 12-hour  Pho, though she couldn’t write put her finger on why except to say that it was a bit….beefy. All of that slow cooking no doubt intensified the flavours and I daresay lovers of strong meaty flavours would love it.  Our one shared dish of fried Vietnamese chicken spring rolls was light and crispy, and came with a good dipping sauce.

We were too full to sample dessert, and despite our best intentions to return for another meal, we just couldn’t fit it in. We did manage to drop in for cold drinks on our way back to the hotel the next afternoon though, and I have to say that my Ruby Red drink of cranberry and soda was one of the scrummiest drinks I had in Bali.  The service was excellent both times, and the experience great value for money. Everything that came out of the kitchen looked amazing, and I’ll just have to be content with waiting for my next trip to Bali to discover some of the other dishes on the menu.

I would heartily recommend Lantern for singles, couples, small groups and families. It’s a small space and you may have to wait for a table, but you can find something to appeal to all tastes on the menu, and you’ll be rewarded with super smiles, delicious food and value for money. Winner!

 

Lantern Bali Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Mo:Mo’s Nepalese restaurant and cafe

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Search Google and you’ll find that a colon doesn’t exist in Nepalese grammar. So what the heck it’s doing in the middle of the Nepalese word for dumpling (also the name of the restaurant) is anybody’s guess. Grammar aside, Mo:Mo’s serves damn fine Nepalese food and does it with a smile, so who would quibble over a punctuation mark?

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Our group of four gals arrived on an AFL finals night, so there was a glut of empty tables. All the better for us, as we had the undivided attention of the part owner who was keen to share with us his knowledge of Nepalese cuisine, and to recommend dishes based on our likes.

Naturally we had to start with the iconic Nepalese dish of dumplings, of both the chicken and beef variety. Served with a tangy tomato and ginger chutney, the dumplings were a mellow intro into Nepalese cuisine.  I always feel quite virtuous eating these steamed dumplings, as there seems to be so little fat involved that they must be healthy, right?  We also ordered the not-so-healthy potato cakes – Aloo Chop – fluffy potatoes with fresh coriander and onions, dusted with besan flour and pan fried. Served with a coriander chutney, these mild potato cakes were pleasant enough without being remarkable.

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Although we were urged to try the house specialty of goat curry, none of us were keen to explore that option and went for the eternally popular chicken dishes. The chicken methi curry cooked in cream, was redolent with the dried fenugreek leaves (methi) that give it its unique taste. We loved this dish; the flavours of the spices and the methi worked beautifully together. We mopped it up with roti bread and steamed rice. If you’ve never tried any methi dishes (also popular in Indian cuisine), this is a great introduction to the subtle burnt caramel/maple flavour it brings to food.

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Not to be outdone by a chicken curry, we wanted to try Mo:Mo’s version of BBQ chicken. The kukhura poleko comprised pieces of chicken thighs, marinated in fresh coriander, parsley, garlic and ginger, and char grilled to succulent perfection. The herby zing of the marinade and the smokey char grilled edges, resulted in an intensely satisfying, delicious dish. This is probably the Nepalese equivalent of Indian tandoori food, but it couldn’t be more different in taste. Whereas tandoori dishes rely on heavy spicing and yoghurt-based marinades, this is all about the herbs.

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To get our healthy dose of veggies we opted for the Cauli Aloo; a mix of cauliflower and potatoes in a mildly spiced tomato, garlic and ginger sauce. It’s impossible not to love cauliflower and potatoes in a curry if the sauce is good, and Mo:Mo’s version rose to the occasion.

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The desserts sounded very similar to the Indian ones we are so familiar with, and we were curious to discover if there were any discernible differences. Indeed there were. Whilst Indian desserts are generally super sweet, these used much less sugar. In fact my khir – slow cooked rice in milk and with cardamon – although lush and creamy, lacked depth because of the small amount of sugar. When you’re eating a rice dessert, you need a decent amount of sweetener to balance it out and lift those starchy carbs.

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Frau K liked the sound of the carrot pudding (I forgot to get a photo), but as with my khir, the pudding was suffering from a lack of sugar. I’ve tried many versions of carrot pudding/halwa including my own made with condensed milk (now that’s a serious sugar load), but sadly this was the blandest yet.

The Prof won out with her dish of saffron yoghurt with lal mohan. The vibrant yellow of the saffron yoghurt made this dish pop, and underneath all that creamy smoothness lay the lal mohan – the Nepalese version of the Indian gulab jamun. There was no scrimping on the sugar in this dish – those dense little lal mohan balls wallowing in sugar syrup were the perfect foil for the slight acidity of the “hung” yoghurt; we all concurred that this dessert was the standout.

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I’ve dined at other Nepalese restaurants and at times haven’t found much difference between Nepalese and Indian cuisines. At Mo:Mo’s however the distinction was made clear, and it was interesting and enjoyable to sample what we felt was authentic Nepalese food. Our congenial host assured us that they stick to their food origins and reproduce the food that they grew up with in Nepal. Our experience was positive and we would have loved to sample a few more dishes if only we could fit them in. It’s pity about the desserts as we all felt that each one could be sensational if made a bit sweeter. We were told by our lovely host that “these aren’t the same as Indian desserts”, so maybe Mo:Mo’s is keen to highlight the differences in not just the savoury, but the sweet dishes as well. In any event, it’s really not always about desserts, and the delicious range of savoury food is enough to compensate.

This cosy suburban restaurant has many things going for it, and once again proves that you don’t need to spend a fortune to have a good meal. You can BYO alcohol, sample a range of dishes, and enjoy the hospitality of the staff. Mo:Mo’s is also in the Entertainment Book, although we really didn’t need the discount as we felt the food was reasonably priced anyway. If you’re a newbie to Nepalese cuisine Mo:Mo’s is the perfect introduction for you.

http://www.momosrestaurantperth.com.au/index.php

Mo:Mo's nepalese restaurant and cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Litte Lebanon Cafe & Restaurant

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As you enter this cavernous restaurant you pass the long empty verandah out front and wonder if that gets much of a workout in winter. The answer to that was obvious when we left a few hours later. Small throngs of Shisha enthusiasts had braved the cold night air to chill, chat and smoke pipes.

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My small group of friends and I were previously Little Lebanon virgins. Considering
a )how damn good the food was
b) how cheap our evening out was and
c) its proximity to home;
I wondered how that was possible.

My friends like to share. None of this individual dish business. Fortunately Little Lebanon is the perfect venue for sharing. They offer a banquet for only $40 each, and we quickly earmarked that for our next visit. On our premier visit however, we decided to play it safe and choose a range of smallish share plates.

Our two friendly wait staff (with one young lad in training) established that we were happy for our plates to arrive fairly close together. Our initial wait was about 30 minutes which can be dangerous when you have four hungry women with empty stomachs and several bottles of vino. Our first few plates were thus received with gusto. The felafel with yoghurt sauce and pickles on the side was devoured in no time, along with complimentary pita bread, and another type of unidentifiable fried bread that none of us had tried before. We preferred the pitas.

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These heavenly little pastries were vegetarian sambousiks, filled with spinach and cheese ($12). As a veggie lover, I’m constantly delighted by the range of food available in Lebanese and Indian restaurants featuring a variety of creative and delicious vegetable dishes.

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The Lebanese were roasting and frying cauliflower long before it became trendy. This version of fried cauliflower was served with tahini sauce ($12) and was crunchy, creamy and beautifully caramelised.

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Our only non-entree dish was the chicken shawarma ($20). This meal of marinated shredded chicken served with garlic sauce was everyone’s favourite. With a mix of spices, the zing of fresh herbs and slices of crunchy red cabbage, cucumber and onion, it was simply scrumptious wrapped in the extra pita bread served with it. I can’t imagine coming back here and not ordering this dish. Yum.

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Fried eggplant with yoghurt ($12) was our obligatory eggplant dish. It’s an unwritten rule that when ordering plates of Lebanese food , you must include eggplant. And felafel of course.  This version featured strips of fried eggplant lightly dusted in mild spices, and fried till golden. You can see this dish in the photo below, on the right.

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What Little Lebanon lacks in atmosphere it makes up for in food. There were so many other tempting options on the menu, but we sadly didn’t have the capacity to try more. We waddled out, stuffed to the gills and with barely a dent in our purses. This place is family friendly, super cheap – our meal was less than $20 a head – and BYOB with no corkage charge. What are you waiting for?

http://www.littlelebanon.com.au

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Thai Orchid, South Perth

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There aren’t too many establishments in Perth that boast views like this one, especially establishments that don’t charge a premium for the privilege. Thai Orchid in South Perth is worth a visit for this reason alone.

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Meeting a friend mid-week, there were only a few tables occupied and we were seated at the window. I was captivated by the view and it reminded me of a dining experience last year at Coco’s across the way, where the view was also amazing but the food was not.

We started with a few entrees of Thai fish cakes and golden bags. I love trying different versions of Thai fish cakes, and these were spicy and tasty, and not rubbery. It’s often considered the mark of a good fish cake to have that rubbery texture, but I really don’t enjoy that texture and prefer them to be tender and moist. The golden bags were scrumptious, with minced chicken and corn and peas all wrapped up in little fried dumplings.

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Roast duck red curry is probably my favourite Thai dish, and this version was a good one – creamy with coconut, the right amount of red curry spicing, and a generous serve of duck.

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Our other main was prawns with cashew nuts and chilli jam. This stir fried fish featured a generous amount of prawns with a good chilli kick – a very tasty, flavourful dish that we both enjoyed.

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Our dining experience cost us less than $30 each, thanks to the Entertainment card. Even without the card, this was a value-for-money dining experience. The service was good, the food – though far from the best Thai food in Perth – was still delicious. The view was priceless. I recommend you book a table with views when you visit, as that certainly enhances the whole experience.

 

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Monggo Restaurant

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Indonesian with a twist – that’s probably the best way to describe Monggo restaurant in Mount Lawley. I’ve heard purists dismiss Monggo because they consider the food not authentic Indonesian, but for me it’s often the path less travelled that makes it more interesting. Think confit duck leg, deconstructed lumpiah and murtabak filo triangles and you have an idea of some of the fusion-type dishes available.  This small family-run restaurant in Mount Lawley has been around for several years, and is always busy on the weekends with diners and take away orders.

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With a party of four you can partake in a Rijsttafel Bagus for a total of $109 which enables sampling of a cross section of Indonesian dishes. This option was too good to pass up, and being the greedies we are, we also had to add a few entrees to the table. We started with the kwo tie – pumpkin and mushroom dumplings, followed by duck martabak and sea salt and pepper squid. The dumpling wrappers were a little chewy and perhaps could have been steamed a bit longer.

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The duck martabak with its fried filo pastry and dipping sauce was crisp and delicious. Monggo offers several duck dishes, all of which are excellent, and not what you’d call typical Indonesian.

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The squid served on a bed of salad was tender and lightly battered, with a good sprinkling of sea salt and pepper.

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And then came the rijsttafel.  Our first shared plate was piled with appetisers of hard boiled eggs with sweet tangy Balado sauce, vegetable spring rolls, kacang ikan teri (spiced peanuts with ikan bilis), and Jimbaran fish.

I loved the fish dish which I have ordered as a main dish several times, and the eggs were unusual and not something I would ordinarily choose. That’s the beauty of ordering food this way – trying dishes that aren’t on the a la carte menu and that you may not ordinarily consider.

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Our next plate featured a massive portion of  Balinese mie goreng and ayam bakar Taliwang  (grilled half chicken with rujak sauce). You can’t tell from this photo, but the chicken was a huge serving that our token male deftly cut up, making it easier for us all to help ourselves. Both chicken and noodles were delicious. I’ve had the mie goreng here many times and it’s always reliably good.

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Our final platter was filled with vegetable dishes: sayur arap (warm vegetables with coconut), tahu bacem (marinated tofu), acar (pickled cabbage and carrot) and tumis sayur (stir fried veggies with garlic). I completely forgot about taking a photo of this plate, but it was a generous serve and the dishes were flavourful and delicious. I’ve had the sayur arap before; it’s a veggie dish with a hint of sweetness from the coconut and sweet corn and is a good accompaniment to some of the spicy meat dishes.  We each had our own bowl of steamed rice to eat with the rijsttafel dishes.

Monggo means “welcome” in Javanese and you certainly do feel welcome here.  I’ve always been satisfied with their meals but I prefer to come mid-week when it’s not so busy. With people packed in here on weekends, the noise level is high which makes normal conversation challenging at times.  With the benefit of BYO and a discount in the Entertainment Book, our meal cost us $30 each which is quite amazing considering the variety and volume we had.

 

http://www.monggorestaurant.com/#!menu/c24tf

 

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Hoang Kim Vietnamese Cafe Restaurant

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My former sis-in-law and good buddy Gail, caught up with me in her stomping ground of Guildford, home these days to a plethora of good eateries. I have fond memories of hanging out in my misspent youth at Guildford’s only food joint, Alfred’s Kitchen, rubbing cold, wintry hands together over a drum fire as we ordered burgers and drank Ben Ean Moselle. Thankfully, both Guildford and times have changed.

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Hoang Kim operates out of Tindale House, one of those beautiful Guildford historic homes, so there’s expansive rooms, a massive garden out the back and a courtyard in front for the summer months. There were two hardy souls dining outside the night we were there, though I can’t imagine why on a 12 degree night.

This suburban Vietnamese restaurant is a family-run enterprise, and is obviously popular with the local brigade who filled up those big rooms quick smart on a cold Wednesday evening. With a menu featuring all the usual suspects, it didn’t take us long to choose our dishes. Foregoing the entrees, we went straight for the warming main dishes. First up, mildly spiced fish fried with a crunchy slaw and sweet chilli sauce on the side. We enjoyed this pleasant, mildly flavoured barramundi dish.

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Our prawn omelette was cooked Chinese style with sauce, as we requested. Yeah, I know it’s a Vietnamese restaurant, but how cool is it when the chefs are prepared to do whatever it takes to make their customers happy?
Our omelette was lush and loaded with prawns, and the oyster sauce with it went down a treat.

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Last but not least we enjoyed the chicken curry with potatoes and carrots in a creamy coconut sauce. This traditional Vietnamese curry was perfect with our bottle of Swan Valley dry white.

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The service at Hoang Kim was pleasant, and our meal arrived within 20 minutes of ordering. At $65 for our three dishes with sizeable doggie bags to take home, this is a value-for-money establishment in the heart of historic Guildford. With ample street parking, family friendly atmosphere and winter-warming Vietnamese food, this suburban restaurant is definitely on my keeper list.

Hoang Kim Vietnamese Cafe Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Dodo’s BBQ

2015-04-25 08.12.36 Despite having lived in the Dianella area for years, there are still a few local food outlets that I haven’t tried, as I tend to stick with my tried and true takeaway places, like Tak’E Sushi. Last night however, AB and I decided to give Dodo’s a try. We thought we’d be fairly safe with its relatively high rating on Urbanspoon. It’s a massive menu at Dodo’s, and it took us a while to decide on our main dishes of satay chicken and combination omelette. This place has the sort of menu you would find at a Chinese restaurant, but it also features different types of noodle dishes, BBQ pork, and roast duck.

AB loves pork buns, but this version was dry and unappetising; probably pre-made bought elsewhere versions.

2015-04-25 08.09.03 We usually choose  steamed rice but we went the whole hog and ordered the special fried rice. Although it looks good in the photo, it was completely devoid of  flavour.

2015-04-25 08.08.18 The satay chicken was the best of a  lacklustre bunch. Plenty of chicken, but with sauce tasting like it was sourced from a bottle. None of that peanut/ coconut/ fresh spice flavour.

2015-04-25 08.11.17 The combination omelette was the worst omelette I have eaten anywhere. It didn’t come with any sauce which in itself is unusual, and so was missing the moistness needed when eating this with rice. Bland, dry and utterly flavourless.

2015-04-25 08.10.03 Run by an older husband and wife team, Dodo’s may fill a niche for Chinese food in this area, but sadly the food we ate was incredibly bland. We’re lucky in Perth to have an abundance of good takeaway food outlets, but this isn’t one of them.  AB and I wanted to like this place and maybe it all came down to the choices we made, but we won’t be returning to test that out.  Although at $44 the meal wasn’t expensive, it’s hardly value for money if you don’t enjoy your food.

Dodo's BBQ on Urbanspoon

Buffet Amici

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This suburban eatery tucked away in a corner of the Woodvale Shopping Centre was quiet at 9am on a Saturday when our group arrived for breakfast, but by 9.30 it was full to capacity. Buffets are obviously still popular, and I daresay the Groupon offer for Buffet Amici is attracting the crowds.

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I have to be honest and say that buffets are not my preferred way of dining. Too often there are trays of unappetising stomach fillers, with no delicate gourmet items in sight. How did Buffet Amici fare? Read on.

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The ubiquitous trays of cooked foods were laid out – bacon, sausages, scrambled and poached eggs, and mushrooms. There was also a tray of tempura vegetables that my friends loved. I didn’t try them but I did have two of the mini hash browns which were delightfully crisp little discs of potato goodness. I overhead one diner asking the chef if he could have fried eggs, and the chef was happy to oblige.

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The dish of roasted pumpkin, sweet potato and carrots, all sweet and caramelised, was my favourite savoury item.

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The filo cheese scrolls were soft, flaky and tasty, and fresh and hot from the oven.

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Although I adore cheese, the cheese board selection didn’t tempt me at all.

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The fruit platter featured kiwi fruit, melons, banana, orange, strawberries and shavings of fresh coconut.

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The blueberry pancakes were woefully dry and unappetising, and the companion chocolate sauce did nothing to improve them. These were baked in an oven tray, and were nothing like the fluffy pancakes cooked on a stove top.

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There was a selection of pastries, sweet and savoury muffins, croissants and breads for toasting.

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The chocolate danishes were baked fresh and I was lucky enough to get one of a fresh batch, straight from the oven. The pastry was light and the chocolate oozing and delicious.

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There were three fruit juices on offer, and an urn of boiling water for those wanting tea or instant coffee. I order a long macchiato and for the extra $3 it cost, it was fine.

There was also congee, traditional porridge with fruit, and various cereals on offer, but I never fill up on those if there are more interesting foods available.

Big eaters will appreciate the value for money that Buffet Amici provides. It’s not haute cuisine, but there were several items that were quite delicious. For the $13 it cost us to eat breakfast, there were no complaints. I wouldn’t have been thrilled if I’d paid the full price of $29, but it seems there are ongoing Groupon offers that cover their buffet breakfasts and set-menu dinners respectively.

http://buffetamici.com.au

Buffet Amici on Urbanspoon

Bing Go, Karrinyup

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Not much of a fan of greasy fast food, I nevertheless occasionally feel the urge to indulge in something quick, easy and delicious. The newish Bing Go franchise produces sweet and savoury crepes, and is based on the Chinese street food “Jianbing” that originates from Beijing. AB and I were shopping in Karrinyup and discovered the Bing Go eatery in the food court.

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Deftly cooked on the large round hot plate, the crepes are lined with egg and filled and rolled according to your choice of filling.

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The Beijing Bing with marinated chicken thigh was my choice, while AB went for the Moo Bing, featuring marinated beef, red onion and fresh mint. We were both happy with our choices, and enjoyed the addition of fresh salad and sauce with the Bings.

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Although light and fresh, the Bings are massive and quite filling, and it was a battle to finish mine.  I made the rookie mistake of taking off the wrapping to photograph my Bing, which promptly caused a major Bing meltdown.  As AB chomped his way through his neatly wrapped affair, he laughed as lettuce and carrot shreds from my Bing made their way to the table top.

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The bings are lighter than traditional wraps, and there’s less carbs than usual so you don’t feel pangs of junk food guilt. It’s pretty awesome discovering a new fast food that actually feels healthy. The Bing fillings include chicken, duck, beef, lamb and prawns, and there are two breakfast varieties with either egg and bacon, or egg and mushrooms. The sweet varieties with nutella, coconut and strawberries also look scrumptious, but obviously the “healthy” moniker flies out the window with these treats.

http://www.binggo.com.au

Bing Go Street Food on Urbanspoon

Wrap N Rice Thai Cafe, North Perth

Scotty and I are always keen to try local venues where we can BYO vino, and as soon as we heard about this new Thai eatery on popular Angove St, we had to check it out. This small, cheerful venue has a steady stream of people coming in to buy takeaway food, along with others settling in on the tables both inside and outside on the pavement. No sooner had we sat, than our wine was opened and placed in an ice bucket, and a bottle of water and glasses placed on the table. We were off to an auspicious start.

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Scotty and I had to try the Thai fish cakes of course. We’ve tried countless versions of these over the years, and these were smooth, tasty discs, served with a sweet chilli dipping sauce. Happily, they were not rubbery as Thai fish cakes often are.

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Our other entree was rice paper rolls stuffed with grilled salmon and tamarind sauce. Bursting with fresh salad and herbs, these rolls were light and tasty.

Tempted as we were by the perennial Thai dish of Pad Thai, we were not to be swayed on this occasion. We opted for a red chicken curry and a prawn stir fry.

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This wasn’t a traditional Thai red curry, but rather a Westernised version without the chilli heat expected from this dish. The long strips of soft bamboo shoots were an unusual feature of this dish and despite the curry’s mild flavour, it was tasty and flavourful. This curry didn’t have the depth or complexity of flavour usually associated with a red curry, and we figured it had been adapted for Western palates.  However at this cheap and cheerful local spot, our expectations weren’t as high as they would ordinarily be, and for $14 we weren’t complaining.

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Our prawn, cashew and chilli jam stir fry was chock full of vegetables and cashews, and a generous serving of prawns. The flavours and textures were light, crunchy, and pleasing to the palate.

This little cafe turns out food that may not be for the Thai food purists, but the fresh ingredients and reasonable prices will have a faithful band of followers returning again and again. There are daily specials, and on Sundays you can pick up a Pad Thai for $12. Not much to complain about here.

As a bonus, you can pop a few metres down the road to the Old Laundry Bar for a decent coffee after your meal.  Seriously, what’s not to love about Angove St?

http://wrapnrice.com.au

Wrap N Rice Thai Cafe on Urbanspoon

High Wycombe Tavern

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When you find a great hairdresser, stick with her. I have, for 26 years. This brings me to MM, my faithful coiffeuse and long-time friend, who as fate would have it, broke her wrist three months ago and is thus taking an enforced hiatus from the hair business.

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MM is living temporarily in the boonies with her sister while her wrist heals; well to a city slicker like me, High Wycombe is far enough away to be classified as the boonies.  MM suggested we meet for lunch at her local – the High Wycombe Tavern. I’m always happy to oblige when it means trying something new that may not necessarily be on my radar.

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The Tav dining area looks out over a park children’s playground and fountain – an attractive outlook as far as views go. The meals are typical pub fare with generous portions and reasonable prices, and MM went for her favourite, beer-battered fish with chips and a side salad, served with a draft beer, for the princely sum of $15.

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In MM’s case, a lemon squash substituted for the beer.

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My interest was piqued by the daily special salad of smoked salmon, and this proved a good choice. Lashings of smoked salmon, kalamata olives, and a massive serving of leafy greens, feta, red onion and cherry tomatoes, made me feel quite virtuous. Some of the meals I’ve had lately have been far from healthy, so this was a welcome feel-good change.

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Without much expectation I ordered my usual long macchiato, which was a pleasant surprise and as good as many I’ve had in inner city cafes. All in all, this little foray into the burbs was a pleasant, unpretentious place to catch up with a friend on a Monday afternoon. Wait staff were friendly and attentive.  There are daily food specials, family fun days, and live music on the weekends.

http://www.highwycombetavern.com.au/whats-on/

High Wycombe Tavern on Urbanspoon

Flinderz at Hillarys

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It’s awesome when you make a little trek out to the burbs and discover an unlikely foodie gem in a small shopping centre. Egg and I were in the Hillarys area last Friday and trusty Urbanspoon pointed us in the right direction. Why not try something NOT at Hillarys Boat Harbour, right?

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With banquet seating encircling the verandah area and leafy trees lining the adjoining car park, it was a pleasant spot to park ourselves in for an hour on a sunny afternoon. No sooner had we sat ourselves down, than our super pleasant waiter appeared with a bottle of water and menus in hand, and announced that the special of the day was a salmon fillet with potato mash AND a glass of vino for $20. Holy snapping fish fillets! It took both of us about a second to say “yes please, we’ll have that!”

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Sadly I had to forgo the wine, but chose a lemon, lime and bitters instead which came in a ginormous jar.

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About 15 minutes later our lunch plates appeared with generous pieces of salmon atop creamy mash, and scattered with rocket. We’d forgotten to ask for our fillets to be cooked a bit rare, but nevertheless they were tasty and well complemented with the lemon, mash and rocket. Our waiter explained that they have a special deal with a fish shop in the shopping centre, so they can afford to offer some dishes at cheaper prices. I’ve paid $36 for a salmon fillet on its own at other eateries, with no discernible difference in the quality.

Egg and I were smugly pleased with our little find in suburbia. Where in Perth can you find a cooked lunch like this with a glass of wine for $20? Some places have the temerity to charge that for a sandwich. The dinner menu at Flinderz looked fine too – plenty of reasonably priced specials on different days. How can you beat $19 for 12 freshly shucked oysters and a glass of bubbles on Thursday nights?

https://www.facebook.com/Flinderz

Flinderz on Urbanspoon

Lentil as Anything in Abbotsford

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Brunch at Lentil as Anything segued into an extended tour for Prince and me around the Convent at Abbotsford. With sweeping grounds, beautiful old trees, several cafes, and buildings with long corridors of office spaces that were formerly nuns’ rooms, Abbotsford is a tranquil haven that seems miles from the madding crowd but is only a 15 minute bus ride from Lygon St. We walked off our brunch by exploring the buildings and the grounds, whiling away several lazy hours.

2015-03-09 00.01.25 The premise for Lentil as Anything is a benevolent one. You eat, pay what you can afford, and the money helps train and support those who need it the most. It also allows for people on lower incomes to enjoy a wonderful meal without blowing their budgets. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days a week, this place is a constant bustle inside and out, and the kitchen churns out a massive amount of vegetarian food. With plenty of indoor and outdoor seating, you can sit and enjoy the offerings prepared by the staff of (mainly) volunteers, and finish it off with a coffee or choice of chai teas.

2015-03-09 00.03.47 Breakfast is ordered off the menu, while lunch is buffet style. As we were finishing brunch, people were lining up at the bain maries for lunch. There were noodles, rice dishes, stir fries, various curries and even chocolate pudding.

2015-03-09 00.06.04 Outside the roti guys were grilling tofu on the bbq. We’d heard that the roti spinning was a performance worth watching, but sadly, we missed out on this.

2015-03-09 00.02.20 HRH and I hedged on our choices as they all sounded amazing. In the end we decided to share two dishes so we could sample as much as possible. Corn cakes with Tuscan beans and a fried egg was our first dish, and whilst the corn cakes were a teeny bit hard, they were tasty and the beans were rich and tomatoey. We did experience food envy when we saw several plates of the pancakes with caramel sauce and seared apple coming out, but isn’t this often the way?

2015-03-09 00.04.30 We were well impressed with our other dish of Sri Lankan farmer’s dosa with masala potato,  yoghurt raita and tomato chutney. Super, super delicious. The chick pea and rice flour dosa that enveloped the mildly spiced potato, was smothered in a creamy saffron-coloured yoghurt sauce and topped with a scrumptiously rich tomato chutney. The combo of all the flavours was superb; I’ve eaten many dosas before but this was outstanding.

2015-03-09 00.05.05 Lentil as Anything in Abbotsford serves food with heart, and dining here was a positive experience. Now with four branches in Melbourne, it’s wonderful that the locals support this brilliant and humane enterprise. Bring a book and sit for a few hours enjoying not just the food, but the serene surroundings of the convent. Or bring your pooch and your kids, and stretch yourselves out on the grass for a bit of a lie down after your breakfast indulgence. It’s a feel good experience all round.

“Lentil as Anything Mission: Caring for people: Provide a wholesome and nutritious meal where money is not a concern. Promoting Multiculturalism: Fostering an environment of inclusion and not exclusion. Reforming Society: Acting on the structures of society to restore justice. Extending/Spreading it’s ethos and values: Hiring volunteers, the long-term unemployed and the marginalised. Encouraging: Young people to be active citizens and get involved in community based initiatives.”

http://lentilasanything.com

Lentil As Anything on Urbanspoon

China Bar in Fitzroy

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After sampling a few bars along Brunswick St in Fitzroy,  we decided food was needed pretty quickly to soak up some of that hazy bar booze.  The menu at China Bar is broad Asian, without specialising in any one cuisine, the prices are super cheap and they serve a good collection of wine. Well really, as long as the food’s ok, what else matters? At the time none of us checked our faithful Urbanspoon online bible or we might have been dissuaded by the low score of this place, but in the end our dining experience was a positive one anyway.

I am a sucker for crispy skin chicken dishes, and this Hainanese one at $12.90 came with a bowl of broth, a huge bowl of  rice, chilli sauce and friend spring onions with ginger and garlic.  I added flavour to the rice by pouring in some of my broth a little at a time, and  voila! The chicken really was crispy and delicious and the accompaniments were perfect.

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Craig satisfied his noodle urge with an enormous $11.80 plate of fat yellow noodles with beef and vegetables.

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The teriyaki salmon with rice was Prince’s choice, and whilst he rated this dish as ok, he said the salmon was a tad overcooked and he would have liked more sauce for the rice to soak up. It was an enormous piece of fish though and for $13.80 he really wasn’t complaining.

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We lingered at China Bar for several hours over a few more lazy drinks. The service here was prompt, the food was excellent value, and its location in the heart of the busy Brunswick St precinct makes it easily accessible. This is a franchise chain with numerous branches in Victoria, and its low Urbanspoon rating really doesn’t match our experience.

http://chinabar.com.au

China Bar on Urbanspoon

Zambrero Northbridge

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As another chain in the mushrooming tex-mex food fad, Zambrero stands out somewhat because of its mission to alleviate hunger in the world. For every plate of food sold here, a plate of food is given to a person in need.  Fast and tasty, this franchise was the brainchild of young Melbourne entrepreneur, Dr Sam Prince. Since its humble beginnings in 2005, there are now more than 40 locations Australia-wide, including 11 in Perth.

Zambrero is a Quick Service Restaurant franchise that sells healthy Mexican food to support humanitarian projects in Africa, Asia and the Americas. Since being formed in 2005 by Dr Sam Prince, millions of meals have been provided to those living in poverty around the world through the Plate 4 Plate initiative.

Plate 4 Plate is Zambrero’s way of providing food to those in need. For every burrito or bowl purchased at Zambrero, a meal is donated through distribution partner Stop Hunger Now, which distributes food to those in the developing world. The menu is bold, modern Mexican, with burritos, tacos, nachos and quesadillas made with fresh ingredients and fresh ideas.”

The black rice powerbowl layered with black rice, refried beans and slow cooked chicken, and served with salsa and lettuce, was my choice and it went down a treat. A creamy chipotle sauce added some zest, but you can choose from six  herby or spicy sauces.

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The Prof tackled her giant burrito with gusto, but it was a bit tricky to eat and she had to resort to cutlery. I don’t know how you’d get mouth around this monster.

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The filling was the same as my rice bowl, and The Prof pronounced it a winner. Here’s a pic of the inside after The Prof had made some serious headway. The slow-cooked chicken was seriously good.

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This place give Guzman y Gomez a run for its money in the Tex-Mex stakes, but for me its mission statement gives Zambrero the edge. How can you not love something so altruistic? It’s cheap, fast and made with love for other human beings. Winner.

http://www.zambrero.com
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