Santa Fe.

I found photos on my phone. I know where they came from, but I am not sure of when. It has to have been in the last two months, but more detail than that I am sorry I cannot give you. I do, however, clearly remember the food!

Santa Fe is a little restaurant in Subiaco that does Mexicana. I have to say. I didn’t hold much hope for the quality. It is my experience that when you hear “mexican food” most people think of those disasterous things out of packages from the supermarket. While I have not had the pleasure of eating mexican food in its place of origin, I have had a Mexican cook for me, and it was an eye-opener to say the least. Such complexity of flavour, that I was not prepared for. One day, I hope to eat in Mexico. One day…

They have a happy hour (6-7pm – 2 for 1 margaritas and cocktails) most nights and Taco Tuesday ($2 tacos!!!). Taco Tuesday, for those who like their tacos, is a glorious thing to behold. They don’t make smaller or less filled tacos simply because it’s a “special”. They are just as good as any other day of the week.

But I get ahead of myself.

Santa Fe Buffalo Wings.

Buffalo Wings.

Start with the buffalo wings. Don’t question it. Just do it. They are deliciously sticky and just … delicious. Not too spicy, for those still coming to terms with spice and heat in food, but interesting enough to keep you wanting more. In fact, get more than one plate if you are sharing with a friend. You’ll need them.

You get six to a plate, with a generous amount of ranch sauce on the side. The greenery can be well and truly forgotten, but really, it’s the meat we’re all after, isn’t it? Trust me. Your taste buds will thank you for it.

Santa Fe Taco.

Santa Fe Tacos.

Now, the tacos come in the choices of shredded beef (my personal favourite), chicken and bean. I didn’t really like the bean mix when I had it last. I find that a lot of places tend to offer “vegetarian” options as an afterthought, but I would have expected a cuisine who has such an emphasis on beans to have something better than the usual. Sadly, this wasn’t it. The chicken is nice, but again lack luster. The shredded beef is where it is at. It’s moist, not overly-seasoned and melts in your mouth. Sadly, what actually lets these tacos down is the tomato and lettuce that accompanies the meat. The three times I have been, it has never been properly spun, so they do tend to go soggy if they sit for too long. Solution? Eat them up nice and quickly, don’t order too many at once. The staff are attentive enough that you could always wave them over and order more if you decide to.

I didn’t have any of the cocktails, though glancing at their alcohol menu, their list of tequilas would be something to work your way through. They have some very nice ones indeed. Perhaps that can be for another outing. Oh darn, looks like I’m having more buffalo wings some time in the future!

Establishment Details:

Santa Fe Restaurant and Tequila Lounge.

315 Hay Street,

Subiaco, W.A. 6008.

(08) 9381 2571

www.santaferestaurant.com.au/

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Spencer Village.

What’s that old saying? When you’re on to a good thing, stick to it? Yeah, I think that’s the one.

Spencer Village is one of those hidden treasures you will never stumble across by yourself. You have to be shown by one who knows.

It is, in essence, a food court with approximately 12 different vendors all vie-ing for your palate. Indonesian, Malay, Japanese, Indian, Singaporean, Kuala Lumpa style food. It’s so much choice you will find it difficult to make a decision. There are some stand-out dishes that you should try though.

The Dosai from the little paratha store tucked away in the rear left corner is lovely, as is the murtabak and the paratha and gravy (curry gravy, which is just the liquid).

Next to that vendor is one that you simply must try the Chai Tow Kway. It is a fried dish with a yam that is a little sweet, and just all round delicious.

There are more, but it was the murtabak and dosai that I really really was wanting when I went Sunday just passed.

Sadly, by the time we got there (just after lunchtime) they were all out of roti (various breads of India). This just goes to show that they do make it fresh, which means it’s lovely but also means that everyone wants it. Tip: get there earlier rather than later.

So, we ordered the prawn noodle soup from the Singapore food stand with the plate of dumplings, and later had the Chai Tow Kway. Yes. We were that hungry.

Now, this is not your usual food court. There are sections to sit in and there are only big long wooden tables. It is highly likely that if there are only one or two of you, you will be sharing your table with another party at some point. It is also a good idea to set one person to hold the table you want, and then others go and find their food. If you’re eating in, the vendor will want your table number (on a badge pressed into it) so they can deliver it to you. Then you can play tag with the person who was holding the table. If you do have a large group of people, it is a nice idea to get a handful of dishes to share. There are lots of them that lend themselves to this style of eating, rather than one person, one dish. It’s also a bit more social that way.

Spencer Village Singapore style roll.

Spencer Village Poh-Pia.

While we were waiting for the soup and dumplings to arrive, we went and got a Malaysian style roll called Poh-pia. It is quite similar to a vietnamese rice paper roll, but the wrapper is cooked and so the fresh ingredients inside are a little warmed through. also there is sauce in the inside, which means you don’t get the bit of taste, bit of no taste, that sometimes happens with vietnamese ones.

They were delicious. At first you think the wrapper might be a little dry, but when you have a couple more sections, and as the sauce inside starts to wet the ingredients, it all makes sense. I could have just had about ten of these. They are really lovely and fresh. Not too much sauce and you can really tell that the vegetables and meat inside are lovely and fresh.

As an entree this works really well. It gets the mouth watering just enough, but isn’t so powerful in flavour that the following dishes seem lacking. I can highly recommend them. And, as soon as I remember which stall they came from, I shall share with you. I blame my stomach for my forgetfulness! Sorry. 🙂 EDIT: they came from the dim-sum stall., as did the poh-pia.

Spencer Village Prawn Noodle Soup and Dumplings.

left: Prawn noodle soup. right: dumplings.

When the prawn noodle soup arrived, both myself and my dining partner were disappointed. The picture at the stall had looked so good, and while it wasn’t what we were initially wanting, it seemed like a good second choice dish. The picture had the soup looking nice and red with loads of prawn dust, plenty of large prawns and the broth looked lovely and spicy. What arrived, however, was bland, void of prawn dust and had two small prawns placed on top. The broth didn’t taste prawn-y to me and I found it all very … meh. The green vegetable was just large chunks obviously boiled in the broth, and the couple of slices of meat thrown in did nothing to lift the soup at all. It was rather disappointing indeed.

The dumplings were another dish that failed to make the grade. They weren’t bad, but they weren’t stellar. There was a pleasing sensation as you bit into the dumpling and the sauce exploded into your mouth. Beyond that, they were a bit blah. The wrapper was too thick and a bit chewy. The filling just wasn’t interesting. There was enough of them, that’s for sure. I guess if you were having these as a side with a nice spicy dish it would go better.

Spencer Village Char Kuey Teow.

Chai Tow Kway.

Disappointed with our “make-do” meal, we decided to get one of our fail-safes: the Chai Tow Kway. Gosh I love this dish. It’s fried. It’s sweet AND it’s a vegetable so you can make believe it’s healthy! I am not a fan of egg generally, but you barely notice it in this dish. It’s not spicy, but there is so much flavour you will be amazed. If you only ever try one dish at Spencer Village (and they’ve run out of roti at the Indian stand) then make it this one.

I shall periodically be trying other dishes from Spencer Village, in the hopes to try everything at least once. Don’t be too surprised if there is one giant post from a very stuffed Perth Amateur Food Critic in the not too distant future.

Establishment Details:

Spencer Village Food Court.

Spencer Road,

Thornlie, W.A. 6108

“Tick of Approval” Now More Credible.

Those who are aware of the PAFC’s real, non-superhero identity will know that she is NOT a fan of fast food. She thinks it is a waste of ingredients, not to mention incredibly poor for your health.

So when I stumbled across this article, I simply HAD to share it and my thoughts about it.

So, previously a company could approach the Heart Foundation and pay a sum of money in order to have their “Tick of Approval” placed on their food. This had been going on for five years, the first being a McDonald’s meal that was given approval for the Tick.

The main argument against the scheme is that it shields fast food outlets from actual.y making their food more healthy across the board. I completely agree with this argument, personally. Unfortunately, people are far too easily led into the false thinking that just because it has a picture saying it’s healthy, that must mean it is. Rather than checking the actual content statistics, a picture replaces real thought.

The Heart Foundation comes back at this notion by saying that they do actually check content and then have them independently checked in such fields as “…saturated fat, salt and kilojoules and making sure there is … healthier nutrients like calcium and fibre.” They also claim in the past 5 years, there have been big changes in awareness of healthier ingredients available to the fast food industry.

So what does this all mean to the average person looking for a healthier option?

For starters, it means you’ll have to be more aware of what it is you’re ordering. You will have to actually think about where it is you’re heading for food, their reputation for healthiness (I mean, let’s face it, NO ONE can say that fast food in general has the reputation of being truly healthy), and what your nutrition requirements (PDF)  actually are. In short, you’re going to have to think about your food. What a novel concept!

This means that fast food outlets are going to have to check their menu options and adjust them drastically if they still want the “health conscious” punters out there to buy their food. Mind you, I do think that people who go to fast food outlets looking for a healthy option are just kidding themselves in the first place.

In the end, we are all going to have to stop relying on little pictures to help us make educated food choices and start doing the real thinking for ourselves.

(Image Courtesy of The Heart Foundation : http://www.heartfoundation.org.au)

***UPDATE***

I was looking for further information I could post on here, as per the suggestions of one of my university tutor’s. I came upon the McDonald’s website  where you can plainly see that they are still advertising meals that are STILL marked with the Heart Foundation’s “Tick of Approval”. I have emailed the Foundation, asking how this can be if they have retracted the offer, but have not, as yet, heard anything back. Stay tuned dear reader. I shall find out what is going on with this.

Why You Should Read This Blog!

Do you eat food?

Do you sometimes venture out of your home to eat food?

Do you live in Perth, travel to Perth or want to travel to Perth?

Do you have general distrust for those critics that publish their critiques in newspapers, employing fancy language that doesn’t actually tell you about the food?

Do you want to see what food the most isolated city in the most isolated state of the most isolated country in the world has to offer?

THEN WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?!

This is the blog for you!

I don’t go out to “fancy restaurants” very often, but I do like to experience the food of Perth. I live here, so I am always on the look out for those hidden gems tucked away somewhere. What’s more, I like to share my findings with other people, in the hopes that I will turn them away from the fast food chains that encourage obesity and heart disease. It seems silly to me that you would choose deep fried, tasteless cardboard over something that actually resembles food sometimes in less time than the supposed “fast food” outlets!

You need to eat and if you live in Perth, it may seem that you are extremely limited for choice. We don’t have the cultural reputation of Sydney or Melbourne. This doesn’t mean we don’t have culinary treasures awaiting us. Even if it is known for one dish, wouldn’t you rather go to an eatery that you knew someone else had been to, you had seen a picture of the food on offer there, and had read that person’s honest critique of it and understood it? I know I would.

Sure there are other bloggers out there who cover the food of Perth. But I am covering solely food you can get to. I don’t talk about my food at home or a friend’s house. I am telling you of all those little places you might not try for yourself, but have always looked at wondering if anyone you knew had eaten there.

Let’s face it. You have to eat. Why not eat with a companion who has already been there and done that, so that you might enjoy it more?

Why?

I love food.

It is really that simple.

I don’t mean that I love it in the sense that I am always eating. If you loved to play a game, would you be playing it 24/7? No, but when you did play it you would enjoy it to the full. That is how I love food.

I enjoy the smells of food cooking and how they change as ingredients heat up or interact with other ingredients. I love the changes in colours that arise from cooking. Watching something as simply as onions change from white and palest green to a dark, caramelised brown. It’s hypnotising.

When you see the ingredients on the plate in front of you, – the raw egg, crisp vegetable, grains of salt, uncooked beef – transformed into something so vastly different… That is the magic of food. That is the wonder of it.

Lifting that first spoonful to your lips, sensing the heat coming off the food, smelling it, you feel the anticipation rise. Your mouth waters. You want it. You stomach gurgles in expectation. As soon as it hits your tongue, you become an active participant in that foods journey. Regardless of if you helped in its creation or not, you are now the vessel for the story of that dish. The textures play on your tongue. Hard and soft, cooked and raw, slimy and brittle.

It’s amazing how five flavours can be so very different when they play on each other. Sweet, bitter, sour, salt and umami. Each mouthful presents itself, awaiting your approval or displeasure. When one flavour is just the smallest bit out of balance with the others it is so very noticeable.

And this is why I have chosen food. The journey from infant to the grave is constantly crossed by amazing, and not so amazing, food. It seems wasteful of me to not share my experiences with others, in the hopes that they might share theirs with me. I want to show people that fast food chains are not the places to get their food, that there is so much more out there that deep fried, flavourless food. Our lives are so full of food, does it not stand to reason to revel in it and enjoy it to the full?

Tong 86.

Unfortunately, I have no images to share for this post. For some reason, they didn’t turn out properly on my iPhone. So, my apologies.

If you have never heard of Korean Barbeque, then you’ve been living under a rock. It’s been around for aaaaaaages in Perth. to the best of my knowledge, it started with Arirang on Perth’s Barrack Street, and has expanded from there into Victoria Park and now Northbridge.

Essentially, you are seated at a table with a strange looking pot in the middle of it. You make your order from a menu. Generally, it is meat with some sides,  like pickled cabbage and other vegetables. The waiter then turns on this pot in the middle of your table and takes your order to the kitchen, returning with uncooked meat and your sides. Yes, you guessed it. That pot in the middle of your table is where your meat is cooked.

Now, for someone like myself who likes their meat cooked to very specific standards, this is perfect. If you’re not aware of how quickly this method of cooking is, it may be a bit of a steep learning curve.

Tong 86 is a very large venue. There is a relatively large front dining area, but then there is an even bigger dining area downstairs. There are big screens playing K-pop, which makes the fan-girl in me happy.

The menu isn’t that extensive, and there are no pictures showing people unfamiliar with their meat what it looks like. The portion sizes are okay, though you have to order rice separately and I would have liked to have had more rice and sides. I realise I am not familiar with the quantities of food eaten in this style, but I did find room for going into Northbridge for ice cream after.

The pickled cabbage was nice, although a little cold for my liking. Actually, most of the sides were a little too cold, considering you were eating freshly cooked, straight off the grill meats.

Personally, I would probably not got here again, unless I had heard they had expanded their menu and fixed their portion sizes. The food was nice enough, but there was just not enough of it and I actually found it a bit pricey in view of that fact.

Establishment details:

Tong 86

86 Beaufort Street
Perth WA 6000

(08) 9227 9923

She’s Ba-ack…

That’s right, marking is over and I am allowed to regain control over the blog once more.

Thank you to everyone who helped make this blog what it is. You all helped me get a really high mark, so cheers!

Over the next couple of days, I shall be adding posts from the time that I couldn’t post, so they might be a little vague on the details. I try and make it as in depth as possible, but I ask you to please bear with me. My memory isn’t what it used to be…