Saturday, September 17, 2016

Perth

September 11-15, 2016


After a week in Fukuoka, I'm now reporting from Perth! It's been 9 years since I explored this city in any meaningful way, although Michael stopped in just last year. My work commitments had me located right in the city centre, eating lots of in-house catering but allowing a bit of time to wander about and seek more exciting veg options. Here are four of those.
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I had Sunday to recover from my travel and prep for a busy week ahead. Most of Perth seemed to be in recovery mode too - the streets were quiet, although a smattering of burger joints were well attended! I was tempted to join in when I saw haloumi burgers filing out of the Little Bird Cafe kitchen, but I satisfied myself with their more conventional brunch menu. It reminded me of Melbourne's Glass Den, where meat-based dishes sit alongside green brekky bowls, maca-spiked almond milk smoothies and raw vegan cakes.


I took on their signature vegan buckwheat pancake ($20), which was listed to include banana, coconut and cashew cream. I was thrilled to get a lot of other fruits besides, although I preferred not to eat the greenery. The pancake was lovely, just a little crispy on the outside and cakey in the middle, primed to soak up some maple syrup. Although there was a lot going on, the plate was lacking a little depth - I would have welcomed a hint of bitterness, sourness or charring to round everything out. Nevertheless I was very happy to be eating a variety of gorgeous fruits in a friendly, bustling cafe.
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Michael recommended that I seek out Utopia in Northbridge for some mock meat and bubble tea. It's set back from the James St footpath, but once found proves to be an enormous cafe with dozens of menu items, as well as fridges stocked with mock meats and desserts that you can take home with you. The menu includes photos of every dish - noodles and soups, stir-fries, sizzling plates and, to my surprise, fish and chips.


Overwhelmed and seeking to narrow my options, I focused on the cheap Chef's Specials which come with a serve of rice. The sweet & sour chicken rice with crispy chicken ($11.50) was pretty standard and over-sweet, although there's always some illicit pleasure in eating a main dish with pineapple (*pulls face at Michael*). My lychee tea with aloe vera ($5) was equally fun and sugary - I really brought that on myself.
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I noticed Indonesia Indah very close to my hotel, and promised myself I'd pay them a visit when I saw tempe listed on their menu out front. Unfortunately it was no longer included on their up-to-date manu inside, but there remained a dozen other veg-friendly dishes.


I picked out the sauteed tofu with egg ($11.90) and added some steamed rice ($2.50). The fried tofu pieces were served in a thin, tangy gravy the held wisps of egg, sauteed onions and tender green vegetables; it was all scattered with golden fried shallots. I was confused to see few other customers enjoying this great food, but perhaps it's more popular at lunch time.
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On my final night in the city I walked beyond Utopia to Lotus Vegetarian, which I'd enjoyed in 2007. I unintentionally but fortuitously entered its sibling restaurant Sri Melaka, which serves Malaysia vegetarian foods. There's also a neighbouring vegetarian grocery, closed at night, to round out the business triplet.


Here I chose a small but rich plate of roti paratha and chicken kapitan ($11). The two rotis were piping hot and fried to flaky perfection, perfect for dipping into the oily curry. The medium-spiced curry bowl had plenty of diced mock chicken and just one wedge of potato. Sour pickled vegetables were a welcome contrast, although they added another layer of chilli. Thank goodness for aloe vera juice!
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These Perth meals made for fun mini-escapes during my work week. It's been a relief to clock off entirely since then - stay tuned for holiday eats next.

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