Friday, May 23, 2014

Having only been blogging for a short time I was very excited to have received an email from Chef Leo, Owner of The Gaya in Applecross.

He invited my Hubby and I along to dine at his restaurant in return for an honest review. He also mentioned to me that his restaurant serves Modern Korean Cuisine - something I've never experienced before, so I was very curious and booked a table on a Thursday Evening.

Based NOR we drove 45 mins through peak hour traffic and arrived a bit late. I was surprised to find an empty restaurant but figured most diners would pile in later as it was still early in the evening.

I've read that The Gaya is BYO and that gave us a chance to bring a bottle of Forest Hill 2013 'The Broker' SBS which I thought would go well with both our meal choices. We were quickly seated by the friendly waitress who quickly put our bottle on ice and gave us our menus.

After not too long the waitress arrived to take our order and served us with complimentary Starters which consisted of fried rice pancake and fried cheddar cheese with a dot of a sweet type sauce. Everyone receives this complimentary starter and also a small side dish before your mains arrive, though they change what is served each time, its great to try something you haven't ordered!

For Entrée we ordered the Beef Cream Roll, asparagus, inoki mushroom, capsicum, cucumber and cream cheese wrapped in a thin layer of beef, grilled and served with Gaya special sauce. This dish was fantastic, the sauce was salty and sweet and the creaminess of the thin, tender beef with the cheese was a great combination. It was almost like a beef stir fry in a roll! My hubby would have picked these up and eaten them like a spring roll if he was at home!

Crumbed Oysters were another one of our entree's and this is the first time I've tried a cooked oyster. Crispy crumbed, almost panko-like and deep fried these were crunchy and fishy and served with a Sumac Mango Red Onion Salsa.

I've read a few reviews from other bloggers and regular diners on Urbanspoon and knew I'd join the pack and order the 36 Pork for one of our mains, a signature dish for The Gaya. 36 Hour sous vide pork belly, served with Sweet Potato Puree, Korean Chive Salad, Sumac Spiced Apples and a Soy Bean Paste Sauce topped with Red Onion, Radish and Crispy Garlic.

The Pork was lovely and tender, not dry like some slow cooked pork belly can be. The sweet potato puree along with the Apples married well with the pork and the Soy Bean paste sauce tasted a lot like tamari which added a nice contrasting earthiness to the traditional pork and apples.

Beef Bulgogi was the other Main, this Beef type soup was served with a Sticky Rice and Sweet Chilli Sauce in separate bowls. The beef was sliced very thinly and was tender in the hot, sweet n salty broth with Rice Noodles and was topped with Inoki Mushrooms and Spring Onions.

Before our mains came out we were served another lovely complimentary course each which were 2 little plates with 3 small items, one of them being a Spicy Pickled Celery, Yellow Radish and a Zucchini Korean Pancake. My Hubby loved the Celery, it was still crunchy and was sour and spicy.

By now we've shared 2 Starters, 2 Entree's, 2 Mains ,2 Side dishes and a Bottle of wine so we opted to order a Red Misu and 1 Chocolate Pave.

The Red Misu was smaller than I expected and was beautifully presented, almost like you shouldn't eat it! A Tiramisu with added Red Bean Paste presented in a Cute little Pot complete with Chocolate 'soil', chocolate 'rocks' and a green leaf. We wasted no time (after photos) and got stuck in, and I immediately noticed the Baileys and then the Red Bean Paste. With 3 spoons eating this, it was gone quick! I think I should have ordered 2!

Chocolate Pave was 3 handmade truffle-like chocolate squares differently flavoured being 'Wholemeal' 'Green Tea' and 'Cacao' presented beautifully and topped with 24 Carat Gold Leaf. Call me crazy but the Green Tea Flavour brought out the flavour of the Crumbed Oysters I had for Entrée! Strange...........

The Gaya offer a $45 Set Menu and also a la carte. They're open for Dinner Tuesday - Sunday and Saturdays for Lunch.

The menu, I found, had variety, was reasonably priced with generous servings and if you choose to BYO it can be an inexpensive night out trying Modern Korean Fusion Cuisine.

They're also in this years Entertainment Book which offers 25% off up to $30, great value!

The stand out for me was definitely the yummy Beef Cream Roll.

I dined as a Guest of The Gaya in return for an honest review. This is the first time I've received an invite to dine anywhere.

The Gaya Applecross on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

I was soooooooooo excited to have been chosen as the 1 in 4 top finalists for the Great Southern Region in the search for WA's Signature Dish.

WA Signature was a competition held by Buy West Eat Best showcasing 4 of the many regions in Western Australia being Perth & surrounds, Great Southern, Southern Forests and the Gascoyne.

From the Buy West Eat Best Website you could choose any 1 of the regions and the ingredients listed and produce a dish you'd think would be crowned WA's Signature Dish.

I chose Mt. Barker Free Range Chicken Breast from the Great Southern Region as the main component in my dish.

I chose to butterfly the breasts, on top of some layered prosciutto with spinach leaves on top then rolled them up. Served with a grilled vegetable stack of sweet potato, zuchinni and potato, some grilled WA tiger prawns and a creamy white wine butter sauce.

Living in Perth I was a bit overwhelmed with the cook off being a 4 hour drive from my home in the lovely town of Denmark. "just do it" hubby said "it's a great opportunity and you've put so much effort into it". Who was I to disagree! I felt on top of the world being asked to re-create my dish in a commercial kitchen of Pepper & Salt Restaurant at Forest Hill Winery with Chef Silas Masih as the Head Chef.

I was lucky to cook off against 3 lovely Ladies, and although I didn't win, a fantastic winning dish was produced. Well done Clare with her Celebration of Beef Fillet Thai Style, using fantastic WA Butterfield Beef.

I was lucky enough to meet Rob Broadfield, Perth Restaurant Critic and Editor the of West Australian Good Food Guide. It was so funny, i'd say to people 'I met Rob Broadfield.....!!" and they'd look at me with a blank look 'who's he?' I guess you'd only know if you were a foodie. Sigh. Follow Rob on Twitter!


Anyhoo, being down in Denmark and having to cook off on the Monday, we decided to book ourselves in for a nice Lunch at Pepper & Salt Restaurant on the Sunday before, mainly to calm my nerves and get a 'feel of the place I'd be cooking off in the next day!

The views at Forest Hill/Pepper & Salt are amazing!! Rolling hills, high and low and rows and rows of vines. Some being the oldest vines in WA!

Walking into the restaurant, its very open and has windows all the way around to take in the stunning views. We were also impressed to find they had a kids menu and crayons for our daughter to keep herself occupied with.

We chose a bottle of Forest Hill 'The Broker' SBS, which was lovely and dry and paired with both our dishes well.

We decided to give an entrée a miss and so my hubby chose The Scottsdale marron, shiitake mushroom water chestnut dumpling with bacon hock broth for his mains.

The marron slid right out of the shell and my hubby said the bacon hock broth was very flavoursome and satisfying.

I decided to go Chef Silas' chilli coconut prawns, curry leaf and kang kong in vermicelli rice noodles. The prawns were butterflied and perfectly cooked. The sauce spicy but nothing too hot, reminded me of a Laksa!

I've never heard of kang kong before and loved the fact Silas has put a 'glossary' of cooking terms and ingredients on the menu some people might not be familiar with. Turns out Kang kong is a highly nutritious water spinach that can eaten cooked or raw.

We all shared a Sour cherry and dark chocolate pudding with chocolate anglaise and a sour cherry and chocolate parfait. YUM!

After lunch we went downstairs the Wine Tasting Room and talked to Cellar doorman Lee who was very helpful in helping us choose some bottles to take all that way home to Perth!


We tasted a few reds and whites and came home with The Broker SBS, Cabernet Merlot and a fantastic 2012 Reisling, which I can say is the BEST wine I have drank to date! It was a fab light, dry tasting drop. I'm on the hunt for a stockist in Perth.

With our bottles in hand we walked around to the vege garden and out on the grassy fields to take more photos.

Lunch was great and being involved in the Competition was an amazing experience!!

Pepper & Salt Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Watch The WA Signature Dish Story Here! Part 1

Read The Write Up On Yahoo for WA's Signature Dish - Great Southern Region