After a six hour drive from Kalgoorlie, unpacking the car and driving out to the airport to pick up the young man (he spent six nights with us in Perth before heading back home to start University), a quick meal was in order. I envisaged we would be tired and hungry on our first night in Perth and had printed a menu from Sri Melaka's website so we could pick up some take away food on our way back from the airport to the rental house. Sri Melaka vegetarian restaurant was one of the recommendations Steph suggested when I mentioned my travel plans to Perth. Steph formerly lived in Perth and is now based in Melbourne, so I used her blog as one of my resources for seeking out vegan food.
Sri Melaka’s menu is Malaysian styled Nyonya cuisine predominately based on mock meat. It was difficult to choose from a large number of dishes as they all sounded fantastic. We ordered Chicken Kapitan, Kangkong Belacan and two of our favourite dishes Mee Goreng noodles and Lamb Rendang. The Chicken Kapitan contained chunks of mock meat and potatoes in a very spicy coconut curry gravy, the Lamb Rendang was 100% mock meat in a thick spicy coconut paste. Mee Goreng had a combination of vegetables, mock prawns and possibly some other form of mock meat I couldn’t identify and the Kangkong was Asian water spinach stir fried with chillies and mock shrimp paste. Every single dish was very spicy and our noses were running by the end of the meal. No-one could pick a favourite as we thoroughly enjoyed them all. I’ve been to a few Asian mock meat restaurants around Melbourne but none of them have managed to serve up food as delicious as this! It cost a little over $50 and there were enough leftovers to provide the three of us with a light lunch so it was also very good value.
After reading about the Thai Vegan stall located at the Fremantle markets on Happy Cow, I put it high on my must visit list. I’ve travelled to Thailand a couple of times and haven’t been able to enjoy Thai food in Melbourne restaurants since. A reviewer on Happy Cow piqued my interest by mentioning that the food was that best they had eaten outside of Thailand. The stall is open on market days (Friday to Sunday) and is managed by two lovely women who were run off their feet pounding fresh herbs and spices, stir-frying and preparing fresh salads in addition to taking many orders. There are only a couple of seats to eat at the stall but there is a park nearby as well as plenty of benches in the surrounding streets.
In addition to a few precooked deep fried snacks, the menu is largely based on Thai salads, soups and noodle dishes (priced between $7 - $11). The man had left me to organise our food while he waited outside with Ollie and the young man ventured off to eat whatever he pleased. Salads are usually not popular with the man yet I recalled that he enjoyed the ones we ate in Thailand and boldly ordered a Larb salad, two spicy tofu sticks and a Pad Se Ew noodles. Somehow I managed to order an extra noodle dish which may have been due to the noise level in the markets and my substandard hearing. The amount of heat can be varied to your personal taste so I ordered all of our meals to be spicy.
The spicy tofu sticks ($3 each) consisted of three triangular pieces of crispy tofu on skewers, they were slightly disappointing as they didn't live up to their name in the spice department yet they were tasty enough to enjoy as a starter. The Larb salad was made up of lettuce, spinach, carrot, green papaya and cucumber topped with soy mince and was bursting with fresh flavours of lemongrass, chilli, coriander, mint and lime. It reminded us of the fantastic salads we had eaten in Thailand and I was thrilled that my brave selection turned out to be a success. Pad Se Ew was full of an assortment of vegetables (cauliflower, broccoli, carrot, cabbage and bean sprouts) as well as nicely seasoned tofu and lovely wide rice noodles. I think the extra noodle dish was called Rad Na, it had the same vegetables, tofu and noodles as Pad Se Ew yet it contained more sour flavours and it was spiciest dish of the lot. We loved both of the noodle dishes although the man said that the Rad Na was verging on being too spicy for him.
Perth is fortunate to have a couple of Loving Hut restaurants which are located a suburb apart from each other. Loving Hut at Victoria Park is open for lunches (Wednesday to Sunday) and weekend breakfasts and East Victoria Park is open for dinners (Wednesday to Sunday). I had looked at both of their online menus and after mentioning to the man that there was an opportunity to eat pizza with vegan cheese he was super keen to drive across and get some take away food.
The menu begins with Asian entrees, mains are a combination of Asian meals, pasta dishes and pizza. They also offer a range of desserts and like all of the stores in the Loving Hut chain, everything on the menu is vegan. We were in the mood for pizza and pasta, the entrees also sounded great so we ordered way too much food! The spring rolls and samosas were both good but it was the crispy bites (above) that were the most popular starter. These pieces of mock meat coated in a slightly spicy batter and deep fried may not have been the healthiest choice but boy did they taste good! I've been requested to pull out the deep fryer and recreate this at home one day.
While the vegan pizza had been a draw card, it ended up to be slightly disappointing. The base wasn't great, it was thin but the edges were not rolled out evenly and it was unlike a base you would get from a pizza shop. The vegetable toppings of capsicum, mushrooms, spinach and pineapple were fine but there was a scant quantity of Notzarella cheese covering them. By the time we demolished this amount of food we were too full to tackle the pasta dishes and put them aside for next days lunch. We enjoyed ravioli with a tomato based sauce and I was less impressed with spaghetti carbonara with mushrooms as I thought the sauce had a weird flavour but the man seemed to enjoy it. Loving Hut's strengths may be in their Asian meals given the success we had with the entrees. We paid $64 for three entrees, a pizza and two pasta dishes which was pretty good value.
|Beautiful dog beach at Swanbourne which had a clear blue sky every day|
The Naked Fig in Swanbourne boasts a lovely view across the ocean and was on our daily walking route from our accommodation to the closest dog beach. It is one of three trendy restaurants in Perth, their other locations are in Swanbourne and Fremantle and each of them has a dedicated vego night. We ordered take away soy lattes (with extra shots of coffee) from The Naked Fig twice after early morning swims. We decided not to return as the wait times were 15 minutes one day, over 20 minutes the following day and the coffees were very weak and milky, apparently made with St Ali coffee beans from Melbourne. It was a shame as The Naked Fig had a vegan breakfast on their menu and veggie burgers with vegan options for lunch and dinner.
|Ollie waiting for the ball to be thrown in the ocean (yet again)|
There were several other eateries I had wanted to visit but was most disappointed that we didn't make it to Heavenly Plate in Applecross as Kari's pre-wedding high tea sounded amazing as did Steph's dining experience there. The man spent half of his childhood growing up in Perth and was astounded by the amount of vegan food that is on offer these days. Vegans who are planning a trip to Perth should check out the following blogs for heaps of food options around town: Vegan4Life, Bite Sized Thoughts, vegan about town and Vegan Sparkles as well as Happy Cow.