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I was super excited to be invited to dine at Gaya by chef and owner Leo, as I’d never been to a modern Korean restaurant before, and because it meant I didn’t have to feel embarrassed about taking photos of my food. What good timing then that I was recently loaned a new camera to play with – the Sony DSC-RX100M3. The things that excited me most on first inspection were:
1) the wifi capabilities so photos can be directly transferred to a smart device and uploaded onto Facebook or a blog,
2) the swivelling screen for taking selfies (obviously an Asian designer), and
3) the “gourmet setting” which “shoots food to look delicious” (definitely an Asian designer!) I kid you not, that is what it literally says on the camera.
As some of my favourite things in life include food, photography and photographing food, naturally I was dying to see whether this “gourmet” function really lives up to its claim. So it was with great glee that I brought this new toy along to Gaya with me.
I wish I’d known to take a before photo. As we were seated at our table, I noticed what looked like 2 tablets in a small dish. Salt? After dinner mints? Before dinner mints? Before I even had a chance to ask, the waitress had poured water over the “tablets”, cheerfully informing us that they were handtowels for us to freshen up before our meal. Neat, and what a lovely touch!
Complimentary appetisers were brought out while we perused our menu. On the left is some sort of crispy cheese that wasn’t bad but didn’t wow me either. The lightly pan fried rice cakes on the right went down a real treat, though. The flavour was light and subtle, but as usual I was won over by textural contrasts – a crispy shell and chewy core moistened with just the right amount of tangy creamy sauce with little sesame seeds providing an extra layer of texture and flavour.
We both thought the chicken was texturally perfect, having a crispy and light coating of batter. Being deboned, they were also easy to eat. The sauce had very intense sweet, salty and slightly spicy flavours which all worked well together, but there was just too much of it, overpowering the chicken pieces and making the dish a little too rich for my liking. Just a tad less sauce would have made for a much better dish, in my opinion.
Know what all that extra sauce was good for, though?
You guessed it – the pancake. This was my preferred entree between the 2. The pancake at Gaya is packed full of seafood and vegetables, providing a delicious light flavour combination as well as lovely crunchy and chewy textures without too much doughiness. The dipping sauce was a little on the spicy side for me, and I preferred the stickiness of the sauce over the chicken, leading me ultimately to pair the pancake with that sauce instead.
For my main meal, I simply could not go past the pork belly which had been cooked sous vide for 36 hours and was served with a chive salad, pumpkin potato purée, roast cinnamon apple and soybean paste. This proved to be a fabulous choice. It was instantly obvious that the pork had been cooked to perfection when I tried to cut a piece off for my friend to taste and the meat simply flaked off. Sure enough, it was melt in your mouth tender. The chive salad provided an element of crunch and freshness, while the pumpkin potato purée added creaminess and sweetness. The soybean paste brought a touch of spice, and I thought it was very thoughtful that this was served to the side, so that those who do not like spice can simply avoid it. The only element on the dish that slightly jarred in my opinion was the apple. While I understand the combination of pork with apple sauce, I did not think this dish needed it as there was already sweetness from the purée. Furthermore, the strong cinnamon flavour reminded me too much of apple pie, and I personally am not fond of dessert flavours in main meals and vice versa. No biggie though, this was just a small component of this dish that could easily be left to one side if desired.
My friend ordered the ribs with daikon salad rolls, potato egg salad and coconut rice. The ribs were very tasty but slightly dry, though the salad rolls did bring a much needed touch of freshness and moisture to the dish. The rice was very fragrant.
Both of us opted for the red misu for dessert, a homemade tiramisu with red bean paste. Looking around, this seemed to be the most popular dessert, and for good reason! The rock-like pieces on top are actually small pieces of chocolate. Beneath them lies a layer of chocolate biscuit crumble followed by layers of mascarpone cheese and coffee soaked sponge biscuits with red bean paste swirled through. The combination may sound slightly odd, but it actually works. I’d come back just to eat this dessert again, though next time I’d probably share it, as it does get a bit rich towards the end.
The waitresses were friendly, helpful and attentive in filling our glasses of water as required. The dishes came out quickly and the time interval between each course was perfect.
Gaya has a nice relaxed vibe with ample lighting to please all those people who love taking food photos and enough spacing between tables so that it doesn’t get too crowded or noisy. For those who like to touch up their makeup after a meal, you’ll find thoughtfully provided in the ladies’ a small dish of hair ties, cotton buds, and even a bottle of mouthwash with a stack of disposable small cups.
At first glance, the prices seem fairly standard for Perth, but when the dishes come out, you’ll see that it’s actually pretty good value for money as the portion sizes are quite ample! I would probably have been happy to share an entree and dessert, but then again, the $45 3 course option is too good value to pass up. Maybe come hungry or bring someone with a large appetite!
Closed Mondays and Tuesdays
5.30-10pm Wednesdays and Thursdays
11.30am-2.30pm and 5.30-10pm Fridays-Sundays
Applecross Arcade, Shop 3 and 4, 3 Kearns Crescent, Ardross
If you’re turning left off Canning Hwy onto Riseley Street (headed towards Booragoon Shopping Centre), it’s a right turn into the arcade of shops that include Gelare, amongst other eating spots – there’s plenty of parking around
I really enjoyed my meal tonight and would definitely return to try some of the other dishes, like the japchae and the other pork belly dish.
Thanks to Leo and the team for hosting my friend and I, however my opinion is entirely my own and unbiased.
What do you think? Does this new camera take better pictures than my previous food photos taken on my iPhone?
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