Welcome to our latest content series, where discerning locals share their favourite food and drink experiences in Western Australia.
“The diversity in Perth’s dining scene really allows me to step out of my comfort zone and the food that I know.” From cheap and cheerful Indonesian canteens to 10-course tasting menus, Inex Palit dives into all that our great state has to offer with verocity. Sharing only the very best discoveries to her Instagram page Inexology has earned Palit, a marketing specialist, a loyal following of food-loving locals. In her WA, My Way guide, Palit spills on where she takes out-of-towners and the restaurants she believes deserve more time in the spotlight.
My Local Favourites
I’m based in West Perth and there’s one restaurant here that I really love. I keep going back to Noodle Inn whenever I need my comfort food. It’s been around for a very long time: I’ve been going there for more than 10 years. The laksa is so good. It’s a Singaporean laksa, so it’s a bit spicy and has a good kick to it. I usually choose a mix of rice noodles and egg noodles, and I like to ask for extra tofu, too, because it soaks up all of the flavour of the broth. I really love it. Another dish I like is the fish-ball noodle soup. It’s just a simple noodle soup but it’s very comforting.
Cherry and Grapes is in West Perth as well and it does a really good Japanese style soufflé. I love the pandan and kaya soufflé and another I’ve had and loved is the blueberry and cream cheese version. Cherry and Grapes also serves breakfast and lunch dishes, including a delicious pork belly and kimchi risotto. I live close to Watertown, and there’s a kebab place there called ISPA Kebabs. It’s just a normal kebab, but it’s always very filling and tastes very good. You always get a lot of meat on the kebab. It’s really nice.
The Restaurants I Always Return To
I think I’ve tried all of the Indonesian restaurants in Perth by now and definitely have my favourites. I love going to Manise Cafe, an Indonesian restaurant on William Street. I think they’ve been around for more than 22 years. They specialise in food from the south part of Sulawesi island in Indonesia or the city of Makassar itself. The grilled beef ribs (konro bakar) with peanut sauce are really good. I usually opt for that or the oxtail soup.
I also really like Totally Rendang in West Perth. They serve food in a similar way to a padang restaurant in Indonesia where you can choose whether you want a combination of meat and vegetables or just a specific dish, and they just put it on a plate and that becomes your rice combo. Their beef rendang is a little bit different to the Malaysian style: it’s a little bit drier and you can taste more coconut. They also do an excellent spicy fish curry with green chilli. Ah Beng Indonesia at Westfield Carousel is also great. They make such good grilled chicken and chicken sate, and I love the pandan cake. Another favourite is Batavia Corner in Victoria Park. Go for the deep-fried barramundi, the dumplings and the rissoles.
Another favourite is a local guy making martabak manis and selling it through his Instagram account Martabak Babang. You can order flavours like pandan or even red velvet. The chocolate filling with a pandan base is my favourite.
One more hit is Hifumiya. Daisuke Hiramatsu, the owner, is from Kurashiki, a town that’s super famous for its bukkake udon. At Hifumiya, the udon is always made freshly in house, with dried-fish dashi. It’s always so busy during lunch time, but if you get in, a must-try is the mentaiko bukkake udon, or the original.
My Latest Obsession
I’ve been to Cuccini Gelato maybe five or six times now. I always go for sorbet and the flavour is always changing depending on the season. I first had the strawberry, then I tried orange, the latest is pomegranate. They also have almond hōjicha and pistachio, and the tiramisù gelato is a must.
Where I Take Out-of-Towners
If I have friends or family visiting Western Australia, I take them to the Swan Valley. It has everything from wineries to places you can try local produce, and it’s only 40 minutes from the city. I really like Wild Swan restaurant at Mandoon Estate. It doesn’t get showcased in the media that often, but the quality of food coming out from the kitchen is truly amazing, and the staff are always attentive. Another favourite in the Swan Valley is Upper Reach Winery. I like the location and how you can have a picnic or sit in the alfresco area. It’s really relaxing.
My Favourite Under-the-Radar Restaurant
I recently rediscovered Formosa Cafe, a Taiwanese restaurant in Northbridge, thanks to Uber Eats. I think they were among the first doing bubble tea, which is a long time ago now. Everything is super affordable. One of my favourite dishes is the beef brisket rice. The fried pork chop with rice and onion, which is one of their most popular dishes, is really good too. I often see families with young children dining there, and it makes me think that some of the parents probably ate at Formosa when they were young, and now they can go with their own kids. It’s a really nice thought.
Where I Go to Celebrate
For something special, I’d go to Twenty Seats. Everything on the 10-course menu is really beautiful. The chef, Todd Stuart, is always coming up with something new and the quality never goes down. It’s fine dining, but it feels casual and comfortable; I feel like it’s so perfect for the price that people pay. Stuart always tries to put a spotlight on seasonal ingredients, whether it’s meat or vegetables. I think that’s very important. It’s also educating people while at the same time allowing people to enjoy their food.
Otherwise, I love the Rusty Fig, an upscale restaurant on St Georges Terrace. It serves modern Australian food, and it’s always a winner. Don’t skip the chocolate and burnt orange soufflé for dessert.
My Ideal Weekend Getaway
I always want to visit Albany, especially in winter when for me, the weather is perfect. The coastline there is very beautiful. I visit the ANZAC museum to bring me back down to Earth and I love going to Albany Farmers Market on Saturday. And of course, I love Liberté. I always get the dessert with Vietnamese coffee ice cream and of course the crab noodles. It’s so, so good. Another great place in Albany is Bred Co. It’s quite a small bakery and I found out about it because they did a pop up at the Albany Farmers Market. I decided to go there before I drove back to Perth one day and I got some of the sausage rolls. I ate two because they’re just so good. The dessert pastry is also amazing.
What You Can’t Leave WA Without Trying
If people love seafood, they should visit Western Australia. There’s a place near Jurien Bay that serves really good lobster called Lobster Shack. I usually go for grilled lobster with garlic butter. There’s also a really good fish and chip shop in Albany called Ocean and Paddock. You can have different fish, from snapper to dhufish and whiting. I usually get battered fish and it’s always juicy and very fresh. I don’t know how they do it so well without destroying the flavour.
If I’m going back to my hometown or visiting friends, I like to bring an apple strudel from Corica Pastries in Northbridge. It’s still the best. I love how the apple is still a little bit crunchy and the pastry is always fluffy and flaky. It also looks really impressive.
A Local Product That’s Always In My Pantry
Actually this is a little bit different, but I really love my liquid mushroom. There is a family that lives in Denmark and they have a business called Touchwood Mushrooms. The owner is always at the Albany Farmers Market promoting the benefits of mushrooms and the different types of mushrooms that can help you with the immune system, improving focus and everything else. So one day I thought I would try the 7 Blend liquid, which has seven different types of mushroom, and I really noticed the difference. Normally in the afternoon I get really tired but the lion’s mane mushroom really helps me to stay focused and awake. I just add a few drops to my coffee every morning.
Follow Inex Palit at @inexology
Interview: Jessica Rigg