The tapas phenomenon is one I am in complete and utter support of. It appeals to that innate nature in the best of us of socialising and sharing – information (aka gossip) and food. It’s like sitting down at a family Sunday dinner, with piles of plates before you and warm smiles to accompany the meal.
Yes, it’s safe to say that tapas has taken over Perth (and Melbourne when I was there a few months ago) by storm. And while it is technically evolved from Latin and Mediterranean descent, it suits almost every type of cuisine. In particular (and I don’t mean yum cha or dim sum), Asian flavoured foods.
It sparkles on your palate, and offers to you a chance to step into a new world. A place with a plethora of exotic spices, ingredients and dishes that you wouldn’t usually go to the effort to prepare yourself, no matter how much you love to cook (which I do). That is one of the reasons Kitsch Bar gets it so right.
From the same people responsible for the incredible Ria, Kitsch sits on Oxford Street in Leederville. The decor is eclectic Asian, with soft lighting and couches thrown around seemingly haphazardly as the customers frequenting this spot laze about under the shadows of the courtyard trees and strings of lights. The smells are heavenly; aromatics floating on the wind and wafting under your nose temptingly.
It’s Linda’s turn to choose our ‘family dinner’ location on this occasion, and I’m so happy she’s chosen here. Though it’s a Thursday night, it’s packed out (luckily we’d booked) and we’re escorted to one of the lounge suites in the outside eating area. It’s a prime seating position and we follow the hopscotch path eagerly, our eyes darting about to eye everyone’s beautiful cocktails and food.
I’m actually a little upset that since I’m sick and won’t be having one of those amazing sounding drinks that are a very reasonable $12. You never get cocktails for that price anywhere these days in Perth! But I have my orange juice and that’s vibrantly fresh and zingy – so I’m definitely a happy camper as the night kicks off.
We peruse the menu for some time, narrowing down a few dishes on the menu that call out to us even though there’s so many that sound amazing. It’s easy to see that while this is Asian tapas style eating, it’s very reminiscent of the type of food you’d find on the side streets or night markets overseas – only much more refined.
Our dining experience starts off with Sesame Prawn Toast with Ponzu Sauce & Japanese Mayo ($9.80). This has wow factor and is a far cry from the prawn toast you’ll find on your local Chinese restaurant’s menu. It’s four long fingers of toast, with actual chunks of prawns sandwiched in between. A squeeze of lemon juice brings out that seafoody taste and it has to be highlighted just how great it tastes when dunked in that Kewpie mayonnaise (my weakness). It actually surprises me just how amazing this dish is.
The scallops were added as a last minute addition as we tossed up between them and the ocean trout. For four people, it’s a very small dish ($9 from memory). The three scallops have been seared to a beautiful golden brown and left a top of chilli jam and what I think was avocado (looks like it!). It was hard to tell any flavours except that chilli jam because it was so intense. But the taste was lovely and I do enjoy my seafood. However the price was a bit steep for what we got compared to similar priced dishes.
The final dish of our dinner was one we’d been excited about eating all night. However, it was also one that highlighted to us that while the food here tastes incredible, the service is not what we would have hoped for.
Our waiter, while attentive with topping up our water, didn’t write down our orders (which always makes me nervous), and we had to ask for our pork belly three times. It still didn’t come. Finally I grabbed a different server and asked him, telling him politely that we’d been waiting over an hour for it to come – which is pretty damn disappointing. Sure enough it was on our table within minutes and we were informed by our sullen original waiter that it had been taken off our bill. While it wasn’t the ideal situation to have to continually chase it up, I’m really happy with how they handled it in the end.
Thank god we made the decision not to cancel or swap it for something else. It is just so… I don’t have words. It’s two chunks of pork belly that are fatty and meaty and melt in your mouth. There’s a hot and sour salad on the side that is coriander heavy and is wonderfully aromatic. And then that crackling – it is everything it should be. It’s crunchy and decadent and oh so rich. I feel like I’m betraying my body with every bite but it’s definitely worth it!
Since we’ve attacked each dish with the rice on hand ($3.80 per person), we’re actually getting pretty full – though we could sit here forever and pick away since the ambience is so wonderful. And while we consider ordering dessert in the form of passionfruit parfait, our waiter leaves the menu with us for about half an hour and we’re soon over it and our tummies are thankful for the respite from eating.
Kitsch Bar is smart. It’s funky and it’s relevant. I can say these things without even contemplating rolling my eyes at my own words. It’s the sort of place that I know I will be back time and time again, and probably never tire of the food. It’s everything you want, and so much more – especially the way it sends me in my mind back to my month of travelling through Vietnam, Hong Kong, Malaysia etc with Linda at the start of the year, and our nights walking down the streets with sticks of food in our hands. It can’t get much better than that.