Disclosure: 50% off the meal courtesy of the restaurant
Perth’s restaurant scene just keeps on evolving and a newish addition is The Gaya Applecross, a contemporary Korean fusion based restaurant. I was fortunate to receive an invitation from the restaurant to visit but had to put that on hold while I prepared for my trip to New Zealand. After getting back home and getting back into the groove, I took up the generous offer to book a visit for dinner on a Saturday night. I haven’t eaten all that much Korean food apart from the odd Korean BBQ restaurants in the Perth CBD and maybe along Barrack Street so I was interested to sample some Korean fare.
The restaurant has a lovely pleasant setting with a smart modern layout but retains the character and style of Korea. Gaya was very busy and was fully booked out. Several patrons stopped by without a booking and were asked to return some 2hrs later. Around 7pm there wasn’t a spare seat in the house, such is the popularity. After having a look at the menu, we decided to order a range of dishes to share to get more variety. After placing our orders for some entrees and mains, a few appetisers were brought out.
Appetiser #1: Fried Cheese
The fried cheese was rather interesting. It kind of resembles when you melt cheese but it goes hard and a bit crunchy. The cheese flavours appears to intensify in the crisp and kind of airy crisp cheese. Quite tasty.
Appetiser #2: Crispy Rice Pancake
The crispy rice pancakes were very unique. They’re reasonably thick but not heavy. The crunchy outer crumb somehow hides a rice based pancake which tastes delicious with the addition of the spicy sauce.
For the first entree, I had a taste of the crab croquettes which had a delicious golden crumbed batter encasing a juicy crab mixture with a sauce like thousand island.It didn’t seem particularly Korean to me apart from the sauce but it tasted delicious so who cares!
Kimchi Cheese Jijimi
Korean traditional style pancake made with flour, vegetable and homemade kimchi topped with cheddar cheese
You can’t go to a Korean restaurant and not try one of their specialities, kimchi. From the menu, there seemed to be several rice pancake type dishes combined with kimchi so I chose the kimchi cheese jijimi. The jijimi is a rice pancake fried and topped with Asian finely cut veggies, the pickled spiced cabbage – kimchi, and melted cheese with a lovely sauce. This was really unique and delicious. It’s kind of like a pizza but Korean style.
Korean traditional dish pan fried sweet potato noodle, stir fried various vegetables and beef wrapped by rice paper with Korean mustard
Japchae is a kind of glutinous rice cake stuffed with a mixture of spiced Asian veggies and deep fried. Another rather unique dish. It’s crunchy on the outside and yet contains a delicious stuffing of stir fried veggies. The sauces used in the dishes really combine well to lift the dish to another level. It’s quite tasty too.
Stewed scallop, prawn, fish and squid with vegetable in hot pot topped dried bonito served with crunch sticky rice
Seafood stew on a cold winters day this is just the dish to sit down too. Warm and soothing broth packed full of seafood cooked to perfection. Plenty of tender calamari, plus fish, prawns, and scallops to savour. The salad on top is kind of interesting too.
36hours sous vide cooked pork belly with sweet potato puree, Korean chives salad, glazed apple with soybean paste sauce
Despite the entrees not packing a whole lot of meat (not criticising the restaurant), they were really filling dishes. They have a style which is very different from all other Asian cuisines I’ve eaten plus there’s the fusion element too. So on to the mains and I had to pick the 36 pork belly. The pork belly being sous vide is evident as this cooking technique delivers pork belly so soft and tender and full of flavour. It was served with a flavoursome sweet potato puree, these yummy apples like that you would find in a dessert, a salad of Asian vegies, and a soybean paste. I really liked this dish which was my favourite of the night.
Simmering cooked chicken by Korean chilli paste with potato, carrot and sweet potato noodle
I notice in the dishes thus far that they have the taste of chilli, though it’s used in such a way to deliver a spicy kick rather than a burn your mouth kick. Somehow, the heat is controlled. In this dish, it’s the perfect example. The spicy chicken was like a curry but resembled nothing like that from India, Thailand or Japan. The 3 chunks of chicken flesh were immersed in a spicy deep red curry like sauce that was spicy alright. The chilli is evident but well controlled allowing the spiciness to flow through but not burn your tongue. There were also chunks of potato which just soak up the flavour and chunks of soft carrot that also take on a slightly spicy flavour. The enoki mushrooms are lovely and the sweet potato noodles are a little unusual but tasty too.
Green Tea Ice Cream
I was pretty full from the dishes so far but one simple can’t pass up the opportunity for dessert. I had a taste of the green tea ice cream which had a nice flavour but would have personally preferred a slight increase in intensity. What I really admired was the smoothness in texture. I’ve eaten green tea ice cream at several restaurants and I find they have one thing in common – they’re grainy. Not this one.
The ho-tuck is a crispy fried pancake stuffed with cinnamon syrup. Obviously pancakes are a staple in Korean cuisine but this is the third pancake I’ve eaten tonight and they’re all different. This was thin, had a crisp outer, and was much more hollow allowing stuffing. It kind of resembles red bean pancakes found in Malaysian restaurants in terms of describing what this is like, but this pancake is still very different to anything I’ve eaten before. It’s a little chewy but yum.
I’d asked the waitstaff what exactly the red misu is and was told it’s a tiramisu but with red bean. I didn’t notice too much of a difference when eating this dish but you can detect the red bean. It’s light, airy, has whipped cream and a cakelike layer and is very much like tiramisu. It also has a strong coffee element. I liked it very much.
Gaya Food Review Summary
Verdict: Currently The Gaya Appelcross is the talk of the town on Urbanspoon and after visiting here, you can see why. The contemporary Korean fusion based cuisine offers Perth diners something they’ve never previously experienced. Korean food has it’s own take and is distinct from other Asian cuisines. From the dishes I sampled tonight, kimchi and pancakes feature in some form, but they are carefully combined with delicious sauces, finely sliced Asian stir fried vegetables, Korean salads, and chilli to provide that spice kick but not burn your mouth. I particularly liked the kimchi cheese jijimi and the 36 Pork. You can order al a carte or choose from the set menu, either option offers very well priced dishes. We had spent about $45 per head for a 3 course meal which is excellent value for the quality and taste of the dishes delivered. These dishes can be enjoyed in smart modern surrounds taking on a Korean character with service that is really nice and friendly. When the dishes were being served for mains we mentioned we would like to share and the waitress kindly brought out additional bowls and spoons for the seafood stew without asking. This is a nice touch, shows thoughtfulness and being proactive. So if you’re intrigued enough to come out and try Gaya, I strongly suggest you make a booking beforehand or be disappointed as the booked out tables fill up fast.
Price: Moderately Expensive
Recommendation: Highly Recommend
The Gaya Applecross Restaurant Details
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