For those in Perth always looking for a better, faster, cheaper way

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The best food in each restaurant in Perth for <$20

I don't know about you but I am sick of reviews that tell you such a restaurant is good and when you go there, your experience does not match the reviewer simply because you had the wrong dish. For me, once I find a place is good, I go back there and usually almost by default, I stick to what I know.

What about having a list of restaurant DISHES rather than restaurants that you must try? Well, someone has.

Full credit must go to Fleur Beinger of Perth Now, who prepared the following guide to the 20 best places in Perth to eat for under $20. I'll add my comments in red along the way if I've been there.

20 best eats under $20:

Pho at Tra Vinh (also worth trying the dry noodles with chicken on the side.. no idea what it is called even till now)
Vietnamese Chinese Special Noodle House
149a Brisbane St, Northbridge, 9228 2788
Open Sun-Mon, 10am-9pm, Thurs-Sat 10am-10pm

There are stacks of variations of this famous Vietnamese soup, but if you want to get really authentic, order the Combination Beef Pho for $10. Breathe in the aroma of cooked and raw slices of beef, beef balls, beef tendons and tripe, sitting on ho fun noodles in a steaming flavoured soup. Bean sprouts and mint are served on the side for you to add as you wish. If some elements of the concoction are pushing your culinary boundaries, order the combination you prefer or keep it simple with raw beef slices only, for $9. Hoi sin and chilli sauce sit on the table to dip your meat in. If that doesn't float your boat, give the Special Tra Vinh noodle soup a go. It combines sliced pork, seafood, prawns, fish balls, squid, liver and a quail egg with rice noodles for $10.

Annalakshmi Restaurant
1st floor, Barrack St Jetty, Perth, 9221 3003
Open Tues-Sun 12-2pm and 6.30-9pm but closed Sat lunch times

This unique, Indian vegetarian restaurant asks that you pay what your heart feels, leaving room for you to tailor your donation to your financial situation. The concept was founded by a Hindu monk some time ago - Annalakshmi is the name of the Hindu goddess of food - and it spread to Perth. The food is cooked "with love by homemakers," and is help-yourself buffet style. An average meal consists of pilau rice with cashews, two Indian curries plus a samba, cabbage stir fry and even dessert. Oh, and coffee, tea and juice is included too. Volunteers clean up and your dosh goes to a not for profit organisation which supports Asian charities. Leave with a full tummy and a happy heart.

Beef Rendang at Sparrow (definitely worth having a try of this one)
Cnr Lord and Lincoln St, Highgate, 9228 2238
Open Mon-Fri, 11.30am-2.30pm and 5pm-8.30pm, Sat, 5pm-8.30pm
434A William St, Northbridge, 9328 5660
Open Mon-Thurs, 5pm-8.30pm and Fri-Sat, 5pm-9pm

It's a fair bet to say the energetic, enthusiastic and eccentric owner, Sparrow, attracts the crowds almost as much as the rock bottom prices. Beef Rendang is the dish de resistance, made up of three pieces of incredibly tender meat soaking in a delicious gravy sauce for $6.50. Add rice and you've got a bargain Indonesian meal that pleases your tummy and your tastebuds. The interior is cheap and cheerful with tightly packed tables and chairs that are always brimming with bodies.

Parmigiana schnitzel at Morley Ale House
Cnr Walter Rd and Progress St, Morley, 9276 8733
Mondays, 6pm-10pm (orders close at 8.30pm)

It can be hard to find pub grub at reasonable prices these days, particularly when it's common to pay upwards of $22 for a simple parmy, so here's a solution. Schnitzel night on Mondays at the Morley Ale House will see you swap $12.50 for a slab of chicken, pork or beef with one of a long list of tasty toppings. They offer mushroom, pepper, guacamole and sour cream, grilled egg plant and roasted peppers or hawaiian, but the traditional parmigiana upper deck is the regular's favourite. Expect a generous serving of salad and chips on the side. The non-special menu items are pretty good value too, with the priciest dish, the surf and turf, maxing out at $26.

Satay sticks at Mak's Place
313 William St, Northbridge, 9227 0190
Open Wed-Fri, 12noon-3pm and 5pm-9pm, and Sat-Sun, 11.30am-9pm

It's rare to find a menu with nothing over $10, for both lunch and dinner, but the dishes of Indonesian and Indian Halal food served at Mak's Place can all be ordered for a blue note or less.
STM's Holly Wood raves about the satay sticks, claiming they're the best he's had in Perth, which is that's no mean recommendation. For $6 you get five pieces, and can choose from chicken, beef or lamb. If peanuts sauce doesn't do it for you, go for the Nasi (rice) or Mee (noodle) Goreng at $9.50. The interior is smart and clean cafe style with modern paintings on the walls - much classier than you'd expect for a place that's cheap as chips.

Pea and ham soup at Alfred's Kitchen (haven't tried the P&H soup but the burger was great)
Cnr Meadow & James St Guildford, 9377 1378
Open 7 days a week, 5pm-3am

This place has been serving up its signature meal since 1946, and even in today's prices, it's a cheapie. Half a litre of home made pea and ham soup - a large - will set you back $4.50 for, or shell out $3.00 for a small, of 225ml. If you're drawn to their other stable, the burger, go for Alfred's special, a hamburger with egg, cheese and bacon jammed between three pieces of toast, finished off with a lick of pickle spread for $8.50. The popular eatery has 40 burgers on the menu, starting at $5.20 for a basic burger which should still fill you up. It's rich on atmosphere, with a wood log fire burning out the front and four big bench seats for friendly, communal dining. You might leave smokey, but you won't leave hungry.

Steak sanga at Mondo's Butchers
824 Beaufort Street, Inglewood, 9371 6350
Sidewalk 'cafe' open Saturdays only, 8am-2pm.

If you're making your way home after a particularly long night and you can't afford the standard $18 sting for a big breaky, make your way to Mondo's, where owner Vince Garreffa is hawking $5 roast beef, lamb or pork sandwiches on Saturdays. From 8am you can get yourself two thick slabs of meat dripping with roast juices, jammed in New Norcia sourdough bread and wrapped in alfoil. Keeping things simple, you can dine in the bus stop nearby. Set off early to avoid the queues, which have been growing since the storefront slap-up started in April. Sadly, the price is about to rise to $7.50 (which is still pretty good for roast), so get in quick.

Teriyaki Don at Taka (I always go for the katsu chicken with lots of extra mayonaise and sweet soy sauce)
150-152 Barrack St, Perth, 9221 4771
Open Mon-Sat, 11am-9pm and Sun, 11am-5pm
Shafto Lane, Perth, 9324 1234
Open Mon-Sat, 11am-9pm

Who says you can't get cheap Japanese? Fill up at lunch or dinner time with a Teriyaki Don at Taka. You get a tray holding a large bowl of chicken in teriyaki sauce sitting on a bed of rice with salad on the side. The large version comes with miso soup and will set you back $7.30. If you're into sushi, the teriyaki sushi rolls are a bargain, with five pieces going for $4. It's pretty squishy in both city venues, so be prepared to suck in your stomach as you move between the rows of tables. The atmosphere is better at the Shafto Lane venue, which has some tables outside under a leafy cover.

Porterhouse steak at Llama Bar
Cnr Rokeby Rd & Hay St, Subiaco, 9388 0222
Open for steak night on Tues and Wed from 5pm

There's no beating Llama's $10 steak night for amazing value, held on the first three Tuesdays and every Wednesday of the month. You'd think it might be a thin slab for that price, but it's a thick, juicy chunk done any way you like it, nudged up to a serving of mash potato, covered in either mushroom, pepper corn or bearnaise sauce, and topped with ribbons of sweet potato chips. Given the swanky setting and funky clientele, this is a great way to have a classy, cheap night out. Unsurprisingly, it's incredibly popular so you need to book at least three days ahead, and naturally you're expected to buy a drink. If you hang around, free entertainment starts later, most recently a live band called The Royals.

More Perth Cheap Restaurants: List is continued in this post here

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