I think beachside restaurants have definitely got the right kind of idea going on - I always find myself particularly ravenous after being in the water, whether I'm swimming laps or just having a casual paddle down at the beach. After spending the entire weekend running around, it was awfully nice to end Sunday with a sunset soak down by Cottesloe. Talk about a picturesque WA tourism moment - watching the last light of day ease into dark blue, whilst being waist deep in the sea is one of those moments that I'd gladly just enjoy, without having to reach for my camera. Before we knew it, the sun had well and truly gone for the day and the cold ocean winds set out to make our spines shiver. Even before washing off the sand that had etched itself between our toes, we only had one thought in our mind - post swim, good and hearty comfort food. Possible restaurants shuffled through my mind like a rolodex - whatever it was, it had to be hot, meaty and fulfilling!
I couldn't tell you how many times exactly that I've tried grabbing a table at The Prophet - every time I call, I'm told that they're fully booked for the night. This is a good sign and I can appreciate this. It just so happens that strolling into the almost packed restaurant at 8:30PM with beach hair and sandy earlobes that night lead to an unexpected success! The basket of generously stacked pita bread marked the beginning of a warm, home style feast.
What is to follow is almost like a do-it-yourself taco night; we passed the plate of pickles and soft, housemade labne back and forth, it was the perfect slight tart stuffing for the chewy pita.
Although it's neither warm, nor meaty - hummus has been a reassuring source of comfort to me for many a busy weekdays. I couldn't go past ordering it here, not when I was certain that what would follow would be far tastier than any commercialised tub that I had previously sold my soul to. This was the Mr. Whippy of every savoury dip there ever was, made even better by the glistening pool of fragrant olive oil that crowned the hummus with a sensuous glory.
I couldn't believe the fragrant spices that were wafting off the plate - I love a good deep fried eggplant and I couldn't resist ordering it here. Each steak of eggplant left a distinct stain of fryer oil after every dinner knife cut, causing each bite to be unnecessary heavy on the palette. The great flavours could have been better represented had the eggplant pieces been quick fried and drained thoroughly.
Coincidentally, lately there have been a few people asking me about getting good Chicken Rice in Perth or Singapore. In Singapore, I can't really go past eating Chicken Rice from a brown wax paper packet from the NTI Food Court at Jurong West or visiting tried and tested favourites like Wee Nam Kee and Boon Tong Kee. In Perth however, it seems that Tak Chee House and Hawker's Cuisine offer the most authentic renditions. Personally, I do have to pledge my allegiance to my Grandmother's Chicken Rice...nothing can beat the aromas of garlic, ginger and fresh pandan leaves being cooked off with rice that has been cooked slowly with homemade chicken broth.
The Chicken & Rice from the Prophet actually reminded me of this process of making fragrant rice almost risotto style, where everything is fried off first and cooked by gradually adding stock. Although flavoured with lamb, the rice here was just as fragrant and rich as any kind of homemade chicken rice I've had before. The chicken was also perfectly tender and I loved how the accompanying yoghurt complimented the subtle spices with a little cool freshness. Don't be fooled by it's simple description; it's one of the best dishes I've eaten in any Perth restaurant all year.
If I could drink coffee like this everyday, I probably would. It's actually so interesting to observe how Lebanese coffee, much like the previous Chicken & Rice dish also reminds me of Singapore. At local hawker coffee shops, hot beverages are "pulled" from large pots by pouring from a height. There's no fancy latte art and at best each cup of kopi resembles instant, but the flavours are definitely nothing like it. We felt quite at home, sitting back with a pot of beautifully spiced coffee and watching people flit across Albany Highway in front of us.
I really like the fact that the sweets here don't cost just as much as an entree would, which is a common occurrence in Perth restaurants. I've got to say that there is really nothing more satisfying that finishing off a great meal with good coffee and a few little sweets. The Baklava was soft and soaked with syrupy goodness - I could have definitely had a few more! I'm not a huge fan of tahini based halva and I much prefer the Indian style semolina variety, but having said that - M really enjoyed this dessert.
Aside from being incredibly impressed with the food and coffee after the meal, we were also made to feel extremely well looked after throughout the meal. Our waitress was incredibly kind, patient and attentive - even writing us a little "thank you" on our bill at the end of the night. It's these little touches on top of serving a great product that make customers feel appreciated and in turn, feel a sense of restaurant loyalty. Knowing full well that they're also famous for their kebabs makes me a little food giddy - I can't wait to return to the Prophet and feel at home again!