The concept of going for "dinner and a show" is something that I really like the idea of; it reminds me of travelling in Sydney and London where many restaurants offer Pre-Theatre menus. Pre-Theatre dinners usually consist of timely courses that can easily be enjoyed just before heading over to the venue for your evening's event. This makes me terribly nostalgic for my final year of high school, back when a bunch of us flew over to do a course at NIDA (National Institute of Dramatic Arts) - it was "dinner and a show" every night for an entire week then, which is something that unfortunately rarely happens in Perth! However, last month I was privileged enough to be able to enjoy just that - the Script were in town and it just so happen that a bunch of girlfriends and I got tickets and decided to go for dinner beforehand. Sounds very Sex in the City like, but it is always wonderful when we manage to take a break from our busy lives and catch up on what's been happening since way back when.
I've been meaning to dine at Nine Fine Food for a couple of months now; on reputation, it's an upscale fusion restaurant that produces french style food with traditional Japanese flavours. The restaurant definitely felt "fine" enough, with it's sleek and cosy interiors and candle lit tables. The six of us decided to dine Toku Toku for the night; which is a 3 course set menu that is to be enjoyed by the whole table, priced at $53 per person. Both entree and main courses consisted of five dishes to choose from, and a choice of three desserts to end the meal.
The sashimi selection features raw fish veterans; Tuna and Salmon, as well as thin cut slices of Kingfish, Prawn and Seared Tuna. It's a simple and clean entree, featuring a very fresh selection of fish. You also have the option to only have Salmon and Tuna pieces at an extra surcharge of $2.00 - for me, not an entree that I would choose if I was planning to have a different kind of Japanese food experience; as it doesn't showcase Nine Fine Food's signature fusion styles as well as the other dishes do.
The Agedashi Toothfish definitely caught my attention; I've been a religious Agedashi Tofu orderer since I was a child and with Toothfish, otherwise known as the Chilean Sea Bass being not as widely utilised in Australia as it is so in Japan, China or the US, it was a sightly surprise to find it on Nine Fine Food's menu. Toothfish tastes impeccable when deep fried (like almost everything on this planet), and it was a very purposeful spin on a such an iconic Japanese dish. I also found the broth to be exceptionally delicious.
This was a very well executed take on "Surf and Turf" by Nine Fine Food; the scallops were perfectly cooked and complimented with tender and well seasoned lamb shoulder. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this entree.
The dish that I did end up ordering was the Pork & Pork; because key words like "Pork Belly" and "Pork Cheek" are enough to evoke a twinkle in my eye. Unfortunately, I don't think this entree was well executed - the pork skin didn't crackle and the belly fat was not well rendered. There were also an array of garnishes on the plate that didn't match well with either cut of pork; the only redeeming factors of the dish were the tempura pieces.
The other choice on offer was Beef Tataki, made with Rare Beef Tenderloin fillets, Fresh herbed salad and a yuzu ponzu dressing. After my disappointing Pork & Pork experience, I sorely regretted not selecting it. I'm also a big fan of Lotus Root "Chips" and again, Lotus Root isn't something you see on a lot of contemporary menus, so it was a much welcomed garnish.
The Barramundi dish was practically a Seafood Platter, the fish was served along side seasoned squid and two bursty prawns. Having said that, each piece of seafood was cooked to perfection. It's definitely the sauces and garnishes that make each dish interesting at Nine Fine Food, and it's commendable that they attempt to carry through French cooking techniques with a lot of Asian ingredients.
I would say that the Steak was the dish of the night; the beef was well seasoned and cooked to a perfect Medium Rare, and then covered generously in the Creamy Sake Rice Wine Sauce. For me, I didn't get much of the Sake coming through the sauce as it's likely that the sharpness of the alcohol was mellowed out during the cooking process, but it was still an exceptional sauce. I'm quite the sucker for tempura anything, but the tempera onion was remarkable; not only unique but consistently well executed around the table.
Much like the words, "Pork Belly", alarm bells start ringing in my head when I'm presented with the words "Duck" and "Confit". Unfortunately though, just like my Pork & Pork entree, the Duck Confit dish also fell short. The Red Wine and Mirin Reduction was a miss. It was bland, and the raw red wine taste didn't carry any sweet notes that would have elevated the duck leg the same way an a l'Orange, Plum or Cherry based sauce would have. The well cooked scallops and the tempura onion were excellently cooked yet again, but unfortunately, a few good garnishes still don't make allowances for a badly executed main component.
Despite my less than impressive Entree and Main dish, this is the dessert that will make me return to Nine Fine Food. It's a perfect creme brûlée, and heavily infused with Green Tea. Everything from the perfect "crack", to the creamy and well cooked custard was enough to send the entire table into a frenzy. This is well executed fusion food at it's best.
Like the Matcha Brûlée, this was another well executed dessert. The black sesame flavour was wonderfully intensive and the crunch of the pistachio garnish was a much welcomed addition. After tasting both desserts it's safe to say that Nine Fine Food would make a fine after "dinner and a show" dessert and drinks place.
Other than some mismatched dishes, I will say that the other negative aspect was the service at Nine Fine Food, it was quite slowly paced. Not the most appropriate when you have to rush to the other side to the city before the concert starts, but that was a misjudgement on our part, rather than theirs. I'm sure we wouldn't have been so time conscious if we were just having a relaxing mid week dinner out - the time spaced between courses is lengthy enough for a long conversations with a good bottle of wine. Unfortunately, I was quite disappointed with the dishes that I chose, and I would choose to dine ala carte if I came back. The Matcha Brûlée is definitely worth visiting Nine Fine Food for, and I hope that you will have better luck with your savoury courses than I did!
Opening Hours: Monday - Saturday, from 6PM till Late. Open for private functions during Lunchtime and on Sundays. Bookings are recommended and essential for parties of 8 or more.