My lifestyle allows me to work from home, while travelling, or at a cafe or restaurant.
With the recent happenings of the last few years, and like most, the 'travel' and cafe/restaurant access was severely dampened, until recently.
I also work 'odd' hours. Often early mornings, occasionally late at the night, or in the pockets of time when I'm not with my son.
Today, I had some free time to enjoy a little lunch date with myself.
In the past, I would travel and reviewed a lot of restaurants, seminars and events, tourist locations and activities and more in my blog posts.
I've decided to add a new content series to my repertoire, and include a monthly review of a different style of degustation to bring me back closer in touch with the global adventures of not so long ago, incorporate the experiences of my previous travels into this present moment, and to inspire you with some of the locations for some local mini adventures of your own.
So today, for this month, I've started with Little Bangkok in Carousel, Perth, Western Australia.
Located at the top of Carousel with an array of restaurants, while many others were half full and some with barely a customer, Little Bangkok Carousel was full and overflowing with a line of people waiting to be seated. I wasn't even at the end of the line when I took this photo.
The good thing was, it only took about 10 minutes to be seated.
I knew before putting my butt in the chair what I was going to order. I've eaten at this restaurant many times before. I'd reviewed the menu online. Even though, I KNEW I was going to get their signature dish - LAKSA.
So I ordered that, along with some Peking Duck Rolls, some Pellegrino Sparkling Water and a glass of house white wine (because, why not!?).
The waitress, who I suspected barely spoke english, was quick to take my order and promptly brought me my wine.
My stomach was already growling at the idea of having their delicious laksa again. It's always been so filled with amazing seafood, and none of the fake seafood pieces many other places have filled their dish with. My mind was recalling the rich and spicy punch of the coconut soup laced heavily with flavour. A scoop spoon in my left hand to taste the soup with plenty of heat, and the chopsticks in my right to dig out a tasty morsel like a mussel, a piece of fish, or a squid curl buried not so deep within the crunchy bean sprouts and the rice noodles.
But before the Laksa came, the Peeking Duck Rolls arrived.
They were divine!
And quite filling too.
I'd just done a cleanse day with a 36 hour fast the few days before, so while I was hungry, the food was filling me up fast.
Sounds like a paradox of eating, doesn't it?
I broke my fast early in the morning with a healthy nutritious shake.
And the decadent yet healthy meal for lunch, is what I call - balance.
A light snack and another nutritious shake was on the menu for dinner.
This shift in the way I'm eating, with a weekly 'cleanse' has helped me release 12 kilos already (and I've got a little more to go, but that's another tale to tell in another blog post).
And then the Laksa came. The minute I saw it arriving I beamed with excitement.
Then the waitress rested the bowl on my table, and immediately it didn't look the same.
I'd previously had this dish, maybe 8 or 9 times over the years.
EVERY time it was consistent in presentation, smell and taste.
This time, the bowl was different.
The colour of the laksa soup was different, lighter... weaker.. in appearance.
It didn't smell like I expected. There was no rich briny scent.
And instead of a rich, orange-coloured creamy coconut soup, it was lacklustre, pale, and uninviting.
It really should have 'popped' more visually and hitting the nose with it's signature smell.
It should have looked at least a little more orange with swirls of it's rich oil floating on the top of the coconut soup.
It still looked pretty.
And my mind WANTED it to be the same as I remembered.
But the first few mouthfuls, didn't please me. My excitement for the dish waned.
The waitress walked past, and I asked "Excuse me! Is there a new chef in the kitchen from the past year? This Laksa soup tastes very different, not the same. Not as good."
She replied with, "yes there is a new chef." She gave me a nod, then walked away.
I didn't even think to ask to return it, to question the chef.
At least not until when I decided it wasn't going to taste any better, after I'd already continue to take each spoonful hoping it would finally deliver the laksa spicy punch I so dearly anticipated.
Well, I decided that this one time out of eight or nine with their Laksa failing a perfect 10 out of 10 from me (I'd give it a 6 because most of the ingredients were really fresh, the serving size was generous, and the service was super fast in spite of the restaurant being so full and busy. I deducted the other 4 points because 'something' was seriously missed in making the dish a 'Laksa' dish, which is the intent of the dish, and the fish pieces were overcooked and rubbery instead of the soft and flaky experience I've consistently had in the past.)
It wasn't a short drive for me to go to this restaurant. Not 'just down the road' at least.
So it did have me feeling full but disappointed.
Having said that, my experience of this restaurant has been so consistent.
And the patronage clearly suggests it has plenty of customers also coming back.
When I go to restaurants I usually like to try something different each time, which is a sense of adventure for me. I also traveled through Thailand a fair bit in 2009 and 2010, returning again in 2015 for my 40th birthday. I love to cook too. And when I travel I especially love to go to a cooking class to learn how to make the local food. So I'm familiar with Thai food. In fact, it's my top favourite up their with Laos and Vietnamese food too.
So what this experience today has given me is a desire to try something different the next time I come back, as I've broken my rule for gustatory adventure and always ordered the Laksa... until now.
When I went to pay, the staff member at the check out asked me "How was your meal?"I
I replied with, "I'm glad you asked. The Peking Duck Rolls were magnificent! 10 out of 10! Truly delicious. I'm disappointed in the Laksa though. I've had it so many times before and it's been consistently good. Amazing in fact! But today, it was flat. Like something was missing. An important ingredient. It didn't taste like Laksa should. It just tasted like coconut soup."
She was surprised to hear that.
I told her I had planned to write a blog review about the experience too, so I had photos. "Would you like to see?"
So I flashed the picture on my phone.
And she agreed, that it didn't look right. "Something must have been missing she said. I'll report it to the chef."
"Thank you," I said. "I hope they figure it out. I'd like to have it again. It was a bit of a let down today. But I know it's normally really excellent!"
She offered me 20% off my bill, which was unexpected, yet kind.
I'm giving an honest review of my experience. And even though I wasn't delighted with my Laksa meal today (I want to emphasise that the Peking Duck Rolls were divine), I have every intention of returning back to this wonderful restaurant.
If the Laksa, or any meal for that matter, doesn't meet my instant satisfaction, I won't hesitate to send it back politely for a review from the Chef.
Thai food is one of my favourite meals to make at home too.
Did I mention I've done a Thai cooking classes? I love to cook. I love to eat. I love to experience the world through food. And even though I haven't been able to travel beyond our local borders of Western Australia for now a little more than two years, I've transported my mind, body and soul on many wonderful adventures through food.
What's your favourite food to eat?
And if you love Thai food too, what's your favourite dish? I'm looking for some inspiration to spread my wings for trying something new the next time I return to the Little Bangkok Cannington.
Here's the Little Bangkok Menu for you to be inspired.