The Bonsai is one of my favourite restaurants and our group of five headed there on Friday night for my birthday dinner. It’s best to share food with a group rather than select individual main courses. The food will arrive as the kitchen prepares it, giving everyone time to chat and enjoy the meal at a leisurely pace. Order 2 or 3 shares per person and order more later if you’re still peckish.
Bishonen Junmai ($7 for 4 servings) and Forest Hill Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2011 ($38 per bottle)
Keep in mind that you’re not allowed to BYO alcohol on Friday and Saturday. On other days, you’re only allowed to BYO wine. However, there is a reasonable drinks selection that includes red, white, and sweet wines; asian and western beers; and sake. Unfortunately for me, there were no fruity cocktails :P
Instead, we ordered a fruity sake which was infused with melons and not as sharp as other sake varieties that I’ve tasted. While I found it palateable, I still prefer the really sweet plum sake that I tried at Senoji.
Our table also shared a bottle of white wine, which was not too dry (phew) and seemed to go well with our meal. I’m a noob at wine, so I won’t pretend to know more than that…
Salmon Sashimi Bites ($13.90)
I always order this dish because it’s one of my favourites!! Six bite-sized pieces with flavours that will blow your mind. The salmon sashimi is marinated in ginger and dengaku miso, sitting on a bitter witlof leaf with aoili and chives. Definitely a must-try dish.
Seaweed Salad ($10.80) with Crispy Wonton Skins (extra $1)
One of my dining companions spotted this dish on another blog review and I was keen to try it (despite my stubborness about eating salads). Unfortunately, this dish was a let-down because it was mostly cabbage and lettuce. I spotted some seaweed but mostly munched unenthusiastically on leaves without much dressing *sigh*. However, we’ll forgive them because the rest of our dishes were awesome!
Wagyu Beef Tataki ($15.90)
I’m drooling just staring at this photo. The marbled rump melts in your mouth and it’s the most tender beef that I’ve ever tasted! The garlic soy caramel sauce combined with mustard vinaigrette is an amazing sweet and salty and sour combination. The witlof and leek julienne add some crunch :)
Creamy Prawn Springrolls ($9.90)
Weirdest spring rolls ever. Inside, you’ll find prawn pieces and béchamel sauce (the awesome white sauce on top of lasagne). To make things even more unusual, the hot English mustard adds an incredible zing by cutting through all the deep-fried and creamy goodness.
Salmon Sashimi on Asparagus ($12.90)
We enjoyed this dish, but it couldn’t really match the Salmon Sashimi Bites we’d eaten earlier. Six pieces of fresh salmon sashimi, drizzled with yukke sauce (ginger, garlic, and soy) and chilli mayo. The blanched asparagus was okay, but I prefer my microwaved buttery and salty version. I’m not used to vegies tasting healthy :P
Agedashi Eggplant and Mochi ($8.50)
This dish included deep fried eggplant, mochi (Japanese rice cake), a couple of green beans, agedashi sauce, and a sprinkling of kizami nori (seaweed). The eggplant was unbelievably soft and smooth. It went really well with the super-chewy mochi pieces (which I’m more used to seeing in sweet things, like the green tea shaved ice at Icey Ice). I don’t often eat eggplant because it usually tastes like dirt, but this dish has totally converted me!
Red Wine Pork Belly Kakuni ($19.80) and Rice ($2.50)
This dish is comfort food at its best. Three pieces of tender, fatty pork belly swim about in a red wine soy broth. There’s also a piece of white radish, which we broke up into pieces to share. Make sure to smear some hot English mustard on your meat (that’s what she said?) and order a serving of rice to soak up all the wonderful broth!
Pan Fried Mushrooms with Karashi-su-miso ($7.80)
These Portobello mushrooms were perfectly cooked - I honestly don’t know how they achieved such juiciness. The lemon shallot vinaigrette was tasty, but I think this dish lacked the wow factor that we became accustomed to.
Tuna Tataki on Avocado ($16.90)
Still feeling peckish, we ordered a couple more dishes. The tuna tataki has a lovely two-tone pink colour (which reminds me of my pro seared beef asian salad). However, the seared outside was more dry and fishy-tasting, so I would have preferred it more raw. The thick teryaki-inspired sauce and chilli sauce added some flavour and the pieces of avocado were smooth (but difficult to pick up from the plate using chopsticks).
BBQ Unagi with Rice ($21.90)
We also shared one main course, which comes with a bowl of rice. My brother described the unagi (eel) as the best he’s tried in Perth. I’m inclined to agree. The sauce is not too sticky or overly sweet, but the eel is still well-marinated and the flavours hide the fishy smell and taste (which some people find off-putting). One of the most awful things about unagi in many Perth restaurants is that frozen pieces are poorly cooked with a rubbery and inedible skin underneath. Fortunately, the Bonsai gets it right, with oily and tender pieces of eel and no unpleasantness.
Black Sesame Ice Cream ($4)
We ordered a few desserts to share. The black sesame icecream was unusual and tasty, a sweet and savoury combination that seriously confused me. I’m still not sure if I love it, but I’m glad that I tried it.
Chocolate Indulgence ($8.90)
In the past, I’ve wandered into the restaurant just to eat a piece of the Chocolate Indulgence cake. It’s my favourite mousse cake!
The awesome manager gave me a piece on-the-house because it was my birthday, YAY :D It was also exciting and confusing to run into a trick-candle that sparkled and kept re-igniting (and was eventually dunked into the icy wine bucket). Hahaha, great fun!!
This cake is intense and rich with a generous drizzling of chocolate and caramel sauces, and accompanied by a swirl of cream and a white chocolate chip. I do still long for the days when it was served with a green tea macaron shell, but apparently diners would leave it uneaten (why?!). While I’m super greedy for dessert, I’ve realised that I can never finish a slice of this cake on my own, so it might be wise to share between two.
Our wonderful meal for 5 people was just over $200 including drinks.
Service is friendly and attentive, with helpful suggestions for popular choices. Our free chilled tap water (with lemon slice) was refilled promptly throughout the meal. It’s the little things that count.
The Bonsai is open for dinner Tuesday-Sunday and lunch on Friday. Reservations are important for Fridays and weekends.
Likes: great food and conversation, birthday celebrations!!
Dislikes: healthy-tasting salads..
Value for money: steeper prices are justified by the quality of the food
Overall: one of my favourite restaurants in Perth <3
30 Roe Street
(08) 9227 5756