The Bonsai Restaurant and Cafe Lounge
30-36 Roe Street, Northbridge
Tel: 08 9227 5756
Open: Dinner Tues – Sun, Lunch Fri – Sun
I’m no purist, so I’ll just go ahead and say that I love Japanese fusion food. It’s the best of both worlds, both simultaneously comforting and exciting. Nine Fine Foods in Bulwer Street originally initiated my deprived palate in this style of cooking and I’ve been hooked ever since.
The Smiling Assassin and I decided on The Bonsai for our regular girly catchup, thinking since we’re both trying to lose weight for upcoming holidays (me so that I can put it back on again on my Melbourne trip) that Japanese might be the healthier option.
The Bonsai, a relatively new restaurant, is situated on Roe Street in what I imagine was previously a warehouse of some description. The space maintains a lot of the original industrial and warehouse elements which gives it a somewhat ‘New York’ feel (well as ‘New York’ as Perth can get I suppose). The space is cavernous so it does tend to get loud at times, and so isn’t the most intimate of settings.
The fitout is fresh and modern, with plasma televisions mounted to the walls which I was happy to see were turned off (TVs in restaurants = naff). There’s even a lounge area where you can enjoy coffee and cake if that’s all you are after. We were lucky enough to be granted a window-seat which gave us the added entertainment of watching the various Northbridge elements roll past in various stages of inebriation.
The service was friendly, efficient and attentive. We were given menus and water soon after we were seated, our order was taken at the appropriate time, and our wine was mostly kept topped up (they were a bit slow topping up our wine on a couple of occasions but to be fair I wasn’t driving and was plowing my way through the plonk at an alarming rate).
Speaking of wine, the sorry-looking winelist made my eyes bleed (and my liver weep) it is so woefully uninspired. I can see why they allow BYO most nights of the week (not Friday or Saturday) because it is slim pickings I can tell you. We chose a bottle of NZ Sauvignon Blanc which is usually a safe bet, and it turned out to be drink-ably inoffensive.
The menu is split in to Izakaya style dishes (Izakaya is like the Japanese version of Tapas), more substantial plates and sides. We opted to try a selection of the smaller dishes and see where that led us.
The food was quick to arrive, coming out in stages as share-plates usually do. Here’s a rundown of what we gorged ourselves on that night:
Seaweed Salad (this salad was topped with crispy wantons which made the dish)
Creamy Prawn Spring Rolls (insanely good, artery clogging fried delights filled with plump juicy prawn flesh mixed with a cheesy creamy mixture from the gods)
Pan-Fried Mushrooms with Karashi-Su-Miso (perfectly cooked, plump, juice and seasoned well).
Fried Chicken Tosazu (wasn’t as crisp as I’d like and didn’t really taste like much, lacked seasoning)
Tempura Prawn Sushi Roll (was solid, but no better than what I’ve had elsewhere).
Mushroom Miso (left me missing the saltiness of the true miso, which wasn’t available on the menu).
Sides of steamed rice and caramel soy sauce (the soy sauce blew my soy-sauce loving mind).
Tiramisu to share (was a very pretty dish, with lots of coffee flavour, but was a little dry)
More often than not the food hit the mark and even the near-misses were still above-average. We only made a small dent in what is a large menu, so we are keen to return to assess if the rest of the food stacks up.
With the entertainment voucher the total came to just over $70 (yes total!), including wine -insanely good value for money which means this could potentially become a weeknight haunt (especially with the option of BYO). So with a few extra pennies to spend in our pockets, we waddled our way over to Ezra Pound to see where the night would take us.