SMALL TALK BAR
Drinks, Beats and Asian Eats. Let’s talk about STB… Let’s talk about you and me… Let’s talk about all the good things and the bad things… that may be!
I’ve always been more miss than hit on the small talk scale in a room full of strangers but add a trendy bar into the equation together with a table of divine food for the sharing and now you’re talking!
Small Talk Bar is the newest restaurant from the Miss Chow’s Group and features traditional Japanese flavours infused with a more than modern twist. We recently attended a Foodie Dinner which had us sampling several dishes from the menu and walking away more than impressed. The entire night from start to finish was a real surprise package.
Small Talk Bar, headed up by chef Ricky Lim (formerly from Bib & Tucker) is a Japanese izakaya style eatery. Not a traditional, take your shoes off at the door, kind of one though. For those not in the know, izakaya is a drinking establishment (similar to a pub or bar) that serves tapas style food that is meant to be shared among friends.
For me, Small Talk Bar is the perfect venue for any type of catch up. I can easily see myself heading back for a leisurely date night with hubby before the theatre but the share style menu, the long tables and modern bar vibes also lend well to a night out with friends or any celebration big or small.
Speaking celebrations. At this point, with my birthday less than a month away and given I’ll be in the vicinity that night at The Centre for Stories for Live Lit hosted by Sarah McNeill, this just might be ‘the’ venue to celebrate and share with friends.
Let’s get this party started…
Roku Elements – Roku Gin, Sakura, Sake, Fresh Apple, Citrus
I’m including the cocktail we sampled, two times over, as part of the starters because since when has a cocktail not been a great place to start on a night out?! If you are new to Sake, this makes for a wonderful introduction. Just the right amount of sweet to sour with a slight tartness. It accompanied our starter platter perfectly.
Moving over to the food side of the menu for a minute, the selection of bar snack dishes for our starter platter hit all the right notes, even a few high ones. The wasabi peas with curry leaf even managed to earn my seal of approval in the end.
The spiced seaweed was my standout favourite because it reminded me a little of the salted egg fish skins I’m more than a bit partial to when we head to Singapore. I found the almonds moreish but failed to pick up on the pastrami spice, it is very subtle and had a sweetness that reminded me of Christmas that was unexpected. The cucumber was an interest combination of cool, calm but far from collected with the addition of the angel hair chilli. The Edamame complemented the platter nicely, adding a fresh if not refreshing element amongst all the flavour.
Almond, pastrami spice | Wasabi peas, curry leaf | Spiced seaweed | Edamame, shichimi | Dashi cucumber, angel hair chilli
Moving right along…
From here on in the meals hit the table fast and furious in a couple of stages. Not a bad thing when you are at a large share table with everyone hungry and raring to go. A little overwhelming when you are at a table of renowned Perth foodies who need to take photos first and you are super hangry. Thankfully being with seasoned professionals, who all know their craft, the photo-taking on this occasion didn’t drag on which allowed us to sample each dish while it was still warm or intentionally cold as the case may be.
Being a foodie dinner over three long tables, we were able to sample (and photograph) a huge variety from the menu on the night. I know when/if I head back with just hubby it will be hard to select just a few dishes to share between us. At a pinch, I’m leaning towards the melt in your mouth grilled lamb shoulder and the… well, all of it really.
I honestly can’t play favourites with this menu. My biggest tip if you are thinking of heading in before a show and/or time isn’t on your side, would be to peruse the menu online beforehand and have a rough idea of what you want. Otherwise, order a cocktail together with a plate of bar snack starters and take your sweet, sweet time.
So without further ado may I present you with the photographic highlight reel to whet your appetite. Although, I should add the sesame tuna tataki with seaweed, puff amaranth and ponzu, as well as the cauliflower that arrived with cashew, vegan parmesan and a hint of pastrami spice, do not have photos. Both dishes were worth raving home about but arrived at other tables and I may have been a tad caught up sampling the food and completely missed the photo opportunity.
Torched salmon, squid ink tapioca, pickles, avocado
Kabayaki eel, avocado, shallot, lavosh, shichimi
Kingfish ceviche, ponzu, jalapenos, herb oil, coral seaweed
Pork belly skewers, house tare
Tsukune, chicken meatball, egg cream, fennel
Grilled lamb shoulder, Korean chilli, saltbush, furikake
Tiger prawns, kombu butter
My usual game of favourites at the end of the night, where we go around the table discussing our favourite dish from the menu, completely went out the window. Every meal was presented beautifully and delighted the tastebuds. There were far too many favourites in my books and a number of selections that would suit many dietary requirements.
The eel for me being from Dutch heritage, where I basically grew up on them, was a real surprise package. The texture was soft but still firm with a nice bite to it. There wasn’t any offensive aftertaste and the flavour had a slight sweetness to it. The torched salmon was cooked to perfection. The avocado puree that accompanied the dish had an incredible flavour and super creamy texture that I may have enquired after the ingredients.
I honestly could rave about each and every dish. Even those packing a punch wasabi peas, that I found far too hot at the beginning of the night, ended up being rather hard to resist at the end of proceedings. My only real disappointment was the lack of a dessert menu (cocktails don’t count… do they?), not that I really saved any room for dessert.
The Oriental Market & Grocer (OMG) at Campus Perth, just next door, is also part of the Miss Chow’s Group run by Perth’s dumpling darling Jacquie Chan and I’m looking forward to casing their next venture Born & Bread, an artisan bakery when it opens later this year.
If you’re looking for super affordable accommodation close by to make a night of it, I can highly recommend Hostel G. Anyone that knows me, knows I’m allergic to backpacker type accommodation but the private rooms at Hostel G are comparable to some of the better but basic 3-star hotels we’ve stayed in over the years. They also remind me of Hotel G, our preferred digs when we head to Singapore. Which reminds me… our next holiday is long overdue.
Drinks, Beats and Asian Eats!
80 Stirling Street, Perth, 6000
As I’ve only had time for the one visit to Small Talk Bar and this visit was a foodie event, please consider this a running highlight reel rather than a full review. As you know, I prefer to case a venue four of five times incognito before giving an establishment my worth casing seal of approval. Given how much I have on with theatre, film, offline audits and a little mystery project I’m working on, there just isn’t time for multiple visits in the one month, full food reviews or for finding suitable stunt doubles for that matter.