Petra Palace restaurant

I’ve been wanting to go to Petra Palace restaurant since it opened late last year and when I finally organised a dinner there I got sick, but like I said, I was just postponing all my plans so I didn’t miss out. I was able to quickly book a table within the hour of our arrival but I think they are much busier on Saturdays with the added entertainment of belly dancers.

There were other people in the restaurant, I just avoided them in my shot; as the night went on the restaurant started to get very busy. I like the combinations of long and round tables.I arrived before all my friends so I was able to have some time to browse the menu before we got carried away with catching up. I was tempted by the banquet but we couldn’t get a general consensus so we all went our separate ways and only shared the starters.

Cold mezza~ served with hot and fresh Lebanese bread

Baba ganoush chargrilled eggplant dip with tahini, garlic, yoghurt and fresh lemon juice ($10.00). You could really taste the smokey flavour from the chargrilled eggplant, I don’t usually love baba ganoush but it had a stronger flavour than the hummus so I preferred this dip. I really enjoyed the hot Lebanese bread that it was served with, it was very hot and crispy, I was very tempted to order more if I didn’t have a rice dish as a main.Piping hot bread for the table.
I wanted to save my pocket to stuff with rice and meat later on but I ended up eating the whole thing and then some before the mains arrived.Lebanese coffee ($4.00). Being the end of the week, some girls need a pick-me-up before the beginning of the meal. It isn’t as thick and strong as a Turkish coffee but it definitely had added spices to it to make it rather ‘fruity’ despite being a strong shot of caffeine.Hot mezza~ served with hot and fresh Lebanese bread

Hummus bil lahmah diced lamb on a bed of hummus and pine nuts ($15.00). I love a good hummus but unfortunately this wasn’t one of them. Despite the incredibly smooth texture of the dip, it was rather bland and even the diced lamb didn’t add much flavour at all. All of those at the table who ordered some lamb in their mains were starting to get worried that it wouldn’t be good.Grilled halloumi cheese (4 pieces $13.00). Grilled halloumi is delicious and this was grilled perfectly and added a good hit of salt and flavour that the hummus lacked. I thought it was a bit expensive but still very much enjoyed by the table.Mains~

Bandora kafta baked lamb and beef topped with sliced potato and a tomato, garlic and green chilli sauce ($25.00). My friend was worried that the green chilli would be too intense in this dish but I wouldn’t have known it was in the sauce. Although the kafta was blanketed by a rich tomato sauce, you could still taste the delicious lamb and beef and the meat was very succulent. I found the sauce complimented the meaty flavours rather than overpower it which was really nice and the potato was perfectly cooked; I’m surprised that it didn’t overcooked under the sauce and disintegrate.Mixed grill one skewer of each: chargrilled lamb kebab, shishtawook (chicken kebab) and kafta (ground lamb and beef) kebabs served with hot chips and grilled vegetables ($25.00). I was really tempted by this menu choice but I ended up choosing something different. This is a good way to try a bit of all the skewers. I really like the garlic dip that it came with, it was really garlicky without the strong aftertaste. I thought the chicken looked a bit dry but it was still a little moist, although it was my least favourite of the three skewers. I found the lamb a little tough and the kafta was by far my favourite. If I had kafta skewers with rice, garlic dip and yoghurt, I think it would be the perfect meal.I love chips as much as the next girl but I think it would have been nicer to serve all this meat with some rice.Shishtawook diced chicken kebabs marinated and chargrilled, served with a garlic dip on a bed of couscous (3 skewers $25.00). With no actual ‘sauce’ and the chicken being on the dry side served alongside dry couscous, it made for a lot of chewing and water sculling.Be alert not alarmed, that is a roasted onion with its skin on at the top of the plate, not an overly burnt piece of chicken.Chicken fatteh delicious casserole of marinated chicken, crispy Lebanese bread, spiced rice, garlic, mint and yoghurt topped with pine nuts ($25.00). When I was telling the waitress I was trying to decide between the mixed grill and the chicken casserole, she went to explain that it wasn’t exactly a chicken casserole but rather a layered dish where the bread was on the bottom, layered with marinated chicken which was then topped with yoghurt and mint and nuts; I was intrigued and chose the fatteh as my main dish. The bread became all soggy and almost felt like a pasta sheet at the bottom of the dish. I could easily grab a spoonful and have a bit of every layer in every mouthful. The mint in the yoghurt was really refreshing and there was something in the rice that made it feel like Christmas in my mouth. The pine nuts stayed crunchy which added to the texture and gave it a really nice nutty aftertaste. I really enjoyed this dish and it is something different that I wouldn’t usually be able to find on a menu.Despite the restaurant getting more and more busy throughout the night, we were never forgotten; our dishes came in a timely manner, the water was constantly replenished and they were happy to answer any of our questions regarding the menu. There were new staff members starting that night so we had to wait for experienced staff members to become available to use our Entertainment book voucher and get the bill. I would definitely come here again, eat lots of bread, kafta and rice, although there are plenty of other things I want to try on their menu too.

Venue: Petra Palace Restaurant

Address51 Colbee Court, Phillip, Woden 2606, ACT, Australia

Phone: (02) 6281 3009

Opening hours
Tuesday – Saturday 5:00 pm – 10:00 pm

Belly Dancing every Saturday night

Dine-in & Take Away Available

Website: www.petrapalace.com.au/

Entertainment book: Yes! Don’t forget to use it.

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Lahori Gate

Canberra has had such restaurant boom in the last few years, I cannot keep up but at least I’ve heard of most of the places even if I haven’t been yet. So when a work colleague asked me if I had been to a Pakistani restaurant in Phillip, I gave him a look of deep concentration as I scanned through my mental restaurant library and came up blank. What was he talking about, how was there a restaurant south side out of all places that I haven’t heard about!?

Lahori Gate has been open for the past 8 months and are looking to expand all without registering on the foodie radar, but it has obviously made waves in the Pakistani community. Even the ambassador went there to eat and was so impressed that Lahori Gate now caters for some embassy events. We were all curious about this restaurant so a group of us from work went later that week. When we were all seated the waiter/owner clarified with us that they are a Pakistani restaurant not an Indian restaurant, all the food is home style cooking, his wife and sister-in-law run the kitchen and do not to expect cream and sweeteners to be added to the curries. ‘Perfect’ I said smiling, ‘that’s exactly what we’re here for’.

Appetisers~

Chicken pakora deep-fried chicken fritters, cooked with light spices served with raita and tamarind sauce ($9.50). These were served to us piping hot from the fryer although they weren’t oily. I was surprised how many were in one serve (or have I just adjusted to Canberra ‘normal’ dining now?) and they were addictive to eat. I think they forgot to give us tamarind sauce but we still had lemon and raita, which wasn’t sweet but rather herby and tangy.Shami kebab beef and lentil patties served with raita and salad ($9.50). These patties had a ‘wet flaky consistency’ like tuna from a can; I couldn’t tell there were lentils in there. It tasted very meaty with herbs although it did leave a bit of a chilli aftertaste at the back of my throat. I’ve never eaten anything like this before.A closer look inside the shami kebab.The raita here is not sweet like we’re used to in Indian restaurants and conveniently pairs well with everything from entrees through to mains.Mains~

Achari chicken marinated boneless chicken cooked with pickles and special spice and herbs ($15.50). I didn’t get any pieces of pickles in my spoonfuls but that didn’t worry me. The chicken had a beautiful flavour to it, it is hard to describe when I’ve never had anything like this before but we all really enjoyed it went back for more.Bhuna Gosht tender pieces of beef (it usually comes in lamb but we got this in beef) marinated in garlic, ginger and spices cooked with tomato, onion in a thick bottom pan to seal all the natural juice ($15.00). My work colleague was disappointed with this dish because for him, it is usually ‘dry’ with not much sauce but for those who didn’t know any better (i.e. most people on the table), we mopped up all the sauce with our naan.Chicken Biryani chicken and rice cooked with aromatic spice, herbs served with raita ($15.50). Yes we ordered chicken for entree and then chicken on top of more chicken, hahaha. The rice was really nice, although the chicken pieces were so sporadic I don’t know if it made much of a difference, luckily for me, I just topped it off with more achari chicken.Sides~

Rice ($4.00 serve we had two serves between the 8 of us).

Garlic naan ($3.00 each we ordered 4 between 8 of us). My first piece was pretty burnt on one half but luckily for the table (unlucky for me), it was pretty much the only burnt one that was served. These had herbs as well as garlic on them which was a nice touch, but they were very handy to have at the table to mop up every bit of the sauces from the curries.Desserts~
Rice pudding
(Kheer $8.00). I’m a sucker for rice pudding so while everyone choosing ras malai, I was shouting out for rice pudding, in the end we got two of everything so there was enough for everyone to sample a bit of everything. This was subtle sweet but was mixed with nice spices.Ras malai ($8.00). I have eaten my fair share of ras malai (although I still wouldn’t be an expert) and this would have been one of the nicer ones I’ve had. My work colleague was not as impressed and said that they can make it better at home, unfortunately not all of us are that lucky.

Carrot pudding ($8.00). This was not on the menu but the waiter/husband/brother-in-law was saying that he made this dish himself and if we would like to try some, so we ordered this as well. It looked very unusual but it tasted very balanced between the sweetness, spices and the natural sweetness of the carrots.The dining area is very small and might not fit more than 40-50 people comfortably and although patrons were sporadic during our meal I would still suggest to book to avoid disappointment.

I quickly took a photo before the restaurant became fairly busy.I really enjoyed the food here, it offers a menu unlike any other I’ve seen in Canberra. It is nestled away in the apartment blocks near Woden CIT and I wouldn’t have known that this place existed if my work colleague hadn’t seen a flyer in a grocery store.

Apparently they have ‘brunch’ buffet once a month on a Sunday, it is not on a set day every month so check out their Facebook page for upcoming events and brunch dates. For $18.50(?) you have a choice between 8 varieties of curries and it is very popular that the line is always out the door.

Venue: Lahori Gate

Address: 2 Antis St, Phillip, ACT

Phone(02) 6101 5896

Opening hours:

Mon Closed

Tuesday – Friday 11:00 AM to 10:00 PM
Saturday – Sunday 4:00 PM to 10:00 PM
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Ming’s Restaurant

Several people have mentioned Ming’s restaurant to me but I didn’t get around to going there until we needed a family friendly restaurant in the Woden area. A larger sized group meant that we got to try a variety of dishes.20140712-201909-73149415.jpgSpring rolls with beef mince ($3.60 for 2 pieces). Nothing really special, I didn’t really get much meat in mine, just lots of air pockets and cabbage although they were deep-fried well, being crispy but not overly oily.20140712-200558-72358219.jpgPan-fried roti (4.00). Pieces were cut up into quarters, my piece was crispy and warm while my friend who got a piece before me had a cold soggy piece. I don’t think one piece of roti should be this expensive unless they are made fresh.20140712-200559-72359539.jpgBelacan beans ($14.80). It’s hard to describe the taste but it wasn’t for my palette, I’m used to having these beans in a different way.20140712-200936-72576489.jpgShantung chicken ($15.80). So I only had blurry photos of the shangtung chicken which didn’t make the cut so there are no photos. I thought they did this really well, the chicken was super tasty with plenty of pickled cucumbers underneath. I would definitely order this again and it was a real crowd pleaser.

Honey King prawns ($18.80). Made really well with big prawns but then again I’ve never had a honey prawn that I didn’t like.20140712-200939-72579279.jpgBeef Rendang ($16.80). I loved this! Hands down the best dish of the night. It has a bit of a chilli kick to it and it was borderline too hot for me but I couldn’t help smothering my rice in the delicious rich sauce anyway.20140712-200937-72577983.jpgRock salt squid tentacle (Australia produce) ($17.80). A bit daunting to look at if you’re not used to eating this type of thing but it was tasty. I would have wanted it to be saltier with a bit more garlic, shallots and chilli but at least the pieces were easy to chew.20140712-201258-72778768.jpgSpecials board~ I am always so self-conscious when I take photos in a Chinese restaurant, I always feel eyes on me like I’m trying to steal secrets back to my parents Chinese restaurant even though both my parents are retired. For this reason, I decided not to walk to the specials board in the centre of the long wall and take photos of the description of the dish and the price, so sorry this is what I can remember to the best of my ability.

Fish in two ways, ginger and snowpeas and chilli sauce. I didn’t mind this dish but my preference is for steamed fish with ginger and snowpeas. Seafood dishes are more expensive obviously, I think this was around the $30 mark.20140712-200601-72361117.jpgGolden pork chops. I expected a more juicier and salty pork chop and a bit more ‘wow’ but I didn’t get it from this dish.20140712-201257-72777430.jpgI think Ming’s do some Asian dishes really well but they don’t have signature dishes that I couldn’t get anywhere else. Their advantage is their extensive menu ranging from Chinese, Malaysian to Nyonya style clay pots and their location. I would love to come back and try more dishes like noodles and dry chilli beef, it would be nice to have a place that does these dishes well in the south side area.20140712-201910-73150813.jpgThe venue is really spacious and because it is away from the mall area, it is really easy to find a park. The place is family friendly and has a large range or dishes to suit everyone.20140712-201912-73152399.jpgVenue: Ming’s Restaurant

Address7-11 Botany St Phillip, ACT

Phone: (02) 6282 9799

Website: www.mingschinese.com.au   << I just checked out their website and it has a really good layout with a great online ordering system which I did not expect from this little restaurant. I am very impressed!

 

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