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MATSURI Restaurant owner Yutaka Takeuchi has reopened his site at 900 Hay Street as a takeaway store and is evaluating other retail sites in the CBD for similar concepts.

“I have changed the front and the inside of the restaurant [at 900 Hay Street] and it opened last weekend,” he says.

“I have put [the name] Matsuri on there [the door] but it is more of a lunch bar.

Mr Takeuchi is in discussions for other retail sites but has not signed any leases.

“It is more of a Sydney style store, Japanese style takeaway.”

He also is looking into areas outside of the central CBD, including Subiaco and Northbridge.

“If there are some other space that is suitable that will be good.”

Mr Takeuchi says he will use the kitchen at the main Matsuri Restaurant (located on the ground floor of the QV1 building) to service the takeaway ventures but will consider other options if retail store numbers grew beyond two to three stores.

He says expansion plans depended on finding quality Japanese apprentice chefs.

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STAR Anise is back on the menu for lunch. Star Anise owner David Coomer started opening for weekday lunches last year but the move only lasted a matter of months.

After some thinking over Christmas, however, it was decided that the lunchtime crowd could use further exposure to Star Anise’s fare. The difference this year, according to Mr Coomer, is that the lunch menu is only available on Fridays and there is a new restaurant manager on deck to cater to hungry corporate types.

“Daniel Morris is his name and he came over here from Tasmania,” Mr Coomer says.

“He worked for a bit at Lamonts but he’s now with us and he is doing a great job.”

And 2003 also brings with it a new web presence. The website www.staraniseperth.com was launched four weeks ago.

But while there is plenty that’s new at Star Anise, the timeless classics remain. Messrs Coomer and Morris are gearing up for Star Anise’s long table ‘duck dinner’, which will take place on April 2 from 7pm. Bookings are a must, and be quick on this one.

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Italian restaurateur Maurizio Di Ciano is on a gastronomic quest to educate West Aussies on the flavours of regional Italian cuisine. He says there are significant differences between the cuisine served in the north and that of southern Italy. But it seems not everyone in Perth appreciates or knows what produce is served in Piemonte and what is served in Sicily. It’s all a little too easy to mix it all under the one label, Italian, Mr Di Ciano says, which means there are thousands of recipes that get left by the wayside.

To address this oversight he has launched an Il Giro D’Italia promotion that will run to the end of the year. It will be known as Il Giro D’Italia, which simply means “the journey through Italy”.

“There is that bike race, the Tour de France, and we thought why not do that with Italian food? Start from the top of the country and work down and around and up again and try the different authentic produce,” Mr Di Ciano says.

“I want to showcase the authentic culinary traditions of the various regions of Italy from the north to south and offer those who appreciate fine food the opportunity to taste the myriad flavours of Italy, without leaving Australia.

“There are over 60,000 recipes from Italy and we only use about 1,000 in WA and we stay with the normal dishes. There is a huge difference between the north and the south.

“There is a lot of effort and preparation that goes into it but it is quality, good slow food.”

The journey begins on Saturday March 22 with the Piemonte E Valle D’Aosta region in the spotlight. The Il Giro D’Italia continues every second Saturday and meanders through Liguria, Toscana and Lazio.

Il Giro D’Italia takes place at Maurizio Restaurant (at the WA Italian Club).

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Oriel Café has come up trumps with the latest item in its product range – a corporate hamper. While hampers are nothing new, Oriel’s concept (aimed squarely at the corporate gift/CRM area) does away with normal concepts of baskets with little nibblies, instead opting to use funky packaging and generous serves of freshly cooked food from the Oriel chefs. And the Oriel team has thought of everything needed for outdoor dining, from the tablecloth to the garbage bag. It’s a concept that has resulted in several big corporate orders in the past few weeks, according to Oriel general manager Mimma Anastasio.

“The top of the range pack comes with a black canvas backpack and two matching black cooler bags. There is stainless steel cutlery, table cloth, a cheese board, a picnic blanket and premium red and white wines,” Ms Anastasio says.

She says the decision to put the hampers together was prompted by a client who wanted to give his customers something a little different.

 “They wanted some different items and they wanted more quantity, a lot of hampers that you order don’t have that much in them,” Ms Anastasio says.

“We have a full check list and to pack 80 it takes about three hours, but so long as we have good notice, about five days, it’s not a worry.”

The hampers range from $70 to $200.

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The Oyster Bar at LinQ is looking for some new talent, both front of house and in the kitchen. Restaurant manager Cindy Robinson says they have been advertising for a career minded restaurant supervisor to work night shifts for about three weeks but as yet no decision has been made. Head chef Daniel DeVauz is also on the lookout for a sous chef.

According to Ms Robinson there has been plenty happening at the new-look restaurant, from Tuesday night oyster promotions to a weekly lunch promotion aimed at driving a good corporate lunch trade.

The $39 ‘corporate luncheon’ menu offers diners a choice of two meals (from a list of six) as well as a glass of red or white wine, bread, tea and coffee.

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When guests next drop around for a drink make sure to use this simple tip that Gusto has borrowed from the team at Gala Restaurant. Simply paint a pattern on the glass with some alcohol (spirits that is, beer is not an option here) and then throw some sugar over it.

The result is an individual dusty crystal white design that dresses up any champagne flute, martini glass, or even a desert bowl. According to the team at Gala (who serve their drinks and sorbets in glasses with sugar designs) you should use the alcohol as a base as it dries quickly and it dries clear.

And speaking of Gala, they’ve got black truffles in and are using them in special menu items.

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Wholesaling condiments and wholesaling IT hardware are not two industries you would usually connect. But for Connie Lim, a business development manager for an IT wholesaler, it comes naturally. Ms Lim’s homemade olive paté is being sold at Fremantle restaurants.

And it keeps her busy, she makes six litres a week that are sold at the Fremantle Mussel Bar and Marconi Café Restaurant.

“I know the owners from Marconi and they came to our place for dinner one night and I served the olive paté. They then wanted to sell it in their restaurant,” Ms Lim says.

“It’s my own recipe and it’s tasty and versatile.

“You can have it as a dip or a spread or use it in casseroles. It is different, it’s like a tapanade but tapanades have a fishy base this has no anchovies.

“A lot of people who don’t like olives will finish a bottle of it.”

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If you’re after a mussel dish, or several, head to the Café at the Hyatt. They are currently running a mussel promotion that includes chilli mussels, Thai mussels, garlic mussels, and lemon mussels. The promotion ends on March 23.

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It’s easy to relax over food and wine but, when entertaining, it usually comes after an hour or two of stressful recipe management. Those wanting to loosen up a little in the kitchen should check out a cooking class at Amano Cooking School later this month. Beaumonde Catering’s co-owner and head chef Gary Payne will be taking the reins of Bev Sprague’s kitchen to provide some catering tips.

Called ‘good tempered food’ the class is designed to make outdoor entertaining a lot less of a pre cook-up panic.

Mr Payne is promising to offer participants with pressure-free recipes. The class takes place on Wednesday March 19.

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