“What does it take to be a great restaurant in 2022?”

As the standard for places-to-eat steadily improves, this is a question us food writers mull on when compiling end-of-year lists. Is this restaurant doing something original? Is it fun? Is it accessible? Is it delicious? Is this somewhere I want to tell the whole world about?

The following addresses, each in their own way, emphatically answer yes to one (or more) of the above last year (and we've listed them all in alphabetical order).

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Thanks for a delicious 2022, Western Australia.

Ah Beng Indonesia , Cannington

While the original Langford location of Ah Beng had its charms, David Wijaya’s decision to transplant his Indonesian eatery to Westfield Carousel is good news for many. Need a fix of (seriously) spicy handmade noodles? It’s mie pedas jeletot to the rescue. Want to preface the latest Hollywood blockbuster with rendang, egg curry, squid sambal or other punchy instances of Padang cookery? It’s your lucky day (or night). Keen to explore the possibilities of vegan cookery? Ah Beng can do all this, and more.

Alberta’s, Busselton

“Knock everything down. Build new stuff. I will help. (With both).” This framed poster in the kitchen of this Busselton kitchen and providore encapsulates the spirit of Kirsty Marchant and Ben Ing, a couple that traded careers at the pointy end of hospitality for something a little more manageable and – dare we say it – sustainable. And we're talking big names and big jobs: Marchant was head gardener of one of the world's most celebrated restaurants, Noma in Copenhagen, while Ing was its head chef. The result is Alberta’s, a warm-hearted space that’s home to good coffee, nourishing broths, fine baked goods and other brunch-adjacent dishes that celebrate local producers.

Falafel Omisi,Yokine

Is that a fried-to-order falafel in your pita pocket or are you just happy to see me? Or, more appropriately, Falafel Omisi, a kosher cafe next to a soccer pitch where one can find some of Perth’s most compelling Middle Eastern cooking. (See also the sabich, an Iraqi-Jewish sandwich featuring fried eggplant, hard-boiled egg, salad and the tangy mango pickle called amba; plus one very spirited shakshuka.) But the star of the show is undoubtedly Omisi’s namesake. Made in-house according to a Yemeni’s grandmother’s recipe, they’re available in myriad ways including as part of a falafel platter as well as a crunchy accent on plates of hummus (also made in-house). The most exciting newcomer for 2022? I reckon so.

Frui Momento, Wilyabrup

The name means “enjoy the moment” in Latin, which should be easy to do for anyone who appreciates stellar food and drink served in debonair settings. While a clipped snack menu is offered to guests in the alfresco areas, the refined cooking of chef Seth James is best admired in the dining room where guests order lunch via a prix-fixe menu in which zesty blood orange sets off grilled quail; roast pumpkin, a Korean-influenced vegetable broth, and rice cooked in shiitake dashi equals a pilaf for the ages; and feijoa, yoghurt sorbet and orange blossom granita combine in an equally memorable dessert.

Hinata Cafe, Fremantle

“I just want [Hinata] to be homestyle,” says Tomoe Echo, owner of this utterly charming Japanese café, which opened on the outskirts of Freo in February. “I like being homestyle. I’m not a trained chef, but I’m a shufu, which is the Japanese word for housewife. A shufu knows how to make a lot of good things.” A point ably proven by Hinata’s menu of Japanese comfort dishes that runs from dense okonomiyaki and vegetarian curries to a breakfast-brunch plate of rice and condiments (a vegan option is also available) that changes frequently.

La Lune, East Fremantle

Here’s your pre-reading for a visit to this joyous East Freo newcomer. One, the tables on the terrace – they’re built for two with the chairs arranged side by side – are best for playing out your Parisian bistro fantasies as well as securing that all-important second date. Then again, there’s a lot to be said for the booming vibe of the dining room: gilded surfaces, tightly clustered art prints, stained timber and all. Wherever you’re seated, revel in a menu of contemporary bistro cooking matched with appropriate Gallic and local beverages.

Old Young’s, Henley Brook

Crocodile chorizo. Raw scallops sharpened with an oil made from native lemongrass. Kimchi brightened with finger lime: when it comes to celebrating native ingredients and flavours, chef Rohan Park has a more active imagination than most. Which makes an outing at the kitchen expansion of this forward-thinking distillery one of the best meals one can have in the Swan Valley. Factor in a drinks menu sporting sharp cocktails made with house spirits, plus thoughtfully chosen local beers and wines and you’re looking at the makings of a top day out.

Rym Tarng, Bicton

Gee Bicton Central had a good 2022. Not only did the suburban shopping centre welcome community bread shop Hunter Bread to the ‘hood, it also scored this cosy Thai eatery opened by a posse of Long Chim alumni. While many lean on Rym Tarng as a superior takeaway option – on a busy night, brown delivery bags stack up around the kitchen like a game of Tetris – this restaurant is best experienced by booking in for one of the dining room’s 16 seats. From here, one can truly savour the polished cooking of chefs Art Bunraksa and Dondanai “Pop” Suwannarod (those pork and prawn fritters! The massaman curry!), and the sunny service of the chefs’ partners, Suphattra “Por” Yimphrae and Traiphop “Max” Khamngern.

@ahbeng _ indonesia
@albertas _ busselton