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Claire’s Kitchen at Le Salon

15 Jun

I almost didn’t make it to the Lion King, no thanks to Sydney Buses. Honestly, buses should be on time, they can be (and often are) late, but they should never be early! I mean, what the hell? Luckily the next bus was early as well and I wasn’t wearing pumps so that I was able to run from QVB to Capitol. Made it in time with extra to buy water. The musical was amazing.

After the Lion King Musical, we had dinner at Claire’s Kitchen at Le Salon. We were seated by the front door and I had prime view over who entered and left. Coincidentally and perhaps suitable for a restaurant on Oxford Street, that night there was a party booked whereby some of the male patrons arrived very ‘dressed’ up. It was quite a scene, for both myself and waitress greeting at the door as the procession continued.

Anyway to the food!

The Mongolian is a big fan of raw foods and he didn't even consider other entree options once he saw the steak tartare. This one is presented deconstructed, and although it looks small now, once it was all mixed up, it was actually quite a decent meal, for protein. It's a bit like sashimi, and the hot mustard really packs a punch.

The Mongolian is a big fan of raw foods and he didn’t even consider other entree options once he saw the steak tartare. This one is presented deconstructed, and although it looks small now, once it was all mixed up, it was actually quite a decent meal, for protein. It’s a bit like sashimi, and the hot mustard really packs a punch.

I ordered the duck liver parfait, which came in a cute little pot. A thick layer of duck fat covered the liver goodness. Trying not to sound blonde, but it did taste very ducky, which the pickles and chutney also served helps to cover up.

I ordered the duck liver parfait, which came in a cute little pot. A thick layer of duck fat covered the liver goodness. Trying not to sound blonde, but it tasted very ducky, but the pickles and chutney also served helps to cover that up.

Duck and pinot noir pie with melted brie under the puff pastry crust. I'm speachless. I don't usually like wine based sauces, but the balance achieved with the creamy cheese cut through the dry wine taste and made it so amazing!

Duck and pinot noir pie with melted brie under the puff pastry crust. I’m speechless. I don’t usually like wine based sauces, but the creamy brie cut through the dry wine taste and achieved a balance that made it so amazing!

For his main, the Mongolian had the beef cheeks braised in a dark chocolate sauce. As the lovely waitress later told us, the chocolate was not so much for flavour but to achieve the slightly grainy texture and luscious colour.

For his main, the Mongolian had the beef cheeks braised in a dark chocolate sauce. As the lovely waitress later told us, the chocolate was not so much for flavour but to achieve the slightly grainy texture and luscious colour.

Chocolate and hazelnut dacquoise. We weren't suppose to order this because we were already so full! We also had dessert for afternoon tea at Swiss Bakers. But the way they showcase their dessert range is so good yet so bad (depending on which perspective you are on). They brought out a huge plate with all their desserts and introduces each one by one. How could we say no?

Chocolate and hazelnut dacquoise. We weren’t suppose to order this because we were already so full! We also had dessert for afternoon tea at Swiss Bakers. But the way they showcase their dessert range is so good yet so bad (depending on which perspective you are on). They brought out a huge plate with all their desserts and introduces each one by one. How could we say no?

Claire's Kitchen at Le Salon on Urbanspoon

Lynn Shanghai Cuisine

15 Jun

Despite being call the Mongolian, the Mongolian is actually a pure born and bred Shanghainese. Hence that night, he had lots to say about our food and we reminisced about the good ole days when my grandpa took me for xiaolongbaos every Sunday on the way to art school, or when he bought a packet of steaming hot fresh shenjian after a long day of school.

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Shanghai specialty 1: The xiao long bao with thin pastry and lots of soup inside were well made. It tastes a bit different from the ones at Din Tai Fung; for one, the meat is a bit more fatty. But I reckon it would still give DTF a run for its money.

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Szechuan Fried Chilli Chicken – not a Shanghainese dish as the name makes clear, but the Mongolian saw quite a few tables order this on our way to the table and the presentation was so appealing! The portion was also extremely generous. The chicken morsels were fatty, salty and spicy.

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Shanghai specialty 2: sheng jian with crab roe were also enjoyable. Although the base were not as fried as we both would have liked, there was still a nice crunch. Visually, these buns are not authentic, but then again I’ve never seen an authentic looking shen jian in Australia.

We also had a plate of ‘Green Sprout with Mushroom’ for fibre. As a friend of mine use to say, “A man needs his vegetables”. I don’t really like the gravy they pour on top, but the sprouts were refreshing, very tender and once again, a very generous portion.

Service was fast and also surprisingly good for a Chinese restaurant. Our waiter did not necessarily speak English very well, but once we started speaking in Chinese, he was actually very sweet and helpful.

Overall, the Mongolian approves of Lynn and we would come back – especially since they handed out a 20% off voucher for next time .

Belly dancing at El- Phoenician

24 May
Belly dancing

Belly dancing

Last week the Mongolian and I went faraway to the far flung city of Parramatta for a Lebanese dinner at El-Phoenician. Funny how small this world is, through our extended relationships we know two people who work here.

One of my friends recommended I get dips with fried bread, tabouli, rocket salad, chicken and lamb skewers and chicken wings; while the Mongolian’s link to the restaurant recommended the mixed platter. We ended up ordering the latter because it had everything my friend liked anyway.

The food came really quickly…

The mojito wasn't too strong

The mojito wasn’t too strong

Assorted dips - hummas, Lebanese yoghurt, babaganoush

Assorted dips – hummas, Lebanese yoghurt (so rich and creamy), pickles/olives/feta and babaganoush. Flat bread and fried bread is also served.

I didn't quite understand why my friend recommended something so ordinary as the rocket salad. But once I tasted it, I understood why. It was very simple, but done very well with just olive oil dressing and sundried tomatoes. The best part was the rocket which felt super fresh and great texture. The tabouli was also really delicious. Extremely tangy.

I didn’t quite understand why my friend recommended something so ordinary as the rocket salad. But once I tasted it, I understood why. It was very simple, but done very well with just olive oil dressing and sundried tomatoes. The best part was the rocket which tasted super fresh and great texture. The tabouli was also really delicious, extremely tangy.

Garlic prawns, oysters, salt and pepper calarmari

Garlic prawns were massive, tender and amazing, oysters, salt and pepper calamari

Chicken and Lamb skewers with garlic aoli and potatoes baked to perfection

Chicken and Lamb skewers with a spicy and pungent garlic aioli (or it could have just been pure grated garlic considering out spicy it was) and baked potatoes that made me swoon.

Totally stuffed, around 9pm, the much anticipated belly dancing performance started. There were three dancers, including a male dancer (surprise surprise) who had super sexy moves and a great smile. I loved how they weren’t just performing for us but got the audience involved in every song.

The sexy male dancer skips over to our end, twirling a golden staff, I take a few photos of him and am about to start filming when he stops turning and faces me with a stern face and arms crossed. I thought I committed some performance copyright violation, but no, he just wants me to dance with him.

I don't know what we were doing here. I was too busy laughing.

I don’t know what we were doing here. I was too busy laughing.

Some shimmying. Yea~ I could do this

Some shimmying. Yea~ I could do this

A hip move

A hip move I completely failed at.

The Mongolian was extremely amused to say the least.

The dinner slightly digested from dancing and laughing, the Mongolian can’t help but order dessert.

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Lady’s Arms – filo pastry with clotted cream. Reminds me of a sweet, creamy spring roll.

The service was also fantastic, everyone was really friendly. When I was paying the bill, the lady starts chatting to me, and the Mongolian thought I knew her purely from the way she spoke to me.

Definitely will be researching on belly dancing classes and be back to impress that sexy dancer.

El-Phoenician on Urbanspoon

Foodie date with ‘Martha Stewart’

24 May

NSFW Lunch at Naked Duck

At the beginning of the week, ‘Martha Stewart’ and I went for a walk at lunch and found the Naked Duck at Darling Quarter. She was so enticed by the roasts on display that she returned the next day and had twice pull pork, 12 hour braised lamb and chicken pasta which she raved about later on.

So we came for lunch on Friday with Prince George, another colleague. I was curious about what to order, so I Googled Naked Duck and went to images O.O Lucky no one sits behind me or was looking over my shoulder when the pictures loaded because none of them were related to this eatery and none of them were safe for work.

We arrived at the busiest time, most hectic time, most of the salads had sold out already, and it took a while for ‘Martha Stewart’ and Prince George  to get served due to a lack of queuing system.

Duck panini with roast vege salad 12 hour braised lamb with rosemary fries

Despite the Google Image fail, I ordered the duck panini with the roast vege salad, which was like a cross between a Vietnamese pork roll and Peking duck pancakes, and was complimented by a Chinese five spice mayo. Only thing not great was the bread was very crusty, so I had to take small bites and chew carefully. Before I had even finished my roll, Prince George had already polished off his fries. The sweet potatoes in my salad was so sweet and delicious but unfortunately I was too full to finish it all.
‘Martha Stewart’ got the 12 hour braised lamb roll with rosemary fries, while Prince George had the twice pulled pork roll with roasted potatoes and rosemary fries.

The Naked Duck on Urbanspoon

 

Drunken Rice

Although the Naked Duck panini/roll were very filling, ‘Martha Stewart’ and I pushed ahead with another foodie adventure at dinner. Originally we were going to try African food, but we couldn’t find a good African restaurant in time, so we ended up bringing forward our Korean foodie adventure.

Drunken Rice was a bit hard to find as the English signage was non-existent on the street level. It was only inside that I saw the name Drunken Rice.

Kimchi pancake

‘Martha Stewart’s’ favourite was the Kimchi pancake, which I thought had good flavour and was fried well.

Icy noodles with chicken

For something different, I also ordered the icy chicken noodles. I loved the chewiness of the noodles,the chicken broth tasted wholesome and delicious and there were many pieces of tender chicken.

The food was very good, as the number of customers that night would attest. I saw a few tables ordered this big bone of meat, and I’d definitely order that next time I come. But we both felt the service was ineffectual, and much of that had to do with the waiter not speaking good enough English. It started with him telling me they don’t have tea and pointed to the alcohol list like that was the only beverage they had. Later we saw another table had a pot of tea. Then it took forever for him to get us bowls so we could share; I ended up having to get up and getting bowls myself. And finally, the bill never came! I’d love to dine and dash, but I asked another waitress who brought our bill in 20 seconds.

Drunken Rice on Urbanspoon

Penang

23 May

I think I better write this much delayed post and unblock this bottle neck.

Although I wrote about Melaka first, Penang was actually our first stop in Malaysia. I was really looking forward to Penang given this is the culinary site that Malaysians and Singaporeans flock to for foodie holidays. It’s a good thing we arranged it as our first stop too, because my appetite waned down the track. It also helped that the centre of Penang covered a relatively small area, and we could easily walk from the jetties on one end of Georgetown to the other. All that walking helped us digest and burn of excess calories since we were having 4-5 meals per day.

Char Kway Teow

Finally trying Char Kway Teow

Finally trying Char Kway Teow! It was like a dream come true!

Char Kway Teow! What can I say? This was at the top of my list of foods to try. I don’t know what the attraction was: at best it can be described as glorified stir fried noodles. But alas! the heart wants what want it wants and mine wanted CKT. Of course I have had a plate at Sayoung in the food court under the CBD Woolworths, which my Malaysian colleague had assured was one of the best in Sydney. But nothing can compare with the original in Penang, and my online research suggested the Penang CKT was something to anticipate.

Mouths salivating and heart beating expectantly, we walked to Lorong Selamat, the home of the Red Hat Aunty. I have read many reviews of how popular her CKTs are and that some people are forced to wait an hour at peak time. Luckily when we arrived it was mid-afternoon (I refer to my earlier comment about eating 5 times a day), so we didn’t have to wait for a table, although we did wait a while for  our order to arrive, but much of that was attributable to a small tour group which arrived before we did.

The Red Hat Aunty cooking our CKT! Maybe she wasn't particularly busy when we arrived, because she didn't wear her goggles. She looks a bit grumpy as she continuously stir-fried plate after plate of CKT. She just looked like she was glaring at everyone and everything she sees! The Mongolian reckons she must have guns of steel with the hours of non-stop wok tossing she does.

The Red Hat Aunty cooking our CKT! Maybe she wasn’t particularly busy when we arrived, because she didn’t wear her goggles. She looks a bit grumpy, like she was glaring at everyone and everything she sees! The Mongolian reckons she must have guns of steel with the hours of non-stop wok tossing she does.”

Although portion sizes in Malaysia quite small compared to Australia, it comes jam packed with goodies! In our plate we got 4 large prawns, plus lots of clams, Chinese sausages and eggs and sprouts. The Mongolian and I really enjoyed our CKT and Oyster Omelette (see below)

The next day, we went back to Lorong Selamat, but we decided to try the CKT at the Red Hat Aunty’s competitor, just down the road from her (I forget the name). To be honest, they tasted very similar. I can’t say one is better over the other as both were equally good and had the same ingredients.

Red Hat Aunty CKT is at Kafe Heng Huat (兴发茶室) 

108 Lorong Selamat

10400 Pulau Pinang

Oyster Omelette – an unexpected, pleasant discovery

Oyster Omelette

Oyster Omelette with sweet and spicy sauce

Malaysia has this concept of a coffee shop (kopitiam), where you go sit in but it only serves drinks, and you are expected to order from the hawker stands which operate outside it. If you don’t order drinks, you’re expected to pay a small fee for the use of their shop.

When we were in the coffee shop waiting for our CKT to arrive, a man comes to us and asks if we wanted something. We had some trouble communicating because he spoke neither English nor Mandarin. Ultimately he walked away (and I thought we had gotten rid of him), but very quickly he came back with a laminated poster of his oyster omelettes. The Mongolian quickly ordered it, which surprised me because we tried it the previous day and it was horrible with so much corn starch diluting the egg that most of what we ate was thick goo.

But I am glad that The Mongolian ordered the oyster omelette from the Kah Kah Fried Oyster (嘉嘉蚝煎) right opposite the Red Hat Aunty. This one had no detectable corn starch, eggs were fried such that you can taste its natural fragrance, and of course, lots of succulent oysters. The sweet and spicy sauce helped to cut through the grease in this dish and complemented it very well.

Kah Kah Fried Oyster (嘉嘉蚝煎)  also on Lorong Selamat

Penang Laksa

The old man who is continuously compiling bowls of assam laska with noodles, cucumber and that delicious stock

The Grandpa who is continuously compiling bowls of assam laska with noodles, vegetables and that delicious stock

Penang laksa is also known as assam laksa, and has a distinctive sour flavour to its seafood soup. It tastes completely different to the curry laksa with coconut milk, so I find it curious that they are known as both laksa.

This was a stall at Air Itam markets, at the foot of Penang Hill and Guan Ying statue. The seating is scarce and squashed on the footpath, next to the road and next to the gutter. I turned a blind eye to the worker discarding a bucket of left over soup directly into the gutter, even though I swear some of it splashed on my leg. Despite the questionable hygiene and environmental controls, it was never at a shortage of customers with the Grandpa continuously making bowls of laksa. The Mongolian compared him to the Red Hat Aunty and commented how he wouldn’t be able to do that – that was saying something for someone with army training plus gym sessions.

Penang laska - rice noodles, cucumbers, onions, chilli, herbs and a pungent, tangy, rich and fish stock. There were lots of fish pieces, as the grandpa would ladle in the stock, then pour the liquid back into the pot , and repeat this a few times so there's an accumulation of fish meat.

Penang laska – rice noodles, cucumbers, onions, chilli, herbs and a pungent, tangy, rich and fish stock. There were lots of fish pieces, as the grandpa would ladle in the stock, then sieve liquid back into the pot , and repeat this a few times so there’s an accumulation of fish meat. The flavour of the soup is inexplicably good that mere words fail to pay proper homage to its deliciousness. Suffice to say that I licked the bowl dry, and although the Mongolian was sick when we first arrived and couldn’t have much, after his stomach settled, he came back for another bowl.

Fried goods from a neighbouring stand to accompany the laksa.

Fried goods from a neighbouring stand to accompany the laksa.

 

Batu Ferringhi

And last but not least, some food porn from the markets at Batu Ferringhi where the Mongolian had a late night feast.

Satay sticks

It started off with satay sticks…

Bakuteh

…followed by some bakuteh…

Fried chicken

…then a plate of fried chicken to finish off.

Melaka: other great eats

25 Apr

Although Penang is touted as the food capital of Malaysia, we loved the culinary delights in Melaka. We didn’t think it was second to Penang, but rather enjoyed its offerings more than Penang. Below is some of the other places we liked.

Coconut Shake @ Bikini Toppings

46 Lorong Hang Jebat (opposite the Orangutan T-Shirt shop)

20140425-141941.jpgThe most famous place for coconut shake in Melaka is, no doubt, Klebang Original Coconut Milk Shake. However this is not within walking distant of the city centre, and getting a taxi out there just for a drink was neither financially nor time economical. Luckily I’d read Bikini Toppings did a good rendition of the shake, so we did not have to miss out. We initially noticed the cafe because of its name when we were wandering the streets near the Baba Nyonya Museum the day before, and the Mongolian was able to trace his way back to this place a day later. For this, he wants to be called Sherlock Holmes from now on (lol no).

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‘Sherlock Holmes’ had a coconut shake with coffee ice cream, while I had mine without any ice cream. The coconut water and coconut flesh is blended with ice. I think they also added some sugar syrup to mine because it was quite sweet. However I could still taste the flavour of coconut. Meanwhile ‘Sherlock Holmes’ said the coffee ice cream overpowered the coconut.

 

Millie Crepes @ Nadeje

G-23 & 25, Jalan PM4, Plaza Mahkota

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This was another place I spontaneously found online. Nadeje is a Melakan cafe that has gained so much popularity that it has expanded outside of its hometown to KL. There are a few stores in Melaka, with two in the vicinity of our hotel.

Millie Crepes in original and rum and raisin
The cake had a lot of cream in between each layer of thin crepe, but kept its shape and did not fall apart once we dug in. It was also not too sweet, subtlety is good.

The first time we went was after 9pm so it was quite empty. ‘Sherlock Holmes’ was so impressed we went again the next day. But the next day, there was a huge queue and most cakes had been sold out. It didn’t help that the customer before us wanted to buy 20 cakes in order to make use of the Nadeje loyalty card. Grrrr. Due to the limited options available, the flavours we were able to get (the Melaka and hazelnut praline), were not distinct enough, they all tasted relatively the same.

 

Satay Celup @ McQuek’s Satay Celup

231 Jalan Paraneswara

Satay celup is a Melakan specialty where skewers of raw food are dipped and cooked in a simmering satay sauce. So just like hot pot, but with satay.

The most famous and popular places for satay celup are Capitol or Ban Lee Xiang, but both inevitably require waiting in a long line, which was not appealing for us. Hence why I selected McQuek’s.

McQuek’s is not in the city centre; to get there, you have to walk along Jalan Parameswara for about 5-10 minutes. It might seem a lot longer, because there is no foot path, so you have to walk by the side of the road where cars are roaring passed on one side and an open drain on the other.

But McQuek’s is worth it! There weren’t that many customers, but its customers were locals, which suggest this place must be authentic and value enough. The service was also good, the ladies would momentarily come around and stir your pot so the peanuts don’t stick to the bottom.

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You’ve had hot pot. You’ve had stay. But have you had SATAY HOT POT?!?!?

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Damage: 43 sticks, 57 ringits

Melaka: Nancy’s Kitchen

25 Apr

Melaka, or Malacca, is a seaside city that was once an important port that facilitated trade between the east and the west. It is the historical centre of Malaysia, and my Malaysian friend described it as the birth of Malaysia.

Being a city where people of different countries converged, it’s cuisine is also displays this multicultural heritage. Peranakan cuisine, for example, is the food of Chinese traders who settled in Melaka and took local Malay wives. It is quite curry heavy and spicy, which I think, suits the climate.

Restoran Nyonya Nancy’s Kitchen

7 Jalan Hang Lekir

Nancy’s Kitchen is quite famous for Peranakan food. On both occasions we came, we had to wait for a table (although luckily, we did not have to wait for long). I also noticed that all the patrons were tourists, so don’t quite know where the locals go…

Popiah

Popiah – Steamed spring roll served with turnips, cucumber, fresh beans coriander leaf, eggs, garlic and other vegetables.
This is a signature dish, and the first time we went, they ran out by the time we were seated and were ready to order. The popiah was refreshing and light, but the turnips were a bit sweet. It’s also a big roll!

Top Hats - so named because of the shell it is served it resembles an inverted top hat. It has the exact same fillings as the popiah. The Mongolian likes it because the top hat shell is crunchy.

Top Hats – so named because of the shell it is served it resembles an inverted top hat. It has the exact same fillings as the popiah. The Mongolian likes it because the top hat shell is crunchy.

Assam prawns. It had big pieces of pineapple which added a further dimension to the sour and spicy soup. Such flavours are really good for the hot and humid weather. I liked mixing it into my rice.

Assam prawns – it had 4 big prawns and big pieces of juicy pineapple which added a further dimension to the sour and spicy soup. Such flavours are really good for the hot and humid weather. I liked mixing it into my rice.

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Duck – it was a bit sour and tasted a bit like the tamarind pork.

Fried rice

Fried rice

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L-R: Belacan water spinach, chicken with black nut, pork in tamarind, Nyonya fried noodles.

We liked the meat dishes in the above picture. The chicken with black nut had a rich, thick sauce, but it wasn’t spicy. Just visible in the photo is the black nut which you scoop out its dense, creamy black stuff inside and eat it with the chicken. The waiter described it as like a truffle – only in appearance.

Nyonya cendol

Nyonya cendol – shaved ice with gula melaka, coconut milk, red beans and green squiggle worms made from rice flour and pandan.
This was the best cendol that we had. The gula melaka is blended with the ice, which makes for even distribution and easy mixing of everything once served. It tasted creamier than the one we had at Jonker 88, too.

Dumplings 粽子

Dumplings 粽子 - This is a dessert, but it contains meat. I thought this was a bit strange and a rather heavy end to a meal.

Nancy's kitchen

Nancy’s kitchen

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Street view and the queue of tourists after 2pm.

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