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Beijing Alley

6 Apr

We had a quick dinner at Beijing Alley last Friday before watching Captain America. At first I was hesitant to eat here, but when the Mongolian pointed out they sell jianbing, I was so excited (this is the first time I’ve had jianbing in Australia) I needed no further convincing.

I’d describe the jianbing as a large thin round crepe with a sweet sauce (like 甜蜜酱) and an optional splash hot sauce, an egg, a sprinkling of spring onions and another of coriander. Then the vendor would add in a fried dough stick or another very crunchy, deeply fried carb and wrap it up like a kebab. Because it is hawker food, it costs about 3RMB. I thought it was breakfast food (and I’ve certainly only had it as breakfast), but the Mongolian told me he use to have it after tutoring school which is about dinner time. Either way, it both warms the soul in the unforgiving Shanghai-ese winter and fills the tummy for a ravishing students who study too much.

Sour plum drink and soy milk. I really liked the soy milk because it wasn't sweetened and tasted like it was freshly made

Sour plum drink and soy milk
I really liked the soy milk because it wasn’t sweetened and tasted like it was freshly made

Pig's ears - ack!! These were spicy (tasted like 老干妈), crunchy and rubbery. I wasn't a great fan because of the texture, but the Mongolian loved it for that same reason. He ate two plates of this and didn't seem fazed by the spiciness.

Pig’s ears – ack!!
These were spicy (tasted like 老干妈), crunchy and rubbery. I wasn’t a great fan because of the texture, but the Mongolian loved it for that same reason. He ate two plates of this and didn’t seem fazed by the spiciness.

Red braised pork belly rice - Lots of meat, slightly salty (especially the egg) and the pork was on the fatty side.

Red braised pork belly rice
Lots of meat, slightly salty (especially the egg) and the pork was on the fatty side.

Jianbing with fried dough stick - feels like it was a very gourmet version because it's served in a plate, not a plastic bag.

Jianbing with fried dough stick
It doesn’t taste exactly like the jianbings I’ve had back in China, something is amiss. But this feels like a very gourmet version because it’s served in a plate, not a plastic bag. Let’s not also forget this costs 26 times more than the ones in China.

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Things are on the expensive side here, but the food is ok. Next time I come, I want to try their zhajiangmian.

Beijing Alley on Urbanspoon

Khao Pla 2

6 Apr

I had an amazing dinner at Khao Pla last weekend. There was quite a queue when we arrived and we were told the wait would be about 20mins. So we went for a walk about Chatswood. When we returned, our table had been called and they had even called me on my phone , but I didn’t hear. So we waited some more, and used this time to read the newspaper articles pasted on their doors, which helped us decide what to order.

Pra hoy dip - sea scallop sashimi, lemon grass, kaffir lime, mint, chilli and lime juice

Pra hoy dip – sea scallop sashimi, lemon grass, kaffir lime, mint, chilli and lime juice
Fresh scallops in a sweet, sour and extremely spicy dressing. The fried onions also added a salty and crunchy dimension. The Mongolian was really looking forward to this dish, but unfortunately he does not take to spiciness well. He looked like he was suffering as he sweated profusely, panted a bit and had to drink my milk tea to help quell the burn. I liked it though.

Hor mok yang - grilled fish curry wrapped in banana leaf

Hor mok yang – grilled fish curry wrapped in banana leaf
There was a nice balance of flavours here, the fish was smooth and creamy. After the killer spiciness of the scallops, this was a welcome change for the Mongolian.

Lin yang - char grilled ox tongue

Lin yang – char grilled ox tongue
This was not a dish I would have ordered if the Mongolian was not there. I mean ox tongue?? But it was delicious and tender and reminded me of steak. A pleasant surprise. It was complimented by a plum sauce, but I enjoyed it by itself, just seasoned with salt.

Kana moo krob - wok fried crispy pork belly and Chinese broccoli

Kana moo krob – wok fried crispy pork belly and Chinese broccoli

Black sticky rice and jasmine tapioca - with dark sugarcane sauce and Thai milk tea ice cream

Black sticky rice and jasmine tapioca – with dark sugarcane sauce and Thai milk tea ice cream
When I took my first bite into this dessert, my eyes rolled back and I moaned before I could stop myself. I absolutely adore black sticky rice, but the fragrant jasmine tapioca and Thai milk tea ice cream took to greater heights. It was a small dish, and I savoured every bite.

Despite the burning shock of the first scallop dish, the Mongolian was really impressed with Khao Pla, and suggested we come back in winter, we will sit outside and he’ll wear just a t-shirt so that when he orders the Crying Tiger Beef, he won’t sweat as much.

Read about my first visit to Khao Pla here

Try Khao Pla! One of the best eateries in Chatswood. But be prepared to wait for a table as they are quite busy Thursday through to Saturday.

Khao Pla on Urbanspoon

El Cubano

23 Feb

First foodie adventure with ‘Martha Stewart’ for 2014 and we went el loco for Cuban food!

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A sexy painting hanging on the wall

Upon recommendation from a friend of ‘Martha Stewart’ we walked through the shady streets of King’s Cross to El Cubano, which opened in late January 2014 and is owned by the chef who use to work at La Bodeguita del Medio on York St. Unbeknownst to us, ‘Martha Stewart’ actually spoke with him in Spanish for a little while when we arrived.

El Cubano has a bar downstairs which plays infectious Latino music and according to the signs, plays live music on Friday nights.  Upstairs is a casual dining area, with bright aqua coloured walls and gold chairs.

Best mojito ever!

At the bar, don’t miss out on the best mojito ever!

We were the first patrons on this Thursday night, which gave the waitress time to introduce this new restaurant to us. It can be described as a family restaurant, as many of the chef’s family work alongside him in the restaurant. She was also very helpful in helping us order – and we took all the advice she gave!

Costillitas - Pork ribs with chilli lime mayonnaise This ribs in this entrée were a pretty decent size and is definitely a dish to sharing.

Costillitas – Pork ribs with chilli lime mayonnaise
The ribs in this entrée were a pretty decent size and it’s definitely a dish to share. The ribs had a tangy flavour which was complimented the rich, creamy mayo. The pink pickled onions had a interesting, candy-like fragrance.

Tamales - Steamed corn dumplings wrapped in corn leaf

Tamales – Steamed corn dumplings wrapped in corn leaf
These were not at all how I imagined they would be, perhaps they are authentic Cuban style? They had a creamy yet dense texture and mild flavour.

Arroz Imperial (Cuban Imperial Rice for two) - layers of rice, chicken, beef, Balmain bugs and prawns, finished with a thin layer of homemade mayo, jamon serrano, and melted cheese

Arroz Imperial (Cuban Imperial Rice for two)
This was recommended to us because it has a bit of everything – layers of rice, chicken, beef, Balmain bugs and prawns, finished with a thin layer of homemade mayo, jamon serrano, and melted cheese.
Despite its modest looking size, this dish packs a punch! There is so much meat, that between ‘Martha Stewart’ and I, we barely finished half of this dish. And that should NOT be taken as a comment on how delicious and flavoursome it was. Luckily, I had a lunchbox so I packed the rest away ^_^

Fritas de yucca / fried cassava chips

Fritas de yucca / fried cassava chips
A very dense potato chip

Queso crema y guayaba - combination of cream cheese and cascos of guava with guava ice cream

Queso crema y guayaba – combination of cream cheese and cascos of guava with
guava ice cream

Cigar display!

Cigar display!
If after dinner, you should crave for a smoke… Although for ‘Martha Stewart’ and I, we went for a after dinner walk back into the CBD to walk off all the food we ate.

Taste what is authentic Cuban food, then dance salsa to Latino music while drunk on mojito at…

http://www.elcubano.com.au/

El Cubano on Urbanspoon

Jervis Bay: Supply

23 Feb

This is a cute little café on the main strip at Huskinsson that focuses on using fresh local ingredients. Half of the place is even a mini grocery store, which you can explore whilst waiting for your order to arrive. I liked it so much we came here for breakfast and lunch.

Brekky salad - poached eggs, grilled halumi, avocado, roast tomatoes, almonds, dukkah on spinach and roquette Super healthy and super delicious. The dukkah makes a big difference in the flavour and makes the dish quite unique.


Brekky salad – poached eggs, grilled halumi, avocado, roast tomatoes, almonds, dukkah on spinach and roquette
Super healthy and super delicious. The dukkah makes a big difference in the flavour and makes the dish quite unique.

Classic Breakfast - bacon and eggs on Turkish bread

Classic Breakfast – bacon and eggs on Turkish bread

After 2 hours of kayaking, which included capsizing in the ocean (despite the kayaking person assuring us, “You won’t capsize on a day like this”), we rested our weary selves back in the familiar seats at Supply.

Classic chicken salad

Classic chicken salad

Steak sandwich - Scotch Fillet Steak w/ Chimichurri, Shaved Cabbage & Criolla Salsa (jalapeno, red onion & herb salsa)

Steak sandwich – Scotch Fillet Steak w/ Chimichurri, Shaved Cabbage & Criolla Salsa (jalapeno, red onion & herb salsa)

Supply on Urbanspoon

Jervis Bay: Stonegrill

23 Feb

This place seems to be the most popular restaurant in Jervis Bay! Bookings are a must: we were given a table outside which gave us plain view of the owner rejecting numerous walk-ins and redirecting them to other restaurants on the street. Lucky our motel operator advised us to book ASAP when we checked-in.

Aside from the novelty of cooking your steak to your liking of rarety / well-doneness, it was also very good value. The Mongolian and I both got the three courses for $32.

Garlic prawns

Garlic prawns

Bruschetta (I recommend dipping the bread in the garlic sauce above)

This Bruschetta was recommended by the motel operator. I also recommend dipping the bread in the garlic sauce above.

Steak with mushroom sauce and pasta salad.

Steak with mushroom sauce and pasta salad - That was a pretty big slab of meat

I had the Seafood Stonegrill...I didn't feel the fish was particularly fresh. Ironic given this is a seaside town.

I had the Seafood Stonegrill with salad on the side…I didn’t feel the fish was particularly fresh which is ironic given this is a seaside town.

Blueberry cheesecake wasn't so cheesy...

Blueberry cheesecake wasn’t so cheesy…

Mud cake was pretty dry

Mud cake was pretty dry

Don’t forget to book in advance at…

Stonegrill on Urbanspoon

Swine & Co

23 Feb

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Swine & Co is at the location of the Bravarian Bier Café on O’Connell St. Upstairs is a bar and downstairs is a dark and sophisticated dining room.

As the name suggests, the focus is on pork and the bar had some really interesting cocktail offerings that included bacon and pancetta. Unfortunately, it was a busy day we went and those two particular drinks were not available.

Apple Sour and the Cleaver

Apple Sour and the Cleaver

Downstairs in the dining area, I really liked the boar heads pinned on the walls, as well as the various butcher instruments on display. Service was also really friendly and helpful.

Half a dozen oysters

Half a dozen oysters

Crisp Pig's Tail -  Pine Purée, Grapes, Pickled Mushrooms (this included extremely smokey shitaki mushrooms), Pistachio. When this dish arrived, we thought they had the wrong table. We were expecting something more curly and cylindrical. However, as the waitress explained, the tails had been flattened (and covered in an exotic sounding salad) to make it easier to eat.

Crisp Pig’s Tail – Pine Purée, Grapes, Pickled Mushrooms (this included extremely smokey shitaki mushrooms), Pistachio.
When this dish arrived, we thought they had the wrong table. We were expecting something more curly and cylindrical. However, as the waitress explained, the tails had been flattened (and covered in an exotic sounding salad) to make it easier to eat. Pigs tails are like the crispy part of pork belly.

350G Riverlea pork neck steak with Fennel & Black Cardamom and bone marrow on the side!

350G Riverlea pork neck steak with Fennel & Black Cardamom and bone marrow on the side!
Neither ‘Genghis Khan’ nor I had pork neck steak before and were surprised steak could be made from that cut. The meat had good flavours (kind of reminded me of beef steak) and was well cooked.

Milk Fed Macleay Valley Suckling Pig with Celery Salt and Baby Fennel. Very enjoyable - crispy on the outside and very juicy and tender meat underneath.

Milk Fed Macleay Valley Suckling Pig with Celery Salt and Baby Fennel.
Very enjoyable – crispy on the outside and very juicy and tender meat underneath.

Swine & Co. on Urbanspoon

Shanghai: Wang Jia Sha

10 Feb

王家沙 Wang Jia Sha is another old school Shanghai-ese eatery, but does mostly small food / snacks rather than meals. It is also on West Nanjing Rd, near Mei Long Zhen.

At the ground floor, it sells take away buns, wontons, Suzhou style mooncakes (my aunty recommends meat filling ones), various rice desserts, zong zi… However some of them do not belong to WJS, even though they might operate right next to the WJS kiosks. Be wary of these and follow the crowd.

Upstairs is their sit down restaurant. The food here is just average, and I’ve heard it more than once that it relies on the legacy of its brand name rather than the quality of the food.

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小笼包 Xiao Long Bao
This was possibly the worst xiao long bao I’ve ever had! It wasn’t fresh, there was no ‘soup’ inside, so the skin was also too thick

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苔跳粢饭糕 Seaweed Rice Cake

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虾肉小馄饨 Little prawn and pork wontons

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春卷 Spring Rolls

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腌笃鲜
A soup made of salted pork, fresh pork pieces (this one used pork belly), bamboo shoots, tofu knots. My aunty said the flavour was not strong enough

八宝饭 Eight Treasures Rice Pudding Glutinous rice with red bean paste in the middle, adorned with 8 different types of dried fruits and nuts. At the restaurant, we had the traditional one with white rice, which was beautifully soft and chewy. This one I bought take away and is mixed with purple glutinous rice. Because purple rice require longer to cook, it was a bit hard and uncooked...

八宝饭 Eight Treasures Rice Pudding
Glutinous rice with red bean paste in the middle, adorned with 8 different types of dried fruits and nuts. At the restaurant, we had the traditional one with white rice, which was beautifully soft and chewy. This one I bought take away and is mixed with purple glutinous rice. Because purple rice require longer to cook, it was a bit hard and uncooked…

Buy some takeaway treats at WJS, located at 805 West Nanjing Rd.

Shanghai: Mei Long Zhen

9 Feb

On our last day, as we reflected on the various foods we had in HK, we concluded that sometimes the flavours or ingredients in HK cuisine were a bit strange. For example, when the food was sweet and salty at the same time (the pork buns at TWH), or their obsession with ham / spam. Comparatively, as one of my friends put it, “we eat normal food in Shanghai!”

Nowadays, with the ever expanding migrant workforce, cuisines from all over China are available in Shanghai. But my relatives would only ever take me to restaurants that does traditional Shanghai-ese food. One because they are accustomed to and prefer ‘our food’ and two so that I can eat ‘our food’ which isn’t available in Sydney. Not that I mind this, but it would inevitably cause my cousins to roll their eyes and say how this is “old people food”

So this is a post about normal, old people food.

梅龙镇酒家 Mei Long Zhen Restaurant

Mei Long Zhen is one of those old school Shanghai restaurants that’s been around since the glory days of the 30s. These days, it relies heavily on the reputation of being an old brand.

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Love this doorway!

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The restaurant is massive and this is one of its many halls

We purchased a ¥190 deal online, which got us…

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水晶虾仁 / Crystal prawns
As the prawns are always plainly flavoured, it must be eaten with the black vinegar which accompany the dish.

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响油鳝丝 / Fried Eel
Slithers of stir fried eel, seasoned with soy sauce and pepper, garnished with shallots

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红烧狮子头 / Red Braise Lion’s Head
These giant meat balls are first fried and then braised in a soy based sauce

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脆皮鸡 / Crispy Chicken
I don’t think this dish is particularly Shanghai-ese, but whatever…

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酸辣烫 / Sweet and Sour Soup

MLZ is located at No 22, Lane 1081, West Nanjing Rd

Hong Kong: Bubba Gump Shrimp Co

9 Feb

I can only describe the experience of taking the mini-train up to The Peak as feral.

We waited for over an hour in a line that snaked around a fountain 3 times. Once we bought our tickets, we had to elbow and push our way forward to the platform. The zenith of our battle was when the train finally arrived and I spearheaded our campaign to bag a three seater, being careful not to injure grandmas and grandpas on the way.

But as we left the platform and slowly began our ascent, I could feel my core muscles engaging due to the sheer steepness of the slope. Definitely glad we did not climb that mountain by foot…

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There are not many restaurants on The Peak, but the one that sparked all of our interest was Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.

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Classic Caesar Salad
A big plate of veggies (dressing on the side) before our main meal to make up for all the vitamins and fiber we have been missing for the past 3 days…

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“I’m Stuffed” Shrimp
Large shrimp with crab stuffing, baked in garlic butter and topped with Monterey Jack cheese. Served with mashed potatoes

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Shrimp New Orleans
Tender shrimp broiled in butter, garlic, spices. Served with jasmine rice. I highly recommend this, the flavour of the sauce was amazing!

Descend into feralness, but taking train up to Bubba Gump, Shop 304-305, 3/F, The Peak Tower, 128 Peak Rd, The Peak, The Peak

Macau: The Venetian

9 Feb

Because I never got over going to Vegas and not staying at one of the extravagant hotels on the Strip, when Macau was added to our itinerary, I insisted we stay at the Venetian, despite the fact it was hardly the most economic option.

On the day of arrival, we endured a long and nauseating ferry ride from HK, only to find the queue for the free shuttle bus to the Venetian exceeded that for any other hotel. Then when we arrived at the hotel, it took annother hour to check. The Venetian had lost some of its luster.

But one of its redeeming features was that it allowed me to eat two Macau favourites without leaving its grounds.

大利来记猪排包

Pork chop buns can be had anywhere in Macau, but the ones at Tai Lei Loi Kei are possibly the most famous. During my research, I’d read the original shop required one to line up from 2:30 for it when begins operating at 3. Luckily there was no queue at the Venetian branch and God knows I’ve had my fair share of queues in HK.

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Get in my belly!!!! First meal in Macau and I made a bee-line for the TLLK kiosk in the Venetian food court. My friends did the rounds and ended up getting the same as I. The bread was the highlight – obviously freshly baked, very soft and fluffy on the inside and just a tad crunchy on the outside. The pork chop was lean and well marinated, but I found it too salty. I got this with a milk tea which was also quite nice.

Lord Stowe’s Bakery & Cafe

Mention Macau and the word “Portuguese egg tart” is probably not far behind. Like the pork chop buns, egg tarts are omnipresent in Macau. Whilst I was initially set on only trying the tarts from Lord Stowe, my friend said they were all fairly comparable, so we should try them from a few different places. Thing was I listened to her and bought one from 咀香园 when I was looking for the Ruins of St Paul. It was mediocre enough to put me off trying a Lord Stowe egg tart (since they were “all comparable”).

But Lord Stowe is on a completely different plane to other street vendors. The cafe in the Venetian was very hard to find. I went twice and got lost twice. But the reward was sooo worth it.

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Egg tarts could not be more perfect. The pastry was flakey and the custard was silky. It was not too sweet so it did not feel too heavy. They’re similar to the ones at Lillian Bakery in Shanghai, but Lillian’s are a bit sweeter.

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Perfection is also cheap at MOP8 / AU$1

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Queues are inevitable, although it depends on timing. The second time I came, there was no queue.

For the record, although the egg tarts at 咀香园 were rather revolting, its pork or beef jerkies are delicious and I highly recommend the salted almond cookies.

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