Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Eating Out: Ramen Ya [Shop 25G Melbourne GPO 350 Bourke St Melbourne, 3000]

This place proves that you don't need to have a prime location to have good business. It's one of those places you will walk past and not even realise that it exists. However at No. 9 on Urbanspoon, it's doing quite well. Why? Because it serves good authentic food.
I never realised how ramen obsessed David Chang was until I started reading his book, and boy is he dedicated to ramen. And now he's made me somewhat addicted. If you give me a choice of soup bases for ramen I will always choose tonkotsu, always always always. Not saying the other ones aren't nice but I just love tonkotsu.
Charshu Tonkotsu Ramen $10
I always think $10 is starting to get pricey for a bowl of asian noodles. But here, that $10 is cheap and so worth it. Of course I chose the house specialty. Comes with four thinner than thin slices of charshu. Nothing particularly special, tasted a tad like the one I attempted to make, a slice of naruto of the same thinness =[, BAMBOO!! (Never realised ramen is supposed to have bamboo until I read Momofuku  and this stuff isn't that random canned stiff crunchy stuff, it was actually floppy), sprinkle of spring onions, seaweed sheets, picked alarming red ginger and half a boiled egg (unfortunately not the awesome soft boiled ones).
It was sooooo nice. Lots of soup to go with the large serving of noodles which were thick and chewy in a good way. Sure the soup was salty but it was delicious, so delicious you forget about it's saltiness which you are reminded of 30 mins later when you're thirsty as hell. 
Probably be a long time before I'll get to eat tonkotsu ramen again =[

Seafood Gyoza Ramen-Shoyu base $10
Essentially the same except the charshu become gyozas. The gyozas aren't bad but I don't particular like any sort of dumpling which has a mushy/puree texture for the filling. Still like tonkotsu base better than shoyu/soya base. Nothing will change me. I know I'm stubborn.

Love the feel of Ramen Ya which apparently means ramen shop. Their spoons are even cooler, although it is a little awkward to use since it's so big. Reminded me of year 7 when we made wooden spoons for woodwork at school. Mum never used my spoon as she didn't know whether it was safe to use with food. 

Food: 9/10 Based purely on ramen. They've got everything that should be in ramen in ramen I think. 
Service: 8/10 Speak up when you order so the guy can hear you. Otherwise no problems with service.
Environment: 7.5/10 Nothing glamorous. Quite cramped. Only let down was since it was raining many of the chairs were wet although the place is covered water drips down the side.

Verdict? Cold rainy day + hot bowl of delicious ramen = comfort. 

Did you know ramen noodles don't actually contain any eggs?
David Chang you have taught me so much =]

Ramen Ya on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Eating Out: Coconut House [449 Elizabeth St Melbourne, 3000]

After attending a 3 hour lecture I was starving. I've been wanting to come here since I heard about it. Of course who better to go with than a Malay(or Aussie Malay). Wasn't too hard to find, diagonally opposite Drummond Golf.
BBQ Roast Chicken and Hainanese Chicken Rice $8.60
I had to get this since it says it's specialty on the shop window. Just getting either BBQ Roast Chicken Rice or just Hainanese Chicken Rice is $7.60. Very good value. I can't say it's the best I've had but it's up there. The rice is quite fragrant and garlicky, a lot of the time the rice lacks the chicken flavour but this one was pretty decent. 
The portion of chicken is quite large although the pieces are small which in my eyes is a good thing as you can actually fit the entire piece in your mouth with rice. The roast chicken was a little dryer than the poached but expected, it is a roast chicken. The skin was crispy. No complaints. 
The soup was different to the usual msg chicken stock like soup. It was actually soup!! Like soup Mum makes except I don't think she's ever made this one. Maybe it's a Malay soup but I have no clue. It's a turnip and peanut soup. 
I really like this picture =]
Traditional Curry Laksa $8 something
Heard good things about their laksa. I guess my expectations were a little too high. But nonetheless it was a good laksa. It has everything it should. Wasn't as chilli as I thought it would be. Only complaint would be serving size. You can get a snack one for about a dollar less and I seriously wonder how big that serve is since this serve was on the small-average side. I guess coconut milk makes you full. 

The Malay/Aussie kid thought it wasn't hot enough in regards to the laksa and the weather(it was raining) for it to feel like Malaysia. 

Food: 8.5/10 Good food. I guess it does live up to it's reputation. No complaints.
Service:  7/10 Only fault was the waitress wiped down the tables next to us but didn't wipe ours. No biggie. 
Environment: 7/10 Little cramped. 

Verdict? Gladly come back again. Great value, great food. What more can you ask for?

Oh, found out dad actually read blog post.....Hi again Dad =]
Coconut House on Urbanspoon

Monday, September 27, 2010

Cooking: Lasagna

Easy to say, hard to spell. Made this on Friday night. And yes I cheated and used dried lasagna sheets instead of making my own but I was pushed for time and in year 12, you seriously cannot be bothered. Wanted to make this after watching Hestons In Search for Perfection-Ragu Tagliatelle.
Best picture I took.
Presentation was the last thing on my mind. Should have made a super tall lasagna instead.

Bolognese:1 carrot, 2 sticks celery, 1 onion, 2 cloves garlic, 300g pork mince, 300g beef mince, 600ml tomato passata or 2 cans of tinned tomatoes. (for about 3-4 people)
Bechamel: My one failed. Some butter, 2 tablespoons ish flour, 300ml milk. (I think double this for enough sauce)
Dried lasagna sheets

Saute carrots, celery, onion and garlic until soft. Add in minces and keep breaking it up and browning until it's all separated. Add the tomato passata/tinnned tomatoes. Salt and pepper. Simmer for 45 mins ish. Stir occasionally as the bottom can get stuck and burn. At 35 mins start making the bechamel sauce. Melt the butter in a separate saucepan. Add in flour and stir continuously for a few minutes. Then slowly add a little milk and whisk crazily (without splashing it everywhere) until flour and milk is combined, then add more milk and repeat until all the milk is in the saucepan. Simmer on a low heat until thickened like making custard. 
Then just spread meat sauce then bechamel sauce then pasta sheets and keep repeating. Spread the final layer with just bechamel and then sprinkle with a tonne of cheese. Bake for 45 mins or according to lasagna sheet packet. 

Hopefully yours will look better than mine. Vary the meat sauce by adding whatever you find in the fridge. 

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Dining is an experience

I'm hoping to turn my food blog into something better, something more than just food.
I want to explore it deeper (damn that sounds like English class) but food isn't just food.
To be honest not many people think that deep and far about food, that's fair enough.
But for the food obsessed, there is so much to food.
I've heard people rant about how fine dining is so expensive but think about it, it's because those chefs have spent years perfecting techniques and understanding food. They deserve something for it. Also fine dining is an experience. It's about who you are enjoying it with, whether it's a celebration or just because you feel like being fancy.
But as a student, fine dining is a dream. As a matter of fact, I believe that some of the best food in the world isn't at fine dining restaurants, it's the stuff you're mum cooks, the stuff you find in unknown restaurants or the hawker stalls in Asia(cos some of the chefs there have been cooking the same dish for decades). 
But one thing can make food better than it really is.
And its the experience and company.
It really struck me yesterday.
Tossing between one of the many many restaurants in Box Hill or KFC with K仔.
Yeah I know you're probably thinking who the hell would choose KFC so here's my excuse. I hadn't had KFC original chicken in Aus for about a year (KFC in HK doesn't count) and I missed it.
So KFC it was. (K仔 I promise it's you're choice next time.)
There's nothing glamorous about KFC. Nor is there much point in reviewing it.
But it does bring back memories of when you were a kid and you begged your mother to go to KFC (or any other fast food chain)
Realised KFC chicken seems so small nowadays. (and also the fact that there was no drumstick in the 5 pieces they gave us, which didn't matter cos neither of us like it)
So why is it so small? Is it because they're being cheap or because they can't use hormones anymore or they just seemed big when we were kids because we were so small? Or all of the above?
But you don't care what the answer is because you're enjoying spending time with someone special, even KFC can taste awesomely salty.

Something completely off topic. Have you ever heard of a connection between Mountain Dew and sperm count? I hope Dad doesn't read this, if you do Dad...hi =] takoyaki?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Cooking: Takoyaki Pt 2

Finally got round to making takoyaki again. Took me about an hour from start to finish to make. Including chopping ingredients, making the batter, cooking and presenting. Once again it wasn't really takoyaki since I didn't use octopus and used a can of smoked oysters instead. Smoked oysters are seriously underrated. I admit I used to hate them, I'm not sure why because I've loved oysters all my life but something about smoked ones were just weird. But now I love them, the texture is so different and the smokiness adds another dimension.
They actually look like takoyaki now. Yes I admit I cheat. I mixed in a little self raising flour so they would puff up and fill in the mould and I also kept adding the batter in after turning them to make them round. But no one knows. Also realised you have to turn the machine on and off throughout the process to allow enough time to put ingredients in and turn them before they fully cook through.
End result. Still missing the takoyaki sauce, haven't been bothered to make some or buy some yet. Recipe will be posted soon.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Presents =]

I finally had my party over the weekend although my birthday was a month ago. Had a honkie bbq and it was pretty good, except it doesn't really work that well with over 20 people at once...Just want to thank everyone who came and made it an awesome night. Been loving the pressies. My first every actual cookbook =]
I have no idea how my friends manage to get it but I am very grateful and over the moon. I seriously can't put it down although I have exams coming up soon. I love how it shows that non conformity works. And that David Chang is human and what he does is achievable through a LOT of hard work and determination. I love his concepts though I don't believe eating a diet of confit stuff is a good idea (esp since if it's pork fat).
Friends also go me this!!!!! AWESOME. Best thing about it is you don't have to buy special gas cans for it, you just fill it up with normal butane gas cannisters. Might make some creme brulee soon just to try it out. I kinda tested it on chicken wings trying to crisp up the skin but it kinda just makes the skin black instead...It's so fun to play with xD
Yet to try this out but I want to use it as a reward for doing lots of study. Which hasn't happened yet unfortunately. Best scenario would be to by sipping this reading the Momofuku cookbook.
Got some other food related gifts that I haven't taken pics of. A box of recipes =] Some monkey tea!!! THANKS STRETCHY =D, a bottle of midori and some green tea scented perfume.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Cooking: Takoyaki

Last week I got a dutch pancake/takoyaki machine for my birthday. I've made about 4 or 5 batches of takoyaki since and it's a lot harder than it may seem. I still haven't found a perfect recipe and timing is so crucial. I keep overcooking them so they end up as half spheres instead of little balls. Unfortunately my family doesn't feel like eating any more takoyaki. However since it's holidays, I can make takoyaki for lunch and just eat them all and no one will complain.
First batch of takoyaki I've ever made.
  (used smoked salmon instead of octopus)
Used the machine for it's dutch pancake purposes, but filled it up too much they kept rising and burnt.

Will post a recipe after I've perfected them. 
Need to find a sauce recipe. Anyone know of one?

Eating Out: Harajuku Crepes (Knox Pl Melbourne VIC 3000)-Melbourne Central

After being kinda ushered out of Pancake Dessert House for dinner, we decided to get some dessert. And where else to go but Harajuku Crepes even though Pancake Dessert House is supposed to be known for their crepes.
Mango Ice Cream Crepe 
Don't remember the exact price but it was around $6. Which is quite a bit considering it's cost price isn't actually that much. The crepe was really thin and crisp on the edges. The inside was filled with mango pieces, vanilla ice cream and whipped cream. Really yummy. Not too sweet. And you can eat it on the go.
Harajuku Crepes on Urbanspoon

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Eating Out: Pancake Dessert House Eatery (Mid-City Arcade 18/200 Bourke St Melbourne, 3000)

After attending the filming of iron chef friends and I went out for dinner. After some epic discussion we chose to eat at Pancake Dessert House Eatery. Whilst we waited for our table we were given a menu and expected to order. 
Baked Chicken with spaghetti (Portuguese sauce?) $10.30
I chose this because I miss eating this. Typical Honkie style meal if you eat out at the 茶餐厅. Had the choice of rice or spaghetti. It's good with either. Chose the Portugese sauce because I hardly get to eat it here and it tastes awesome. It's nothing like peri peri although that is also portuguese. It's like a coconut sauce with a hint of curry. Just really really yummy. It's popular in HK cos of Macau and their portuguese population. Overall I really enjoyed this dish except it could have done with a few more vegies than just frozen peas for that price. Decent serving just like in HK. 

Spicy chicken on rice $8.80
Very crispy chicken. Salty and hardly spicy. Not bad if you like your fried chicken asian style.

Steak in special sauce with noodle soup? $9.30
I actually don't know the name of this dish. It says steak noodle soup on the docket and I know it is the "special sauce" I didn't taste this but just looking at it the combination is certainly weird. The person who ate this complained about it's combination of flavours. 

Food: 7/10 Nothing spectacular but it certainly tastes like HK, damn I miss HK. 
Service: 7/10 You are ushered in and out as quickly as they can. I don't blame them it was Friday night. But not the friendliest service ever. 
Environment: 6/10 They have literally arranged this place like tetris. Even the waiters can't get through. You share a table with however many people they can fit onto the table. Seriously this is a fast food restaurant.

Verdict? It I was in a rush and wanted honkie food I would definitely come here. Good value for money. Next time I will definitely try the pork chop on rice which is their signature dish and probably the quickest one too. Looked super super super yummy. 
Pancake Dessert House Eatery on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


This was a birthday present from my aunty and I've been using it as a reward for completing homework. I know you shouldn't reward yourself with food but this box will be all gone if I don't. Anyways I was choosing one today and I felt like having a Dream (white chocolate) since its my favourite!! But there WASN'T even ONE in the box!!!! I tipped the entire box out to try and find one but there wasn't any =[ Unless someone ate them all without me knowing....can't believe it. Very upset.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Cooking: Scallops

Back to father's day. Wanted to make scallops because my dad loves seafood. I guess it's probably because he rarely got to eat it as a kid since it was quite expensive. Unlike mum who ate more seafood since grandpa was a fishmonger. Asked bro to buy some scallops in shell after uni at Vic Market. He gave me a choice of two different types, a larger one without the roe and a smaller one with roe. The larger was almost double the price of the smaller. Since I wanted the roe we went with the cheaper smaller one and boy was it a bad choice. I didn't realise how small he meant until he came home. And after cooking them.....about the size of a 5cent coin.
Lets play spot the scallop =P
Anyways, just steamed them asian style with some ginger and spring onion. Then some hot oil on top once they finish cooking.
Also made some with hot bean paste. 
The scallops were small and flavourless unfortunately. 
Lesson learnt, you get what you pay for.
Oh and size does matter ;p

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Update: TAKOYAKI machines in AUSTRALIA

A bit behind in blogging due to the crazy amount of school work being crammed in before the end of the term. Only 3 weeks of high school left 0.0
Yesterday I had a very very special experience and I must thank my friend Mat for everything. Owe him one big time now. Not supposed to talk about it so I'll just give you a hint, don't ask me anything though.

When I thought my day couldn't get any better, I came home to this
My brother has been looking far and wide for a takoyaki machine for my birthday. I saw pretty much the exact same one at ALDI a month or so back AND though to myself, "I wonder whether I could make takoyaki out of that" only to find out later when bro was looking them up online that it was actually a takoyaki machine except sold as a "Dutch Pancake Maker". AND IT WAS ONLY $15!!!!! So bro found out the company that makes the machines sells them at other places other than ALDI and he went looking at ALDI and BIGW stores trying to find one but there were none left. The company said they only import so many each year or something along the lines of that. So he went looking for dutch pancake makers in general and supposedly target had the ones he was looking for. He went to many stores (like every aldi, big w and target store in the city) and he finally found one!!! AT OUR LOCAL SHOPPING CENTRE!!! a minutes drive away from our place =.=" $30 at target.
So how do I know its a takoyaki machine?
Can you see the octopus down the bottom? Suggests that it has something to do with takoyaki. BUT the octopus is actually holding a TAKOYAKI therefore I conclude that it is a takoyaki machine =] Can't wait to try it out, except I'm super busy with work unfortunately.
I'm a tad takoyaki obsessed as seen here. Only eaten it a few times in my life, and none of them were in japan. First recall trying them at Samurai Burger at Box Hill, then in Taiwan in the night markets (cheapest I've had, like AUD$1.20 for 6, then in HK twice in a day, then at Yuki jap restaurant in Malvern on my birthday. Best being Gindaco in HK and Yuki here.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Cooking: Steak Sandwich

For fathers day I didn't make breakfast for dad because I was too lazy to get out of bed. Made steak sandwiches for lunch instead.

Ingredients: Sliced tomato, sliced onion, avocado, gerkins/pickles, cheese, whatever else you want in your sandwich, some sort of steak, sauce of your liking (I used HP sauce which no one seems to know about), some sort of bread (I used a focaccia like bread).

Method: Cook the onion with some sugar and salt until soft and caramalised. Meanwhile slice the tomato, gerkins. Set onion mix aside. Flatten steaks until they are about 1/4-1/3 bigger than your bread (as they will shrink when you cook them). Heat a grill pan till smoking hot and cook steaks for about 30 seconds a side. Slice avocado whilst steaks are cooking (have to bea ninja to do this). Place a slice of cheese ontop of the stead and rest the steaks. Place bread onto the pan. Lightly toast (keep you eyes on them because they burn quickly). Spread the sauce onto the bread. Top with everything and eat =]

Pretty simple and quick. Tastes awesome!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Cooking: Wonton noodles

A honkie favourite. If you go to hong kong, this is something you should try. The most popular version is the noodle soup unlike the Malaysians/Singaporeans which prefer the dry version. I've actually never tried a dry version before. In HK, the price of a bowl of wonton noodles can vary greatly. The cheapest and most authentic are found at sidewalk hawker stall places (大排檔) for a couple of dollar(aussie) a bowl. My uncle told me, the way to eat wonton noodles is to eat all the noodles first otherwise they will soak up all the soup and taste soggy. Also some people like to add vinegar to their wanton noodles as sometimes the noodles have an alkaline taste.

Don't exactly have a recipe. Done according to mum's "feel". 

Only thing missing is deep fried fish skin. Sooooo yummy but you can't seem to get it here.

The following day we decided to finish off the other packet of noodles and also the rest of the wontons.
This time I attempted to make a dry noodle. Mixed the noodles with sesame oil, soya sauce, fish sauce, and kecap manis to get the dark colour. With some homemade sambal on the side. Pretty good, except the noodles were stuck together.

To be honest I think I like the dry version more. I always struggle to finish a bowl of wonton noodles in HK, and the bowls are quite small. However I can eat a lot of soya sauce noodles for some reason...

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Eating Out: Red Lantern Chinese BBQ 327 Doncaster Road, North Balwyn, 3104

Ate lunch here with mum yesterday. Since they're extending/expanding one would assume that they are doing quite well which means that they serve decent food. And in my opinion, my assumption was right.
Char Kway Teow $9.50
Full of ingredients, however the only seafood present were these extremely crunchy prawns (with no flavour). Is CKT supposed to have fishcake and lap cheong? Because neither were present. Lots of crunchy beansprouts. Hardly chilli at all. Some egg, some char siu like stuff and little tiny pieces of something which I assumed to be pork fat but didn't taste like it...not sure what they were. Capsicum and carrot were some unusual additions. It was slighty brown but not as dark as what I'm used to seeing. Altogether it tasted pretty nice but not really like char kway teow, tasted a bit like singaporean noodles (星洲炒米) with hor fun(河粉/wide rice noodles) instead of rice vermicelli(米粉).
Roast Duck and Soya Chicken Rice $10.50
Just one selection is $9.00 but I couldn't decide between the two so we got combination. The soya chicken was alright, used to be better. Large pieces of meat, smooth elastic skin with soya sauce flavour. The roast duck on the other hand was surprisingly good. Also large pieces of MEAT, not just bone like some stingy places. The skin was crisp but there was only a thin layer of fat. Good for the health conscious, bad for the fat lovers like me. However encountered the same problem as we did for the take away roast pork last week, the BBQ meats were cold. 20 secs in the microwave won't do any harm right?

Food: 7.5/10 Pretty good, one of the top places around my side of town for Chinese BBQ meats. Extremely generous servings, Mum and I had trouble finishing both plates. A tad on the oily side.
Service: 8/10 No complaints about this. Waitress was nice (she had blue eyelashes o.o) Food came really quickly. And you are left to eat in peace.
Environment: 7.5/10 Contemporary Chinese furnishing. Not sure whether the open kitchen really works. Looks organised but cluttered at the same time. Though the ducks hanging in the kitchen to dry look pretty cool.

Verdict? I'd come back. Since they are so quick and serve decent food. Also it's along the way back from school so it's convenient. 
Look at that skin!
Drooling yet?

Update: Yum Cha Inn 269 Springvale Rd, Glen Waverley

Last weekend family decided to go yum cha. Hadn't gone to Yum Cha Inn in a while so disregarding the fact that I had a mountain of work/study to do, I still went.
Prawn Dumplings
Malaysian Fried Noodles
Deep Fried Stuffed Eggplant
I thought this dish was already really good last time I went. This time they've made a bit of a batter and its even better =]
Taro Football Dumpling?
Forgotten a lot of the exact names of the dishes =.=" Sad because I wrote the menu.
Really like this picture I took.
Yum Cha Inn on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Eating IN: Red Lantern Chinese BBQ (327 Doncaster Road, North Balwyn)

Decided to grab some chinese roast pork on the way home from a school excursion on a SATURDAY all the way in whoop whoop landBALLARAT!!!!
The rice and vegies were cooked at home. The roast pork here is alright. We managed to take the last piece for the night. It was cold and I was too scared to microwave it because I didn't want the crackling to go soggy. Good layer of fat on the pork =] AND there was a lot of meat. Though some had bones they were big enough to not choke on. The skin was crunchy but slightly burnt unfortunately. Altogether it was an awesome dinner. Who doesn't love roast pork?!

Red Lantern (also the name of Mark Jenson's restaurant and the one cookbook I've actually read pretty much from page 1 to the last page, totally irrelevant =]) has recently taken over the shop next door and expanded. So I'm guessing their dine in food is pretty good. Last time I went was last year and I found it alright. Maybe I should visit again soon. Look out for the post.