Saturday, October 30, 2010

Eating Out: Straits Cafe revisted [694 Doncaster Rd Doncaster 3108]

 After the dreaded 3 hour English exam Mum took me to Straits for lunch. Oh boy was it good to eat some comfort food.
Curry Laksa $9.90
It doesn't really look like a curry laksa more like just curry. The noodles were springy. The tofu puffs weren't very soft. The chicken had boney bits which was quite weird and the fish cake was pretty average and thin. I think that was all the laksa had, but don't be misled, there were lots of each topping so you run out of noodles before you do of toppings. However laksa is usually about the broth. I can't say it was a bad broth, it had tonnes of spices and was fragrant but as you can see it didn't contain much coconut milk and hence there wasn't a layer of oil. The coconut milk was really need to cut through all the spices and richness. Also it was quite thick and felt like drinking curry gravy. If you like a spice filled laksa broth, then you would love it.

Nasi Lemak $10.90 I think
Once again they certainly do give you your monies worth. This was the beef rendang one. Everything was there except the sambal which you self serve down the back of the shop I think, or just ask them. Wasn't spectacular but I do like the pickled vegies, not sure what they're called but they soothe your tongue from the chilliness. 

Straits would probably the be the best Malaysian Restaurant in the Doncaster area. I really can't think of any place that does it better for taste. And if you know the area, you know how many Malaysian places are around.

Sunday, October 24, 2010


I know I haven't posted much lately but I still have been cooking...unwillingly. Exams are in a few days and I'm still having to cook my dad and bro lunch and stuff because they don't know how to cook anything apart from instant noodles and fried eggs. So pretty much cooking lately has been a test on how fast I can whip up pasta or fried rice whilst clearing out the fridge for mum and satisfying dad's taste buds. Yesterday I made pasta-add-whatever-i-could-find. And since guys complain when there isn't any protein, a can of tuna was just chucked in. The end result wasn't too bad but I still believe that cream corned pasta would have taken a third of the time to make except that sounded revolting to dad. Trust me it tastes nice as.

On friday night I officially graduated from highschool. Why is it that food at functions is always so crappy?

 Oven Baked Chicken Breast, Pancetta and Herb Risotto, Seasonal Vegetables and Rosemary Jus
The chicken was alright, a roasted flavour and not too dry. The risotto was passable. Vegetables were vegetables. And I just found out that it was supposed to be rosemary jus, tasted like super concentrated(salty) stock to me. 
The vegetarian dish
I felt sorry for the vegetarians that night, it looked horrendous. Seriously?? I wonder if the kitchen staff would want to eat something that looked like that. Taste wise my bestie was not particularly impressed.
Dessert was better than main. Chocolate cheesecake wasn't too strong on chocolate flavour. Presentation was better. The biscotti was mediocre. Berry compote? Nothing special.

Something my bro and I created after watching junior masterchef. Tried to cook an egg yolk using a blowtorch, gave up and chucked it into the microwave then blowtorched it again. 

So right now I really don't feel like studying as I'm starting to get sick but I must soldier on and get all these exams over and done with. Nov 11 = FREEDOM. The list of dishes I want to cook is getting longer and longer.
So probably bye bye for the next 2 and a bit weeks.

Eating Out: The Chinese Wok [Devon Plaza, Doncaster East]

Sorry I don't have an address for this place or proper names for dishes as I don't have the menu anymore. But it's 2 shops away from Nandos at Devon plaza. Now there are 3 asian restaurants at Devon Plaza, Lucky Hut which I have yet to try and quite frankly don't particularly want to try, The Chinese Wok been open for a few weeks and the sushi place which I would like to try some time.

The Chinese Wok is tiny, seats probably max 15 people? They could fit more but I guess they chose comfort over cramming which is good. First impressions were not so great as one look at the menu and it seemed like "aussie" chinese food. After pondering for AGES at the menu, finding out that the meat dishes actually came with rice and being told that they made their own sweet and sour sauce I went with the classic....sweet and sour pork DUH! Mum wanted something a little more asian and chose something along the lines of Noodles with pork? 爆酱面was the chinese name if I'm not mistaken.
sorry for the crap quality, taken with phone
 Sweet and sour pork $9ish
It wasn't radioactive red! The mound of rice was massive and I didn't manage to finish it. The pork tasted like pork and was battered and fried. The sauce was quite sour for my liking, maybe traditionally it is actually really sour, I don't know. It tasted like a home cooked meal made with love which is getting harder to find nowadays. The number of chinese places who do not give the shit about their food is quite scary and disappointing. 
Noodles with pork $10ish?
Okay the name for this was actually a lot better sounding that the one I just made up. The bowl didn't look very big at first but it was filled to the max with noodles and pork mixture. It doesn't look that awesome but let me tell you it tasted AMAZING. The noodles were special and I don't know the exact name of them but they were white and almost spaghetti like just thinner. The pork mixture has a special sauce that I suspect was bean paste but it was soooooo good. All in a light broth. Just like chinese street food. If I were to come back I would definitely order this.

Food: 9/10 Tasted just like home cooked meals. We talked to the chef who was this lovely chinese lady who was so passionate about her food and making it the best. Got some takeaway chinese side dishes for dinner that night and they were so delicious too.
Service: 8/10 All the waitressing if done by this girl. She super friendly and helpful. She knows all the dishes. Only problem was we had communication problems, she spoke chinese to me and I tried to reply but she didn't understand me (a 42 in vce chinese means nothing, she couldn't even understand me trying to say chicken), so from then on I just replied to her in English whilst mum talked to her in canto and she replied to mum in English. It was messed up. But she speaks decent English.
Environment: 7/10 It's not fine dining. If it was in China this would be considered pretty good.

Verdict? I want to go back and have the bowl of noodles all to myself =] Hopefully the food won't change much.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Eating Out: Ma Ma Sichuan Restaurant [483 Swanston St Melbourne, 3000]

So after a very disappointing muck up day because the teachers are sooooooooo uptight and restrictive my group of friends decided to out for lunch. I was going to wear my costume out but since if was already drenched from the insane non stop rain I decided to ditch it, soggy cardboard is no fun. Decided we wanted to eat buffet a few days ago but we had a bit of a dilemma choosing between China Bar Signature and Ma Ma Sichuan but since China Bar is soooooo far from school and more than double the price, Ma Ma Sichuan won. We're students who can't drive =.="

So pretty much it's $10 for lunch buffet from a bain marie + a can of drink. I can only sum it up by saying you get what you pay for. Sorry for the lack of pictures, I really couldn't be bothered as I was too hungry.
 There were two soups to choose from. Corn and egg or the one pictured. Both quite bland and unevenly thick. Some more chicken powder might help =P The corn soup was so plain that if you added sugar to it it would have made a good chinese sweet soup/tang shui....

Since we arrived at around 1:30-2ish I believe some of the food may have been sitting around for a while, especially the fried rice as it had become so dry and hard...good dosage of msg was used to flavour it just like everything else. Preferred the non vermicelli fried noodle, probably because it wasn't as dry except it ran out and they didn't make more =[ Other than that everything else was like stuff you find at a little chinese restaurant in outback Victoria...stuff for the gweilow...okay I shouldn't say that. But highlighter red sweet and sour pork with more batter than meat and you know what I mean.

Second round consisted of some better food. Vegies cooked in msg, chewing gum beef with a hint of soda/alkaline flavour (how does that work, isn't that stuff used to make beef non chewing gum like? Wonder what cut of beef they used, probably one suited to braising not stir frying) Spring rolls were crispy and what you're average spring roll tastes like, just don't ponder about what it contains. The honey chicken was extremely sticky to the point where BITS of batter would be stuck to your teeth but it was pretty good. But in my opinion the best was the fried chicken. Fried chicken can never really go wrong =] Didn't try some of the things like pig trotters and chicken feet, just not for me.

A few rounds later they decided to shut down the station although we hadn't finished eating. We planned on staying as long as we could to get more than our monies worth and to chat but I guess that's not what the workers wanted and I don't blame them.

Food: 5.5/10 AVERAGE. At least all the dishes were edible. 
Environment: 7/10 Pretty clean and spacious. 
Service: 6.5/10 Waitresses spoke chinese to us ABC kids, we replied in our broken chinese 3rd language. They realised we were ABC and spoke to us in English after. Dishes were not taken away at's a buffet though...
Value: 9/10 $10 with drink. If the food was a little better then it would be the best.

Verdict? Probably won't come back for lunch buffet but I want to try the sichuan hot pot buffet for $22 a head which is actually what this place specialises in. If you like dodgy chinese takeaway then you will like this place.
Ma Ma Sichuan Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Do you feel ashamed when you hear a Caucasian speak Mandarin and Cantonese better than you can?

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Foodcourt Challenge: Simply Thai

Simply awesome. I remember eating from this place 2 years ago. And nothing much has changed, still awesome. It's made to order so you know it hasn't been sitting around for god knows how long.
Ordered the same thing, it is just too good. PAD THAI!!
Pad Thai $10.90
This is almost perfect for food court food, and pretty damn good for restaurant food. The serving is huge. There were 3 massive SHELLED prawns, YES! Calamari, tempeh, fish cake all with a smoky flavour to it. Every mouthful was filled with noodles and accompaniments. Handful of crunchy beansprouts on top with some garlic chives. A mound of nuts and chilli flakes to add in to your liking. It is seasoned perfectly with a balance of sweetness. Acidity is adjusted with the lemon. Only downside is the price, but sooooooo worth it.
Seafood Tom Yum Soup $10.90
Presentation could be improved but it's from a food court. Serving is once again pretty large. Prawns, mussels, calamari, fishcake, tomato, mushrooms and thin vermicelli noodles. The soup was pretty decent, sour enough. You can get some pretty dodgy tom yum soups here, especially if it is the packaged kind. Cold day + decent tom yum soup at a food court + shopping = :). What else could you want? K仔 said it was pretty good although it isn't as spicy as what you get in Thailand, can't believe he's never had Thai food in Aus before, only in Thailand. I want to go Thailand now =]

Verdict? Definitely would come back if I feel willing to fork out the extra few dollars. Who knew such good thai food existed at the local food court.

Cooking: Creme Brulee

Finally got round to playing with my birthday pressie, BLOWTORCH. I'm not a pyromaniac. I used the recipe by George Calombaris on the Masterchef website. Except I accidentally  cooked them at 170 degrees for 3/4 of the cooking time instead of 120 or whatever the temperature was supposed to be, luckily the eggs didn't separate.
Found that raw sugar made the best crust but you do need quite a bit of sugar to make a decent crust. Not too hard to make and pretty cheap, under $1 a serve.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Cooking: Har Mee (Prawn Noodle Soup)

Spent 2 hours making Har Mee instead of studying =S I think I should research on how to make har mee before actually trying to make it next time. Although I had over a litre of prawn shells the broth still wasn't prawny enough. 
Not going to post a recipe since I don't exactly know how to make it and I don't have the time to type one out. Topped the noodles with leftovers from during the week. And with a massive dollop of homemade sambal.

How do you get the flavour out of the prawns shells?

Eating Out: Pho at Swinburne Uni

 I know I'm supposed to be spending every waking moment studying for the end of year exams which start in under 3 weeks!!! But to take a break and relax I went out for lunch and had PHO. Unfortunately I still crave does that work? Sorry I don't have a name of the place, I don't even remember reading one. K仔 took me there. Just off glenferrie rd.
Special Combination Beef and Chicken Regular $8.80
It was a pretty decent sized regular. Loads of beef and some chicken. Beef slices, beef balls, some sort of tripe, beef tendon like things and some chicken breast. Totally worth the money. Only let down was the broth wasn't as clear as what I'm used to and it was really rich in beef flavour. 
Bun Bo Hue $8.80
Out of the 3 bun bo hue's I've had I think this would be the best. Even better than springvale? Well personally I liked this one. Good broth, definitely spicier than all the ones I've tried. Best thing was the entire top was covered with toppings. Some of which I didn't even know what it was and probably didn't want to know. Anyone else find that Bun Bo Hue noodles are impossible to grab with chopsticks because they are so short?
But luckily these noodles weren't too soft so it wasn't as hard to pick up.

Overall it was decent viet noodles at a very good price. Whether I would come back? It's glenferrie rd, so many other choices and I probably won't be able to find this place again. Somewhere near maccas I think.

Mid Autumn Festival Box Hill LONG OVERDUE

This is about a month late. But I think it's worthy of blogging about. Mid Autumn Festival is awesome because it means MOONCAKES. Lotus paste with egg yolk encased in a almost biscuit like dough covering. Unfortunately the Mid Autumn Festival is no where near as big as in HK. But it was none the less fun to go to Box Hill and celebrate...or mainly to eat some awesome food.
Char Tow Kueh $4ish
Little stir fried rice cakes. A malay dish. Weren't too great especially when all squashed together. I know it should be a lot better but I've never actually had it anywhere else before I don't think
Taiwanese Oyster..something $5ish
Seriously this was soooooo weird. Blobs of this translucent jelly like floury stuff. In a never tasted before sauce. With an oyster or two thrown in with egg. This dish just wasn't for me. Maybe it's an acquired taste?
Xinjiang Lamb Skewers 5 for $10
This is the exact reason why I go to these festivals and line up for 30 mins with smoke blowing into your face. Juicy lamb chunks cooked over a charcoal fire, sprinkled with cumin and chilli. I could eat 5 or more of these, no problems. I know you can get them in the city opposite state library for $3 each but I have yet to try it.

We had a few other things like deep fried school prawns and octopus. Although they were on the salty side it was really nice. One thing I really wanted to try was the deep fried spiral potato chip. Except at $5 a stick which was one potato it was insanely expensive. I might try it make it myself after exams. 

Sorry about the photo quality, all taken using my phone. Next time a festival is on make sure you check it out, there is awesome food there and some of it you can't get in restaurants.

Cooking: Curry Tonight

The commonwealth games are on....and to be honest I'm not interested and too busy to care. Since I've got so much study to do I was aiming to make something simple for dinner on Friday. So for convenience you turn to canned or jarred stuff and since PATAKS curries were half price at Coles, dinner was sorted. However I guess everyone wants curry this week because when I got to the curry section, there were only 6 or so butter chickens, madras' and korma's left. No vindaloo =[
I was trying to figure out how to plate my curry so they don't mix and a rice bridge was the best option. The butter chicken tasted different to the butter chicken you get at indian restaurants. But the madras was alright. Also bought some roti to soak up all the sauce. Add some boiled vegies in to complete the meal.

Only way to make the curry look presentable and half decent was to use the dslr. Good excuse to take it out and play with it.

Cooking: Roast Pork

I don't really like roasts. I find them take forever to cook and the amount of meat is somewhat overwhelming. But since my bro asked for roast pork for many weeks on end I thought I'd give it another go although in the past there haven't been many good outcomes.

Pretty much just score and salt the skin generously leave it for a while like 30 mins, soak up all the water and try to get all the salt off. Salt it a little more, rub over some oil and roast at like max temp of oven or 250 degrees for 30 or so mins. It isn't perfect crackling but it's better than chewy crackling.

Only roasts I like are chicken and lamb. I think it's because they aren't so dry. 

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Product: Jay Chou Chips

Found these in the pantry one day.
For those who are asian you should know who that is. JAY CHOU. In Asia they use celebrities to advertise everything. And Jay Chou found his way onto a chip can. For those who don't know who Jay Chou is, he's an awesome singer. As for acting and dancing I'll let you decide. But his songs are the best.
Back to the chips, they were like Pringles. Except the flavour wasn't that good. SUPPOSEDLY made from 3 ingredients, and on the front of the can it says tomato how does potato, palm oil and salt make tomato flavoured chips? Anyways after peeling off the sticker and reading the chinese list of ingredients you understand. The list is about at big as the sticker they put on top of it. It went a little like this, 调味粉,什么什么粉, but like 10 or so different types of flavouring powders. Potato, palm oil and salt......?

So this might be my last post for quite a while. Exams in under 4 weeks. If I can find some time I have a few things yet to blog about. But rest assured I will make up for it over the summer holidays. 3 months!!!!!
Good luck to all those who have exams!

Cooking: Takoyaki Recipe

I finally admit after eating 18 takoyaki(sakeyaki since it was salmon) for lunch I'm starting to get a bit sick of them. I've found the recipes online have been pretty good. But this is the one I use for my takoyaki machine(makes 18).
It's as simple as 1,2,3. 1 egg, 200ml of plain flour (i actually use around 180ml plain flour and 1 tbs self raising to make them puff more), 300ml of dashi (1 tsp instant dashi ganules made up to 300ml).  Add a pinch of salt. You should end up with about 2 cups of batter.
For the filling I put in whatever I can find.I know that's not authentic but who can be bothered making tempura bits. I still haven't made or bought takoyaki sauce and have been using hoisin sauce instead, it's quite different but better than just plain mayo. I think I might give takoyaki a break now.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Eating Out: Jalan Alor [7/206 Bourke St Melbourne 3000]

This place is so new that theres still someone out the front doing the final isn't that supposed to be done before you open? Well it's newly renovated and very modern. Encountered a problem before even entering, there's no front naturally assume that a restaurants door is at the front right? But no, here the front is a window and a gigantic mirror. You enter from the side corner...who would have thought of that first? With no sign or person to direct you? Anyways I think that's enough about a door...I better not get started about having a pot plant on the tiny table...I think that was a first experience too. Not sure whether sitting next to planter boxes with flowers indoors was a first experience either. I guess it makes the meal memorable?

I think they should proof read their menu. Misspelling corkage maybe very minor but when it says "cockage" I think it needs to be fixed. Oh, and the numbers weren't in order but no biggie.
Kari Laksa $9.50
There are two Kari Laksa's on the menu, one is chicken one is prawn, same price, same name...
It came with two types of noodles, 2 large shelled prawns, 2 large mussels, tau pok (beancurd) and slices of fish cake, in my opinion there just wasn't enough to accompany the noodles especially compared to Coconut House's one from two days ago. However this bowl was bigger but I believe the noodle portion was about the same. The soup was pretty good, not too much oil and enough coconut milk. The chilliness was just right. One problem I didn't encounter was trying to figure out how to deshell the prawns and where to put the shells,  luckily the waiter saw me or heard me and quickly gave me a little plate. The prawns actually had a prawn taste which was excellent because prawns at restaurants nowadays are only about texture. Same case with the mussels. Overall a decent laksa.
Nasi Lemak $9.50
Since this was K仔's dish, asked him to review it.
"Was definitely not what I expected. Expected A LOT MORE sambal and expected it to be served with a pandan leaf and like…an omelette thingy. But obviously this place has its own take on what a nasi lemak should be like….and I guess it just wasn’t to my liking. I guess I’m used to eating it in Malaysia so definitely there is more sambal and everything. Granted they did have everything as a nasi lemak is expected to have on a plate….but I guess just not to the right proportions? Love the ikan bilis though and nuts…BEST PART OF THE DISH! Followed by the sambal =D The chicken meat was tough…kinda tasted like it was old chicken meat and they might have just microwaved it or something =S was a bit….EWWWWEY!!! Rice was coconut-ey which was goooooooD!! Love coconut rice!! Yummy lah"

Food: 7.5/10 It's not bad but it's not spectacular. Prices are reasonable.
Service: 7/10 We were seated but not given menus. I'm sure it was just an accident though.
Environment: 7.5/10 It's modern. You sit at wooden tables and wooden stools like you're at the park. There's a pot plant on you're table. However this place is called Jalan Alor....I believe that it's not a park in Malaysia but a street filled with hawker stalls....with no pot plants on the tables. But not a bad environment for a casual date since it's sort of memorable.

Verdict? I would come back again and try some other dishes. China Red is literally next door, their touch screen menu is enticing too though.
Jalan Alor on Urbanspoon