Monday, January 31, 2011

Instant Noodles + Random Dinner at some bistro place in the middle of Victoria

I have almost finished posting about my trip up to NSW. One post remains, BREAKFAST. Because we stayed in a motel and didn't find out about the free breakfast until the second last day we ate cup noodles for breakfast on most days. 
 Didn't really like this one. In particular the noodles, could taste the chemicals and crap they put into it.
 Nissin Tom Yum Flavour
One of my favourites. Spicy and sour. I love the Nissin cup noodle noodles. The texture is so springy but noodle tasting. I have no idea why I love the noodles so much.
 Fair bit of noodles =]
 Nissin Chilli Crab Flavour
Didn't like this one. Too rich. Sorry it's half eaten
Nissin Chicken Flavour
I love the spongey "chicken" pieces. Whatever they are the texture is pretty unique. Clean brothy flavour.

However I think my favourite flavour would be Spicy Seafood. I didn't get a picture of that one but it's pretty spicy with a lighter soup than the others. Wouldn't mind one right now.

On the way home from sydney we stopped at some random town for dinner. Ended up at this bistro and the food was surprisingly good and cheap.

 Fettecuine Carbonara <$15
The bowl was packed and it was about as high as a standard cup. Even my brother struggled to finish it.
 Grilled Chicken and Avocado Sandwich $12 or something similar
I was still really full from lunch so I felt like something light. I asked the lady whether I could change my chips to salad when I was ordering and she said no. In hindsight I should have just told her no chips. Who knew a sandwich would turn out to be the biggest burger "sandwich" I've ever attempted to eat. Yes that burger was the size of my brothers pasta bowl! I was completely shocked. Inside was two pieces of grilled chicken, half an avo, cheese, lettuce, tomato, beetroot, sprouts and mayo. Even the bread was toasted and soft on the inside. It was soooo delicious but I was soo full after eating half the burger and a few chips. Therefore I just ate all the insides of my burger and left the bread and chips. I felt bad because I didn't want the people to think that the bread and chips were bad because both were actually really good but my stomach just said no.

They also had a really light pavlova. Don't worry we shared that between 6 people, that's how stuffed we were. 

Probably definitely come back again if we drive past. I can't remember the name of the town though, I'm sure my dad does.

Eating Out: Spice Island Cafe [Churchill Island off Phillip Island]

I can't find an address for this place probably because there is none. It is on Churchill Island and most of the people at the cafe are there to fill up before or chilling after walking around the island. Churchill Island is definitely a place to visit if you're going down to Phillip Island. A place for people of any age, including us nearing the end of teenage life teenagers. I went with some friends and we walked around like excited little kids patting and going nawwwwww over the farm animals. I guess it reminds us that although we are "adults" we can still be kids. However I do think that this place is more suited to young families and photographers.
Now back to the food at the cafe.
The menu is written on whiteboards hanging just over the counter. There is lots of choice so rest assured there is something for everyone. Seating is available both outside and inside but I do suggest outside if it is a nice day.
 Strawberry Milkshake $5
Milky, cold and refreshing. Strawberry flavouring by the way. Massive cup of it =]
 Chicken BLT $17
Also has avocado. Brother was majorly disappointed at the size of his burger. Though he said it was pretty good.
 Seafood Salad $23
Scallops, mussels, prawns with chilli herb dressing. If you're looking for a super light lunch then this would be for you. However do expect to pay the price of a heavy lunch. Everything was perfectly cooked. This was one of the "Today's Specials"
 Smoked Eel and Leek Croquettes with Harissa Mayo $15
Do notice that the croquette is similar size to the wedge of tomato. I looked at this and thought "THIS is my lunch?!?!". The croquettes were very crunchy, inside was a slightly creamy filling which consisted of I'm guessing quite a bit of roux with some leek mixed in and microscopic amounts of smoked eel. If smoked eel is going to be the first thing you write in the name of the dish, at least put a visible and tasteable amount in there. The harissa mayo was more orange mayo, definitely needed the chilli kick. Also due to the rich filling I felt that they should have givin a lemon wedge to cut though it all. Should have gone with the lamb cutlets.
Bread and Dips $12
The bread soft and crusty. Avocado, yoghurt and cucumber, hummus were the selection of dips. Nothing special though.

Food: 8/10 The food tasted good, fresh produce, not overcooked.
Service/Environment: 9/10 Food came out in a reasonable amount of time. Environment made lunch very enjoyable.
Value: 6/10 Definitely pricey considering quantity, quality doesn't make up for it either.

Verdict? If I am to visit again I will choose wisely. If you're hungry I suggest ordering the bread to share as well as you dish. However I don't see why I would be back, at least not until I have kids and bring them here, as for that, probably won't happen anytime in the near + little bit further than near future.

Eating Out: San Remo Fisherman's Cooperative [190 Marine Parade, San Remo, Victoria 3925]

Just before you go onto the bridge into Phillip Island there is a tiny town on the left called San Remo. At the end of the main strip there is a fish and chip shop which seems pretty popular. It's by the pier. We ate lunch there and  I was pretty disappointed. I was expecting some decent fish and chips considering the number of people who were lining up.
Expensive. Batter falling off due to refrying of already fried and battered fish. Not fresh. 
Utterly disappointed. Maybe it's just because we went at lunch and it was packed and they weren't cooking them like they would like to. I''m hoping it was that.
I want the Batemans Bay fish and chips standard.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Eating Out: Dutchies Stonegrill [1 Vista Place, Cape Woolamai VIC 3925]

Cape Woolamai? Don't worry, it's just along the main road at Phillip Island. There are signs and everything so you won't miss it. And if you do you've probably been driving too long and need to take a rest. It's on the left if you're driving towards Cowes. It's my second time here but I can't remember what I ordered the first time I visited as it was a few years back, all I knew was it was a good experience and some decent food.
The food comes out very quickly as all they need to do is put some chips on one side, salad and bernaise/other sauce on the other, put the meat on and it's ready to go out.
All the parents ordered the same steak and the kids all ordered something different.
 Stonegrill Rib Eye $38.50
I ordered the rib eye and when I saw it I was delighted. I was hoping for a fatty steak and I got one. I was quite surprised at how large the steak was. I liked this better than my brothers rump. The quality of the meat was excellent, well flavoured and juicy. I did encounter one problem, as it was the thinner steak available I found I had to take the entire steak off the stone and onto my chips to prevent it from overcooking (by that I mean over medium). This not only saved my steak from destruction but also allowed it to rest and my chips to soak up some meaty juices. Ingenious. Although it doesn't look like a large steak it actually was, I needed help finishing it and I was starving when we arrived at the restaurant.
 Look at that delicious caramelisation/crust on my steak. A weeks worth of red meat in one meal.
 Prime of the Land-Rump Steak $34.50
Though smaller than the rib eye it was a little thicker. My brother was quite upset when he saw my steak come out, he thought he would get the biggest steak by ordering the rump. But he had to help me eat mine in the end. Although he was still quite satisfied with his.
 Lamb O'Rock $38
On the menu it says you get either a rack of lamb, lamb fillets or lamb cutlets depending on what is that day's selection. It was lamb fillets the day we went. Nice and lean. Four fillets which my friend was overjoyed to see and absolutely loved. I might choose this one next time I come.
Feathers and Feelers $27.50
Two marinated pieces of chicken and three prawns. My friend enjoyed this except there was one downside. She had to watch everyone eat and smell her delicious chicken sizzling as the chicken had to cook all the way through for health/hygiene reasons.
Eye fillet of Beef $40.50
All 6 of the parents ordered this. Each steak was very thick with no fat (parents dream, my nightmare). The menu description claims that you can cut through it with a butter knife, this we did not try but all the parents thoroughly enjoyed the tenderness and flavour.

I didn't get a picture of the mixed grill. Just imagine a bit of beef, pork, chicken and lamb all piled onto the stone grill. For $38.50 it was decent. However only an active male teenage could handle all that meat.

Food: 8.5/10 The meat is good quality. Cooked to how you like it.
Service/Environment: 8.5/10 Luckily that night there were only a few other tables so service was good. However water was filled up very inefficiently and it was a hot day. With the hot stones it was a bad combination which required lots of water which we did not get.
Value: 7/10 Not the cheapest meal but definitely a good experience.

Verdict? If I had the money I would come back and if I was in the area. I think everyone should at least try stonegrill once.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Songs of Sapa

I finally got my hands on a copy of it!!!!!!!!!!
I feel like a kid who got what they wanted for Christmas
Except it's from the library....
But it's better than nothing.
Now I have Kylie Kwong's My China and Luke Nguyen's The Songs of Sapa to read.
Been wanting to read it ever since I found out about the books existence.
Except it was already too late since Luke Nguyen was already famous and there were infinite numbers of reserves for the book and I'm too stingy to pay the fee for reservation so I waited and waited.
And now I can read it =]
Pauline Nguyen's Secrets of Red Lantern is my ultimate favourite cookbook.
Not only for the recipes but for the story, the writing.
One thing that I have noticed is that both Pauline and Luke have a non asian partner...interesting considering their incredibly strict asian parents (asian parents worst nightmare...). I wonder about Leroy and the other brother which who's name has escaped my mind.
Anyways, off to read =]

Cookbook Challenge: Lemon and thyme roasted chicken with baby potatoes [Week 2, Citrus]

I substituted some of the potato part for some other vegies because variety is good. Overall this was a pretty tasty dinner except I believe I blasted the juices out of the chicken by roasting it at 200 degrees in a fan forced oven, but dinner was already running late, I couldn't care less at the time. I will work on sticking to the recipe word for word next time. It didn't take too long to prepare, just shoved everything up the chicken's backside and chucked it in the oven.

Donna Hay's Lemon and thyme roasted chicken with baby potatoes
(anything in brackets is not written in the recipe but I believe should be added)
Ingredients: 1 head of garlic, halved. 5 sprigs thyme. 1 lemon halved. 1.6kg whole chicken. 30g butter, softened. 1kg baby potatoes. 2 tbsp lemon juice. 2 tbsp olive oil. salt & pepper. 1 cup chopped flat leaf parsley leaves. 1 garlic clove crushed (it says extra but it won't make a difference if you just take one from the bulb of garlic before u shove it into the chicken). 1 tbsp finely grated lemon rind (you want to do this before you cut any lemons up for shoving into the chicken or juice).

1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees (probably 20 degrees less if fan forced).
2. Place the garlic, thyme and lemon inside the chicken cavity and tie the legs together with kitchen string. (next time I think i would probably stab the lemon a few times, squash each clove of garlic and shove a bigger bunch of thyme up the chicken as the flavour didn't really come out very well)
3. Gently loosen the breast skin and push the butter underneath.
4. Place the chicken in a roasting pan with the potatoes. 
5. Place half the lemon juice half the oil and salt and pepper in a bowl and stir to combine. Spoon over chicken and roast for 1h 15mins or until chicken is cooked through the the potatoes are tender.
6. Place the parsley, extra garlic, lemon rind and the remaining lemon juice and oil in a bowl, stir to combine and potatoes to serve. (I found that this sauce wasn't really a sauce, just like a salad of parsley so I added the chicken juices and fat from the bottom of the pan into it, it was delicious!)

Roast chicken, veggies and a beer for dinner =] Should I be advocating teenage drinking? It's just one beer and I'm legal. And hey it was the night before Australia Day. Celebrate in true aussie spirit *cough cough*

The recipe is supposed to serve 4 but I bought a smaller chicken as it was just my brother and I eating dinner that night. And like we always do we ate in front of the tv. This time we watched man vs food, do NOT watch this show when you're eating, it is gross. 

Sunday, January 23, 2011

urbanspoon rocks

get the iphone app =]
shake function is fun to play with

Friday, January 21, 2011

Eating Out: BBQ King [18 Goulburn St Sydney, 2000]

We didn't plan to come here. Originally planned to go to Gumshara Ramen but when we got there IT WAS CLOSED!!! From Jan 1st till 14th =[ And it was Jan 1st. I was sooooo bummed. So dad took us to BBQ King because he was like all the gweilo's go there.
We walked in and it was really old school chinese restaurant. There was a really awesome feel to it, the waiters and setting all fitted into the environment. I don't have a menu so I'm just making up names.
 Complimentary Soup
Nothing special, except that it's made from duck bones.
 Chicken Hot Pot
Really nice, lots of chicken with mushrooms and LIVER (ewwww).Galicky and fragrant. Only issue was the bones.
 Famous Roast Duck and Char Siu
Char Siu was dry and salty. Duck lacked flavour and had a chewy skin. I don't get how it's famous.
Stir Fried Water Spinach in Fermented Beancurd Sauce
Pretty average although it was a large serving.

Food: 7.5/10 Average chinese food. Chicken was alright though.
Service/Environment: 8/10 Staff were attentive and atmosphere was good. Hygiene questionable. Staff treat the gweilo way better than the asians =[ I guess cos they're willing to spend the $$$$
Value: 7/10 Overpriced by a mile. Half a duck for 20 something dollars????? And it wasn't even good =[

Verdict? Tried it once and never again. Rather spend that money at Mamak or on ramen. How does it have such a high percentage on Urbanspoon? Was it just our experience? Did we order the wrong things? Or are the gweilo just getting ripped off and don't know it?
BBQ King on Urbanspoon

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Eating Out: Shanghai Yangzhou House [177 Forest Road, Hurstville 2220]

Dad took us to Hurstville on New Years Day because I guess some asians don't take New Years off and therefore we could find some food to eat. After walking around checking out different places in Hurstville we decided on this place because we could not be bothered trying to find another place in the heat. We obviously chose the wrong place as the air con was a little screwed here =.="
We saw another table eating really yummy looking crab so we assumed that crab was on special but it turns out that the crab was $40 something dollars a pound!!! I thought I heard wrong due to my poor mandarin skills so we asked another waitress who spoke cantonese and confirmed it was $40 something dollars. That's like more epensive than lobster (at the time).
 Hot and Sour Soup Medium $9.80
There was enough for 6-8 bowls. This soup was really deceptive. First few mouthfuls it just tastes sour but after a few more your throat is burning from the chilli. The broth was not too rich which let the other ingredients be tasted. I found the soup the perfect consistency. Really yummy, only problem that it's not the best choice for a hot summers day.
 Seafood and Chinese Green Vegetable Rice Porridge $14.80
Parents were delighted to see they offered 泡饭 (special kind of rice porridge) as they haven't had it since coming to Australia. It is not congee, it's rice and stock separate. The stock was amazing, sooo rich (with some MSG). But I really liked this, the kind of food you want to eat when you're under the weather.
 Shanghai Style Chow Mei $7.80
Probably one of the cheaper shanghai noodles around but not the best unfortunately. Too oily and where's the cabbage?
Pan Fried Pork Buns $8.80 for 8
Unfortunately burnt on the bottom and extremely filling. Not the best I've had. I don't think their meat here is very fresh which is a let down.

Food: 7.5/10 Hot and Soup and rice porridge was good, the rest was a let down. I'm sure the crab tastes nice.
Service/Environment: 7/10 Typical asian service, more smiles please. Thank god the menu had a picture for every dish which made it easy to just point and order.
Value: 7.5/10 Yes it's cheap, you get what you pay for.

Verdict? Sooooo many places in Hurstville, if I was in the area again I'd try out a different place. Saw a place with a 4 person set menu for $118 with LOBSTER, SCALLOPS,  FISH and other dishes. Except we weren't that hungry. Hurstville=cheap asian food =D
Shanghai Yangzhou House on Urbanspoon

Eating Out: Fook Yuen Seafood Restaurant [7 Help St Chatswood, 2067]

New Years Eve dinner. Nice restaurant, nice food, good way to send the year off. We had a banquet meal which came to almost $50 per person which I thought was a little overpriced but oh well. It was a nice environment. Don't remember the taste of every dish and I don't have any dish names as I didn't order therefore I shall make them up.
Peking Duck
Lots of skin, thin pancake. Soooo yummy.

 Steamed Fish
look at it's mouth o.o
 Duck meat from peking duck
would have been nice with some plum sauce as it was quite dry
 Bitter Melon Omelette
 Chinese Vegetables with Braised Mushroom
 Braised Tofu?
 Orange Spareribs
Don't remember the names of the two desserts
But parents were like WAHHH it's *insert dessert name here*
It's a good change from the usual fruit platter and sweet soup (I don't like sweet soup)
Whole peaches for fruit, one for each person =]

Food: 8/10 Typical Chinese Food
Service/Environment: 8.5/10 I really like environment, service wasn't bad either.
Value: 7/10 Not cheap considering quality. Oysters were on special for $4.50 each! What kind of special is that? In Melb oysters on special are $2 each. 

Verdict? Not that into chinese food, rather go to Mamak 100m up the road. 
Fook Yuen Seafood on Urbanspoon

Eating Out: Innes Boatshed [1 Clyde Street, Batemans Bay 2536]

Whoops, accidently skipped this place, I thought I had too few posts on Batemans Bay. This was probably the best fish and chips I've had in a while. Minus the chips. There are a few secrets to why there is a massive queue at this place.
1. The fish is fresh and not frozen
2. They grab the fish fillets in front of your eyes and then batter them and fry them straightaway. Using fresh fish reduces cooking time and immediate battering ensures crunch.
3. They are super efficient, with one person who picks up the fish, a batter person/frying person, a seasoner/sorting+wrapping orders person. This ensure the line moves quickly and keeps customers happy. Without this system the line would probably be even longer.
You can probably tell just from the batter on the fish that it will be good. One piece of monkfish and the other fish has escaped my memory, I just remember it wasn't a common type of fish.The fish change according to availability. Both pieces of fish had nice firm flesh which was almost like chicken. Both were still juicy and retained flavour. And the batter? Best batter, crunchy and not too oily. The chips were pretty mediocre unfortunately. The calamari didn't have much flavour but lots of crunch. 

A piece of fish costs a bit more than average fish and chips fish but it is worth it. $8 a fillet I think.
Calamari were $3 for 4

How come 95% of fish and chips are dodgy?
It's soo hard to find a good one which does both fish and chips well.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Eating Out: Mamak [15 Goulburn St Haymarket, 2000]

I knew I had to come here when I was told we were going to Sydney. Claimed to be the best Malaysian restaurant in Sydney, that I cannot confirm as I haven't been to any other Malay places in Sydney but I wouldn't be surprised if it was. This place isn't hard to find, just look for a massive queue. We got there at 8pm and still had to wait 45mins to get a table for 4 best is if you're a table of 2, so next time I'm just going to bring 1 friend =P But then you can't try out as many dishes.....hmmmm the compromise.....the more the merrier of course. One good thing about waiting in line is that you have plenty of time to decide what you want to eat and watch the guys make roti in the window.
Best meal I had in Sydney!
The guys making the roti
I stood there for ages just watching them
The entire time they kept chatting to each other
Whilst the chicks cooked the roti on the hot plate
Kangkung Belacan $13
They really need to put chilli ratings on their menu. My tongue was dying just from this. Nothing special about it though except that the stalks were still crunchy (good thing) unlike mum's version which is normally soft/soggy.
Kari Ikan $16
Chose the fish one because we were already getting chicken satays and my family loves seafood. The curry was packed full of flavour and spicies. The amount of fish was quite generous and firm so it didn't disintegrate into the curry. We also found okra and tomatoes in there. Only one problem, it was insanely chilli for our standards and we required many cups of water as we could not stop eating the delicious curry.
Nasi Lemak + sambal prawns $7.50+$4
Probably the only let down of the whole dinner. There were only 2 prawns!!! Nothing spectacular about the nasi lemak, but if you do get it, choose the fried chicken!
Roti Canai $5
OMG! I wish I could eat this everyday. So flaky, the curry sauce so nice as with the dahl and sambal. Only problem is the price, supposedly it's only like 50cents aussie in Malaysia. Best roti I've had ever (note: I have not been to Malaysia yet). Thinking about this makes my mouth water. I think I need to go to Old Town Kopitiam Mamak and get a roti fix.
Roti Telur $6
Half eaten...whoops
Obviously it was way too delicious and tempting that I forgot to take a photo. Not a fan of roti telur because of the egg. 
Satay Chicken/Beef $14 doz
Most marinated meat, charcoal fire. Damn good satay, best I've had in my food memory. I really really loved the satay sauce, not too peanutty and tonnes of flavour.

We didn't have room for dessert. Completely stuffed.

Just writing this post is making me want to go back to Mamak =[ I think I need to go live in Malaysia for a while. K仔 will you take me there? =D Probably come back double my size though.

Food: 9/10 Only let down was nasi lemak. Everything else was ooooohhhhh sooo yummy.
Service/Environment: 8.5/10 Service was friendly, especially the waitress who was taking down all the names of the people in the line whilst actually doing waitressing inside, she was amazing. The place is clean but cramped. Weird how their uniform includes bright colours, it was quite a sight.
Value: 9/10 Dinner for 4 adults came to just over $60, we were all stuffed without the need for rice (except for the nasi lemak) =O And the quality of the food was exceptional, worth every cent and probably more.

Verdict? I love this place. If I lived in Sydney you'd find me there all the time. Make sure you try the roti and satay because that's what they specialise in. Supposedly their fried chicken, roti tisu and teh tarik are awesome. Next time I'm there, they're definitely going to part of the meal. time is too far away =[
Mamak on Urbanspoon