Monday, May 23, 2011

Eating Out: Palms Foodcourt and Restaurant [Glen Waverley, 3150]

213-215 Blackburn Road
Glen Waverley, 3150

For the past 12 weeks I've eaten out pretty much every Friday night yet I seemed to have only reviewed a couple of places. I have no idea how that works...but I think some contributing factors include not bringing my camera and being wayyy too hungry to care after 2 hours of intense frisbee.

From around week 2 the boy and I have said we should try Curry and Chips as I pass it everyday to and from uni. And 10 weeks later we end up at last Friday night where I said "we're going to Curry and Chips cos otherwise we'll never go" and guess what we stood outside the door and decided to go Palms Foodcourt behind us instead.

Curry Laksa $9.50 [Palms Food Court]
         Curry Laksa $9.50
+ Lots of spices
+ Correct noodles
+ Lots of tofu puffs to soak up the soup
-Soup was way too thick with not enough coconut milk
- Hardly any toppings
- No vegies except for beansprouts.
Hainanese Chicken Rice $9 [Palms Food Court]
Hainanese Chicken Rice $9
+ Decent serving size
+ Sauces had a strong taste
-Chicken was BITTER
-Chicken contained lots of bones, little meat and was not cleaned of innards
-Rice wasn't chickeny
-Soup was worse than msg soup, had a weird aftertaste.

Food: 6/10 Chicken rice was the worst I've ever had. Curry laksa possibly passable.
Service/Environment: 7/10 Seems relatively renovated except the tables are just way too close to each other.
Value: 5/10 Sure you're getting dinner for under $10 per person but if you think about it you can a curry laksa for the same price at Laksa King which is many times better and a chicken rice from Wong's Lucky Bar for $1 cheaper and a billion times better....go figure
Accessibility: A few minutes walk from Syndal Station, otherwise also accessible by bus.

Verdict? I have a feeling this place is only good for the Indian food and not the Malaysian food. The Malaysian food is easily summed up by the boy "I realise why my parents don't come here anymore". ONLY reason I might come back is for their Indian side.
Palms Foodcourt and Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Masterchef Training: [Week 3]

Once again no recipe for this week. Because I'm such a last minute person I spend my weekends frantically rushing assignments/essay/other homework and therefore don't get to cook.
However, some good news my very first Masterchef Magazine arrived earlier this week and I was super excited. Yes, I like over 5000 other aussies bought the deal from that deal website which I have forgotten the name of already. So stay tuned there are a few dishes I want to cook from the mag.

A quick overview of the Masterchef week:
Sunday: The rabbit mystery box. I don't think I'll be attempting this one, at least not until holidays. I have found a butcher which sells them (Pinewood Shopping Centre near Coles) if you're interested.
Monday: Pressure test of bombe alaksa. This one I will definitely attempt. I don't think I can do it under timed conditions as I only have one ice cream machine.
Tuesday: Celebrity chef challenge of PIE!! Also going to attempt to make pie over the holidays, without kidneys though thanks :)
Wednesday: Team challenge
Thursday: Pressure test again. 10 minute dish. I would have either made steak (thicker than that guys though) with coleslaw or pan fried salmon steak (pink just cooked centre for that creaminess) with some sort of avocado.
Friday: Masterclass, I still haven't finished watching it yet.

Thats all for this week.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Masterchef Training: No recipe [Week 2]

I think I might add into these posts what I would make each episode (except for Chefs Challenge, Team Challenge Masterclass). Masterchef weeks start on the Sunday by the way.

Sunday: Taste test followed by Invention Test = Potstickers/Gyozas.
Monday: Dish that got you into food = Typical chinese meal of 3 dishes 1 soup. One stir fried dish. (helping Mum make dinner at night)
Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday: Not applicable.

I didn't cook anything along the lines of Masterchef this week. Only a Stir Fried Noodle dish (炒河粉) and a Pasta Bake over the weekend.

Mystery Box tonight though. Maybe I'll cook something next week.

Masterchef Training: Roast Tomato Soup [Mystery Box, Week 1]

I wrote this on Monday with the intention of inserting a photo along with post but I have decided against it because the photo turned out pretty bad.

First week of Masterchef and I've already missed Masterclass and the start of last nights ep.
Attempted to make tomato soup last night and it was a massive fail. Didn't use a recipe and I'd never made it before, I was destined for success =.="

Fail Tomato Soup
  • 1/2 Onion, diced.
  • Handful of grated carrot (omitting next time)
  • 8 super ripe tomatoes
  • Stock of some sort, preferably homemade chicken stock.
  • Chilli flakes
  • Salt + Sugar to taste
  1. Put tomatoes under the grill for 25mins.
  2. Saute onions and carrots until almost mush. 
  3. Peel tomatoes and put the flesh in with the onion and carrots.
  4. Add stock and chilli flakes. 
  5. Blend it all up with a stick blender.  
  6. Season and taste constantly
What I will do differently next time: 
# Burn tomato skins over an open flame/blowtorch.
# Omit carrot as it made the soup orange and didn't affect taste at all. 
# Use homemade stock, if not chicken not beef. 
# Less chilli more sugar
# Pass it through a sieve
# Make a crunch factor.

#After going through the recipes of the contestants on the Masterchef website, they had a lot more ingredients than I thought was available. I would have definitely used bacon to get that smoky flavour. 

What I learnt:
# A good tomato soup is not easy to make, you have to get flavour out of no where.
# 45 mins may feel like ages in a lecture but it feels like nothing in the kitchen

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Eating Out: the booth 路边摊 [Box Hill]

612 Station St, Box Hill 3128
Accessible by train, tram and bus.

I believe this place closed for some reason as they reopened early last month. The food here has always been alright but we never came back again for some reason until I saw they had reopened (suggesting the food may have changed).

Their menu is very extensive and the indecisive ones will find it a nightmare trying to choose a dish. I do like how they describe what is in each and every dish.  The food in order that they came out.
Three Cup Chicken Rice $8.50 [The Booth, Box Hill]
Three Cup Chicken Rice 三杯鸡饭 $8.50
Taiwanese restaurant means must try either Beef Noodles and/or Three Cup Chicken.
One word to describe this dish, disappointing. 
+ Served in claypot (does not represent cooked in claypot, please note the difference)
+ Fresh basil used.
- Chicken, cooked for so long that the bones were mushy.
- Chicken meat had little flavour
- Majority of the chicken were little chicken wings (I'll explain why further down)
- Very oily
- Soupy not dry like it should be
Beef Noodle Soup $8.50 [The Booth, Box Hill]
Beef Noodle Soup 红烧牛肉面 $8.50
Choice of Original, Rice, Tau Shou (knife shaved?) +$1.50 or Cat's Ear +1.50 Noodles.
+ Fatty braised soft beef cubes
+ Rich soup
+ Generous serving
+ Pickled sour vegetables to balance out the fatty beef
- Lack of fresh vegetables
Special Chicken Noodle Soup $8.50 [The Booth, Box Hill]
Special Chicken Noodle Soup-Deep Fried Chicken Drummetes $8.50 [The Booth, Box Hill]
Special Chicken Noodle Soup 路边摊招牌面 $8.50
If you come here you must try the chicken drummettes. Their specialty. They push the meat down  which makes it different and easier to eat all the meat without getting it all over your face. 
+ Super crispy well marinated chicken (Yes you get 4 for that price with noodles)
+ Light broth with noodles (chicken drummettes is very strong flavoured already)
+ Soya marinated egg
- None that I can think of
So what happens to all the little chicken wings that come connected with these drumsticks? They get thrown into the three cup chicken pot instead.
Beef Wrap $9 [The Booth, Box Hill]
Beef Wrap 牛肉卷饼 $9
Another of their specialty, not sure whether it's worth the $9 but it is very delicious and filling.
+ Crispy yet slightly chewy spring onion wrap/pastry.
+ Tonne of marinated beef (reminds me of those ridiculous meat sandwiches they have in America)
- Hot outside cold inside, however this is actually done on purpose, it's just that I'm not used to the hot/cold difference.

Food: 8/10 The three cup chicken pulled it down, all the other dishes are very good.
Service/Environment: 7/10 It is very cramped and noisy. However service was attentive and the food came out very quickly despite the place being full house. The use of electronic ordering by the waiter/esses is probably the reason behind it.
Value: 9/10 Serving sizes are generous, family of 4 adults struggled to finish it. Prices are very very reasonable.

Verdict? Become one of my new favourite places at Box Hill, but then again I have many favourite places at Box Hill.
The Booth on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Training for Masterchef, Join Me =]

This idea came to me last year but I couldn't do it as there was no time in year 12 to cook (But there was time to watch every episode of Masterchef Sun-Fri =P). Now at uni I'm finding equally if not more challenging to find the time to cook. Instant noodles do not count as cooking by the way.
Many friends of mine told me to sign up for Masterchef last year, however I knew I didn't have the skills or knowledge to. However it would have been really cool to be the youngest person to audition, whether I would get chosen was another issue. Currently I don't actually plan to audition for Masterchef because I know that I'll throw my university degree away to pursue a career in cooking. Another problem is the lifestyle that comes with being a chef. It's a hard job/life that you won't be appreciated for (something I find many people overlook) keep in mind I'm not saying any job is easy but standing up all day until the wee hours of the morning in an incredibly hot environment 6-7 days a week for decades is not what I'm prepared to do.

So getting back on track, what was the idea?
To do the challenges they face on the show in my/your own kitchen (well mums kitchen, she's quite possessive of it). I'm leaning more towards the mystery box challenge as I'll probably only have enough time to cook once a week. Otherwise the invention test is also a pretty good option.
Please join me in this "training"/"challenge" what ever you may like to call it.

On the first episode (Sunday night May 1st) they had to cook something with basic ingredients. I'll have to watch the part where they list all the ingredients they can use. I'm thinking roasted tomato soup with (spicy) flatbread croutons. Probably not enough to wow the judges but enough to satisfy my tomato soup craze (Heinz is the best out of 4 brands I've tried so far, Campbells being the worst and Aldi coming in second, I don't remember Coles but obviously it wasn't good enough to stay in my memory)

PS. Currently in the library reading Adam Liaw's Two Asian Kitchens and I'm loving it, I shall get my own copy for myself one day. Hopefully it'll be the first cookbook I'll ever buy.