Two weeks ago, I had training for lawyer skills such as client interviews, letter writing, negotiating and advocacy. We were also fed us very, very well by the training institute. This had both pluses and minuses. Plus – lunch was provided, saving some money lol. Minus – I’m still trying to get rid of the food baby that developed that week :P.
Plus – we were located on Little Bourke St. Minus – the day that I intended to go early to grab a bite beforehand, it was raining cats and dogs!
I found a bit of shelter at a café I had spied the day before and decided to make it my choice for breakfast. The thing that attracted me was the Toby’s Estate name that I saw outside:
But before anyone gets too excited, the infamous Toby’s Estate from Sydney has not opened up a branch in Melbourne – however, their coffee beans has definitely made it over to Settebello, a modern little café on the corner of Hardware Lane and Little Bourke St. Continue reading “Quick Breakie @ Sette Bello, CBD”→
Melbourne is definitely spoilt when it comes to dumplings.
Being out of the foodie-loop for a while means that I wasn’t even aware that another dumpling joint had opened up a number of weeks ago until Libby suggested ShanDong Mama as a post-work catch/meet-up spot with Winston and Dave. Poor Daisy was sick so couldn’t make it but there will be next times I’m sure ;).
After walking in the wrong direction (it happens), I found a guy who I assumed was theragingcook aka Dave. After confirming his identity (lol), we headed in to peruse the menus as the others were running a bit late.
(I unfortunately forgot my camera at home so these are just for the ol’Samsung Galaxy S2)
No photos of the drinks but you should definitely check out Dave’s 8 Treasure Tea – very pretty but a bit too hot on a warm summer night!
Libby soon arrived and helped out with the orders. It’s always nice to eat out with fellow foodies coz we’re all on the same wave length about trying a bit of everything :).
None of us had really done our research but we knew dumplings were a must! It did seem appropriate to have at least one dish of a different variety though. We decided to try the noodles with shredded port, egg and seasonal vegetables in sesame sauce.
After receiving my first ever manicure and pedicure (that’s what holidays are for, no?), we took a taxi to the hawker centre on Old Airport Road. For the first-time traveller to Singapore, hawker centres are a must! Set up in a food court type setting, you’ll soon discover (as I did) the delicious local dishes of the country and for a fraction of the price of any meal you’d get back in Australia – and more tasty too!
As I was still new to the whole concept, I just followed Ange around to a few stalls as she made the orders…
…before she sat me down to order some sugarcane drinks and she went off to put down a few more orders!
These sugarcane drinks were so refreshing and of course very cheap too (though I cannot for the life of me remember the price – they don’t give out receipts haha). I was also fascinated about how there are people who wander around with a money pouch; you tell them what you want to order, pay them, and then they bring it back! Now that I think about it, I guess it’s just like a waiter in a restaurant but in an open-air context, it seemed really novel for me :P.
Ange came back with LOTSA soya bean curd!! lol, but don’t worry, we didn’t eat it all, it was for her cell group later on haha. Here’s what was for dinner:
Prawn Mee: SO GOOD! I liked how they cut the prawns in half – made it much easier to eat. Soup was full of flavour and noodles cooked just right!
Wonton and Char Siu Mee: Loved it. I think I am more of a dry noodles kinda fan so this suited me well :). Wontons were a lot smaller than we get in restaurants back in Melbourne but I’ve been told that this is how they used to make it traditionally. I didn’t drink much of the soup – MSG concern lol.
SATAY SKEWERS!!!: SO. SO. SO. GOOD. I think Ange got half chicken and half pork… man, I am lost for words for how amazing this tasted. It came with a few pieces of cucumber and its own bag of satay to dip the meat in…
And what added to the awesomeness factor was how unbelievable CHEAP this all was! Easily under $10 AUS per head and we were feeling very full afterwards.
Oh and what became of the soya bean curd?
Apparently the soya bean curd from Lao Ban and 51 Soya Bean are slightly different in taste but it wasn’t as obvious to me so if you get a chance try both :D.
Usually the eating ends with dinner but as I soon discovered, 10pm is still considered early in Singapore so why not go out for supper, yo?? :P
We headed out to one of the Crystal Jade‘s in town to have some dim sum…
The standout was definitely these salted egg custard baos! Firstly, never seem them this colour and then…
…liquid gold!! :D Now this is something that definitely hasn’t made it over to Aust in its traditional form. The colour isn’t as evident against the orange casing but tasted SO GOOD *happy sigh*.
Was a lovely end to Day 1 in SG :).
*Disclaimer: All food reviews are purely based on my own experiences and how I feel about the service, food and quality at the time of visit. I am merely a lover of food and by no means a food expert!
Coming up: More hawker centres and the first of my hipster café visits :P.
Please skip if you’d rather avoid randomness and just get on with the food :D.
SINGAPORE Day 1.1
(because these was SO MUCH food that Day 1 has two parts!)
Note: Cost of food noted is in SG Dollars.
After some much-needed beauty sleep, Ange and I headed out to hunt down a few items to make SG more accessible for me (i.e. a MRT card). On the way we passed by a place that I’d been told I should most definitely try while in SG…
My friend, May, pronounced Koi Café much better than any place we had in Melbourne so I decided to give it a go.
Ange suggested I get the original milk tea with the addition of ice-cream – hard to go wrong when there’s ice-cream involved lol! Given that I wasn’t quite used to the humidity of SG, this drink was a cool relief as we continued the search for an elusive pre-paid sim card (each stall we tried seemed to be sold out!).
Once we got that sorted, it was time for lunch! On the flight from Melb – Darwin, I sat between two lovely girls who were on their way to SG too and when I asked them for food suggestions, they both said to try Boon Tong Kee’s famous chicken rice! Ange hadn’t tried it before but that became our first proper food destination of Day 1!
The Boon Tong Kee brand has been around in SG for over two decades now and has a number of branches. We went to the Balestier branch, the first restaurant that opened in 1983. When we arrived, it wasn’t very crowded yet (the above photo was taken after we’d finished our meal) – I guess 12pm was still quite early for lunch…
The menu was good because it had pictures haha (sorry, didn’t take any photos of the inside of the menu!). Once we’d placed our order, we were given a plate of salted peanuts to munch on in the meantime. They were alright but unfortunately, Ange’s suspicions were confirmed – these were not for free lol ($2.00).
Our tummies were rumbling since we had not eaten breakfast that morning so we were delighted when the main dishes finally made it to the table!
This probably wasn’t the best angle to take the photo of the chicken from but let me tell you we were very ready to stuff our faces haha. Ten points for presentation (loved the addition of the purple orchid) but sadly, it rated a bit less in the taste department. Maybe it was because our expectations had been too high, but I personally felt that the chicken was a bit bland for my liking and didn’t seem quite worth the $10.00 we paid for it. Perhaps the issue was that we should have chosen not just the chicken but with the special rice cooked in chicken stock that goes with it as well? I felt that the chicken rice I had at Changi airport on the way back seemed much better and value for money ($5.00!) in comparison.
We decided to get some vegies to go with the chicken and I have to say that this dish actually outshone the main event. Where the chicken lacked flavour, the stuffed beancurd and eggplant ($18.00) packed the punch. This was by far the better dish of the day for me. I loved the sauce that they used and eggplant is a favourite for me, no matter how it is cooked :P.
We also had plain rice to go with the dishes (50 cents each) and Ange had a barley drink ($2.00) and I had a chinese tea ($1.50) to go with it.
Damage done including taxes was $40.30 SG which is currently about $32.57 AUD. Not too bad but not as cheap as some of the other places we went to afterwards.
See ladyironchef (a pretty prolific and well-known SG food blogger) for further thoughts on Boon Tong Kee’s chicken rice.
Moving on after lunch, I was introduced to Orchard Road and we did a bit retail therapy. We must have done a fair amount of walking around as soon it was for afternoon tea :P.
Kaya toast was on the list of to-eats so having seen Ya Kun Kaya Toast almost everywhere, this seemed like a good choice. Established in the 1940s, Ya Kun Kaya Toast has developed a reputation for “unparalleled kaya toast and irresistibly fragrant coffee and tea, enjoyed amidst a cosy atmosphere.” – from their website.
We went for a kaya toast set each consisting of kaya toast, soft boiled eggs and a beverage of our choice. What was most interesting for me was how thin and brown the toast was! Since Killiney Kopitiam opened on Lygon St earlier this year, I’ve had their kaya toast at least twice (cheap cheap!) and it looked nothing like this! Also, I liked how they only had two thin slice of butter between the bread – I always feel slightly grossed out biting into the block of butter that Killiney put on their kaya toast. Didn’t take notes for exact prices but it was pretty cheap from recollection. Definitely a good place to stop by if you are after something to carry you over until the next main meal :).
And we made it halfway through Day 1, hooray! :D Three things ticked off the list!
Coming up: dinner and supper on Day 1 – hawker food and dim sum… mmm.
Question from vlog: What was your favourite (or perhaps most memorable) gift/moment of this past Christmas season?
I’ve been contemplating whether or not to write this particular review because frankly, no one likes to be told that they’ve missed the mark, right? But at the same time, if you don’t say anything, how will they know to improve?
So, it’s with a bit of reluctance that I share my first experience at the new Viet place in Box Hill, Pho Chu The.
With my mum’s workplace located in Box Hill, we often lunch there and are quite familiar with the food options available in the area. So when the news spread like wildfire (as it does in an office setting – an email does the trick) that a new player was in town, it was inevitable that my parents and I would find ourselves outside Pho Chu The on their opening day. There are two views when it comes to visiting a new restaurant – They should either have their best game face on to make a good first impression on opening day OR they haven’t yet got a chance to try things out properly so you should give them a bit more time to settle in. For Pho Chu The, it came out the second way.
There was a bit of a wait as we came at the peak lunch hour, but once tables were cleared we found a spot in the front corner. Taking over from the Old Tea House Restaurant, the ceiling was high with lots of natural light filling the space. Medium-sized LCD TV screens were installed though not functioning when we were there for lunch. However, I imagine there’ll be Asian dramas or TV shows showing in the future ;). Tables were finished with different scenes from the Vietnamese landscape which I thought was a nice touch.
As is the trend with the new generation of Asian restaurants, you write up your own order and when you are done, you just press the pager and a staff member comes to collect it. I guess it’s efficient and given that Asian restaurants aren’t known for their great customer service, it probably helps that bit along too.
Unfortunately, that’s pretty much where the positives end. Being at a Vietnamese church for 22 years that had monthly potluck with food after the service every other week, we’ve become quite critical when it comes to authentic Vietnamese food. We started off with a serving of Cha Gio (tom) – Prawn Spring Rolls ($8.50) which weren’t hot enough. It made me think that they had been deep-fried a while ago and they just reheated them before putting it on the plate. Though definitely ‘prawny’, it just wasn’t good enough by our standards.
Sadly, the phở didn’t measure up either. The phở wasn’t hot enough, and the broth in general didn’t have a strong flavour = it hadn’t been cooked for long enough. While there for lunch, my dad saw a friend who works as a butcher and went over and asked what he thought of the food. He said that their meat wasn’t very good quality and was probably from an ‘older cow’ as opposed to a ‘younger cow’ that is more tender (lol, it sounds much less blunt in Viet I swear!). I liked the onion condiments though – probably the only thing I remembered about the meal.
I know the staff were still finding their feet but it doesn’t look really good when you need to make a request (after the phở had arrived) for the plate of bean sprouts and mint that generally accompany the phở. And what is this??
How is one supposed to squeeze the juice out of this?? lol, I was just dumbfounded.
Parents weren’t impressed with their drinks either. The new owners have made use of the bubble tea machines left behind by the last tenants so there is a huge drink menu on offer. I got a Taro milk green tea ($3.50 + 50c w/pearls) which was alright I guess. Dad should have stuck to what he knew instead of trying the Mango green tea ($3.50 + 50c w/pearls) since he just wasn’t used to it and didn’t like the flavour. Mum chose something that was familiar but didn’t get what she was after… Instead of coconut milk, they used coconut cream for the Three Colour drink ($3.50) which produced a really weird result:
The cream didn’t mix well with the other parts of the drink and I think they forgot to add the sugar syrup as it was very bland = mostly left untouched in the glass :(.
We really wanted to like Pho Chu The, given the reputations of the Footscray and Richmond stores of the same name. However, there’s much room for improvement.
The staff seemed a bit flustered, not really knowing the ropes yet and getting orders confused but I think (and hope) that with a bit of time, things will pick up here.
We did find them a bit pricey for the quality of food that was produced but 20% off the bill (for the first 2 opening weeks – from 19th September) made it a bit more bearable.
*sigh* It’s not nice writing a bad review but I must stress that this was their opening day! They were open from 9am that morning so perhaps with the lack of experience, the quality had dropped over the few hours… My dad has said that he won’t go back unless there is an improvement so I hope that when we revisit, they’ll have ironed out the creases and I’ll be able to report back with more favourable comments. Hope you can visit and make your own assessments.
Pho Chu The
936 Whitehorse Rd, Box Hill VIC 3128
Tel: (03) 9890 1688
Trading from: 9am – 10pm (as per advert)
Question: Do you think you should visit on a restaurant’s opening day or is it wiser to give them a bit more time before visiting?
P.S. Don’t forget to enter the Royal Melbourne Show giveaway! One more night before the winner is announced :). Edit 24 Sept: Giveaway has ended now.
As Father’s Day weekend is usually quite busy for our family (yes, this has been published by the wonders of scheduled posting), I decided to take my Dad out for lunch last Friday :). My mum had recently had the Express Lunch option at St Katherine’s with her work mates and loved it and since my mum is not much of the foodie, I knew I had to pay attention.
Parking is a bit tricky along Cotham Road so I’d strongly suggest that give yourself plenty of time to try the side streets for parking. Thankfully, we were early and had a space waiting for us to occupy (blessing from Heaven!) so we pushed on passed the heavy doorway exactly on time for our 12pm booking.
We were the first customers in the door but once we were ushered to our seats, it was only in a matter of minutes that the place started to pack out!
We were given the drinks menu to peruse and since it was a special occasion, I decided to try the More than a Shirley Temple Mocktail ($7.00):
It was a mix of pomegranate juice, raspberry syrup, lime juice, ginger beer which was quite a refreshing combination. It was just right in terms of sweetness but I felt like it had too much ice! I suggested to my dad that he should try the apple cider which was a mistake on my part – I should have looked closer since I didn’t realised it had alcohol (which my dad doesn’t drink at all!). Poor dad was worried that he shouldn’t be driving afterwards and so a significant amount of our lunch conversation involved a discussion of standard drinks and alcohol driving limits lol! *sigh* A lunch to remember and not just for the food, I guess? :)
We had already informed the staff that we were after the Express Lunch so it came soon after our drinks arrived:
For those who aren’t aware, an “Express Lunch” is a 2 course set that gives you a quick taste of what St Kat’s has to offer. It changes from day to day (or perhaps week to week… not sure) so you just get whatever the cook cooks :). That day, for starters we had a spinach cheese dip, smoked eggplant salad, lamb pide and haloumi deep fried balls (lol can’t remember the exact name! – anyone know?) with a bag of toasted Turkish bread. The lamb pide was alright – a bit spicy but nothing that flash I’m afraid. I did enjoy the smokey flavour of the eggplant and I like eggplant in general so that was a winner for me.
Yup, I LOVED THESE BALLS :D Well, I only had the one but I loved the texture of it and the saltiness of the cheese mixed with the rice and herbs… yum!
The Turkish bread was also a favourite of mine! I don’t think I’ve ever had such good Turkish bread before! It was lightly sprinkled with salt and brushed with butter I think and because it was kept warm in the paper bag, it was just a delight to spread with the spinach cheese dip :). So good that we asked for another bag later in the meal to munch on hehe.
Once we’d finished with the first course, it wasn’t long before they brought out our next set of dishes to try…
At first, my dad who is used to Asian dishes piled up with food was like, “This is it?” Haha, but though it looks kind of small portion-wise, it was very filling and we were quite satisfied by the end of this course (the extra bag of Turkish bread probably helped!).
First up, I tried the rice pilaf with mushrooms, tarragon and hazelnuts. Was very light and with enough flavour that you could eat it on its own, but it wasn’t so overpowering so that it was also a nice accompaniment for the other two dishes.
Next was the grilled chicken carved out from the rotisserie that was dressed with yoghurt (I believe… I really should have taken notes!) which I quite enjoyed as well. Nice with the squeeze of lemon :).
The salmon was cooked perfectly and the skin was crispy. Couldn’t fault it. Loved it :).
Overall, a lovely dining experience. The staff were very attentive and professional (as you would expect from a George Calombarisand Shane Deliarestaurant. Bookings are a must to avoid disappointment during the lunch hour as it fills out very, very quickly!
And for $19.50 per head, the Express Lunch is well worth the visit! More importantly, I got to spend the lunch with my mentor, my coach, my friend, my godly counsel, my fellow foodie, my dad :).
Edited from my review published in Purely Dicta, Issue 1, 2012 …
Move aside Momo Sushi, Pearls and cheap Chinese – there’s a new eatery in law school town!
When you wander down to Middle Fish during lunch hour, the first thing you will notice is just how packed the place is! Located conveniently next to Seven Seeds (entrance on Berkeley St side), this Southern Thai café has won the hearts and stomaches of many law students and lecturers since it opened about 6 months ago.
On my first visit, I tried the Pad Gapao Moo Kob ($15.50), which was a delicious serving of pork belly, assorted stir-fried vegies and fried egg with rice.
My fellow law student had the Green Chicken Curry ($14.50), which I tried on my second visit. The Green Chicken Curry came with rice (as most main dishes) and with SO MUCH chicken and sauce that I just had to order some roti($3.50) to finish it off (that’s how good it was!) – can’t seem to find my photo of the roti :(.
Another one to try is their Tom Yum ($14.50) that had an abundance of juicy prawns and a perfect balance of sweet and sour (so says another law student).
Addition: On a separate occasion after I sent this off to the publishers, I had the Gapi Fried Rice (forgot to note the price) as mentioned in this post.
Normally I don’t order fried rice when I’m out (Asian pride thing I think) but I made an exception because the use of apple in this dish intrigued me. The apples made this dish quite refreshing and the separating all the ingredients on the plate meant that it not only looked good to the eye when it came out (and you could see exactly what was in the dish!), but it meant that the apple strips remained crisp and crunchy even after you mixed it together. Very filling and satisfying.
Now don’t forget to give their Thai Milk Ice Tea a go too! Served in what looks more like a bowl than a cup, it a sweet accompaniment to any meal!
Middle Fish also has lunch specials now so if you haven’t done so already, set a lunch date to check it out! Probably a good time now since there’ll be less students around…
Price Range: ~$4.00 for drinks, $15-$25 per meal. A bit outside what I’d usually spend on a regular student lunch but it’s a pleasant change to the usual sandwich, sushi or salad every once in a while :).
I admit it. I’ve got Facebook withdrawal symptoms. Been reading and commenting on a few blogs here and there to make up for the lack of social networking so decided I needed to make a contribution too lol.
No random questions tonight… just hope you’ve all had a good start to the week :).
It’s rare that I go to a restaurant twice in one week but somehow I ended up at the Groove Lounge for lunch on a Saturday and then was at the Groove Train for dinner the following Wednesday.
The Groove Train has a number of franchises and as I’ve found out, they are all slightly different.
The Groove Lounge, Williamstown
I took the Werribee line for the first time to get down to the Groove Lounge. I was technically still on the Daniel fast at this time but since Ray was shouting, it was difficult to just still to the greens…(not sure about the prices)
1. Vedura Mista Wood Fired Pizza top left
I thought I would be eating most of this pizza with mushroom, eggplant, roasted capsicum, pumpkin, spinach, onion, mozzarella cheese & Napoli sauce topped with basil pesto but I think they were a bit too generous with the pesto and so I found it a bit oily. The base was just right for all the pizzas :).
2. Tandoori Chicken Wood Fired Pizza top right
Pretty good though nothing that was particularly memorable.
3. Greek Wood Fired Pizza bottom left
Really enjoyed this pizza as the tzatziki on top was a refreshing contrast to the marinated lamb strips. Spinach, fetta and the Napoli sauce were good accompaniments.
4. Greek Salad bottom right
Was good to have something else besides pizza lol.
The Groove Train, Melbourne Central
Went for a bit more variety this time with our core team however, now that we were paying for it, we realised how expensive the place is :S.
1. Groove to the Caesar Salad ($18.90) top left
Just a basic caesar salad – I would have liked the egg to have been a bit more runny but still a good side dish to the other mains…
With a number of birthday gatherings floating around, I thought it was about time I caught up on a post I promised before the inevitable hiatus announcement.
A few months ago, my brother turned 20 years old. TWENTY YEARS OLD!! How did that happen?
To be honest, it really is a miracle that we’ve stayed sane and together as a family for that long.
Why’s that?, I anticipate you asking.
Well, if you knew me in real life, you’d also know that Sam, my brother, has autism. He was diagnosed with autism when he was 4 years old and our family lifestyle and routines have never been quite ‘normal’ ever since.
I’m sure you don’t hide away scissors, knives and the stove lighter before you go to sleep. I’m also pretty certain that the first thing you see when you wake up in the morning is not a laptop being thrusted at your face with a demand for the password. Nor are 2 TVs and one portal DVD player constantly being played (all at once) in your household. These are just some of the realities we deal with on a regular basis because of my brother’s disabilities. Though there have been many challenges over the years, there has also been much joy and appreciation for the little things in life i.e. when Sam finishes a full sentence that made complete sense without any prompting :). Being a sibling to a person with special needs has also taught me to be patient with people, recognising that we all have our idiosyncrasies and to accept others just the way they are. Continue reading “Sam Turns Twenty at Sha Tin”→
And so, I’m now on the other side of my clerkship interviews, yay! I’m definitely glad for the opportunity to have chats with HR personnel and Partners at the few firms that gave me a chance :). They all had a slightly different feel but at the same time, I could see myself happily working in any of them… some interviews were more structured than others, some were longer, some more conversational… but one thing they all asked me about was ‘food blogging’! Haha, I threw that in as an afterthought on my CV and sure enough, the question rolled around (usually as the last one before heading out the door!).
Though this isn’t strictly a food blog, I find that most posts usually revolve around food because most of the gathering of friends and family that I have come hand in hand with feasting together :).
Speaking of which, it was so so so so nice to have a get-together with my group of old high school friends last week and of course, it was over some good food too ;). It was a farewell-birthday-catch-up dinner kind of affair so I think we all made a special effort to be there and it was just grand :). There were some I hadn’t seen for way too long (since last year?!) so it was great to hear and share what had been happening in each other’s lives. I also eagerly filed up on my ‘hug supply’ hehe – my love for hugs (and almost need for them!) can probably be linked (in part) to going to a girls school where greetings are always accompanied with hugs and squeals of joy! *happy sigh*
Oh right – the food! We decided on The Deck on Mercantile Place (it can be a bit hard to find – from cnr of King Street and Flinder Street, walk up King St then turn left into the first lane and go up the stairs) since they have a $10 pizza + drink deal on Thursdays. It was quite busy when we first arrived around 6:30ish but we were able to snag a set of couches for ourselves after 30 mins so that was good.
Sadly, they didn’t have the roof open so we missed out on star-gazing (*sad face*) but their global pizza menu was well received by the group (*happy face*). The lighting was quite horrible for photos so you’ll just have to trust me when I say that each pizza looked divine! They each came in a cardboard box and so we just used those as our serving plates, ha! The pizzas were the size of ‘small pizzas’, cut into four which was perfect for a bit of swapsy to try other flavours (eating 4 pieces of pizza with the same type of topping can get a bit monotonous)… I chose the North Italian Pizza and did a swap with Slug (Tasmanian Pizza) and Rach (Moroccan Pizza). I thought the ones I tried all tasted great albeit a bit cold – but that was mainly because our attention were often diverted away from the pizza to the conversation bubbling away :P.
So if you are looking for some cheap pizza in the CBD on a Thursday night, try out The Deck! Probably would be even better in summer! The Deck only trades on Thursdays, Fridays (12pm – late) and Saturdays (6pm – late) and is connected to the Waterside Hotel.
P.S. Those who get notifications of this new posts will possibly question why I’m up at 4am haha, just finished off my notes for Remedies so thought I should reward myself by blogging ;). 2 more days of break in which to get as far along with my research essay as possible, yikes! See you later…zzzzz.