Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Sensory Lab, CBD MELB

Mondays can be such a drag, knowing that the week would be challenging and potentially taxing considering the amount of late shifts I have lined up for the week. Which brings us to my dependence on caffeine as a mood lifter when the need for brain power kicks in.

The aroma of freshly roasted and grounded coffee appeases me in the wake of the rush hour despite the frequent whiff of exhaust fumes from vehicles bypassing the narrow Little Collins street. Muffed in my sweater, I made my order at the counter and stole a few glances at the rather tempting plate of glistening, golden pastries that heavily reminded me of my travelling days in Paris.

Soon after, the barista called out my name, albeit incorrectly, and I was greeted by a cup of warm latte, warming my cold fingers as I made my way into work. Just what I needed to start another week solving mysteries in the chemist.

  Sensory Lab - Little Collins Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sunday, May 6, 2018

New Royal Garden, Mount Waverley MELB

Cannot remember when was the last time I had yum cha but yesterday proofed to be one of those days where it was quintessential to, with a cup of hot tea on hand. Having never been here before, I booked a few days in advance. However, for those who prefer walk-ins, the waiting time is not long.

Service is efficient although I do personally think that there is less variety here compared to other establishments. Overall fare tasted standard to me, bonus points for not feeling the need to rush to finish whilst dining.

New Royal Garden Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Hainanese chicken rice sauce recipes

I have attempted to make Hainanese chicken rice many times before and with every trial, I seem to be getting closer to unlocking the secret of making THE ultimate homemade version. The chilli and spring onion/ginger sauce in this recipe is spot on whilst the rice is a good alternative to the oilier version served at restaurants.

Have still yet to master the cooking the chicken to perfection and until then, I shall not publish a recipe. For those unfamiliar, the chicken can be easily prepared by simmering it for about 10 minutes in gently bubbling chicken broth before leaving it for an extra 20 minutes until the chicken is cooked thoroughly. Cooked chicken is then plunged into an ice bath and heavily lashed with a mixture of soy sauce and sesame oil for that glistening appeal.

The size of the chicken does matter when cooking and so does the temperature. You may cheat a little with bland tasting chicken broth but stuffing the chicken with ginger, garlic and pandan leaves is essential for that extra bit of fragrant aroma coming from the chicken meat. Am still experimenting with the poaching element of this dish!

Chilli dipping sauce recipe:
90g red chillies
15g garlic
40g ginger
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
10ml of chicken broth
Juice from half a lime

1. Mince all the ingredients together before adding salt, sugar, chicken broth and lime juice. Adjust taste to your preference.

Personally, I like my dipping sauce to be less diluted than the ones you get from the hawker stalls. However, you can water this sauce down by adding more stock and adjusting to taste accordingly.

Spring onion and ginger oil recipe:
100g ginger
4 stalks of spring onions
2 tbsp chicken oil
1 tbsp sesame oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar

1. Mince the ginger and spring onion together before adding the oils and the seasoning. Adjust to taste.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Urban Grooves Cafe, Greensborough MELB

Relatives or friends visiting Melbourne is an opportunity itself to venture into a foreign suburb and perhaps find a hidden gem. In an edible form, of course.

First visit on a Sunday evening and an Australian restaurant was picked seeing as it comprised of safe meal options such as pizzas, pastas, burgers and the usual parmigiana/ fish and chips fare. Service was friendly and attentive; made us feel welcomed and at ease.

Salt and pepper calamari - served with house made aioli. Priced at $25, the portion was generous, calamari bites were crisp and perfectly seasoned.

Seafood pizza - I do have my reservations when ordering seafood dishes outside in case I get disappointed by the quality of seafood used. I had been previously horrified at a cafe when a plate of pasta topped with miniature shrimps appeared instead of prawns as stated on the menu. To my surprise, the pieces used here were certainly fresh, juicy and again, generous. Loved how this was a thin crust pizza too.

Greek lamb skewers - served with tzatziki, fries, salad and garlic herb pita bread. Lamb pieces were juicy and well marinated.

Greek lamb pizza - the aunty was keen on having lamb as part of her Aussie tour and we were only more than happy to play along. Pizza was well prepared, topped with just the right amount of lamb pieces, tomato and tzatziki, each complimenting each other well.

A meal does not end without something sweet to sum up the event. Hot chocolate was one of the better ones I have had in Melbourne - creamy, not overly sweet and the right quantity too.

Apple crumble tart - delicious and best served warm. I am personally a fan of chunky crumb toppings and would have loved if this little fella was topped with it. Nevertheless, still yummy.

Sticky date pudding with butterscotch sauce - best served warm and drizzled with the right amount of sauce. Sinfully delicious and loved every bite of the cake soaked in the sauce.

Urban Grooves Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

HWKR Food Centre, CBD MELB

Two weeks ago, the sister and I finished work at close to 5pm, both equally weary after an intensive day. Train commuters like ourselves loathe being packed like a can of sardines during peak hours and so, we decided to have dinner prior to heading home.

HWKR has been around for a few months now and a place that I have avoided knowing that there is a potential line up for dinner. At 5.30pm, we managed to easily get seats and food arrived at our table in good time.

Akin a hawker establishment, diners simply need to head to the various food counters for ordering. Just remember to take note of the table number!

First up was Chanteen, made famous by Masterchef winner Diana Chan. With a Malaysian inspired menu, all ringing familiar bells in my tummy, I was drawn towards the char kuey teow and have ordered a barley drink to share with the sister.

The verdict? Easily one of the better char kuey teows in Melbourne. Albeit costing a bit more compared to other places, you do get what you have paid for. Generous amount of ingredients, all cooked to perfection.

Next up was Khao, also an Asian inspired hawker outlet. We shared a plate of the roasted Shanghai duck and a bowl of lotus chips. Duck was decent although not something I would rave about. Chips were well seasoned and extremely addictive.

No visit to HWKR is complete without a glimpse of KOI, established by a Masterchef favourite based in Sydney. Would loved to have a taste of his freshly prepared desserts but both of us could only manage a petite piece of cake each.

Loved what we have ordered - vibrant tasting, not overly sweet and each ingredient worked harmoniously with each other. Worth the calories for sure. Sadly, KOI's last day is on the 29th of April and so, it would take a plane and train ride to visit them in Sydney.

Chanteen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato Khao Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato KOI Dessert Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Monday, April 23, 2018

Slow roasted spiced lamb recipe

About three weeks ago, we celebrated Easter. Whilst not the most festive event of the year for the bunch of us due to minor misunderstandings, we still managed to scrap up a decent feed worthy of the purpose of Easter.

Rather than spend hours slaying over a hot stove attempting a traditional roast served alongside salad and perhaps a bowl of roasted potatoes heavily perfumed with rosemary or Italian herbs, I have made do with what I have in the spice cabinet and carefully marinate every inch of the lamb with it.

No fancy dinners for us and instead, we ended up with a somewhat simplified version of it - burgers. Paired slivers of lamb with arugula leaves, slapped on a good serve of beetroot tzatziki and put all these in between two toasted pieces of burger buns.

1.5kg leg of lamb
3/4 tsp coriander seeds, lightly crushed
About 5 pieces of dried bay leaves
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp ginger powder
3/4 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 cup of brown sugar
4 cloves of garlic, lightly crushed
A drizzle of sherry vinegar
A drizzle of olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
Pepper to taste

1. Mix all the spices along with the fluid ingredients prior to marinating the lamb with it. Make a few thin incisions along the lamb meat as this allows more contact between the marinade and meat.
2. Slow roast for about 5 to 6 hours at 170C. Use aluminium foil to wrap the meat with as this prevents it from drying in the oven.
3. Serve warm.

Goes well in sandwiches but also delicious when paired with pasta or if used as a pie filling. Did have leftover juices in the pan to which, I used it to coat the leftover meat with.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Morris Jones, Windsor MELB

A few days ago, I was invited by the team at Morris Jones to sample their new California Japanese menu as part of their newly executed concept. Incorporating well loved Asian flavours into innovative, modern dishes, I was looking forward to check this place out.

Our waiter was very attentive towards our needs and gave us a detailed run down of each item on the menu, paying emphasis towards our likes and dislikes. The restaurant has a tasting menu for those who are unsure of what to order and I think this is an excellent idea as it allows diners to have bite sized portions of just about everything there is to offer.

White chocolate passionfruit martini - I am hopeless when it comes to ordering cocktails but hey, am still learning. Thankfully, the waiter was quick to point out a crowd favourite to which, I did enjoy immensely. Not overly dosed in alcohol and carries a subtle scent of passionfruit that matches well with the sweetness from the white chocolate.

Spicky king prawn and avocado roll, bamboo charcoal prawn tempura - WL and I were equally hungry after a long day at work and so, this was our only entree prior to the mains. Freshly prepared to order and has a good balance of sweetness from the prawns, acidity from the sushi rice and spiciness from the mayonnaise. Charcoal prawn tempura gave the overall dish a lovely crunch factor.

Crab and uni nachos, 'chipotle queso' dashi chips - for those wanting to stray from traditional fare, this may tickle your fancy. One of the lightest mains I have had and is akin eating chips topped with sauce. Certainly healthier than a standard bowl of chips except a little more luxurious with the addition of crab and uni.

Crisp pork belly salad, chicharrons and ginger caramel - I could easy finish the entire plate myself and secretly had imagined eating this with freshly steamed buns. For those unfamiliar, chicharron is basically a piece of deep fried pork fat that has bubbled and expanded in the cooking process. No meaty dish is complete without some refreshing herbs and vegetables to cleanse the palate with. Oh and did I mention that each cube of pork is almost symmetrical?

As I was having an almost vegetarian diet the entire week, this plate of beef was a tasty change to my regime. Cooked medium rare and still dripping in its juices, this was a delicious meal and one that I would happily reorder again. Right amount of sauce to dress the beef with too!

Cherry blossom roasted duck with soy and sweet plum sauce - I can't decide if I loved the beef dish or this fella more. Yes, duck is a favourite of mine and I would usually order this in favour of other types of protein. Crisp skin enclosing a thin layer of fat and pinkish flesh, we found this divine and best consumed dipped in approximately half a teaspoon of sauce.

'Violet crumble' chocolate cremeux, violet ice cream and nitro honeycomb - We ended our meal with this theatrical dessert. Despite being paired with bolder flavours such as chocolate and honeycomb, the violet flavour was still evident throughout the dessert. A very floral and fun play on the palate.

Morris Jones Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato