Tuesday, December 16, 2014

La Porchetta and DOC Espresso, MELB

It's been too long since I last had Italian meals and so, when the craving kicks in, it comes with vengeance. I am no expert in Italian cuisine but I do know that Italians love their pasta and pizza dough..ohh and don't forget their wines too, possibly some of the better white wines I have had thus far.

La Porchetta for the budget friendly consumer aka forget about decorating the plate, just give us hearty portions of delicious food. Staff here are extremely friendly and attentive, rest assured there are plenty of seating areas for diners (read less noise pollution from neighbouring tables haha).

Garlic bread ~ would have liked the bread to be a bit more thicker but that's just a minor comment. Every bite had sufficient garlic infused into the bread. Be warned if you are dating a vampire haha.

Porchetta pizza ~ the pizzas here come in small, medium and large sizes so one can easily tailor their needs. The pizza was not soaking in oil unlike some other places and was seasoned to my liking.

Gnocchi pesto ~ gnocchi can be a very more-ish type of pasta for some and when paired with a creamy based sauce, this might not be something you want as a main, especially if you are not sharing. Gnocchi was pillowy soft and shaped into bite-sized pieces.

La Porchetta Glen Waverley on Urbanspoon

On the other side of town, I've wandered along Lygon street and finally planted myself in their restaurant. Based on the staff's accents, I am 99.5% certain that they are Italians and their love for their food runs deep in their veins. The menu is pretty simple to digest and if you are ever confused with some of the terms, do not be afraid to ask.

This was their special pasta of the day which was loaded with two different types of cheese and bits of bacon. One can tell that their pasta is not from the supermarkets and every ingredient in this dish worked well with each other. A very simple dish done well.

Porcini mushroom pappardelle ~ at first, I was skeptical about ordering this purely because it might be a little too stingy in terms of portions for my liking and also whether I will be satisfied with not having any meat for dinner. Was I wrong. The chef was certainly gave me a generous portion of mushrooms here and now I know why Italians love their olive oil. Good olive oil brings so much flavour and aroma to a dish and when topped with a decent grating of parmesan, this was simplicity at it's best.

Tiramisu ~ at the bottom of the cup lies a bed of sponge cake soaked in coffee whilst the top part of the tiramisu counterbalances the strong coffee flavour with it's lighter, creamier texture. Just the way I like it:)

D.O.C. Espresso on Urbanspoon

Friday, December 12, 2014

HuTong Dumpling Bar, CBD MELB

A few weeks ago, I started browsing through pictures of my Taiwan trip and sadly enough, I begun to crave for xiaolongbao. Xiaolongbao is a type of dumpling that is, traditionally, steamed and contains about a spoonful of broth in it. The slightest prick to the delicate dumpling's skin will result in the broth oozing out of it. Sometimes, this is not what you want because you might spill some/ most of it and will be left feeling very miserable. It's not the end of the world though!

A friend recommended this place as it is pocket friendly, excellent surrounding and food-wise, yummy. I strongly recommend making a booking as this place can get very packed and you don't want to be disappointed.

Stir-fried string beans with minced pork in chilli sauce ~ string beans were cooked just the way I like it and it had a good hint of spiciness to it.

Salted braised pork in new style ~ would have liked it to be warmer because to me, pork fat when cooled can get a bit....well...not something I enjoy:/

Dong Po square soft pork ~ just one piece for $7.80. A bit reluctant to order it but after tasting it, got the thumbs up from me. Fat literally melts in your mouth. Soft and very flavourful.

Xiaolong bao ~ the moment of truth, Yes, it lived up to it's hype. Not as good as the ones I tasted from Taiwan but still good enough to satisfy the craving. Broth was extremely packed with flavour and the meat filling was well marinated.

Pan fried dumplings ~ not usually a fan of fried dumplings as they sometimes turn out dry. The ones here are definitely not dry and still had a little bit of the filling's juices enclosed in the pastry. Highly recommended:)

HuTong Dumpling Bar on Urbanspoon

Monday, December 8, 2014

Winter inspired carrot cake recipe

As 2014 draws to an end, I am once again reflecting on the major ups and downs that are indirectly,valuable lessons in life. This year, I have learnt to be more experimental and bold in whatever I do be it baking or speaking out loud.

I still do appreciate my "me" time but nowadays, I am much more inclined to agree to do something silly/ go somewhere crazy rather than shy away from that thought. 2014 is filled with more than a handful of unfortunate death events that made me realize one has to live life to the fullest or regret not knowing what would have happened if one did not try. After all, what's the worst that could happen for my scenario?:)

Here is a recipe for one of the moist-est and densest carrot cakes that I have made thus far. Goes well with a dollop of vanilla ice cream on top and best served warm.

2 cups sugar
1.5 cups melted butter
3 eggs
2 3/4 cups self raising flour
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 cup raisins soaked in 50ml Grand Mariner
2 1/4 cups grated carrots
10ml milk

1. Soak raisin in alcohol overnight. Feel free to use whatever type of liquor that ticks your fancy. For an alcoholic free version, try soaking it in a cup of tea.
2. Beat butter and sugar together.
3. Gradually incorporate the eggs, milk, spices and salt.
4. Chuck in your raisins, give it a good stir, then add carrots.
5. Lastly, add flour and mix well.
6. Bake at 170C for 45 minutes or until an inserted skewer comes out clean.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Ajisen Ramen and Raramen

In celebration of the recently concluded annual Night Noodle Market event, I had an annoying craving for noodles and so, this blog post is dedicated to my recent noodle-ing around Melbourne. As strange as it may sound, I prefer noodles over rice anytime. Yes, I am Asian but do not judge me!;)

Ajisen Ramen used to be one of my go-to places for a quick and cheap bite in Adelaide although it's not something that I constantly craved for. Walked past this place in Melbourne CBD, peeped at the menu and walked in without a second thought (ok, so I was hungry to the point where I was getting cranky haha).

Deep fried tofu ~ Besides being a mushroom addict, I am also strongly drawn to tofu inspired dishes and this is one of my favourites from Ajisen. Tofu cubes came out piping hot, drizzled with miso sauce. The sauce was a bit too salty for my liking but I suppose that's the idea of countering the plain tasting tofu.

Pork katsu ramen ~ The katsu was fried to crispy perfection. Soup had a stronger flavour compared to the ones I have tried in Adelaide. Thumbs up from me:)

Pork cheeks ramen ~ the pork cheeks melted in my mouth which secretly made me begged for more. Sadly, This is not a pork cheeks only dish so you don't get heaps of them. Oh wells...

Best thing about this foodie experience? Contradictory to popular belief, I wasn't dashing to get a cup of water and at about $10 a bowl, it was a satisfying deal:)

Round 2 of noodles begun with a trip around the block where customers kept walking into this restaurant. Yes, at just 6pm, this place is already packed but have no fear as there's more seats upstairs. Oddly, the menu (and prices) reminded me of Dumpling King back in Adelaide.

Shanghai noodles ~ at less than $10, this can be deemed value for money, especially if you love your carbs.

House special beef noodles ~ light broth with home made noodles, chunky pieces of beef and a bit of veggies. Not too bad although could use a bit more seasoning:)

Pork and prawn dumplings ~ who can resist these little things? Dip them in a bit of vinegar if you like but just be careful as they are steaming hot. From memory, it was 10 pieces for $9.50? :p

And yes, it was a frugal weekend haha;)

 Ajisen Ramen on Urbanspoon Raramen on Urbanspoon

Monday, December 1, 2014

Taste of Singapore, Clayton MELB

It's Malaysian monday again and what better way to showcase my love for affordable and yummy food than discovering a new cafe/restaurant?

This is a very tiny cafe that sits somewhere near the residential area in Clayton. Not much to rave about the interior but what's lacking in terms of decor and utilities, they sure do make up with service and food.

Briyani rice with curry chicken ~ this was slightly more than enough for me so don't fret about not getting fed enough. Kinda liked the fact that we were sitting in front of the TV, feels just like home;)

Nasi lemak ~ wanted more despite knowing how much calories involved with every spoonful.

Mee rebus ~ would have liked a bit more sauce to soak my noodles in but nevertheless, it was such a treat. Chicken skewers were tender and very flavourful.

Seri muka ~ for those who are unfamiliar, this is basically glutinous rice steamed with a layer of pandan custard on top. Pandan custard was sweet enough for my liking although the rice was a little too compact for me.

Taste of Singapore @ Ida & Abas Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Operator 25, CBD MELB

Woke up late on Sunday? check. Unexplained hunger? Gotcha. This sums me up pretty well on a weekend, ideally. Although there would be a few days whereby waking up late is not really an option and I would have been too stuffed from Saturday's dinner to even think about food on Sunday haha.

I saw a handful of friends upload pictures of Operator 25's matcha hot cakes on Instagram and thought to myself, why not? I don't mind a sweet brekkie every now and then..and so, off I go:)

Balinese pulled pork burger with fried egg, cabbage and carrot slaw, chilli mayo served with sweet potato wedges. Due to lack of experience with Balinese cuisine, I do not trust my narration of this dish (and neither should you haha). However, a foodie friend of mine liked it very much as it reminded him of something similar from a Balinese restaurant. Oh and sweet potato wedges were delishhh.

Beer battered soft shell crab with Thai style salad, toasted peanuts, tamarind dressing and sesame rice crackers. A really light dish for those not feeling too peckish or if you opt for something less sinful. Or if you are like me who wants to save some tummy space for desserts;) Very refreshing it was.

Smoked chicken and vegetable hash with tomato chutney and poached egg.

Matcha and white chocolate hotcakes, mandarin mascarpone, toasted hazelnuts, banana chips and cherry coulis ~ was not as sweet as I had anticipated it to be and probably a good thing as well! Aesthetically brilliant and one can taste the individual characteristics of every component. Sour, bitter and sweet in motion.

Operator25 on Urbanspoon

Monday, November 24, 2014

Darac Grill Bar, CBD MELB

Nothing beats the feeling one gets after clocking off from work on Friday..except the feeling of knowing that you will be out with good company. Boo yeahhh that's what I am talking about. I am not really an extravagant Friday night goer so anything too fancy is off the list, also because I can't be bothered to follow any dress codes. And so, a casual and affordable place is the place to go.

First up, bookings are essential here or be prepared to face disappointment especially when there are not many seating areas available. Service is quite efficient in no time, your food will be served.

The bunch of us ordered a few dishes for sharing which is always the ideal option as you get to sample more that way:)

Takoyaki ~

Fiery cheesy chicken ~ on a scale of 10, I would rate this 7. It can be pretty intense for some but it is an interesting fusion concept.

Darac Grill & Bar on Urbanspoon