Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Shandong Mama, CBD MELB

Just about every corner of the CBD has a little shop that serves up delicious, bite sized dumplings that is easily affordable by the majority of us. Albeit the surge of fancier shaped/filled dumplings in the market, the traditional, well-marinated and juice versions still wins me over, especially on days where I feel under the weather.

Shandong Mama is tucked in an arcade conveniently located on little Bourke street. Whilst I have seen queues appear on Saturdays, the same may not apply if you rock up for lunch or after the usual peak periods. Service is rather efficient but do note that the restaurant is slightly crammed, as with most Asian restaurants.

Chicken and shepherd's purse fried dumplings ~ despite being pan fried, the meat filling was very juicy and flavourful. Well marinated with a good serve of ginger and black fungus. Best enjoyed dipped in a tiny bit of chilli.

Noodles with braised beef brisket ~ beef meat tears apart very easily and the broth was extremely delicious. I usually feel extremely thirsty whenever I consume food that has MSG in it and boy, was I glad it did not happen this time. Definitely a big bowl of hearty goodness that will warm up any hungry soul well.

  Shandong Mama Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Funfetti cake recipe

I have had a box of girly coloured sprinkles sitting in my pantry for almost a few years now. Initially bought to decorate a particular birthday cake for a friend, I overestimated how much I needed and so, have been stuck with it ever since.

Not one to be overzealous with cake decorations, I tossed around a few ideas on how to best utilize them and have finally used them up last weekend. Made a simple buttermilk cake and decorated it with a luscious buttercream icing, topped with a generous sprinkle of pinky sweetness.

1.5 cup plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1.25 cup caster sugar
3 eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk
113g butter
1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 cup butter, softened
2 tsp vanilla extract
1.5 cup icing sugar
1/4 cup sprinkles

1. Cream butter and caster sugar until mixture appears uniform and fluffy. Slowly incorporate eggs and vanilla extract.
2.Mix flour and baking powder together and fold into wet mixture.
3. Bake at 170C until cake is well done. Allow cake to cool
4. Cream butter and icing sugar together, add a few drops of lemon juice to loosen the mixture if needed. Add vanilla extract and mix well.
5. Spread icing evenly onto cooled cake and add sprinkles.

Voila, you now have a pretty cake in your kitchen and best part is that it is a moist cake due to the addition of buttermilk. A fun piece to serve at birthday parties/ hen's parties or even as a tea time treat.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Cupcake Central, CBD MELB

Once upon a time, this little girl declared her dislike for cupcakes aka the prettier, petite version of a muffin or a slice of cake. Sure these dainty pieces are such pretty additions on your afternoon tea table but really, do you want to pack on those calories from gorging what appears to be a butter cake weighed down by a massive dollop of icing? Er, no.

Years later, aka in the last couple of weeks, curiousity got the best of me and successfully persuaded me to purchase a cupcake. Ok, I was also equally tempted by browsing through Cupcake Central's instagram feed pffft.

I bought one just as a pre-dinner snack and it was love at first bite. Confused I was but it did made a huge impression on me. Over the next few weeks, I was constantly poisoned by thoughts of visiting them again but this time round, getting more cupcakes. A cupcake a day, yes?

I also did stalk them quite a bit because I wanted to make sure I get my hands on a few of my favourite flavours when I visit. Clearly I have a determined bone in me.

Purchased a box of 4 cupcakes and the joy in me was describable. Passionfruit white chocolate, Shirley temple, doughnut and cookies and cream cupcakes!

My second round visit verdict? Still worth the hype and certainly proved me wrong about cupcakes. These little treats have got some wicked, creative flavours and worth a try if you are a cupcake virgin like me.

And if you wonder about my protest against icing? Let's just say these ones are sugary sweet but yet, still brilliantly flavoured which compliments the cupcake well. I would run an extra 10 minutes on the treadmill for these.

Cupcake Central Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Pho Huong Viet Saigon, Bayswater MELB

I am constantly on the lookout for delicious eats that would not put my wallet in debt. Imagine the joy on my face when I scouted this place after driving past numerous times and after reading some positive reviews. I tend to quickly browse through the negative comments as food discussions are pretty subjective and at best, should be taken with a pinch of salt.

True enough, this place was packed despite it being slightly after lunchtime. Service wise, it is prompt if you order a bowl of pho. However, my plate of broken rice took a good 20 minutes to arrive and my companion had then already finished his bowl of noodles.

4 colour bean drink ~ a little bland for my liking and the ice had been quite coarsely crushed which denied me the pleasure of a smooth textured drink:/

Pho ~ price wise, it was comparable to other Vietnamese restaurants that I have been to in Melbourne. Am not sure if I am being overly fussy but I thought the portion was a little stingy (as in less meat bits compared to other places).

Combination broken rice ~ this was the saving grace for me. The piece of pork was cooked to perfection without bordering on the dry side. Only negative was my sunny side egg was well....lost in the clouds aka the yolk had broke.

Pho Huong Viet Siagon Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Suzuran, Camberwell MELB

Head here for all your Japanese grocery needs and you will be amazed by the array of products available. Ranging from shabu shabu ingredients to basic essentials such as mirin, sake, matcha powder, sushi ingredients or if you prefer, Japanese snacks that come in the most adorable packaging. I was tempted to pick a basket whilst I browse each aisle but the main mission for this visit was to grab some takeaways.

Suzuran only does takeaways for sushi, no dine-ins unfortunately. Be sure to ring up at least 30 minutes before rocking up or you may have to wait for some time. The diligent sushi makers behind the sushi counter tirelessly stuff, roll and slice your sushi/sashimi to order. Price wise, definitely much more affordable as compared to a sit in restaurant.

Sushi pieces were definitely fresh. Some pieces of sushi were slightly bigger than the others but hey, can't complain about it considering that it's freshly made for a decent price and located 20 minutes away from where I live.

Oh and if you must, be sure to grab a bottle of sake or some of their delicious side dishes if you are entertaining a hungry crowd;)

  Suzuran Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Friday, September 18, 2015

Banana loaf cake recipe

Whenever I want to impress a crowd with what I could bake, especially on requests, I enter into panic mode and fret about what I could try to make. Too often I flip through pages after pages from a fancy baking book that I have never attempted before to help me decide. And then I completely change my mind and go back into recipe searching mode.

After what felt like gazillion trains of ideas whiz  by, I go back to looking at simple, traditional recipes that I have tested out before but never did perfect. And this banana loaf cake is one of them. I made it before and it was good although did not deliver the magic spell I wanted.

This time round, it was perfect. I kept it in a plastic container and brought it to work the day after. When the lid is pried open, the freshly baked aroma waffles around without hesitation. And it is intoxicating. Do give this a try and you won't be disappointed.

Oh and everyone loved it. Some even dreamt of it the day after.

250g butter, melted
1 cup caster sugar
4 eggs
1 tsp vanilla essence
4 tbsp milk
1.5 cups mashed ripe bananas
2 cups self raising flour.

1, Beat melted butter and caster sugar until a smooth texture is achieved (about 4 minutes).
2. Add mashed bananas and continue to beat for an extra few minutes.
3. Slowly incorporate the eggs into the mixture and soon after, the vanilla and milk.
4. Bake at 160C until cake is almost done then turn off the oven and allow cake to continue cooking in residue heat.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Richmond Oysters, Richmond MELB

I am one of those foodies who have pet peeves on certain types of food and it so happens to involve protein from the sea/river. As a child, I avoided eating fish that has its skin still attached and mussels. And if I did eat any, no chewing is involved (yep, I am a professional swallow-er).

Fast forward time, I still get goosebumps whenever I see fish served with skin although admittedly, this is a far cry from what it used to be. As for mussels, well, let's just say I still try to avoid it. Ahh the perks of being an adult. Same applies to eating oysters - not something that I will appreciate nor will I crave for it.

And so, this explains my reluctance to head to this restaurant knowing that my choices are limited to fish and chips or maybe a bowl of salad. The waiter was very knowledgeable in detailing to us the various types of oysters served here and I just allowed my companion to go berserk at ordering.

When a plate of a dozen oysters (can't recall where these oysters were from) and an assortment of sauces/vinaigrette were brought to our table, I was probably more interested in testing out the sauces. After sampling one of the oysters with a dash of homemade chilli sauce, I was blown away by the oyster's sweetness. It was fresh, juicy and tasted like the sea. Best oysters I have had in my entire life. Not kidding at all. Give it a try and let me know what you think.

Fish and chips with pear salad, crumbed calamari rings, scallop and prawns. The pear salad was very refreshing and cuts through the oil from the seafood and chips really well. The chips were fried to my liking aka not too crisp nor soggy. Fish was evenly coated with batter and still exuded a lovely crunch sound at the touch of my fork.

My verdict? Sometimes it's good to test your limits and be amazed at what you find. For me, oysters will still be something that I do not crave but when I do, I know where to go;)

Richmond Oysters Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Tsukiji, Prahran MELB

I love the concept of a family oriented business as this usually indicate that each and every staff are fully dedicated in bringing their best towards prospering the business. This is not a common feat these days as most family members would have their own aims/objectives which may not even cross paths with anyone else in the family.

At my recent dinner visit here, I was served by the owners (a Japanese couple in their 50-60s?). As these two operate the entire shop by themselves, I strongly suggest having some patience as it can get crowded and the owners can only do so much with their pair of hands. If you are hyperactive like me, why not browse around the shop?

There are a variety of edible Japanese products on the shelves and I am sure at least one item will grab your attention;) To order sashimi, head to the fridge section and pick out which marine protein you want, bring it to the counter and either 1)dine in or 2)take it away.

If you opt to dine in, the owner/chef will prep your meal on a plate and bring it to your table. Also, there is a menu with other common dishes such as takoyaki, okonomiyaki and miso soup. A very simple menu and not too difficult to digest.

As it also functions as a grocery shop, we picked a plum wine/ umeshu which was a little strong for me but still had a subtle sweet fruity flavour. Worth a try to complete the experience.

Sashimi platter from selecting seafood at the counter ~ fresh but would have been happier if there were more choices in the fridge. Sadly, we arrived around dinner time so most of the good stuff must have already been sold:(

Scallop carpaccio in yuzu sauce ~ the acidity from the yuzu concoction "cooked" the sliced scallops and reminds me of a fusion dish. Pretty yummy for something so simple.

Takoyaki ~

Okonomiyaki ~

Oysters with soy sauce dressing ~ I would suggest using less than a quarter of a teaspoon of soy sauce or it may overpower the sweetness of the fresh oysters.

Udon noodles ~ this is a very simple dish that one can easily prepare at home using the available dashi stock and udon noodles. I have not made tempura prawns before so can't really say it's an easy feat at home. Do let me know if you attempted to make it!

Tsukiji Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Golden Chili's, Wantirna MELB

There is nothing more satisfying than finding a cozy place to dine at that is not only conveniently located but also serves up some finger licking delicious food. Which is what Golden Chili's is. This Malaysian Indian restaurant may not be packed full of customers like other popular Malaysian restaurants, but never judge a book by it's cover.

I highly recommend ordering the roti or curry dishes here. For those unfamiliar, a roti is akin a flat bread but crispier and more aerated than a typical naan bread due to the constant tossing work involved. There are sweet and savoury types of roti, definitely spoilt for choices here.

Nasi lemak with beef rendang ~ the curries here do have a kick to them so if you are more sensitive towards spicy food, do let them know prior to ordering. Delicious sambal and beef rendang here.

Maggi mee goreng ~ not a spicy one and heavily reminds me of home.

Teh tarik ~ one the sweeter side but do not worry as the ice will reduce the sweetness as you eat your way through dinner.

Nasi briyani with curry dishes and vegetables ~ no description can justify this delicious plate of food. Each curry has it's own unique personality and it will take me more than a couple of visits to savour everything. In short, give it a try!

Golden Chili's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Monday, September 7, 2015

Chef Lagenda, Flemington MELB

Situated just next to the train station, train commuters like yours truly does not have to wander off far in search for food. Bonus points for operating throughout the day too. This restaurant does not have eftpos facilities so be sure to carry sufficient cash on hand prior to entering.

I was spoilt for choices here as the menu is quite extensive and pricing wise, it is fairly priced.

Seafood curry laksa ~ this mildly spicy bowl of curry broth warmed me up well. To top it off, generous quantities of seafood pieces. Thumbs up.

Assam laksa ~ this is a mildly spicy fish broth that is freshened up with pineapple toppings and a few sprigs of mint leaves. Whilst I would like the broth to ooze a stronger fish flavour, it is still a good feed for the cost of it.

Cendol ~ This bowl of shaved ice had been given a good lashing of palm sugar syrup that worked well with the milder coconut milk flavour.

Chef Lagenda Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Agathe Patisserie, South Melbourne Market MELB

Previously trading at Prahran market, Agathe moved on to trading at the South Melbourne market, a very engaging market that is constantly packed full of people. For those unfamiliar, the market operates on Wednesdays, Fridays and the weekends from 8am until 4pm. Agathe's kitchen will keep the croissants spewing from the oven but popular choices such as cruffins and flavoured croissants will not be replenished. A good reason to get your bum off the bed and get your grocery shopping sorted early.

Prices do vary from $5 to $7, depending on what type of croissant you pick and if viennoiserie's are not your cup of tea, Agathe does have a few little cakes up for grabs.

Cafe au lait croissant, pear danish and butter croissant ~ the cafe au lait (coffee) croissant has a lovely caffeine fragrance that marries well with the croissant layers and who can fault a good croissant that is so sinfully loaded with good quality butter?

Choices of croissants do vary on a weekly basis. I like to check her Instagram page out as she usually mentions the weekly flavours (or you can pop her a question). On a separate weekend, I was fortunate enough to grab her to-die-for rose, raspberry almond croissant. A little burnt on the edges but easily forgiven as I bite my way through it.

Salted caramel cruffin ~ her cruffins are amazing and sell out pretty quickly. Best consumed soonest possible.

Pain au chocolat, almond croissants, pandan croissants..the list goes on...if only I lived closer sighhh.

Click to add a blog post for Agathé Pâtisserie on Zomato