Thursday, May 30, 2013

Eastern Garden Chinese Restaurant

On Mother's Day, the food crew and myself were having difficulties getting ourselves into restaurants or cafes as most of them were fully booked for any form of afternoon service. Even the hidden cafe that is assumed to be less frequented is fully booked out. A hungry foodie is not happy and would resort to all types of schemes just to squeeze herself into anywhere decent.

As we were cruising around the eastern side of Adelaide, we concluded that a visit to Eastern Garden is necessary as they usually do have a higher turnover rate, despite their usual fully-booked out for lunch routine. I wouldn't admit that service here is top notch but if you just want to enjoy a pleasant yum cha session with yummy food, I would recommend coming here. Just like any other yum cha restaurants, the menu does not display the pricing of each dish and this may give some of us (myself included) a shock. If you are able to flag down a waiter/ waitress, do check the pricing before you order.

Allow me to introduce a few of my favourite must-have yum cha dishes, in no particular order.

For some strange reason, a good cup of tea is a compulsory custom for this type of afternoon meal. There are an assortment of tea leaves to choose from and each of them have different levels of intensities. I do not drink much tea but when I do build up a decent size tea collection, I shall dedicate a blog post about it!

Har gao/ prawn dumplings ~ ideally, you are looking for juicy prawn fillings, wrapped in a translucent and thin wrap that does not stick to the bamboo steamer. Most yum cha chefs take years to master the skill of making and folding these dumplings.

Chicken feet ~ my foodie crew's must have dish. Chicken feet braised in black bean sauce. Because the feet have been soaked in the sauce for some time, you are assured that this will be a delicious feast, if you are into chicken feet, that is.

Siew mai ~ minced pork encased in a thin pastry layer. A good siew mai does not have any raw pork smell and must be finely minced, not chewy. Best consumed dipped in chilli sauce.

Char Siew bao/ barbequed pork buns ~ I love having this as a child and the ones that we get in Adelaide is just not the same compared to the ones I get from Malaysia. I would rate this as decent, only because the bun dough is soft and well-steamed. The filling was not as intense flavoured but it was still prepared well. The search resumes?

Beef tripe ~ once again, the foodie crew's selected dish. Probably a good one to have, especially after too many meat-ish dishes. Braised in a light stock and garnished with sliced carrots and spring onions for freshness.

Pork dumplings ~ one of the what-to-not-order here. Nothing much to rave about as the dumpling filling was dry and the pastry was thick and clumsy. Thankfully, the pork filling did not wreck of undesirable pork aroma.

Barbequed pork in pastry ~ I absolutely love this dish! The flaky pastry layer just melts in your mouth and absorbs all the sauce from the delicious filling. I could easily polish off the entire plate of 3 pastries. If you are at Eastern Garden, this is a must have dish!

Salt and pepper squid ~ nothing much to rave about but kudos for not recycling the frying oil and for a crunchy exterior texture.

Thin rice pastry with deep-fried pastry ~ a bit of a dejavu going on but trust me, it is not the same type of pastry involved. Traditionally, the rice pastry has either pork or prawn in it but this one had a deep-fried pastry which makes it an interesting one to sample. A good contrast of textures and the chef does know how to fold these rice layers well.

Custard bun ~ I would have liked to see a smooth custard oozing upon tearing the bun but sadly, the ones I ate were clumpy and not as tasty. The yellow custard colour was not rich enough which may mean that the chef involved had not use sufficient egg yolks to prepare the custard and had substituted the richness with cornflour? That's my two cents opinion on it. Either that or the custard was just overcooked prior to filling the buns.

Radish cake ~ I am a tuber fan and must have this at any yum cha restaurant (to my lovely food crew...don't whine when I do). There is something so attractive about chewing soft pieces of radish cake around my mouth and finding small pieces of pork is a treat to have. Do note that some people might find the taste a bit bland.

Egg tart ~ flaky pastry with a golden, rich egg custard. This is a redemption for the earlier custard episode and as you can see via the picture, the custard is well prepared. Layers of flaky pastry easily crumbles with each bite and is combined with a warm and soft custard filling. Another must have here at Eastern Garden.

Mango pudding ~ I know how easy it is to prepare a good mango pudding but I can never bring myself to do it. Good puddings do not have too much gelatine in them and consists of fresh mango pieces. I can't be sure if the ones here are fresh but overall, the dish isn't too sweet to have.

Yum cha is a good way to spend a quiet afternoon with good company and at many chinese restaurants, you can get decent food at affordable prices. I always find yum cha sessions to be therapeutic because you can forget your week's mistakes and look forward to new adventures in the coming week. Where is your favourite yum cha restaurant?:)

Eastern Garden Chinese Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Monday, May 27, 2013


After tucking into some hearty burgers from Fancy Burger, my instincts told me to drop by Burgastronomy, a new burger bar that has recently opened it's doors to the lucky folks up in North Adelaide and is gaining popularity at an escalating rate. I am inspired to create a burger guide to showcase Adelaide's yummiest burger joints because there's simply too many to choose from and it seems like a glutton's dream come true.

From my personal experience, I feel that Burgastronomy may only be able to accommodate a small number of dine-ins but it is good to know that the dine-in customers that I have seen thus far, are happy to share their table with another dine-in patron and do not appear to be seat hogs (individuals who would spend hours yakking away despite finishing their meals and hence, making other customers wait for prolonged hours to secure seats). Talk about foodies united for good food:)

The decor is minimal and best described as functional. The decor does depict a burger-making story and I get a somewhat hippie vibe upon entry here. Possibly my imagination bringing me back to the good ol' 80s?

I was fortunate enough to enter the kitchen and after a few quick browses, I have to salute the enthusiastic kitchen staff for putting up with such a tiny work space. My kitchen is not that big and yet, I still complain of not having enough room to work my magic. What an eye opener experience it was.

Another excellent interior design idea is to display the burger assembling process at the front counter for customers like me to ogle at. Watching buns get toasted in a convey belt was entertaining because the last time I saw this machine was 10 years ago at a hotel breakfast buffet. Pardon my silly inner childhood memory.
Trucker ~ Beef patty served with shredded lettuce, bacon, egg, cheese, caramelized onion, tomato ketchup and mayonnaise. Juicy and tasty best describes the burger and when combined with caramelized onions and melted cheese, it was divine. I could tell that the buns were fresh and were still fluffy on the inside despite having a crisp exterior texture. I did not add the mayonnaise to the burger as I prefer to taste the individual ingredients just as it is. However, I did stick my fries into a good dollop of mayonnaise every time.

Cheeseburger ~ Beef patty, melted cheese, onions, pickles and tomato ketchup sandwiched by a glossy sesame bun. Look at the shine on that burger and the cheese oozing all over the patty. This was picture perfect and everything an amateur food photographer wishes for. Admittedly, a few pictures appeared shaky as my hands were probably trembling at the thought of sinking my teeth into it. After I did the latter, all I could mumble was "it's good". And I am not lying!

Jalapeno poppers ~ Deep fried Jalapeno peppers stuffed with cream cheese. I like how the soft cream cheese pops out of the jalapeno with each bite. It is a refreshing sensation and the only negative is that there's not enough for me on that night. Might consider ordering more than a piece in the next visit.

Sweet potato chips ~ sweet potato is the new healthy tuber that everyone's raving about these days and what better way to welcome this orange vegetable than transforming it into an all-time favourite chip? The chips here have a nice crunch to them and goes really well with their homemade mayonnaise. That was the  first time I had sweet potato chips and I will definitely be back for more!

Burgastronomy on Urbanspoon

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Fancy Burger

Burger joints are sprouting in just about every corner of Adelaide but these are not your ordinary processed, factory burgers. I would like to refer them as gourmet burgers as they do cost slightly more than your average fast food burger, mainly because their innovators have added more love in the preparation process.

Fancy burger has been around for some time but it can be challenging to travel to Blackwood where their pioneer outlet is located, especially if you have limited transportation access. Realizing this had indeed left me wondering what their patties tastes like for some time. Alas, with the opening of a second shop on Rundle Street, I'm convinced that it must have been fate that had brought us together :)

The interior is moderately sized and appears to accommodate takeaways better. Nevertheless, we were able to grab a table for ourselves and I reckon it possibly meant that this place has a very fast customer turnover rate, which is ideal, of course.

It is situated on a less busy street that branches from Rundle Street, making it a perfect getaway from all the hustle and bustle stemming from the late night scene. I quickly glanced around whilst my companion placed our orders and I found the place to exert a very laidback feel. My thoughts immediately pinpointed this place as appropriate for grabbing a bite the next time I visit the nearby cinema. Or if I was still in university, after I have finished cramming my brains for assignments or upcoming tests/exams.

Now on to their menu. I find that most burger joints tend not to list too many burger variations on their menu and Fancy Burger is no exclusion to this theory. Rest assured, vegetarians are not forgotten here! This being my virgin excursion here, I placed my tummy on my companion's hands.

Tru Blu ~ South Australian steak, served with creamy blue cheese sauce, tomatoes, lettuce and relish. I was a little skeptical when this appeared on our table but after downing a couple of bites, I wanted to finish off the whole sandwich. The steak piece was still juicy as well as succulent and this went well with the stronger flavoured cheese sauce. The slices of tomatoes and lettuce were a refreshing addition to the sandwich.

The legend ~ Australian lamb, field mushroom, caramelized onions, goats cheese, herby mayonnaise, leaf salad and avocado. This is a tall burger and I have to admit that it was a bit messy trying to get everything to fit in my mouth. Definitely worth the effort in the end. The mushroom was not overcooked and soggy whilst the lamb piece was well cooked. I am a big fan of caramelized onions in sandwiches and burgers so bonus points for it!

Crispy bacon and cheese ~ beef, bacon, cheddar cheese, herby mayonnaise, salad and relish. This was a much lighter burger version for the night and as per photo, the proportion of vegetables to meat is quite evenly spaced. Not too much of either ingredient. Freshly toasted sesame burger buns and crispy bacon. Reminds me of breakfast in the morning, but at night this time. The salted bacon pieces was a lovely salty addition to it.

Chips ~ I shall never walk out of any burger parlours without sampling their fries. We had the smoked chilli mayonnaise which was a cooling contrast to the piping hot chips that probably just came out from the fryer. Chips had a nice crunch to them and definitely not too salty.

After this visit to Fancy Burger's branch on Rundle Street, I can only wonder what would the burgers taste like at their main outlet. I have compiled numerous opinions from various individuals but until I step into the Blackwood branch, I shall continue to ponder.

  Fancy Burger on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Chocolateria San Churros

A couple of weeks ago, I had a rare opportunity to pop by San Churros for one of those heart-to-heart talk with a couple of friends. It was an impromptu thought, one which I clearly did not expect or mind because I have been dying to visit this outlet since they opened up early this year. This chocolateria injected a major buzz to the dessert night scene and I have heard a few tales about how difficult it was to secure seats, regardless of what time you rock up!

Oh well, nothing I can do about it but to wait in line like a normal customer. Thankfully, we managed to squeeze ourselves in at 11pm, just before they shut their doors at midnight. Everything on the menu looks tempting and the front counter display did not ease my indecisive mind at all. I have to take my hat off to the visual manager on duty as the individually wrapped chocolate packages, hot chocolate canisters, nibble bags and coffee bean bags were strategically placed near the cashier/ front counter, making it easier for foodies like me to browse through their retail products.

San Churros cake ~ of lately, I have a strange affection for cakes. Not the light and fluffy types but rather, the thick, heavy and decadent version, please. This slice of indulgence ticked all the right boxes and I am ashamed to confess that I managed to finish 80% of it. The cake layer wasn't very heavy and if I am not wrong, the chocolate mousse filling had a lighter consistency. The thick chocolate ganache and caramel layer brought on a much needed contrast to the cake. Overall, I have enjoyed this immensely and highly recommend you get yourself a slice of it too!

You will obviously need a delicious drink to wash everything down and I may have the solution that you are after.
Iced chocolate ~ I am not a big fan of iced chocolate drinks but I find the ones here are decent and perfect to have, especially during those hot, summery days.

Peanut butter besos ~ Milk chocolate, peanut butter and vanilla ice cream. I am nuts over anything that has a drop of peanut butter in it and this particular drink was pretty addictive. Once you have a slurp of it, you will forget those countless of hours straining yourself in the gym! It is not excessively thick and sweet. A must have in my books!

Churros for two ~ these sticks of churros were fried not too long after we placed our orders and I am happy to say that the oil used for frying appears to be changed quite regularly as there is no fried residues sticking to the churros. I would have liked a bit more colour on them but aside from that, the churros were pretty crisp on the outside and fluffy on the inside. Each platter of churros comes with a few pots of melted couverture chocolate/caramel, which provides a nice selection of choices.

Chocolateria San Churro on Urbanspoon