Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Malaysia: Hua Nam restaurant, IPOH

Albeit not raised in my hometown Ipoh, my family and I make regular visits back during the holidays. A slow paced town, Ipoh has not changed much since my childhood; streets and familiar shops are still the same, favourite hawker fares are still available despite the increase in prices due to inflation.

Both parents know Ipoh like the back of their hand and rest assured, good food will always be delivered on the table regardless of where we are.

Fish ball curry noodles, char kuey teow and chee cheong fun. My fondest memories of Ipoh includes a bowl of fish balls, fried tofu wrapped in tofu skin and a mix of rice and hokkien mee noodles in a clear broth..not to mention a simple plate of chee cheong fun which is basically thick, steamed rice noodles drenched in a sweet sauce and garnished with fried shallots and sesame seeds. Some would opt for the curry version but my winner is always the most basic one, being that it is something dad would usually order as a child (and I would pinch some off him in greed).

Europe: 24 hours in Lyon FRANCE

Gastronomical region Lyon is more than a bouchons hub, it is also home to UNESCO heritage sites Vieux Lyon and the slopes of Croix-Rousse, both notably places for their narrow passages aka traboules; utilized to link streets and buildings. These passages saved the locals time commuting to and fro various parts of the city.

Lyon is the second largest urban area in France and one would think there is a lot to explore here but fret not, most places in the main town are within walking distance and can easily be done within the day. Both Rhone and Saone river meet here and it is hard to ignore the many restaurants operating near the riverside.

As much as I manage to come across a few traboules, one has to be conscious that there are still residents living in these buildings and so, noise should be kept to the minimal. Aside from that, Lyon does host an annual music festival during the warmer June and July months; a good time to visit for aspiring musicals.

For me, the best part of this trip would be visiting a traditional bouchonas seen here and getting a taste of rose flavoured gelato as we made our way around the old part of Lyon.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Messina x Wonderbao by HWKR, CBD MELB

Probably one of my favourite collaborations for the year and one that I was looking forward to tasting: Gelato Messina x Wonderbao!! So excited to finally get the chance to sample out their fare, be it from the display counter or from the kitchen.

 Thai-tea why-tea - coconut gelato, thai milk tea form, tapioca pearls, milk chocolate pudding and coconut crumbs. An interesting take on thai milk tea.

Wonderboy - dulce de leche filled baonuts with toasted marshmallow gelato, strawberry flummery and crunchy nut cornflake praline. Comes served with chocolate peanut butter and jelly milkshake. Was a tad disappointed that the milkshake came in a tiny cup and would have liked it better if it had more peanut butter taste to it. Baonuts were cooked to perfection and goes well with the refreshing taste of strawberry and gelato.

 First up was puff puff pastry aka puff pastry vol au vent, spiced apple gelato, caramelised apples and a salted caramel sauce. Am a big fan of puff pastry dishes and spiced apples so this one gets the thumbs up from me:)

 Souffle anybode - chocolate orange souffle, sudachi lime cheesecake gelato, pistachio crisp. Chocolate souffle was rich and decadent, complimenting the lighter gelato texture really well.

Lastly, the famous magic mushroom gelato cake. Was it all it's hyped to be? Yes it was! I loved every bite of this chocolate, peanut butter concoction that sits well on a biscuit bed. Worth a try and I would definitely be back for seconds.

  Messina x Wonderbao By HWKR Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Monday, June 18, 2018

Omi, Glen Waverley MELB

Last week's impromptu catch up brought me to Omi, conveniently located in the newly refurbished Glen shopping centre food court. The food court would usually be packed full on the weekends and having arrived just after the lunch period, we did not have to wait long before we could grab a bite.

Black truffle wagyu - so many different variations to choose from be it with mentaiko, sambal or without any fancy dressing. The truffle version won us over and it was creamy and very indulgent. Wagyu pieces were well seared although I can't really tell for sure if it is wagyu or not. Bed of rice had also been lightly seared and topped with furikake (Japanese rice seasoning) before being covered by the beef and sauce. Onsen egg added another touch of creaminess to the dish.

Truffle fries - crispy and sprinkled with thin curls of cheese and seaweed crumbs. Extremely addictive it was. One can only imagine what the salted egg version would taste like.

Overall, I did enjoy this quick meal and wouldn't mind popping by again. Reasonably priced for good quality food too:)

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

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Shortstop Coffee & Donuts, CBD MELB

On my second last day working in the CBD, I pondered on how shall I make it a memorable one and the only thought that came to mind was the aroma of freshly brewed coffee. But wait...I don't always have to order coffee, why not one or two delectable sweets as well?

Having walked past this shop for a few years now, I finally made time to pop by and order a few doughnuts to take away. My first encounter with doughnuts was back in Malaysia at a shop called Dunkin Donuts, located next to a massive supermarket. And ever since then, the sight of colourful, iced doughnuts never fails to make me stop in the midst of my tracks.

Ordered a latte to takeaway because, why not? I am in the mood to treat myself >:) Also gave me time to observe the bakers working their magic on preparing the doughnuts.

Top left to bottom: Earl grey and rose, sticky date and gingerbread, tiramisu, cinnamon, cardamom and sugar; and maple walnut and brown butter. My favourite was the pretty combination of earl grey and rose which had a really pleasant robust aroma of earl grey against a subtle, floral rose aroma. Tiramisu was probably my second favourite among the lot being that it was well packed with caffeine.

In a separate box, I had the triple matcha cake. Would have liked a stronger matcha aroma in it but still tasty nonetheless. Found the sticky date and gingerbread a little too sweet to my liking tho:(

Shortstop Coffee & Donuts Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Humble Rays, Carlton MELB

Dragged (or shall I say successfully convinced) a few peeps out for a meal which means that not only will I get to snap more yummy pictures but also means that I can sample more items on the menu. Only downside is a larger crowd equals a slightly longer waiting time for a table.

Ginger turmeric latte - never had this before and found it interesting in a strangely calming therapeutic way. Not everyone's cup of tea although dousing it with some honey seemed to sweetened it up a little.

Latte - what's brunch without a cup of coffee.

Mango and passionfruit sodapop and sunny side up cold pressed juice - both equally refreshing, the latter being the healthier option. Sodapop is akin ordering bubble tea at the shops but with popping pearls instead of the chewy ones.

Panna cotta granola - hojicha tea panna cotta with granola, fruit and poached pear. Cereal turned fancy with the addition of a subtle tasting panna cotta and garnished with a pretty palette of colours.

Egg benny - ginger braised pork belly, miso and potato korokke, dukkah, poached eggs, yuzu hollandaise and chilli bacon jam. Two generous slabs of pork belly on the plate which is more than enough for an individual serve.

Steak sangria - basically steak burger but again, done well with the addition of a sunny side egg, cheese and a delicious, savoury thickened meat sauce. Not sure what's in that meat sauce but goodness me, I would love to have the recipe for it!

Crab meat scramble - I am on the hunt to find Melbourne's best egg dish and this would rank comfortably on the top 5 of my list. Crab meat was certainly evident and I love how the thin slices of chilli, fried shallots and bit of herbs lent it some freshness and vibrancy. Sriracha mayo was an added, albeit unnecessary, bonus and croissant was doing a good job at lapping up all the scrambled goodness from the eggs.

Matcha latte - could do with a little more matcha oomph as this was verging on the milkier side of the scale.

   Humble Rays Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Monday, June 11, 2018

Hopetoun Tea Rooms, CBD MELB

One of the oldest cafes in Melbourne, dating back to 1892 and till today, still servicing the community although of late, it is mostly the tourist population that frequents it.

The queue is undeniably long and after much contemplation at the display window, I have decided on a favourite of mine, the black forest, a berry tart and a slice of passion fruit cheesecake. The sister is a fan of berries and cheesecakes but sadly, this combination was not available.

Passion fruit cheesecake - it was light, fluffy and tangy from the addition of passion fruit puree sitting on top of the cake. A good piece of cake although can't really say its the best one I have had.

Black forest - strangely enough, I am drawn to cakes infused with alcohol and this was one of the first birthday cakes I have had as a child. Fluffy sponge and again, something was lacking..could be the aroma of a freshly baked cake or the natural sweetness from the cherries used.

Berry tart - probably the one I wouldn't mind ordering again. Berries were fresh here and tart was not overly sweet or bland tasting. A little solid in texture but still yummy nevertheless.

Hopetoun Tea Rooms Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Dukes Coffee Roasters, CBD MELB

Last few days in the CBD region and one of the few tasks on my bucket list would be to visit popular coffee hubs. After all, I would get my caffeine fix which lead to better work outcomes? How can this not be a win-win situation.

I did note that a cup of coffee in the CBD costs at least 50 cents more compared to coffee spots in the suburbs. A small price to pay for convenience and also to help out with the CBD's crazy rental fees I suppose.

Good coffee, to me, is all about that faint roasted coffee bean aroma inviting you into the establishment, slowly getting prominent as you near the destination. Whilst having latte art is a bonus, the real deal is all about having a good balance of creaminess, sweetness and bitterness. I usually tend towards skinny milk or even soy milk but with coffee, I do not beat around the bush.

Almost impossible to walk out without a brown paper bag containing a glistening piece of pastry, but I managed somehow. My verdict on the coffee? Definitely one of the better ones around the CBD and worth that extra few minutes waiting in line. Perfectly roasted, rich and satisfying.

Dukes Coffee Roasters Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Friday, June 1, 2018

Basta, Fitzroy MELB

A few years ago, my definition of Italian food in Melbourne would be Lygon Street. Just about every shop screams pasta, pizza and gelato, a dream come true for the tourist in me when I first arrived in Melbourne. Having been disappointed by a particular restaurant, I soon turned into an arrogant Italian consumer and would only go to restaurants that are highly raved about.

Carrie, the enthusiastic and highly passionate owner of Basta, was kind enough to offer me an invitation to dine at her restaurant on Wednesday and patiently explained to me the story behind her Italian restaurant. Knowing how Italians are proud of their country's food (and rightfully so), I knew that I would be in good hands when Carrie mentioned of her husband's background to us.

The menu is kept simple, concise and price wise, it will not leave you with a credit card debt. I loved how warm and welcoming the entire restaurant felt on a cold night. Cannot fault being surrounded by soothing music and a few bottles of wine starring back at me.

Raspberry mojito mocktail - I do like a sweet drink in place of alcoholic beverages and this is my newfound favourite combination. Not overly tart from the dried raspberries and had a moderated tinge of sweetness that pairs well with the earthy scent of mint leaves.

Polpette - beef and pork meatballs, potato puree and tomato sugo. The meatballs had a perfect ratio of each meat in it and certainly was well seasoned. Sweetness from the tomato sugo was well balanced by the sharpness from the shredded parmesan cheese.

Salumi and formaggi - this massive platter would feed at least 3 people and is generously filled with slices of porchetta, bresaolo, capocollo and cheese in the form of caciatta al tartufo and fiordilatte. My first proper (and deliciously satisfying) introduction to cured Italian meat. I can easily finish a few dollops of fiordilatte, a soft, creamy type of mozarella cheese. My favourite meat would be the milder flavoured porchetta aka the softest but probably fattiest slice of meat on the platter.

Bread with olive oil - I am a huge fan of bread served at restaurants (am I partly French, maybe?) and was pleased by how soft the bread felt and teared in my hands. However, the real star here is the olive oil. Extremely fragrant and bold tasting, almost to the point of being unforgettable.

Orecchiette al broccoli - house made orecchiette, broccoli, chilli, anchovies, garlic oil, pecorino and Italian sausage. I absolutely loved how most of Basta's pasta is made in house and to me, this is one of the best pasta dishes I have had in Australia. Cooked al dente and packed full of flavours from humble ingredients like broccoli and chilli, I was very impressed at how the chef managed to convince the carnivore in me to look at greener pastures. Highly recommended.

Porchetta - free range rolled roasted pork, brussel sprouts and salsa verde. Another winner in my books and truly one that I feel the picture does it no justice. Earth shattering pork skin, soft and juicy meat, caramelized brussel sprouts.. Enough said really.

Dulche de leche pannacotta - chocolate and hazelnut soil, chocolate ganache and caramelised figs. Moreish and came in just the right size for sharing between the two of us who were at this stage, filled to the brim. Pannacotta was silky smooth and not overly sweet whilst chocolate ganache is something that I would gladly sneak the entire quenelle into my mouth if the sister isn't looking.

Once again, many thanks to Carrie and the team at Basta for having me over for dinner. In saying that this is a sponsored post, I did enjoy my dinner tremendously and do believe that Basta is on the money in soon to becoming a popular Italian hideout for those wanting pasta, done right of course ;)

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