Category Archives: Chinese

A weekend in Sydney

Once a year, I dedicate a weekend to Sydney. One weekend of pure gluttony, where getting full is not an option and optimising every last bit of space in that second stomach is very much mandatory. Last year Fakebooo and I flew up for a weekend of pastries, cakes and brilliant Argentinian food and you can read all about it here. This year my itinerary was pretty much the same, except this time round, The Angmoh came along as my dining companion.

IMG_9397

IMG_9400

His only request food-wise was to have yumcha. That’s how we found ourselves in The Eight Restaurant, gorging on prawn dumplings, steamed pork ribs and glutinous rice as soon our plane landed. The restaurant was quiet when we rocked up close to 11am, with trolleys piled high with steaming bamboo baskets. By the time we left though, it was packed and rowdy, the way every reputable yumcha restaurant ought to be. The food was pretty good: slippery fresh prawns housed in silky translucent skins, smooth beef balls with the delicate crunch of water chestnut and velvety soy curd in a gingery syrup.

IMG_9401

IMG_9404

We walked out lugging our backpacks and hiked across town towards Woolloomooloo, for the one and only and my Sydney-must-have Flour and Stone. Here I indulged in a rich chocolate tart while The Angmoh nibbled on some fruit toast. Deciding against the panna cotta lamington to save space for dinner, we headed towards our hotel for an afternoon siesta.

IMG_9406

IMG_9408

IMG_9413

alfajores

At 5pm, we were the first in line for Porteno. Having inadequate figures for a table booking, we decided to be kiasu and started camping an hour before the doors opened. Was the wait worth it? Hell yeah! Porteno panders to every carnivore’s wet dream where meats are grilled to perfection. Served in generous portions by cute waiters in leather aprons, every dish a sight for sore hungry eyes. My absolute favourite item, ironically, is a vegetable one. The grilled peppers are an absolute delight. Their skins blistered from high heat slip off to reveal soft flesh, succulent and sweet. Desserts here are excellent too, and I split an alfajores with The Angmoh. This was an amazing dish with crumbly buttery shortbread sandwiching a sticky caramel-like dulce de leche, all smothered in chocolate and then topped with an incredible brown butter ice cream. I was in dessert heaven.

IMG_9416

IMG_9417The next morning, we squeezed ourselves into a tiny café. Room 10 is a hole-in-the-wall which we’d chanced upon during our brief stroll in Kings’ Cross. We were counting the number of strip joints where a turn led us onto an unassuming laneway which had a handful of cafes and bistros. The morning crowd built quickly and we were lucky to get a table right away. The coffees were served hot and leant towards bitter. While The Angmoh enjoyed a slab of homemade banana bread with Pepe Saya butter, I worked off my morning gym session with a protein-heavy sandwich of smoked ham, triple cheese and smashed egg. Both dishes ticked all our breakfast boxes.

IMG_9420

Next on our agenda was another of my Sydney must-haves: Blackstar Pastry’s strawberry, watermelon cake with rose-scented cream. This has to be one of my all-time favourite cakes. Feminine in description and appearance, this cake is pure heaven with just the right amount of sweetness and perfect combination of floral and fruity flavours. It’s not only this cake that excels at Blackstar. The pastries too, are sensational. The Angmoh, after sampling the sausage roll, declared it to be “the best sausage roll of his life”. The flaky pastry is loaded with butter and filling was packed with flavour and spice, and even retained a resilient chewy texture. We took a couple of these bad boys back to Melbourne and The Angmoh’s dad proclaimed the very same.

IMG_9424

To kill time before dinner, I catched up on my zzz’s while The Angmoh enjoyed “Locke”. These odd arty-farty movies aren’t quite my thing but our final meal totally is. Gumshara Ramen sits in a foodcourt in Chinatown. The broth here is one of the best I’ve come across, with depth and stickiness achieved from boiling pork bones till kingdom come. The noodles and egg are cooked without any fault, retaining bite and wobble respectively. I enjoyed mine with a hit of black garlic and less salt. Needless to say, it went down a treat.

Sadly this concludes our weekend in Sydney. I’m already anticipating another foodie trip that will challenge the waistline and loosen the belt. Please hit me up for any mouth-watering delectable recommendations!

The Eight
9-13 Hay Street,
Haymarket
NSW 2000
+61 2 9282 9988
The Eight Modern Chinese Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Porteno
358 Cleveland Street
Surry Hills
NSW 2010
+61 2 8399 1440
Porteño on Urbanspoon

Room 10
10 Llankelly Place
Potts Point
NSW 2011
Room 10 on Urbanspoon

Black Star Pastry
277 Australia Street
Newtown
NSW 2042
+61 2 9557 8656
Black Star Pastry on Urbanspoon

Gumshara Ramen
211/25-29 Dixon Street
Hawmarket
NSW 2000
Gumshara Ramen on Urbanspoon

Advertisements

10 Comments

Filed under Argentinian, Brunch, Chinese, Coffee, Japanese, Noodles, Pastries, Ramen, Sweets, Sydney, Travels, Yum Cha

1+1 Dumpling Noodles

1+1 Dumplings
84 Hopkins Street
Footscray
Vic 3011
+61 3 9687 8988
1+1 Dumpling Noodles on Urbanspoon

1+1 dumplings

A dinner with my brother’s family has us reliving uni days of driving into Footscray. My brother introduced me to 1+1 Dumplings 4 years ago. Ever since he left Melbourne after graduating, I hadn’t returned to the restaurant. There isn’t a lack of want but with Melbourne and too many new restaurants on the ever-changing food scene, it just slid further and further down my eating wishlist.

soy milk
Homemade soy milk

1+1 Dumplings specialises in Xin Jiang cuisine and we were specifically after the lamb skewers and ‘big platter chicken’. The dishes here seem to include a lot more spices than in typical Chinese dishes, with aromatic cumin, cinnamon and star anise giving flavour and fragrance to the food.

cucumber
Pickled cucumber

We started off with a tangy appetitser of chilled cucumber. The julienned vegetable was pickled in vinegar and tossed with garlic, chilli and coriander. It was the perfect palate cleanser, refreshing and zingy all at once.

lamb skewers
Lamb skewers (4) $10

The lamb skewers were a favourite amongst the table. The meat was tender and seasoned with just the right touch of ground cumin and chilli. Not much of a fan of lamb, even I thought these were pretty good.

BPC
Xin Jiang special chicken noodle $25

An impressive platter is quickly set down and this is my favourite of the lot. The literal translation of the dish is self-explanatory. Accompanying the chopped up bits of chicken are braised vegetables like potatoes, wombok and capsicum. Dried chilli, cinnamon and star anise contribute a sweet fragrance to the mix. The starchy flat broad noodles are coated in this wonderful sauce and gives a comforting oomph when slurped and chewed.

dumplings
Panfried pork dumplings (15 pieces) $11

We ordered a plate of dumplings only because we thought there wasn’t going to be enough food. These were alright, not the best I’ve come across, but decent in their own right. The filling was juicy although could use a tad more seasoning.

We left happy and full although The Angmoh needed a quick pitstop at 8Bit for a milkshake. He didn’t dig the chicken noodles the way we did, and I for one am very happy to have caught up with 1+1 dumplings after all those years.

1 Comment

Filed under Asian, Chinese, Dumplings, Footscray, Noodles, Xin Jiiang

Fina’s Vegetarian Cafe, Xiaoting Box

Richmond is fast becoming my second home. I’m there at least once a week for a meal and now that I’m getting physio done in the very same suburb there are even more trips to Richmond! This post involves some cheap quick Asian eats along Victoria Street.

Fina’s Vegetarian Café
268 Victoria Street
Richmond
Vic 3121
+61 3 9428 6765
Fina's Vegetarian Cafe | Vegan Café on Urbanspoon

IMG_8570

Goth Mum and I were waaaaay overdue for a catch up. She’s vegan and had her bub, Mr. Finch, in tow that day. That narrowed our dining options to a handful and Fina’s was a perfect choice. We were warmly welcomed, pram and all, and a baby chair was even whipped out for Mr. Finch to sit in comfortably.

Fina’s offers a vegetarian take on traditional Vietnamese fare. The menu can be adjusted to suit certain needs, including vegan, gluten-free and even the option to omit garlic and onion. We both felt noodley that afternoon, and Goth Mum had vermicelli with bamboo while I chose a spicy bun. Mr. Finch munched away on Goth Mum’s homemade banana bread and entertained himself with a dinosaur while the adults slurped and chatted away.

IMG_8574IMG_8575
Special vegetarian spicy noodle Bun Hue Chay $10.50

The soups were cleansing with a clean sweet taste. No MSG is added, instead the lovely ingredients gave plenty of flavour to the dishes. My noodle soup was essentially vegetarian bun bo hue. It came with the appropriate julienned purple cabbage and mint and plenty of delicious meaty soy products such as tofu, beancurd sheets and soy meatloaf which was really tasty. Goth’s Mum’s dish had fresh and marinated bamboo, crispy mock duck and mushrooms. I didn’t sample Goth Mum’s choice but she really liked it.

IMG_8578
Special vegan bamboo noodle soup Bun Mang Chay $10.50

I’ve always wanted to try Fina but every time I’m at Victoria Street, the lure and proximity of I Love Pho 264 beckons and sways me away. I’m glad I finally stepped foot into Fina’s. The food is great, the staff are extremely pleasant and it provides a great option for those wanting a healthier, lighter, meat-free version of traditional Vietnamese food.

 

Xiaoting Box
371 Victoria Street
Richmond
Vic 3121
+61 3 9428 9588
Xiaoting Box on Urbanspoon

IMG_8593

2 days later, The Angmoh and I found ourselves back on Victoria Street. This time, we were there for dinner. The Angmoh used to frequent Xiao Ting Box for his work lunch but hadn’t in a while. I tagged along, hoping for some comforting Shanghainese cuisine.

IMG_8594

It was quiet that Saturday evening. The yolk-yellow walls are decorated with Chinese paintings on 1 side and pictures of the chef’s specials on the opposite. Complimentary prawn crackers were set down as soon as we were seated. We crunched away as we looked over the menu and decided to get a rice dish for The Angmoh, a noodle dish for myself and a serve of dumplings to share.

IMG_8600IMG_8599
(Left) Diced chicken with chilli and peanuts on rice $9.50
(Right) Steamed pork and veg dumplings $8.50

The Angmoh’s gung pao chicken on rice was thoroughly enjoyed. It tasted the same as he last remembered and was glad to have relived the memory. My dandan noodles, on the other hand, were a let down. The noodles lacked bounce and bite and the sauce was a sad sweetened mess of gluggy mince meat. The dumplings were also a far cry from “Melbourne’s Best Dumplings”, which was a bold claim made in the menu. The skins were hard and thick and the filling could be more exciting.

IMG_8601
Dan-Dan noodles (dry) $9.00

I was thoroughly disappointed with my dinner at Xiao Ting Box. The Angmoh’s dish was the only saving grace. We found out that there had been a change of management slightly over a year ago and the food was much better prior to that. I’ll be sticking to Noodle Kingdom or Shanghai Street Dumplings in the futur

4 Comments

Filed under Chinese, Dumplings, Noodles, Richmond, Vegan, Vegetarian, Vietnamese

Lee Ho Fook

Lee Ho Fook
92 Smith Street
Collingwood
Vic 3066
+61 3 9077 6261
Lee Ho Fook on Urbanspoon

IMG_7557IMG_7559

Fusion Chinese are two words I personally do not want to hear side-by-side. Maybe it’s because I’m Chinese and so I find the “bastardisation” of cuisine from my culture unacceptable. As narrow-minded as that may sound, I have to admit, Lee Ho Fook has opened my eyes and palate.

IMG_7534

Dinner at Lee Ho Fook was to celebrate Chinese New Year and also to catch up with my bunch of Singapore homies from my previous work-place. We managed to snag a reservation along the popular, then-newish, restaurant on Smith Street and rocked up to a dim raucous atmosphere at Lee Ho Fook.

IMG_7530IMG_7535
Milk bun, braised pork belly and cucumber $6

Gossip exchanged, we got down into serious business with Fatbooo and Fatbooobooo starting with a pork belly milk bun to share. We were expecting a “gua bow” (ala Wonderbao) type of bun but what was presented was a slider of sort. Fried soft sweet buns sandwiched a crisp deep-fried slice of pork belly, accompanied by a slathering of garlicky-vinegary chilli sauce.

IMG_7537
Crispy eggplant, spiced red vinegar $14

Carolyn, The Angmoh and myself sat out on entrees and were delighted as soon as our mains arrived. There was super crunchy eggplant, coated in a delicate caramelised black vinegar, heightened by the sweet nuances of kechap manis. This is fancy fish-fragrant eggplant, well-executed and elegant to the max.

IMG_7536IMG_7541
(Left) Char grilled wagyu, green chili, watercress and pancakes $19
(Right) House made tofu, hot and sour sauce $22

Instead of the usual Peking duck pancakes that all the “guai lows” adore, Lee Ho Fook’s spin encompasses Wagyu beef, succulent and full of flavour. The house-made tofu softens the swamp of hot and sour soup and lends a gentle fragile hand to round up the tangy broth. The soup is perfect to drizzle over rice, which our table was lacking due to a miscommunication. We had initially asked for rice for the table but 2-3 dishes into our dinner all that was served was a single bowl. It took a while to finally get our order through and more bowls were then placed on our table.

IMG_7542IMG_7544
Yunan style lamb shoulder, hoisin mustard, spicy pickles, cos lettuce (for 2 or more) $52

We also had slow-roasted cumin lamb shoulder, which was superbly fall-apart tender. The spices were well-proportioned with a good balance between the flavour of the meat and the cumin. We pretty much left the supplemented chilli onion jam alone, it didn’t seem right as a pairing. Finally there was the saltwater duck, which appeared hidden in a blanket of radish, with each sliver of duck meat luscious and aromatic with gentle tea flavours. It was unanimous that this was the winning dish of the night and might have ended up with a possible chopstick war to have the very last piece.

IMG_7561
Saltwater duck, red salad $18

The night was yet to be over and dessert had to be had. Each dessert came in a thoughtfully portioned individual serve with half of us choosing the sorbet and the remaining half, the custard. The former is extremely feminine, with the pink floral lychee sorbet submerged in a bath of sparkling rosé. The custard is essentially crème caramel with the jasmine flavours playing hide and seek on the tongue.

IMG_7546IMG_7548
(Left) Violet and lychee sorbet, sparkling rosé $5
(Right) Jasmine tea custard, burnt caramel $5

I thought I’d be sceptical throughout all of dinner at Lee Ho Fook but it turned out to be quite an enjoyable experience. The lure for me to return has to be the saltwater duck and crisp eggplant. And hopefully, next time round, rice will come at the start, and enough to go around.

5 Comments

Filed under Chinese, Collingwood, Modern

Tooraking

Tooraking Fine Chinese Cuisine
1st Floor, Trak Centre 443-449 Toorak Road
Toorak
Vic 3142
+61 3 9826 1386
Tooraking Fine Chinese Cuisine on Urbanspoon

IMG_6722

Call me a romantic simpleminded fool but when both your boyfriends and yourself have consecutive birthdays, it must mean something. Maybe The Angmoh and I are meant to be, or I could be Fakebooo’s best faghag, or The Angmoh and Fakebooo have a secret something going on and I happen to be the connecting bridge. Whatever it is, we all get together and celebrate getting a year older and perhaps a little wiser. Last year, we did it in style and had a marvellously delicious and pricey meal at Steer. This year, we kept it simple and organised a Sichuan dinner at Tooraking. When we found out that Liz shared the same birth date as The Angmoh, we knew she had to come along. The more the merrier, for that meant we could order more food.

IMG_6721

Tooraking is oddly located in a posh local stretch of Melbourne. It is bright, neat and classy, devoid of the usual stodgy oily feel that most Chinese restaurants have. After a quick merry-go-round of birthday wishes and gift exchanging (I’d baked mini sour cherry and chocolate chip loaves), we got down to business. There was The Angmoh and I, Fakebooo and E1 and Liz and Hart. 6 people meant 6 dishes right?

IMG_6730IMG_6734
(Left) Spicy bean jelly $8.80
(Right) Szechwan cold noodle (small) $5.80

Entrees of cold noodles were first served. The jellybean noodles had texture similar to that of Konjac, while the yellow noodles were unexpectedly soft. The accompanying dressing of Sichuan pepper, chilli oil and peanuts prepared us for the heavy flavourful dishes about to come.

IMG_6731IMG_6735
(Left) Deep fried green beans with pork mince $16.80
(Right) Fried eggplant with sweet and sour sauce $16.80

Spicy green beans and fish-fragrant eggplant are two commonly ordered items in Sichuan restaurants. Tooraking’s versions of these were very different to what we have come across. The green beans were fried with fermented black beans and the eggplant was braised and stewed. Beef in hot soup was the favourite dish that evening. It too was different, with ingredients like black fungus, celery tops and coriander making an appearance. The sprinkling of minced garlic and peanuts, both chopped and whole, made it quite unique. The crispy duck was slightly dry and nothing to shout about.

IMG_6733
Beef tenderloin in hot and spicy soup $22.80

Dessert was needed to lift the heavy and spicy flavours and cleanse our palate. Unfortunately many of the items were unavailable and the remaining offererings were uninspiring.

IMG_6736
Homemade crispy golden duck – signature dish $26.80

Dinner at Tooraking turned out to be rather mediocre. The food was simply alright and the service was lacklustre. I’ll be sticking to Dainty and Sichuan House for my Sichuan fix in future.

IMG_6740

Thankfully, the night was saved by Liz. She had generously gifted Fakebooo, The Angmoh and myself with cakes from Luxbite. The Angmoh and I randomly selected the Green Tea Cheesecake and Endless Love. Both were delicious and my eating wishlist now have Luxbite etched in for a girly sugary pig out sesh.

6 Comments

Filed under Chinese, Sichuan, Sweets, Toorak

Wonderbao, Hero

Wonderbao
Shop 4
19-37 A’Beckett Street
Melbourne
Vic 3000
+61 3 9654 7887
Wonderbao on Urbanspoon

Hero
1 Stewart Street
Melbourne
Vic 3000
+61 3 9995 4655
Hero on Urbanspoon

wonderbao

The Northern part of Melbourne city is blooming with new food joints. RMIT has undergone swanky renos around the Swanston/Franklin Street campus and food stalls have seized this opportunity to germinate and pop.

gua bao
(Top) Braised pork belly gua bao – pickled mustard, coriander and crushed peanuts $4.20
(Bottom) Fried silky tofu gua bao – pickled mustard, coriander, sweet soy sauce and crushed peanuts $4.20

Wonderbao has been around for a little while and a rave developed over their gua baos. My memories of gua baos involve family dinners at my grandparents’ in Singapore, with my grandma’s homemade braised pork belly. Slices of unctuous fatty pork tenderly cradled by steamed fluffy soft buns and then drizzled lavishly with oily flavourful dark sauce. Yum indeed.

I popped into Wonderbao on a lonesome Wednesday arvo. Fakebooo had departed for France and I was left on my own to fend for myself. Perched on a barstool with a graffiti-strewn laneway as my view, I tucked into a tofu and a pork belly gua bao, washing it down with homemade soy milk.

soymilk
Homemade organic soya milk (cold) $3

The drink was unsweetened with a wonderful soy nuttiness. The buns were soft and pillowy and they both tasted pretty damn good. I really liked the vegetarian bao, the salty pickled vegetable provided a good taste and textural contrast against the soft silky tofu.

Wonderbao also offers the “contemporary” dim sum-style buns such as lotus seed paste and BBQ pork. The taro is a favourite and “orh nee” lovers should definitely give this a go.

IMG_5802

After my bao escapade, I hopped (not quite literally) a stone’s throw down to Hero. Created by the people behind The Grain Store, I’ve heard they make good delicious subs. However, I was after something a little more sinful… donuts.

IMG_5804
“Hotballs” – jam (left) and jaffa (right) $2.80 each

Mmmmmmm. Hero’s donuts are filled with jaffa or jam and these bad boys are sensational. There’s nothing quite like biting into a warm ball of deep-fried dough, stuffed with creamy orange milk chocolate or sweet berry jam.

With these eateries and a whole lot more of other deliciousness (Rose Garden, Darac etc) at their feet, I’m rather envious of RMIT students. Maybe I should consider becoming a student again, just to savour city food.

6 Comments

Filed under CBD, Chinese, Sweets

Dainty Sichuan Food

Dainty Sichuan Food
Level 2/206 Bourke Street
Melbourne
Vic 3000
+61 3 9650 2188
Dainty Sichuan Food on Urbanspoon

IMG_3601

I’m proud of The Angmoh. He digs chilli and boy, can he take the heat. We prepared ourselves for a spicy meal at Dainty Sichuan with Smiles and Fakebooo, with the initial intention of having the Caucasians turn up after Booo and I did the ordering. We thought Sichuan restaurants reduce spice levels when Caucasians are dining. That plan fell through as I was running late so the 3 of them were seated and picked the dishes for that night. When I finally arrived, I did the ordering (in Mandarin) and also requested that the heat levels be kept the same. The waiter appeared surprised and replied that the kitchen never alters heat levels, no matter the customer. We were pleased.

IMG_3597IMG_3598
(Left) Eggplant with Fish-Fragrant Sauce $20.80
(Right) Chongqing Chilli Chicken $27.80

We started off with a couple of popular favourites: fish fragrant eggplant and Chong Qing Chilli Chicken (or also commonly known as 辣子鸡La Zi Ji). The eggplant was presented differently with thinner, less battered slices of the vegetable. It was tasty but I do prefer the version served by the other Dainty Sichaun in South Yarra. We dug under a mountain of chopped dried chillies to find the Chong Qing Chilli chicken crisp and crunchy, each morsel seasoned by crushed Sichuan peppercorns. It left a tingling numbing sensation on the tongue, and had Booo reaching for his water glass frequently. The 2 Caucasians, Smiles and The Angmoh, powered through without breaking a sweat.

IMG_3595IMG_3599
Pork Ribs Barbeque $42.80

The next dish was an impressive platter served on a portable stove, loaded with ribs, vegetables, chilli and chilli oil. A small flame kept the oil in liquid state and also maintained the temperature of the dish. Spicy food, when eaten cold, just does not provide the same kick. Leaning slightly towards the salty side, it was nonetheless flavoursome and went very well with rice.

IMG_3600IMG_3594

We had a great time in Dainty Sichuan. The food was great and the staff extremely helpful. We had enquired about Facing Heaven Chillies, which is a type of chilli commonly used in Sichuan cooking. The Angmoh had been trying to find fresh ones but had no luck in markets and Asian grocers. The waiter informed us that fresh Facing Heaven Chillies had to be imported into Australia and so he very kindly presented us with a fresh specimen to take home. It was a lovely gesture.

Now that the cold has truly set upon us, I anticipate more visits to Dainty Sichuan and other chilli power restaurants of Melbourne.

4 Comments

Filed under CBD, Chinese, Sichuan