31 December, 2013

The Best of 2013

Can you guys believe it’s the end of the year already ? With 2013 coming to a close, I want to say a big thank you to all of my loyal blog readers – it's been so fun to share little bits of my day with all of you.

So here it is, a handful of the meals or dishes I had in 2013 that I found the most memorable.
I really do hate playing the favourites game. But without further ado, here they are, in no particular order...

Wagyu Beef Burger @ Coin Laundry

One of the things I love about Melbourne is that we are absolutely spoilt for choice when it comes to good coffees, breakfasts & brunches. Tucked away in Armadale, Coin Laundry is one of these. From the soft bun, juicy pattie to the crispy bacon, the Wagyu Beef burger was a champion of a burger. Especially when the burger comes with fries like that.

Brunch @ NSHRY

Coupled with beautiful weather, this beachouse restaurant was an excellent location for good food, good coffee and good lookers. With impeccable presentation, it was easy to see that food is prepared with love. What more could you ask for?

Smashed Avocado Bagel @ Manchester Press

This year, I found myself falling head over heels with smashed avocados, and Manchester Press' was the one that captured my heart. A earthy concoction avocado, feta, chilli and mint made it a standout dish. Coffees here were also big thumbs up.

Braised Pork Belly Gua Bao @ Wonderbao

I honestly think I could live off these. Each bite tasted like a unicorn jumping over a double rainbow. Their Silken Tofu Gua Baos were clear winners too. Quick, delicious and easy on the wallet.

Spicy Pork Burrito @ Koba K-BBQ

In November, Koba K-BBQ swept me off my with their Korexican fusion foods - taking Korean BBQ to the next level. This is a place I would love to frequent a little more!

  House Suckling Pig Burger @ Operator25

This burger was remarkable - everything from its Balinese flavours, size to texture. The sweet potato fries and crackling topped it off for me. If Operator25 has a signature dish, this burger is it, and it’s not very hard to see why. Well done to Operator25 for such an amazing burger fueled by attention to detail.  

Chopped Beef Burrito @ Fonda Mexican

Healthy and hearty.  The burrito was jammed with chopped beef, smokey black beans, crisp salad of cabbage and bursting with quinoa. The whole lot then ladled in salsa roja and chipotle aioli.  Sounds mouth watering, doesn't it ?

Korean BBQ @ Mrs Kim's Grill

 Situated among  other outstanding restaurants on Koornang Road is new kid on the block, Mrs Kim's Grill. The menu is short and sweet, and they stick to what they do best - high quality meats coupled with modern side dishes. Not to mention that service was absolutely amazing here.

The Bonegilla @ Jimmy Grants

Hands down, Jimmy Grants was the best souvlaki I had all year. One of the many things to look forward to in 2014 is the launch of their Ormond branch in May !

You may or may not know - I don’t have much of a sweet tooth, but I really could not get enough of the Muum Maam. Gelato Messina, I blame you for pulling me closer to the dark side.

And that's it ! 2013 has been the most amazing year - food and non-food related, and I cannot even begin to imagine what adventures 2014 will bring. 

Happy New Year everyone ! :)

29 December, 2013

Brighton Schoolhouse

Partly owned by Hawthorn footballer Josh Gibson, Brighton Schoolhouse is all I hear about from T, and so it was about time I paid them a visit. An actual schoolhouse in its former life, Brighton Schoolhouse's name pays homage to the good old days where we spent 6 long years studying day in day out.

Once you start ordering, it becomes quickly apparent that this café brings a simple and concise concept - healthy, wholesome foods and drinks without making sacrifices on taste. Armed with cheeky names and Instagram worthy presentation, think Thor 2 Burgers, Miranda Kerr Waffles and Principal Skinner Large Breakfasts. I was very excited.

Skinny Flat White

Alongside their church theme, coffee is done magnificently by the two Saints here - a Schoolhouse Bayside Blend roasted by St Ali, with premium milk sourced from St David Dairy.

Heirloom Tomatoes

A cheer squad full of heirloom tomatoes adorned two thick slices of olive sourdough toast, full of juiciness and tanginess that danced on my tastebuds. The dish was balanced out with a zesty avocado puree, creamy ricotta cheese and finished with popped grains.

#hashtag YOLO

T went for the #hashtag YOLO - sheets of house cured salmon that draped carelessly over pieces of potato and leek hash, kale, avocado puree and a perfectly poached egg topped with popped grains. The dish originally featured a slow cooked egg, however we were advised that they had run out for the day.

Completed with bashed-up lockers, test tube light fixtures and a detention room, it was surprisingly fun to be back at school. The café offered a nostalgic blast from the past with good food that left us smiling as we walked out the door. Brighton Schoolhouse was top of the class, and have earnt a big fat A+ from me.

Brighton Schoolhouse
15 St Andrews Street
Brighton, VIC

Brighton Schoolhouse on Urbanspoon

26 December, 2013

Paradai Thai 2

Paradai Thai 1, Paradai Thai 2 and Paradai Thai 3. Clearly, Paradai Thai know that they've gotten it very right. Three successful restaurants serves as good proof. So, with 3 siblings to choose from, who did we decide to visit? Middle child, Paradai Thai 2 of course. See, the middle child is not always neglected.

Yum Neau

This was a zesty and spicy salad that was a feast of flavours and textures. Wonderfully fresh, the majority of the grilled beef strips were tender and full of flavour and heat with each bite - ramped up by a lashing of fish sauce, lime juice and chilli. 

Penang Curry Beef

While I was enjoying the Yum Neau salad, C tucked into the Penang Curry. While this red coconut curry was very sweet, it also maintained a subtle and pleasant warmth of spiciness. A swirl around found us cashew nuts, capsicum strips, springs of lime leaves and basil among the strips of beef. This was great great for drowning our rice in.

Gang Keow Warn Chicken

The other curry we had ordered was the green curry with chicken. Again, we found this dish to be on the sweeter side, which may have been due to the addition of pumpkin that was included, and did not have enough spice to counter it. I tend to like my curries more on the savoury and spicy side, but it was still a tasty curry.

Pad Thai Chicken

The last dish was our Pad Thai. It really isn't Thai without Pad Thai. The noodles were perfectly chewy, bouncy and had a satisfying lick of fire from the wok. Tossed with tender chunks of chicken, fried tofu cubes, egg, bean shoots, spring onions and finished with roasted peanuts, these noodles were finished in a flash. 

For a long time, Paradai Thai 2 has seemed to have captures the hearts of the locals. Dishes are extremely generous in size, priced very reasonably and is sure to satisfy your appeTHAIte. Your wallet won't know what hit it.

Paradai Thai 2
62 Koornang Road 

Paradai Thai 2 on Urbanspoon

23 December, 2013

Christmas Tree Cupcakes & White Chocolate Bark

Are you still stuck running around like a maniac on the eve of Christmas Eve, trying to find that last present. Or perhaps, you're racking out your brains on what to bring to the Christmas party tonight ?

Have a look below for what I just whipped up for tonight's Christmas party. Hope these sweet little things inspire you to do some baking yourself !

Christmas Tree Cupcakes

Pistachio & Cranberry White Chocolate Bark

There really is nothing like Christmas goodies made with love. 
Hope everyone has a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year ! May 2014 be your best year yet.

17 December, 2013

Löwenbräu Keller

Right in the heart of The Rocks, you will find Löwenbräu Keller serving up authentic Munich-style cuisine alongside an extensive list of quality imported biers. The restaurant stays close to home with its German heritage, featuring a medieval bier-hall environment, and waitresses dressed in dirndl dresses complete with pigtails.

Knusprige Schweinshax’n

This was jaw-droppingly humungous. In a pool of creamy buttery mash and bier jus, the fatty piece of oven roasted pork knuckle was done well - crisp and flavourful on the outside and blushing pink on the inside. The sauerkraut was on the mushier, saltier side with its distinctive sour taste really perked up our tastebuds. 

Service? Poor and rude, to say the least. However, this seems to be standard and from what I have heard, is to be expected at Löwenbräu Keller.

On the whole, the Knusprige Schweinshax’n was a very heavy meaty dish, that would be much more suited for the carnivorous type. Though it's not the food I would find myself craving, it was amusing to try. But once was enough.

Löwenbräu Keller
18 Argyle Street
Sydney, NSW

Lowenbrau Keller on Urbanspoon

14 December, 2013


Eating our way through Sydney, Wagaya was next on my hit list. 

A and I were heading out for a few drinks that night, so we didn’t want anything too heavy. Tight dresses and food babies were not an option. Wagaya's izakaya styled menu was exactly what we were looking for.

The atmosphere was very unique - a modern space that fused Japanese traditional furnishings with a modern flare. 

Just one of my favourite parts of Wagaya were the touch screen menus. After settling into our booth, this self-service method of ordering meant that we could take as long as we wanted to drool over the photos and be our indecisive selves.

Agedashi Tofu

Being a big fan of tofu, we ordered both the Agedashi Tofu and Teriyaki Tofu. The wobbly cubes of tofu had been lightly dusted with potato starch to give it that crispy exterior. These tofus came steeped in a fragrant dashi based broth, and were showered with finely chopped spring onion.

Teriyaki Tofu

The same lovely tofus were brought out on a sizzling hot plate - six golden tofu pillows doused in a sweet teriyaki sauce. Meltingly soft, this dish was just as delicious as the former.

Spider Roll 

By now, you may know of my love for soft shell crab. Having said that, this dish was inevitable  The vinegary sushi rice was cooked till each grain was rounded and full, which hugged moreish chunks of soft shell crab. Finished with zig zags of spicy mayo and crunchy renkon chips, I was kicking myself for only ordering half a serving.

Ebiten Avocado Roll 

The Ebiten Avocado Roll was a long, thick roll filled with juicy prawns, topped with slices of fresh avocado and sprinkled with a generous layer of flying fish roe. Generous lashings of creamy mayo completed the dish.

Wagaya was completely charming - with quick service, delicious offerings, and reasonably priced food, it’s not hard to see why we retuned the following night. Though we were only in Syndey for three days, another meal at Wagaya had to be had. 

Level 1, 78-86 Harbour Street 
Haymarket, NSW

Wagaya on Urbanspoon

11 December, 2013

Jamie's Italian & Ladurée

Jamie's Italian was the name that popped up over and over again when I had asked for suggestions on where to eat in Sydney.  Jamie Oliver. Italian. Jamie's Italian - sounds good. With that said, it seemed like an obvious choice to check them out for lunch on the second day of our SydyCity trip. 

The lively ambience of Jamie's Italian was captivating - a narrow space that seemed to go on forever, dimly lit light fittings, and buzzing on a rainy Friday afternoon. 

Crispy Tomato & Mozzarella Arancini

I had been eyeing off these arancini balls 878 km away in Melbourne, and was ecstatic to try them. Stuffed with rich and creamy risotto, these great balls of fire sat on a bed of spicy arrabbiata sauce, topped with pickled red chillies. Wonderfully crisp on the outside, and soft on the inside, these were devoured in no time. We soaked chunks of ciabatta in the leftover sauce which left a warm sensation over our lips as we waited for our mains.

Black Angel Spaghetti

Freshly made on the premises every day, the squid ink pasta was black, rich and deeply flavoured. Its briny flavour was full bodied and highlighted with the sweet and plump scallops. The al dente noodles and scallops shared the stage with garlic, chilli, anchovies, wine and capers. With the anchovies and capers already dotted throughout the dish, they were perhaps a little too heavy on the salt.

Land & Sea Risotto

The rice itself was very well-cooked and plump which soaked up the lovely seafood stock. From the land came Italian sausage and pancetta. Hailing from the sea, were mussels and clams, which were all tossed with white wine, black olives, sweet baby tomatoes and field mushrooms. I liked that the mushrooms added hints of earthiness to the dish, however, again found the dish much too salty. We did finish the dish though, with plenty of water. 

Overall, Jamie's Italian did not wow me. Unfortunately, we either came at a bad time, chose the wrong dishes or perhaps I was just too ambitious. Though I may not have been blown away with the food, it was still a fabulous lunch with wonderful company in the heart of Sydney.

Jamie's Italian
107 Pitt Street
Sydney, NSW

Jamie's Italian on Urbanspoon

A short leisurely walk later, we arrived at Westfield for a hit of sugar and caffeine at French luxury bakery, Ladurée.

Considered one of the best known makers of macarons in the world, Ladurée's Chocolate Coconut Marshmallow Macaron tasted exactly as it sounds like - a soft and spongey like marshmallow sandwiched between a crispy shell-like crust and soft chewy meringue. 

The question is, would I return for Ladurée macarons ? Most likely not - I find Zumbo, LuxBite and La Belle Miette offer much more consistent and interesting macarons at more reasonable prices. It also helps that they are much more closer to home.

Level 3 Westfield Sydney
Corner Of Pitt St Mall & Market Street
Sydney, NSW

Ladurée on Urbanspoon

09 December, 2013


You may or may not have noticed that I like my breakfasts on the heavier side. But no way am I missing out on my cereals and muesli. Now, what I like to do is have my healthy fix as a snack to keep me going throughout the day. That, or for supper. So you can imagine how excited I was when, Zilla  & Brook introduced me to  Yousli .

At Yousli, it's all about customisation. Follow steps 1, 2 and 3 and you've got your very own unique blend. They even slap on your own personalised name and accompanying nutrition label. Now isn't that cute ?

So when I hopped online, I may have just gotten a tad carried away. My healthy mix consisted of barley, cinnamon burkinis, buckwheat grouts, sunflower seeds, linseed, chia seeds, psyllium husk, cinnamon, coconut sugar, almond slivers, puffed quinoa, cranberries and crimson raisins.

My Yousli made an absolutely amazingly addictive mix of wholesome goodness and was extremely easy to eat. I like to transform it into bircher muesli or to just nibble on straight from the tube.

I'll confess - I like keep a tube handy in my car for grazing purposes !

A big thank you to Yousli and Zilla  & Brook for inviting me to make my very own muesli.