Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Rose of Thailand, Glen Waverley, MELB

Cold winter nights calls for comfort food in the form of spices with a tinge of heat. In other words, my subconscious is desperately begging for Thai and I was more than happy to oblige with a trip around the block.

This place is usually packed on the weekends so be sure to reserve a table beforehand. On the other hand, not as packed on the weekdays and in terms of service, a lot more better when it's not as packed. Staff were extremely busy hustling around the restaurant when I appeared on Saturday but when I rocked up on Tuesday night, they were a lot more relaxed and even had the time to run through the menu with me.

For starters, we were given a basket of crackers, complimentary on the house.

Tom yum soup with seafood ~ I am familiar with the fire-y red tom yum soup and so, was initially confused when this arrived on my table. However, contrary to the spicy red one I usually have, this one had a much more subtle tone to it and was replaced by a stronger punch of sourness. Not unbearable but rather, prepares my palate for the next few dishes.

Yum seafood salad ~ Covered with an assortment of seafood and generous amounts of herbs, onions and garlic, this may not be a date qualified dish. Although it does test your date's tolerance haha. It was a refreshing dish that is well-dressed with a mildly spicy chilli dressing.

Thai milk tea ~ in case you are wondering, no, it is not highly caffeinated so do feel free to order one!

Pad kee mao ~ I am obsessed with the Thai version of drunken noodles and found this dish satisfying. The noodles had a nice charred flavour to it and each stand was neither too dry or soggy.

Kao Pud aka fried rice ~

Green curry ~ if you are not a fan of red chillies, perhaps give this green curry a try. It has a creamy texture which goes well with the plate of fried rice that we ordered. Generous amounts of chicken pieces in it too!

On a separate day, I visited this place for desserts. Firstly, I found that prices of alcohol here is a lot more affordable than most places albeit the smaller variety available. Secondly, their desserts are mostly made in house except for the ice cream that is sourced straight from the motherland. I liked their Thai custard cake served with coconut ice cream. Not too sweet and would be a light finish to a meal.

I have also tried their sticky rice with mango ice cream which sadly, does not have fresh mango pieces due to it being unavailable this season. The ice cream is fantastic. I would happily finish off the entire tub myself haha. Had also tried their taro pearls which reminded me of bubur cha cha, a thick coconut cream type of sweet soup. It's not sickeningly sweet if you're wondering but definitely something different if you have not tried it before.

Rose of Thailand on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Bagelicious, Hawthorn MELB

I've walked in the shoes of a sleep deprived student and am currently in the shoes of a respectable health professional. Different occupations but one thing both of them have in common is the need for nutritious and affordable food. Being healthy is one of the top trends these few years and yours truly has joined the bandwagon to the fit and healthy road.

Owner Yonathan was kind enough to invite me and a friend to join him at his new outlet in Hawthorn and being situated near Swinburne University and the train station, I reckon this makes it an ideal brekkie/lunch spot for both students and workers.

First up, just about everything on the menu sounds very healthy. Each smoothie listed had a good blend of fruit involved and if fruit is too sweet for your liking, why not try one of their freshly squeezed juices?

We had a mini sample of iced coffee and it felt like one of the best iced coffees I have tried thus far. Not overly blended with ice and had a good hint of caffeine in it without being overly thick. Highly recommended!

We tried a bowl of red lentil soup which was loaded with a good amount of vegetables. When a bit of house-made bagel crouton was added to the soup, it gave the soup a different dimension in terms of texture and flavour. We loved the croutons so much that we brought one bag home to snack on!

I have drunk a fair share of chai lattes in the past and most of the time, it's watered down and overly creamy. However, the chai latte that I got from Bagelicious was perfect and would be something that I won't mind having on a daily basis if only I was working nearby.

My friend had the acai smoothie which was acai berries blended with banana and mixed with apple juice. The friend drank most of it and only allowed me a few sips (something he does when he likes what he's having and is reluctant to share).

Press toast bagel with smoked chicken, pesto, roast capsicum, red onion and cheddar ~ a good flavour combination that is complemented by the freshness of the ingredients used. As you can see, the toasted bagel was given a lot of care in terms of how it's been handled and so, the filling did not cause a mess during consumption. The dipping mayo and pickles were an added treat. Feel free to utilize the mayo based on your preference but for me, I deliberately dunked a big chunk of the bagel into the mayo because I thought it was a marriage made in heaven.

Spinach, mushroom and swiss cheese egg bagel sandwich ~ after slaving away in the gym, I want to maintain a healthy diet so that my gym efforts will not be in vain. And so, an egg bagel sandwich sounds like a protein packed meal that will nourish my body well. If you're really into the whole fitness idea, Bagelicious can prep up a lean egg sandwich for you just for an extra $2. This sandwich filled me up pretty quickly.

On a separate note, I love the bagels used at Bagelicious. They have a pillow-y soft bread texture whilst still retaining a crunchier bagel exterior. One can opt to choose the type of bagel they want be it wholemeal, cheese, plain or poppy seeded.

To finish off our palates, we were offered a warm bagel and a good serving of blueberry cream cheese spread. We generously layer the spread onto the bagel and boy, was it a sinful yet satisfying treat. The cream cheese spread glided onto the warmed up bagel pretty easily and if my friend isn't looking, I would have gladly pinched his piece too!

Overall, I have thoroughly enjoyed my experience here. Bagelicious has the recipe to success with it's good quality bagel options and thirst-quenching drinks. Noting that it was a busy Sunday afternoon when I appeared, Bagelicious staff have done well to accommodate every customer with attentive service and a friendly smile. And they have also done well in keeping the entire outlet neat and tidy. Tables were quickly cleared for customers and magazines neatly organized for the next person to flip through.

Bagelicious on Urbanspoon

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Hakata Gensuke, MELB CBD

On cooler days, I wouldn't mind tucking into a heart warming bowl of soup that enables me to briefly escape any thoughts of the freezing weather. I once asked a Melbournian friend who's been here for more than 5 years on what are his thoughts on ramen served here.

Almost immediately, he recited the name Hakata Gensuke and shortly after, I decided to join the queue at this little restaurant along Russell St. We were given a choice of ramen or the dipping sauce noodles. After informing the waitress at the entrance our choices, she gave us a small order slip to fill in as we wait for our turn.

Signature tonkotsu ~ the ramen noodles are made fresh and the thickness of each strand tallies with the one next to it. Broth was good too!

God Fire ~ I was given a 1-4 scale on how spicy I wanted the soup to be. I've picked 1 and am so thankful I did because it is quite spicy. I have a moderate tolerance towards spicy food, hopefully this is a good indication of how spicy the dish was. After a few mouthfuls, the receptors in my mouth managed to familiarize themselves with the spicy soup. No trouble downing the last bits!

Hakata Gensuke on Urbanspoon

Monday, April 13, 2015

The Proud Peacock, Mt. Waverley MELB

When one is on a tight budget, sourcing out for the most economical meal is top priority and even better when it's located nearby (save up on petrol/ public transport costs!). I have been diligently exploring new restaurants and cafes in Glen Waverley and so, it was no wonder that I decided to venture a little further to Pinewood shopping centre, located approximately 5 minutes away by car.

Having been to a few Vietnamese restaurants/cafes in the past, I am aware of what to expect in terms of service, food portions and costs so I wasn't completely shocked when I was squashed into a tiny corner of the restaurant. The restaurant is very small and from memory, could only fit about 20 patrons, taking into account that you are going to be rubbing shoulders with the person on the next table.

Soft drinks are available free of charge but it is only a selected few flavours. Food did not take long to arrive at our table so that's a plus point too.

Combination broken rice ~ this was more than enough for me, that's for sure. Pork was cooked well aka still retained a lot of it's juices and gosh, I had a generous serve of the dipping sauce to drizzle around my rice. The waitress offered me a bowl of soup and when it arrived on my table, it was a massive bowl of beef soup that has about a ladle full of thinly sliced beef in it.

You can bet that I was over the moon at this point.

Pho with beef slices ~ Broth had a slightly sweet taste to it and was piping hot when it arrived at our table. Noodles had the right consistency in terms of texture (not too soft but not too hard - it is a tricky balance to achieve!).

At the end of our meal, the waitress gave each of us an ice cream popsicle at no extra charge and apologized for being patient with the serving staffs' service. Honestly, we were not bothered by the service at all, noting that there are not many staff on duty and the rostered staff tried their best to accommodate every customer. 

I rarely encounter this sort of gesture, especially when I have not complained/ expressed any form of dissatisfaction. A rare gem of a restaurant and I wouldn't mind heading back here again for it's good, affordable food and lovely service:) Two thumbs up from me!

The Proud Peacock on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Tai Pan, Doncaster MELB

I should know Chinese food like the back of my hand but sadly, I don't. Possibly due to the different terminologies that exist within the various Chinese ethnic groups? Having grown up in Malaysia, I am very familiar with Malaysian Cantonese to which, is very different from the proper Cantonese as observed from Hong Kong locals.

And so, ordering food at a yum cha session may be confusing at times. Nevertheless, it's always fun to learn something along the way:)

At most yum cha restaurants, it is essential to book regardless of how many people you are rocking up with. To be able to converse in Cantonese is a plus point too. As most yum cha restaurants are managed by Hong Kong people, you can be assured that service is efficient and at times, may appear rude.

Admittedly, I have a very high tolerance level towards rude staff service and so, I didn't have any problems here. Sure it's difficult to get staff's attention depending on where you sit but hey, food still gets to you regardless. All you need is a bit of patience:)

At Taipan, we fell in love with their pastry dishes. Yes, egg tarts, pork buns, cheong fun (rice pastry) etc. The pastries are buttery, pillow-y soft, freshly baked and warms us up from the inside. I would highly recommend steering your orders towards the pastry type of dishes if you are here.

The steamed siew mai and har gao were generously stuffed and in terms of their texture, it was not overly thick for my liking. We also had a plate of glutinous flour dumplings that were stuffed with black sesame paste and a bowl of tau fu fa. The black sesame paste oozes of a strong sesame flavour whilst the tau fu fa completed our meal nicely.

Overall, we have thoroughly enjoyed ourselves here and I won't mind heading back soon for another round of authentic and satisfying yum cha session.

Tai Pan on Urbanspoon

Friday, April 3, 2015

Coconut lime slice recipe

As most of my family and friends would know, I have a very prominent sweet tooth. Not the most ideal character for a female because gorging on all things sugary and buttery means extra calories to be burnt off in the gym.

And so, moderation is key with lots of discipline involved, unfortunately. Whilst I can't say no to preparing sweets in the kitchen (think of all those ingredients rotting away in the pantry!), I try to whip up something that can easily be shared around.

Here is an easy recipe that I found on the internet and have done a few modifications to make it a bit more tangy, fresh and with less sugar involved. Takes less than 15 minutes to prepare it and definitely kid-friendly too!:)

1 cup shredded coconut, slightly toasted
300g marie biscuits
125g butter
250g condensed milk
2 limes
1 cup icing
25g melted butter
4 tbsp shredded coconut

1. Melt butter and condensed milk together in a saucepan over low heat.
2. Crumb biscuits in a food processor and add to shredded coconut.
3. Grate lime and incorporate it to the biscuit and coconut milk. Make sure to stir it around for uniformity.
4. Once butter and condensed milk have liquefied,pour into the dry mix. Stir quickly. Once it appears to resemble a solid mix, evenly spread it on a baking tin lined with baking paper. Refridgerate.
5. Mix icing sugar with the juice of 2 limes and melted butter. The mix will appear to have a 30% runny consistency. Spread over the coconut slice and sprinkle generously with shredded coconut.
6. Allow mix to cool for at least 2 hours. Remove from baking tin and slice accordingly.