Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Joe can cook! Episode 6: How to cook a good steak

I never had much of a problem with my watch until recently when my crown pops out and the time pauses, i am not sure whether it is due to the way i wear it or it does pop out (fingers crossed that this is not it, i shiver at the sight of another major repair). So before i realise that my watch was 12 hours too fast, i had already posted on twitter, wishing everyone in Malaysia, Happy Merdeka. Anyways, i sincerely hope the country that i was born in, will sort its racial, social and economic issues out.
That being said, Australia isn't exactly in the brightest of spots either. With a similar situation to UK, there is the possibility of a hung parliament, with both big parties courting the 4 independents to come their way, i suppose that leaves the economy on the edge of the cliff and employment has been slow. It is funny how easy it was to get into PwC in Malaysia, a place where truthfully not the greatest of places to go to but in Australia, it is just so hard to get in. Maybe staying back in Malaysia would have been better, but it is only the first month and other than the fact that i am still unemployed, i like where i am right now, the weather has been cold but i like, the food is alright, the people are ok too.

With that personal message across, lets see what i got for you guys and girls today.

Now tell me which guy out there, doesn't enjoy a good hearty steak (other than those who don't consume because of religious reasons)?  There's simply nothing out there to boost that testosterone level other than a good chunk of beef. 

I don't know about you but cooking steak can be very tricky. Very often, i hear people charring their steak to death; a dark brown centre that taste probably no better than eating tyres. I on the other hand, when i first started to experiment with steak, always too eager to dig, don't allow it to cook enough and rest at all.

After rounds of practice though, i think i got the formula about right and you might want to jot some notes (or just save this page).

Start with a good sized piece of rib eye about 1.5 inches thick (i get mine with the bone, in Melbourne). Alternatively, those who enjoy a less marbled cut but want some of the fat to go with it, take sirloin while those who wants tender and lean, go for tenderloin. You could go for cheaper cuts like rump but bear in mind there are very lean and won't be as juicy as the rest. If on the other hand are looking for something more premium, go for the wagyu versions which are approximately 4 times more expensive.

#1. Steak should be at room temperature or as a rule of thumb, maybe 20 minutes out from the fridge (less if you stay in a very hot country and more if its winter where you stay). 

#2. Coat the steak with olive oil and generous amounts of salt and pepper. No marination time is really needed. If you want to prepare before hand though, i suggest you omit the salt as it does dehydrate the piece of meat.

#3. Make sure the pan is hot and i mean sizzling hot. High heat on the stove.

#4. Let it sear. Look at the picture and see how thick the steak is. If yours was cut into a thinner slice, adjust the cooking time. Now, cooking time on the steak depends on whether you intend to use the oven plus a tip i picked up on the TV.

Method on testing whether meat is cooked to your liking

Rare - If you use your second finger and gently press the middle of the steak when it is still raw / rare, the feeling is rather soft, comparison with your fingers pressing your cheeks (unless you have absolutely no meat on your cheeks, alternatively try this method, use the tip of your thumb to touch the tip of your second finger. The portion of the palm below your thumb should be akin to the feeling of the steak). 

Medium rare / Medium - The feeling should be akin to touching your chin (below your mouth), (now unless you again don't have any meat on your face, use the alternative but this time use the thumb and the third finger). At this stage, the meat is at a slightly firmer texture. 

Well done - That is like touching your forehead, it should very firm and any juice or liquid would have sizzled up.

Now with that in mind, the estimated cooking time for a medium / medium rare steak is 2-3 minutes of high heat sear on each side (flip once ONLY). Put it into a preheated oven 200 degrees, for 5-7 minutes and use the cheek/chin/forehead or the finger and palm rule to see if you are happy with the meat, if it feels too soft, let it sit in the oven for awhile longer.

#5. Remember to let the meat rest, rule of thumb, it should be around 5 minutes unless your portion is like a 150 gram steak then maybe less. The steak above is in the region of 500 grams with the bone on. By resting the meat, you don't get a pool of blood when you slice the steak instead the juices are reabsorbed back into the meat.

# 6. The moment of truth; cutting into the steak.

This looks like a nice piece of medium rare leaning to the medium side with the meat all juicy and red. If you like only the centre portion of the meat to be red (textbook style medium) instead of having it all red like this (this was giving a longer oven treatment than 5-7 minutes), give the meat an extra minute on each side when you pan fry them.  

At the end of the day, you still need to make some adjustments to the cooking times because on TV shows, the cooking times for steak given is 6 minutes on each side for medium rare, 8 minutes on each side for medium and so on. Oven time should then be half the pan frying time. I feel that is way too long somehow. However on TV shows, those are often cooked on the grill and is probably not as hot as the high heat on your frying pan.

Serve the steak with anything you like; brown sauce (stock and flour cooked on the pan that you cooked your steak with immediately after you take out the steak from the pan. if you want, add mushrooms, garlic, shallots or onions for extra flavour), with mustard or just plain jane. Always remember your side of vegetables too!

Monday, August 30, 2010

What you see i have done today is..

Create a space where one can read about food reviews of places to eat in Melbourne that doesn't come from a food forum, official restaurant listings, newspaper reviews but the opinion of a normal man on the street.

While the Urbanspoon website is really handy; a comprehensive listing of restaurants and even links to blogs for 3rd opinions, there aren't enough websites like that out there for someone who wants to search for food in Melbourne. 

Just for example, Lygon street boasts a street that is filled with italian restaurants, probably to the hundred mark since it is so long down or up depending on which end you come from. In the city, you find restaurants in alleys which no one would know about except from word of mouth. 

Over the next few weekends, i have the pleasure of a friend who is traveling down to Melbourne for business, we are trying to eat out at as many places as possible. Unfortunately, it is sometimes rather hard for me to carry a big camera since we are usually walking around after, so bear with me on the no picture posts.

What you will get though is when you find yourself in Melbourne, you at least have a 3rd party opinion of where to eat and where not to eat. 

So have fun reading, while wait for my recipe posts for mouth watering pictures!

Pacific BBQ Cafe @ Lonsdale Street, Melbourne

While London has a reputation for their roast ducks, Melbourne can also serve a decent cantonese roast duck too. For that, ask anybody around where to get good roast duck rice in the city and most will point fingers to Pacific BBQ Cafe.

Set in a typical Hong Kong styled cafe or as the people in Hong Kong call it "char chan teng", they serve a long list of stir fry noodles and rice, dishes to accompany with white rice and of course their signature roast meats; duck, chicken, roast pork and bbq pork. 

Most swear by their roast duck and i can safely say so too. A whole roast duck is AUD 38-40 and i can't wait for the day when i gather a group enough to see that whole duck sit on our table in its glorious shiny skin. However, eating alone? You have the option of ordering roast duck rice or noodles, just the same.

I also tried their ala-carte dishes like the salted egg yolk chicken and the pork ribs done in a sweet and sour sauce. Worthy of trying while if you think you can get stir fry noodles like "beef hor fun" in Malaysia, forget it, here they serve a rather dismal version of very eggy sauce on top of lumps of hor fun.

Address and contact details:

213 Lonsdale Street
Melbourne CBD VIC 3000
Tel : +61 3 9663 9288 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              +61 3 9663 9288      

Verdict: 3.5 stars out of 5 stars. This reminds me of how my London holiday was, living with a friend who was still living his student life, which meant lots of roast duck rice. Wouldn't mind it too here if roast duck wasn't so high in cholesterol.

Lemongrass Restaurant @ 176, Lygon Street, Carlton

On Lygon Street, there is a famous Thai restaurant amongst the younger crowd, simply because of their generous portions, affordable prices and most of all, it is delicious and has that hint of authenticity despite nest in the surroundings of a hundred or so Italian restaurants, it is Ying Thai 2. 

So finding yourself in front of the restaurant at 7pm on a Sunday night, you might have guessed that there was no way we would be able to get a seat without a booking. 

By no means, is Lemongrass a substitute restaurant to Ying Thai. This place oozes charm and class, the decor and dim lighting suits for a nice romantic date, eventhough i was having dinner with a male pal. Who cares, when you are hungry. 

Despite the rich history linked to this place, opened for 20 years, helmed by a young chef with an able assistant, unfortunately the food didn't do it justice i feel.

Simple dishes like a fried rice came out rather soggy and it seemed more efforts on ensuring that it came out in a nice circle instead of frying the rice into a drier texture. The Pad Thai was rather dismal, lacking the peanuts and had almost non existent amounts of accompaniments like bean curd cubes, bean sprouts, shrimp and chicken. 

The duck curry was a saviour, the curry was rich and not overly spicy, the way it should be. However again, for the price of AUD 28.80, i do not expect half a duck breast as a main portion. Throw in a few more slices of duck meat and this would have lifted our spirits.

When we asked if there was a steam fish and the answer was no, it seemed to me, how authentic Thai could this place serve? They did a fine effort in the Choo Chee fish fillet, tasty but nothing too spectacular. 

Dinner for two with 2 coconut juice comes up to AUD 110, that is a lot of mediocre Thai food to say the least. No wonder the awards that they have up on the wall are rather dated i.e. At least a good 5-10 years ago, something of the past. 

 Address and contact details:
176 Lygon Street, Carlton, Melbourne, Australia.
T: (+ 61 3) 9662 2244 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              (+ 61 3) 9662 2244      

Verdict: 2.5 stars at most, maybe good enough for someone who hasn't had the real thing but this is not really up to scratch for the price you pay, unless you want a romantic date.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Joe can cook! Episode 5: The truth about Butterfish

For those in Malaysia, the only times you will ever encounter eating butterfish is eating it in a japanese restaurant in the form of sashimi or if you are lucky, some restaurants might serve it i.e. Banquet where i remembered them serving an oven roasted butterfish. 

It is also one of those fishes that you love it or you hate it, with a very creamy texture from its high fat content, think of the belly section of other fishes like cod, salmon or river fishes.

So to see it readily available at the market the other week, i asked for two fillets, not knowing that a fillet was already close to 400 grams, oh well, it meant splitting the fish into a good 3-4 portions for the week, the more the better right?

To cook it, i borrowed a well known recipe from Nobu, using a mixture of white miso paste, mirin, soya sauce and sugar. If you have any left over sake, do throw it in as well. Equal portions of each ingredient and butterfish in a bowl and the longer the marination, the better.

Now, the fish does have a high fat content, so for those who are not very well versed with pan frying it right through, give it a quick sear on each side and to be safe, put it in a pre heated oven on 180-200 degrees for 10 minutes. If you see that the meat of the fish has turned into a solid white right through, it is ready.

Yummy dish, i tell you, and quite a steal as it is AUD13 a kg vs. salmon and ocean trout which varies between AUD 16-20 depending on the quality and store.

Or so you would thought. 

However, this is not the end of the post. 

It starts from here on. What not many people know, especially Malaysians since we rarely eat butterfish, is the ill-effects of butterfish.

After experiencing lets say a stomach upset or two, maybe three with waste that looks like i just took Xenical, if you don't know what that is, read here.

Now i got all upset wondering what in the world was happening to me, to the point, i found it even hard to share this experience until i decided to do a bit of research.

Look what i found out about this species of fish:

"Like its relative the oilfish (Ruvettus pretiosus), escolar cannot metabolize the wax estersGempylotoxin) naturally found in its diet. This gives the escolar an oil content of 14–25% in its flesh. These wax esters may cause gastrointestinal distress in humans called "steatorrhea", the onset of which may occur between 30 minutes and 36 hours following consumption. Symptoms may include stomach cramps, bright orange oil in stool, diarrhea, headaches, nausea, and vomiting. (
To minimize the risk of symptoms, control of portion size is recommended as well as preparation methods that remove some of the oil. Grilling will greatly reduce the heavy fat content in the fish, making it edible without ill side-effects. Portions should be no greater than 6 ounces (170 grams)." sources from wikipedia.org

After eating portions excess of 250grams, i mean after all i am a growing boy, i am staying clear from butterfish, even if it is the only fish out in the sea. 

Gosh, i wonder why they don't put a sign in the market to say "butterfish warning: makes you crap oil like the oil rigs".

I guess this is my part to the community - if you want to cook butterfish, eat like a normal person or risk shitting in your pants. (I am terribly sorry, if you just lost your appetite for the day)
Have a good weekend all!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Joe can cook! Episode 4: Oven Roasted Leeks

It looks like from the comments dropped in my previous posts, invited food reviews don't exist in Melbourne do there? Jolly well, they really don't have to. 

After doing a bit of research about the food and beverage industry in Australia; i have gotten some interesting facts to share. 

Firstly, i find out that they have implemented a scoring system similar to the Michelin stars, instead of stars, there have "hats". One hat to Three hats, how easy is that? However with the system in place, people out there are suddenly disillusioned to eat in a hatted restaurant. Just for example, i called up a one hat restaurant yesterday and asked if i could make a reservation for this Friday or Saturday. In Malaysia, you would have gotten a no problem sir, look forward to having you here. In Melbourne? Sir, we are fully booked out for the weekend, may i suggest looking for the next available weekend? Sure, please do. Well Sir, how does 5 November at 6 pm sound? (With a tone of how lucky you are). Gosh, i had to look at my computer to see what month we are.

Somehow or rather despite the number of good restaurants within the city centre, full booked out restaurants are typical scenarios and to try walking in, you probably need to have a few backup plans at the back of your pockets.
Which brings me to the conclusion, how to find free food in Melbourne? You simply don't.

Oh well Malaysia 1 Australia 0.

All that being said, if you can't find free food nor dine out, lets cook. I simply love leeks and i remember it being a staple dish during the chinese new year season when either my grandmother or mom or even uncle if i am not mistaken cook up a huge plate of stir fry leeks with roasted pork. The leeks are almost braised to a soft texture and everything oh gels so well together.

So having a craving for leeks, i decided to improvise and give it the oven treatment. 

Now leeks are really dirty, so after cutting it into chunks from the bottom to where the stalk turns green (discard the green portion of the leek, not the other way around), give it a good rinse and make sure all the sand is washed off. 

After that spread it all out onto a tray, coat the leeks with olive oil and generously season it with salt and pepper. If you want to add more flavour, add a slice of bacon, or maybe two (diced). 

Pre heat your oven at 190 degrees and when it is up to that temperature, pop the tray of leeks into the oven for 30-40 minutes, when the leeks go tender. If you find that the leeks dry out and start to caramelize, pour abit of stock over it to keep it moist.

Otherwise, use the leeks as a base for a roasting meat i.e. beef, pork or lamb so you got the meat juices combining with the vegetables. 


Although it doesn't taste as great as how the chinese does it, well at this point in time, this has got to do. For a first time, i think it tasted pretty damn fine.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Camy Shanghai Dumplings @ Tattersalls Lane

It is true that i got my fair share of free "good" food during the two months when i was unemployed, probably the only things to keep me sane as i had to eat most of my meals at home. Anyways, everyone who reads blog would have read about the issue with invited reviews and i probably won't want to talk about the same thing again. 

However, if those who know anyone practicing reviews for free food in Melbourne, please let me know, i would like to eat some free food too, just me and my wife if they plan to invite me later in September. ( I am not kidding, quite serious, matter of fact ) 

 So till i find restaurants inviting me, my meals are consumed either at home or where students and cheapskates go.
One of which is so legendary, despite it being located in a lane, it can easily attract a crowd like how flies get attracted to unattended food. Last summer we came on a Sunday evening to see that the queue had already reached outside and it was quite a long one too.

Come this ridiculously cold and rainy winter night, we finally got a place inside and i understood why it was so famous.
Prized for their dumplings, chicken, prawn, pork and vegetable, either in soup, steamed or fried, the price differential between 6 pieces and 12 pieces is AUD1.50-2. It almost without brains that people will pay AUD4 thereabouts for 6 pieces when AUD 6 can get you 12.

Small eaters out there can literally have 6 each and a meal would have cost them AUD3!
However, having heard so much about the dumplings here, we went on overdrive and ordered; fried, steam and in chilli oil soup plus a stir fry shanghai rice cake. 

I say avoid the fried dumplings, they didn't seem to be deep fried nor shallow fried, i think the biggest flaw is that the skin just doesn't seem to react too well with the oil. However, after eating this plate of fried pork dumplings, i looked at the next table with their fried chicken and prawn dumplings and it looks simply gorgeous!

The dumplings are meant to be eaten, steamed. This way you enjoy the meaty filling and dip into the vinegar for a sourish after taste. 

I thought i ordered it with chilli oil, like how i ate some dumplings in Malaysia, the Shanghainese style. Turns out i read wrong and it came with chilli oil soup. While the oil was fragrant, it was diluted into the soup and you could not taste any of that whiff up my nose, what a pity.

If i did the maths right, i ended up ordering 30 dumplings for the two of us and of course, we only managed to get through 20 and 10 of which ended up as lunch the next day.
Crazily though, i decided to order some more.

Fried rice cake with plenty of oil, some assorted vegetables and meat, this was quite tasty and gave us a break from the overdose of dumplings (all pork too!).
Definitely a budget place to visit for all things their dumplings and i probably see myself going again to try their different dumplings and hopefully a few jackpots instead of my fried pork dumplings. 

By the way, the whole meal was under AUD25! In contrast, i had breakfast at Cumulus Inc, a toast, baked beans (not from the can), a poached egg, a sausage and a cafe latte for nearly the same price!

Address and contact details:

25 Tattersalls Ln
Melbourne, 3000

Open daily from 11am - 10pm

Tel:              (03) 9663 8555     

Verdict: 3.5 stars out of 5 stars. While not exactly being a tourist attraction, far less than that, this is a household name for students looking for a bargain meal or a meal that feels like home (to those from China) as well as for the locals to feed on fried food before they load themselves on beer.

Camy Shanghai Dumpling on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Carlton Espresso @ Lygon Street

It may look like a very ordinary muffin, in fact you could say it is a rustic version of the fame McDonalds bacon and egg muffin. Heck i reckon i can make this on my own too.

However, there is something about the bread here, freshly baked, still warm that does the trick for me. Finding myself at Lygon Street, after seeing a house on Sunday morning, we had breakfast at Carlton Espresso, a latte on one hand and the gourmet muffin on the other, ensuring theres plenty of energy to burn for the remainder of the cold winter days. A good place for a quick bite in the morning, if you find yourself in this side of town or if you need a cup of coffee.

Seriously though, to find good coffee in Melbourne is as easy as finding a mamak in KL (not a good mamak, mind you)

By the way, that is not any ordinary bacon, its italian and its called pancetta and everything else in the place spells and remind you of italian, even the waiting staff and their heavy accent. 


Address and contact details:

326 Lygon St
Carlton, 3053

             (03) 9347 8482      

Verdict: 3.5 stars out of 5 stars. Quick bite and what can i say, i like the bread and the premium ingredients used.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Joe can cook! Episode 3: Oven Roasted Lamb Rack

At the rate i am eating out, with or without my camera, this blog will soon have to take a break from food reviews. In fact in the last 3 weeks, 80% of my meals are being cooked at home, this might just turn this website into a recipe blog; to help out lazy people like me,learn how to cook some simple dishes to impress the ladies or the men.

So in the first episode, we learnt how to boil some prawns to dress up a simple avocado salad. The following episode, i shared a simple recipe for a chicken drumstick marinade that you can cook via the oven or the grill. 

This week, lets try something a bit more complicated, shall we?

Lets take a look at the lamb rack. 

I don't know about Malaysia but in Australia, you can easily pick up a rack of lamb from the market, cleaned up and ready to cook for AUD 10. 

Score the fats, just to make it look good, marinade it with some chopped garlic, rosemary, black pepper and olive oil. An hour will be sufficient before we proceed to the cooking process.

Brush off the garlic and rosemary off the skin, sprinkle salt and pepper before we sear and "seal" the flavours. Crank up your pan on high heat and at the same time, warm up your oven to 190 degrees.

Sear the rack, fat side down, for 2 minutes and a minute on each side. 

Once that is done, put the rack on a tray of vegetables of your choice, skin side up and put into the oven for 20 minutes. The garlic and rosemary that you marinated the lamb in can be thrown in as well. 

After that, flip the rack onto the other side, to give the other side some colour for 5-10 minutes. After 30 minutes, the lamb should be a medium rare to medium. Put it longer, if you like it more well done. 
If your vegetable is not done, let it sit in the oven till cooked. Take the lamb rack out, cover it with foil and rest for 10 minutes for the juices to go back into the meat. 

My first attempt, the meat probably needed another 2 minutes in the oven as it was abit on the rare side. If you do find it abit too pink after cutting into a cutlet, do put the rest of the rack into the oven for a few more minutes. It shouldn't dry out the rest of the meat too much. 

Thankfully my second attempt, it was much better. It is a bit of a trial and error as it depends on your oven and whether it has been warmed up properly. 

If you like a sauce, pour some veal/beef stock on the pan that you seared your lamb in, mix in with some flour or cream and butter, salt and pepper and cooked till the consistency is to your liking. 

Serve with the roasted vegetables on the side. [That i shall leave it to episode 4]

Ta Da!

A simple dish that people charge a lot more in a restaurant which can be done for a much lower price.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Wing Wah Mooncakes @ Imported from Hong Kong!

Over the years, the only moon cake that we get to see and hear out in the market is either some earth shattering name like the golden phoenix is alive or the snow white meets black bear moon cake. Fine, maybe i am exaggerating as usual. 

However let me ask you, how often do you find yourself buying the original moon cake, the one that has simple lotus paste and a simple egg yolk? Chances are you will say "what people eat such an outdated flavour one meh?" 

By the time you run through the list of different fillings offered by all the big hotels out there, that would be sit last on your list.

Anyways, since i am in Melbourne, beggars can't be choosers, oh wait, beggars can't afford the exorbitant price tag. A box of Wing Wah mooncakes (4) lotus paste with 2 egg yolks retails for AUD42.50. 

For AUD 14 per piece, its darn right expensive, even i know that.

Bite into it and all is forgotten.

The yolk, the lotus paste, brings back childhood memories, the days where you can have any mooncake as long as the filling was lotus paste. 

Even the box has a hint of retro.

Since i don't have a family to share it with, i mean i already shared half the box with my sister, you cut it into quarters! half a yolk per piece yo!

Now the wallet has to diet and my body of course, duh.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Golden Dragon Palace @ Templestowe, Victoria

As you walk through certain parts of the Melbourne CBD day or night, there is always the feeling that you are just at home in Malaysia; the people on the streets have the same hair and skin colour and the way they speak English is undeniably Malaysian / Singaporean. Of course as soon as you embrace that feeling, you get the a different crowd of people using slang like "what are you doing this arvo?" or the infamous "g'day mate", while another bunch of people start muttering mainland mandarin. That thought vanishes away like a flash.

Step into the Eastern Suburbs of Melbourne like Boxhill and you don't get that feeling of being home, rather you wonder what on earth did they put in your coffee earlier as you find yourself in the horde of chinese people, minding their own business. For a split second, to guess that i was in one of the train stations of Hong Kong or China, wouldn't have been such a bad guess.


So i was desperate last week for some good food, even though i knew my bearings back in Malaysia, when it came to Melbourne, i had to ask a local foodie, blogger and fellow friend, Precious Pea for a recommendation. She said, come lets go to Golden Dragon Palace, but first, you have to take the train to Boxhill.

In Malaysia, you will never catch me taking a KTM alive or unless i had a gun or knife behind me. Chances are i rather stay at home then to take the train with that kind of notorious reputation. Here though, i unwillingly drag myself onto the train for a 35 minute sort of scenic ride. 

Take the train that goes in the direction of "Belgrave" and stop at Boxhill.

From Boxhill, jump on a cab for the 5km ride. If you are lucky, you get a friend to pick you up from the station. 

Now, the recommendation is not unwarranted, the Age (local newspaper) had an article about dim sum in Melbourne and Golden Dragon Palace was one of the "to eat place" as the best all rounder. Now whether it was judged by the same people who think that honey chicken, sweet and sour pork and fried rice is the equivalent to chinese food, who knows?

Dim Sum in Melbourne or any parts of Australia are slightly different from Malaysia, as it is heavily if not fully influenced by the Hong Kong tradition. Items like the beef stomach is almost unheard of in Malaysia but quite readily available around this area. I enjoyed this.

I loved the Char Leung in Adelaide and was disappointed with the one served at Shark Fin House in the city. This fared much better, the Yau Char Kuey was slightly crisp but could have tasted fresher and i welcomed the extra layer of cheong fun wrapped around kai lan.

Another uncommon dish, is the satay squid. Whether the satay sauce was invented in Australia as it is quite common on the menu, who knows but i know it tastes good and i do have something for squid.

I was told that the scallop siu mai was a huge hit when they first introduce this variation but since the size of the scallop have shrink into a smaller circumference. That being said, the natural flavours of the scallop is the first thing you taste when you bite into it and for that i love it.

The normal pork and prawn siu mai was pretty good too, more plain jane than the others.

No complaints about the har gao too, the skin isn't overly thick, the fillings are nice plump prawns.

The San Chin Bao has somewhat a filling similar to a "wor tip", wrapped in a bun, pan fried than steamed. Shanghainese if i am not mistaken.

The Sang Chao Lor Mei Fan was ok but the grains were all lumped up which made it look like loh mai kai minus the moistness of the dish.

Overall, the food and the place screams old school Hong Kong dim sum and unless i find something as good as today in the city, i really don't know how long before i succumb to that craving for decent dim sum and take the train down to Boxhill.

Total price of the meal was a tad under AUD 50. Thanks to Precious Pea for the treat, since i was technically unemployed (and still am). 

Address and contact details:

363 Manningham Rd
Lower Templestowe / Doncaster
Melbourne, 3108

Tel: 03-98524086

 Verdict: Don't compare to the finer ends of dim sum that you can get in KL, this particular meal deserves 4 stars for me, until i find even better ones out there. A perfect dim sum brunch on a cold, dull, windy winter afternoon.

Golden Dragon Palace on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Joe can cook! Episode 2: Oven Baked Chicken Drumsticks

The Australians are quite an extreme population, walk on the streets and you either see the fitness freaks jogging along the Yarra River during lunch time, guys with the biggest biceps but with tiny legs and then you have the opposite side of the spectrum, huge overweight guys and girls, young to old. I maybe generalising of course, but you get the overall picture.

So what is the relevance with food?

The eating pattern of the Australians ultimately determine the price of the produce and with all the healthy conscious people eating chicken breast and the unhealthy ones eating Schnitzels and nuggets, things like chicken drumsticks are unbelievably cheap especially if you don't care whether its been pumped up with hormones or lived in a cage of its same size. 

For as little as AUD4.50, i bought 8 drumsticks that day. To convert or not to convert, i must say its a pretty good deal. It is something along the lines of 50 cents a drumstick? 

So with lesson 2, lets get a little more adventurous and use the oven today.

Firstly though, the marinade for the chicken.

1. I am a person who dumps anything i can get hold of to marinade meat, and be generous especially if you don't have time for it sit in the fridge. Lets start off with some garlic, shallots, oyster sauce, soya sauce (a little), black pepper, paprika powder, olive oil and some herbs off the bottle (unless you have fresh ones, of course) like rosemary or thyme. Make sure its coated well.
2. Pre-heat the oven at 200 deg. 
3. Pop it in along with some root vegetables like sweet potato drizzled with olive oil, salt and pepper.
4. Close to the 40 minute mark, brush with honey and crank up the temperature to 220 deg for 10 minutes. At this point make sure you turn the chicken drumsticks around after 5 minutes.
5. Your drumsticks should be well cooked and hopefully caramelized from the honey!

If you are unbelievably hungry, once you see that the meat is cooked through and there is no blood between the meat and bone, feel free to skip to Step 4 and spread the honey.

The chicken is in the oven, how is it going to look like when it is done?

I wished mine was more caramelized but it came with unusually little skin to get that effect.

Serve with some side vegetables and if you like some rice or noodles and you got a whole meal. An average person should be well fed with 3-4 drumsticks and that means the whole meal shouldn't cost you more than AUD 3-4, what a deal right? 

So if Joe can cook, so can you.......?

Monday, August 16, 2010

Fong Lye @ Desa Sri Hartamas

If you think i was done with my posts on Malaysian food, i have got another one up my sleeves for you all to enjoy on a Monday morning.

Another of my farewell session took me to a familiar name, Fong Lye, not the Gardens outlet where they concentrate on set menus that encourages a faster turnover but the one at Hartamas where it is more relaxed and gives you the feel of a proper restaurant.

Writing down about this, suddenly makes me realise how nice it is to stay with a family and i actually don't mind the family ritual of eating out at a chinese restaurant on Sunday where you can order a couple of dishes to be spread out on the table and shared.

Staying with a housemate, the most we cook is a rice, a meat and a vegetable. Anymore, by the time the last dish is cooked, the first dish freezes in the bloody winter temperature.  

Anyways, the dinner was with some of my really old buddies, people i call friends since i was Year 2, how about that, after all these years, we still keep in touch.

 I am drooling looking at the all the dishes.

Now Fong Lye, Hartamas serves up some typical Taiwanese cuisine and some Taiwan inspired dishes which you can eat with rice or their famous sweet potato porridge.

What we had was an apparently new dish on the menu, the fish is fried and served with a sauce that was sweet and sour with the addition of chinese olives. The name escapes me, try asking the captain what styles they have and see which has the fish fried and a sauce poured over.

Their version of the Dong Por pork was tender, juicy and had a hint of sweetness. For those who can spare the calories and the fat, eat the gelatinous layer of skin, perfect with rice.


 Another dish with a hint of sweetness is the General Tso Chicken. Simply put, fried chicken tossed in a sweet coating of honey. Again perfect to eat as is or with porridge.


Their homemade tofu is mixed with some fish paste and is no longer anything special as you get similar versions everywhere nowadays.

Translated, the vegetable is called the green dragon vegetable. I believe this is a new breed of organically grown green, who knows, but it does taste delicious with its unique texture.

Serve with a bowl of sweet potato porridge.

Address and contact details:
 9, Plaza Prismaville, 
Jalan 19/70A, Desa Sri Hartamas, 
51200 Kuala Lumpur

Telephone: 03-6201 7998 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              03-6201 7998      end_of_the_skype_highlighting, 03-6201 1678 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              03-6201 1678     

Verdict: 3.5 stars out of 5 stars, it is another restaurant that you can go to for a different variety of dishes particularly Taiwanese here, that are all well cooked. Only thing i suppose is that. nothing did wow me enough to give it 4 stars. Prices are reasonable for an air conditioned restaurant, around RM50 per pax.


Thursday, August 12, 2010

A new horizon

Hopefully beyond that spectacular deep orange sunlight, there's hope. Just thought it would be a nice picture to share with you all.

Since i am suppose to be already sharing with you all, i might as well update a little bit about Melbourne life.

Its been a little less than 2 weeks and after frantically putting in my resume at every recruitment agency i could find online, there was one that they noticed my stupid face that i paste on the first page of my resume and decided to meet me for a chat. 

Good to know that i may not have to resort to a ridiculously low pay that i had anticipated but lets see if i get more positive responses from now on, after two months, i can't bum much longer, my brain cells aren't going to stay much alive from just my routine blogging.

Well lets hope Lots of Cravings find a proper job, if not i am going to run out of food reviews!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Causeway Bay Spicy Crab Restaurant @ Desa Sri Hartamas, Kuala Lumpur

Back when i was in university, i managed to train my body to not eat rice and limit the carbohydrates for dinner to lose the excess weight that i carry around. As a treat, i would take the occasional rice at night while i helped myself to it during lunch. Sad to say, over the years back in Malaysia, the weight has just piled back on slowly especially when rice and noodles are so prominent in our everyday diets. In fact i had stuffed myself to the brim before i flew over; the result? My weight had balloon beyond to what i weighed before i came back to Malaysia.

I was asking for trouble.
A week into settling down in cold Melbourne, i finally experience the withdrawal syndrome from the basic carbohydrates like rice and well; fried food. Thinking about fluffy rice and fried chicken, it gives me the shivers almost instantly. To torture myself further, i have to read food blogs late at night, by then you are so tempted by your best friend called "supper".

Anyways, since we are on the topic of Malaysia, let me complete my unfinished business here.


In my last week, i received an invite from Soo Ting, one of the partners of the restaurant "Causeway Bay Spicy Crab". Now, the name may sound familiar to some because it has posters plastered along the Mont Kiara / Hartamas area especially on the street lamps. 

Intriguingly this restaurant is actually the first franchise of the same name restaurant in Hong Kong! Goes to show how "foodie", Malaysians are, not Singapore, not Thailand, not Indonesia but Malaysia. 

As the name suggests, the cuisine is based on Hong Kong style which is somewhat similar but can be different in other ways from what we get in Malaysia. 

 Crab is also definitely on the menu and can be done in one of their signature styles called "Pei Foong Thong" or "Authentic Garlic and Chili style". There are several levels of spiciness that you can order too from the mild to the very hot.

 What you see is alot and i mean ALOT of garlic being used in the dish and is done Hong Kong style. In essence, this totally masks whatever it is being cooked but it rock my socks off. For those who wants to eat their crabs for their pure fresh flavour, i spotted another more common Hong Kong style which is stir fry with ginger and onions or "geung chung". 

Now according to Soo Ting, they can go through a 100 kg of garlic in a few days if business is brisk. If you are looking for some lovey dovey action after this meal, you can forget it, the breathe and even the gas is toxic to say the least.

Prices of crabs vary from size, RM68 for one crab (weighing around 600gms) and RM80 for one crab (around 800gms).

Some more Hong Kong delights include the duck tongue and fried gristle.

Get past the fact that you are eating the tongue and its really nothing special. You eat the skin and you throw away the jaw, but it was nice eating it with the chives.

The chicken gristle is really another fancier word for cartilage. Can't imagine which part of the chicken? It would be the white long piece of "bone" where the chicken breasts sits. Deep fried with their spices and salt and has a bite to it, perfect with beer.

Done in another similar style is their tofu cubes, smooth and silky, it is another utterly good fried snack to have.

The huge lala is done in a milky soup base with assorted vegetable and glass noodles. Similar to the fish head noodle soup minus the sour note. While some may not like it, i like it for being mild instead of usual steam lala with lots of chinese wine or stir fry with lots of chili. 

Another of their specialty dish is the honey pork ribs. Sweet and sticky sauce with some peanuts sprinkled over, this are tender (probably with tenderizers) but are flavoured with a strong sauce.

Another to fu dish we had tastes as good as it looks, the name escapes my mind but i am sure if you describe it as the tofu with a filling in the middle with some prawns, squid and vegetables, he/she will get the idea. Perfect served with rice and for kids.

The cabbage in broth is cooked somewhat similar to a shanghainese cabbage with chinese ham, braised till its soft and tender. The more gentler taste is well timed to balance out with the heavy tasting crabs.

If you prefer noodles to go with everything, try their soya sauce stir fry noodles, its simple and a typical HK dish, somewhat for breakfast but hey, anything goes when it tastes good. 

Finish it off with some fruits and you got a very satisfied customer.

The whole meal would have cost slightly under RM300, if i remember correctly, not too bad for a decently decorated air-conditioned restaurant in a middle to upper class neighbourhood with fresh seafood.
Worth a try, at least, this is located at the new building after you drive pass Souled Out at Hartamas.
Address and contact details:

26 & 26-1 Jalan 30/70A
Desa Sri Hartamas
50480 Kuala Lumpur

Tel: 03-6205-2280

Open Monday-Sunday: 
11.30am - 3.00pm 
6.00pm - 11.30pm

Verdict: Actually could be close to a 4 star since it has the extra edge of serving something different. You don't get too many places (excluding hotels) that specialises in Hong Kong cuisine so it stands out; i mean after all, people actually fly to Hong Kong just to eat their cuisine, so why not enjoy it all here, right at your doorstep (well a drive away, for most)?