Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Bulk Buying Discount Websites, Kobe Butchery Beef and a Beef Cheek recipe

The "in things" to do in Australia for 2010 must be online shopping and surfing bulk buying discount websites.

With the strength of the Australian dollar and the marginal discounts being on offer (really just to pass on the massive savings that the retailers save on the exchange rate), some people are willing to pay the massive 40-60 dollars postage fee and still save heaps of money. 

Discount websites? Daily offers with huge discounts on food, products, holidays and etc provided a certain number of people purchase it. 

It has almost been like a daily ritual to log on to Spreets, GrabOne, Catchoftheday and the lists goes on.

One Friday though, there was one that caught the eye. A 50 dollar voucher for 25 dollars for all Wagyu Beef products at Kobe's Butchery (effectively a 50% discount). Limited to 2 vouchers per person. Now at AUD100 worth of beef, i would have thought i get more than enough but not till i saw the prices that i regret not buying another 2 vouchers under the Wife's name.


This piece of pure bred Wagyu, not sure of the grade but from the marbling, this should be no less than a Grade 7-8 (Australian Standard) was AUD 35 (retail price) but effectively only AUD 17 after using the voucher, a bargain i say!


This piece of Grade 5 or 6 T Bone was AUD 10 after discount!

The more affordable range which was a cross bred of Angus and Wagyu Ribeye was AUD 25 per kg after discount! I was literally at heaven and cursing that i didn't buy enough vouchers.

For step by step instructions on how to cook a steak, refer here.


So after buying our supplies of steak with another friend, i set out to host the Wagyu Lunch. 

Starting off with a simple salad of bocconcini, basil (from my herb pot) and tomato drizzled with some olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper. A simple recipe that needs almost no preparation! 

The main plate had a piece of Wagyu Ribeye and Roasted Tomatoes and a Wagyu Beef Cheek on top of a bed of mash potatoes.  


Feeling lazy? Just grill the steak with some roasted asparagus and voila!

Rest assured after all that bovine, we were definitely in a moment of Wagyu Heaven!

As for the recipe for the Beef Cheeks, good luck with it!
1. Marinate the Cheeks (the original recipe calls for 16 beef cheeks but i reckon cook at least 6-8 pieces to make it worthwhile) in Red Wine (1 bottle), a sliced onion, 2 sliced carrots, 200 grams of chopped bacon, a celery stalk, 1/2 tsp peppercorns, thyme sprigs, parsley stalks, a bay leave and 4 cloves of garlic (bruised). Leave overnight in the fridge. FYI, I used an AUD 5 bottle of clearskin shiraz. Don't go buying expensive wines for this purpose.
2. Sear the meat on one pan and reduce the wine marinade (strained) on an another pan.
3. Transfer to a casserole dish. If you want some vegetables, put in some carrots, turnips or potatoes into the dish as well. If the marinade does not cover all the meat, pour in some stock as well.
4. Put it in the oven at 140 C with the lid on till the meat is tender and tears apart with a nudge of the fork. The original recipe called for 3 hours of cooking but all in i had to cook it for 5 hours before the meat started to give way. 
5. Reduce the strained liquid further with some cornflour or cream as your sauce.

Although the beef cheeks are one of the cheapest cuts, you can get probably get a beef cheek for AUD4-5, the amount of time and effort makes this a worthwhile dish to order at a restaurant and pay the premium.

Probably my most time consuming experiment this far but well worth the effort. A pity i didn't even take a close up picture!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Its raining like i have never seen before

Originally, i had no plans to blog till the new year, after all, if people get a break from work, they should afford a little break on the blog too.

However, seeing that it has been raining almost non stop, literally non stop i must emphasize since Christmas, which has been a good 60 hours and counting, we have been bored out of our brains. We have resorted to experimenting in the kitchen and below is a product which i hope to perfect by the time my holiday ends.

 The Roast Pork most important element is not just the juicy meat ( i mean look at the layers of fat, that does the job in keeping the whole slab of meat moist but the crackling. There are many theories out there as to how one can make a crispy crackling. So far from patting it dry to sprinkling almost half a cm layer salt on top of the skin, i have yet to achieve the real deal, almost there but not exactly the best i had.

So roast pork it will be till i perfect it!

How is Christmas treating you out there? Hope it is all good!

Heres to hoping the rain will bloody stop in Brisbane!

Friday, December 24, 2010

E'cco @ Boundary Street, Brisbane

Possibly, the best meal we had in Brisbane this far, wait a minute, it is not possible but affirmative. Now ever since moving to Australia, we have not indulged in any form of fine dining whatsoever for a multiple of reasons. Ranging from the exorbitant prices (being in the Malaysian mode where you calculate everything with a multiplier of 3 to actually being able to replicate it at home and of course transportation problems because you really don't want to take a bus to a fancy restaurant).

Apart from the branded restaurants that i know of like Aria and 2 who have celebrity chefs running the show, it took me a bit of research to see where else we could celebrate the Wife's birthday. Reading through pages of Urbanspoon and Googlemap, i decided that the degustation menu at those fancier restaurants would have to wait and off we went to E'cco. 

Now E'cco is not too shabby by any means, apart from the more relaxed ambience and decor, the chef that helms the place is apparently a celebrity chef too, in the form of Phillip Johnson (according to the website). The menu is relatively simple, 7 entrees, 7 mains and desserts with no degustation menu on offer.


Fresh bread always deserve a mention, with a waitress coming with a basket of different varieties for you to choose. If only you could try them all, as i took some with pistachios. A pity they didn't come back to ask if i wanted seconds.  


Field mushrooms, olive toast, rocket, parmesan,
truffle oil & lemon AUD 24.50

. It sounds simple and simple it is but the truffle oil in addition to the earthy mushrooms gives this dish so much flavour. For those who don't appreciate mushrooms though, you might wonder what is the big fuss as this is apparently a signature dish. 


Pork belly, chilli caramel glaze, salad of lychees,
green mango & peanuts. AUD 24.50

Second thought, i should have ordered something else but there is just something about me and pork belly. I just can't resist the idea of ordering this sinful cut of meat. The crackling did look disappointing but put it in your mouth and you discover that it has not lost any of its crunch. The sweet and sour play makes it a lighter dish than it looks.

Moving on to the mains.


We had the rabbit dish (which i believe is no longer on the menu, based on the online version). What it basically was; a rabbit roulade with foie gras cream and a rabbit rillette wrapped with a cabbage leaf. All this is on a bed of turnip mash, i believe. Bottom line, this rocked our socks off. Definitely a dish that i would never be able to replicate in my life time and worth paying the AUD 42.50.  


Grimaud duck breast, pumpkin purée, chestnuts,
swiss brown mushrooms & plum jus AUD 42.50.

This came probably slightly overcooked with the slightest of pink left in the core but it was luckily not tough. The puree and the sauce provided the sweet elements and the chestnuts gave a contrast in texture. A balanced dish.

At this point, the smell of passion fruit filled the air (it was after all an open kitchen). So pungent that we had to ask if there was anything special going on. 

Well, well, well, it was part of dessert of the day.  


The Passionfruit Souffle with Vanilla ice-cream topped off with passionfruit. After watching numerous episodes of Masterchef and watching how precise one must be with a souffle, we were happy with this light, airy and fluffy version. Sweet it was but i have heard somewhere that sugar is an essential rising agent. The only downside is that the souffle cost me AUD 20.50. 


Peanut butter & caramel semi-freddo, raspberry slick, chocolate ganache & peanut brittle AUD 17.50. 

This was another beauty, the rich semi-freddo had a clear and distinct peanut butter taste to it, not the artificial versions you might find in cheap ice-cream. The brittle, the dark chocolate ganache that actually was more like an ice cream and the fruity element balanced everything. By the time we finished everything, we had no regrets in stepping in, the meal was near perfect. 

There are of course some downsides, the tables for 2 are kind of near each other and the chair was awfully uncomfortable for me, or maybe it's because i have insufficient cushioning in my rear. I have no qualms with the prices simply because in Malaysia where i come from, a meal like the above will cost more (dollar for dollar) and slightly more dear (after conversion). 

Address and contact details:

E'cco on Urbanspoon

Verdict: 4.5 stars out of 5 stars. I am going to deduct the half a star because the chair made it so hard for me to sit in peace but it did looked like everyone didn't have a problem or they might have been pretending to be comfortable just like me. Otherwise, perfectly executed dishes and reasonable prices (i mean wait till you see the prices at Aria or 2), no reason why one should not visit if they have not.

PS: Lots of Cravings wishing you all a Merry Christmas, wine and dine responsibly and make sure you balance your calories intake with some exercise! (Who am i kidding?)

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Gelateria Cremona @ Rosalie, Brisbane

For those who are interested to know how my sweet tooth is doing; i am happy to say that i have drastically reduced my sugar intake ever since my dear friend with the even sweeter tooth has gone back to Malaysia for a holiday. 

So right now, at most, i have a small piece of chocolate or a tiny piece of fruit cake just after dinner and tell myself that is that. Well maybe an extra glass of orange juice to go with it.

Right before this drastic mode though, we had our fair share of sweets and today i would like to share with you, one of the best gelati/o shops in Brisbane!



Welcome to the haven for ice-cream.


They have some of the most wicked flavours out there and it is almost impossible to get sick of this place, not from the flavours but you might suffer from diabetes. From the chocolate to the nuts to the fruity ones, you will be spoilt for choice.


On that day, we had the flavour of the week, the earl grey which was one of the best i had in a while, comparable to what you will have in restaurants. The tea comes through very well and it not overly sweet and lets you enjoy the after taste. The hazelnut ice cream was just as good and we had a mango one to balance off the sweeter notes we had. 

Talking about the ice-cream here is making me drool, despite the gloomy weather out there.

Address and contact details:

Gelateria Cremona on Urbanspoon

Verdict: 5 stars out of 5 stars. Find me another place that can make a mean ice-cream as mean as this and i will change the score, meanwhile this is the bomb!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Sono @ Queen Street Mall, Brisbane

After my first trip in Queensland, well second trip actually, i declared that this state probably had the best chirashi sushi i ever had. After so many years, i have yet to find a version that has been as decadent as the one i had, bear in mind back then, it had cost us AUD 25. I remember the bowl filled with salmon roe (ikura), sea urchin (uni), sweet prawns (ema ebi) and a whole range of sashimi slices too.

Alas, after the visit to Sono, i think i might have to re-declare that the best chirashi sushi i had was in Cairns and maybe should not apply to the rest of Queensland. Having been recommended that Sono is one of the brighter spots for a good and rather expensive meal of Japanese cuisine, we stepped in after a heavy rain stopped us from going home from work one day. Since it was also a couple days away from the Wife's birthday, why not? 

There is nothing wrong with Sono and indeed it does portray a typical Japanese restaurant with the wooden decor and the tatami booths (thankfully, you don't have to sit cross legged as there is a nice big below the table).


Your typical setting, you know there is a bit of class when you are not given a pair disposable chopsticks.


Now for my Chirashi Sushi AUD 38. Bear in mind of inflation and etc, i forgive them that this is prized much higher than it was in Cairns 6 years ago. However, it could have done with some ikura or uni to make it complete. Otherwise, a good choice of fish and beautifully presented. 


The Grand Finale for the Wife. 

The Wagyu Steak (A MB6 Striploin 220gram) for AUD 58 was not as nearly marbled as the piece of wagyu steak we bought the other day for AUD 15 (luckily on a 50% discount)  which sparked off our recent refusal to eat out nowadays because of the huge margins these restaurants make on simple and easy to replicate dishes. Nevertheless, this was nicely grilled to a medium and served with a teriyaki glaze. Something i might want to try but that involves brushing the steak with glaze and i am too lazy to do that. 

Judging from the rest of the menu, the items are not cheap especially the only sets on the dinner menu is AUD 65 and 95 respectively which offers a bit of everything. Otherwise, ordering ala carte will create a hole in the wallet definitely. Be prepared to spend AUD 50-60 per pax for a good meal here. If that is not a problem, this is a good restaurant to splurge on.

Address and contact details:

;Sono (Tattersall's Building) on Urbanspoon

Verdict: There is so much to try based on the menu and i think this might be a keeper when my purse strings are a bit looser so for the time being i think this deserves a 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Little Singapore @ Charlotte Street, Brisbane

Stay in Brisbane long enough and you will eventually need to find your way around when it comes to Asian food cravings. Actually make that staying in any foreign country or state for that matter. Thankfully for Brisbane, we have an expanding "Little Singapore", for all those times you crave for [enter item from the Little Singapore Menu]. 

I have been told that the Sunnybank outlet is by far the best, but that means travelling quite a fair bit for someone who knows zilch about the public transport system. Left with their Charlotte Street and their Queen Street outlets. I am again told that the Queen Street outlet should be avoided too which means the Charlotte Street outlet stands as the most viable option.

Be prepared for long queues and a terribly noisy atmosphere, almost as if i had just stepped back to any busy coffee shop in Malaysia with a working aircon and a better decor. 


We wanted a combo of Char Siew and Siew Yuk (BBQ pork and Roasted Pork) but after looking a very sad plate of Char Siew coming out from the kitchen, Siew Yuk it was. After failing miserably on so many counts, we finally had a decent Siew Yuk to rejoice with. Pricey though for AUD 12.50 but an item that i wouldn't mind ordering.


Not a terribly good choice was their laksa. Dull with no flavour, it required quite a bit of belachan from the counter to spice it up. The sides of blanched brinjal and frozen seafood wasn't very exciting either. Going to avoid this the next time we come here.

It is after one of these meals that i think back to how fortunate some people are in Kuala Lumpur where there are so many curry laksas to be had for under RM5 but choose to eat in a shopping centre instead for closer to RM15 while i am stuck with a AUD 10 crap laksa.

Address and contact details:

Little Singapore on Urbanspoon

Verdict: Between 3 stars to 4 stars, but very promising from our plate of roasted pork rice.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Just Soy Cafe @ Sunnybank Hills, Brisbane


Tau Foo Fah or Soy Beancurd is not like any normal dessert out there, it has a little story behind it (although that being said, i might have repeated this story a fair few times). This dessert is one of the Wife's favourite and i remember back in the university days, that meant walking to Chinatown after university to take away this dessert before heading back home. So it was just a matter of time before she requested she wanted some and hold and behold, my dear friend, the one all crazy about sweets, knew where to bring us.


The Tau Foo Fah wasn't fabulous, infact it had a more jelly like consistency rather than that smooth and melt in your mouth sensation that you would associate with a good tau foo fah. Nevertheless, no one could say no to a good cold dessert for the hot summer days. They also serve a huge variety of desserts that have gotten praises from my friends too.

Address and contact details:

Just Soy Cafe on Urbanspoon

Verdict: 3.5 stars out of 5 stars. If you are around the area, drop by for some soy based desserts.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Gandhi Curry House @ South Brisbane

If you haven't read, i have guest written a post here where i write about the up and downs, the left and rights and the round and rounds of moving down to Australia. Somewhat different from writing about food but a topic that might interest those who are thinking of moving to a foreign country.

Talking about foreign, we met up with an university mate a while back at South Brisbane, the hip place to be judging from the long row of restaurants, pubs and crowd. We tried to book for a Turkish meal but that was fully booked out and we decided to settle for Indian in the end.

Gandhi didn't looked very promising as we sat down as we realised an apparent shortage of staff. With 2 waiters dealing with a group of easily 60 diners in the restaurant, it was a mess to see them running around like headless chickens. Perhaps a cue for us to leave but everywhere else seemed to be just as bad on a Saturday night and in the end the food took us 40 minutes. Not too bad considering the table next to us told us that they had waited an hour. 


A big claim i must say; the best curry in Brisbane.


Go to any northern indian restaurant and it is almost a prerequisite to order palak paneer. Was this the best? No but neither was this the worse i would say not. With a raging appetite, we made sure the naan bread was used to wipe the bowl clean.



The two bowls got me confused with the similar colours but one was a butter chicken which i adore to bits and the other was a tikka masala. I suspect the first one was the butter chicken from the rosier colour but heck, it came with loads of delicious gravy although a bit watered down i reckon. 


Briyani rice did its purpose to soak up more gravy. 


The garlic naan was at least freshly baked but memory is failing me because i don't really remember much about it.

The best curry in Brisbane? I think not but if they continue to have two staff running the whole floor and taking 40 minutes to serve curries which are essentially re-heated with meat, i don't see myself coming back.

Address and contact details:

Gandi Curry House on Urbanspoon

Verdict: 3 stars out of 5 stars. As i clear out the more average restaurants, i can't wait to edit pictures i took during our best meal in Brisbane. About Gandhi? If there wasn't a crowd and you are fine with paying AUD 20- 25 per head for some average but familiar tasting indian food, why not?

Monday, December 13, 2010

JJ Jackson @ Edward Street, Brisbane

I don't know about you all but time has flown too fast for my comfort. It seemed like not too long ago that i had just packed my bags and left Malaysia for Melbourne. The time in Melbourne is nothing but a blurry haze now. Fast forward to Brisbane, if not for the bank account, i wouldn't have realised that i have already been in Brisbane for 2 months and that it has slowly grown to be our new place to live. 10 more days and the office closes for a 2 plus week break, not to mention by then summer would welcome us with the hot sun and warm weather.


In terms of food hunting, the Brisbane CBD doesn't have too much to offer in terms of food at first sight but look closely and you will find a gem or two here and there.


JJ Jackson sits on Edward Street and from the decor, you probably would have thought they serve westernised asian food for the locals from their casual cafe decor. Look past the menu and into the food, you actually got yourself some very decent korean dishes.


Not exactly the most authentic dish to order but the temptation of fried prawns got me into ordering their version of a bento. It does include a decent bulgogi though.


The Bibimbap is authentic enough and comes with the hot bowl (for an extra dollar). Satisfying carbohydrates don't come any better than this. 

Our second visit saw us ordering their Jap Chae and their stir fry squid with chili paste and both were very good options too.

Prices are slightly above one would pay for a Japanese curry chicken from Hanaichi (thats AUD6.50, i believe ) but you should be able to get yourself a meal between AUD 12-16 here.

Address and contact details:

Jj Jackson on Urbanspoon

Verdict: 3.5 stars out of 5 stars. A good lunch place if you wanted to eat Korean but it does cost slightly a bit more than your usual sushi rolls and sandwiches. 

Friday, December 10, 2010

Woo hoo Joe can Bake too! Pear and Ginger Upside Down Cake


I looked at the mirror this morning, after a 30 minute swim (a first for the week, meaning morning sun shine first time this week too) and realise i am terribly out of shape. It looks like after years of going to gym has virtually gone to waste and it is definitely about time i stop avoiding the fact that i need to work out a schedule for working out. Time to check out the gym during the holiday break too.

Not only that, it looks like it is about time i eat less sweets.

Doesn't help when we have time on hand in the afternoon and an itch to bake.

Finally a success story too!

Now, back in Malaysia, if one had an itch for some pear and ginger cake, you would go no further than to Fatboybakes

A pity he doesn't deliver to Brisbane so a Google search had to suffice. It helps that the recipe doesn't require too many funky techniques and really has some simple ingredients, the use of brown sugar is slightly comforting too.

Adapted from

  • 2 cups firmly packed brown sugar (use less, if you want)
  • 250g butter, melted, cooled (use less, if you want)
  • 3 (600g) packham pears, peeled, cored, cut into 2cm slices
  • 1 cup golden syrup (from the canned pear)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda, sifted
  • 2 1/2 cups plain flour, sifted
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger, sifted (i used freshly grated ginger)
  • 1 teaspoon mixed spice, sifted (didn't used that)
  • 200g light sour cream (poured some left over cream, about a 100ml)

    1. Preheat oven to 160°C/140°C fan-forced. Lightly grease a 6cm-deep, 23cm (base) square cake pan. Line base and sides with baking paper.
    2. Sprinkle 1/2 cup sugar over base of prepared pan. Pour 1/3 cup butter over sugar. Arrange pear slices in a single layer over butter and sugar.
    3. Place remaining butter in a large bowl. Whisk in syrup, eggs, soda, flour, ground ginger, mixed spice and remaining sugar. Stir in sour cream. Pour batter over pears. Bake for 1 hour 30 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Stand for 10 minutes. Turn out on to a platter. Serve.
  • The result? A beautiful pear and ginger cake, although my bottom which was the top (during baking) had turned into a crust like, probably from over-cooking and finally overcoming the fear of baking.

  • Woo hoo, i can bake!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

O Bar & Grill Restaurant @ Sanctuary Cove

At the rate i am blogging, my blog should be turned into a breakfast, dessert and recipe blog. I can't even remember when was the last time we even went out for a lunch or dinner worthy of blogging about (excluding the days of lunch takeout). It seems that most of our dinners are eaten at home, quite frugal when i come to think of my days in Malaysia. 

So how about dinner for once outside?


Ever been to discounted bulk buy websites? I know in Malaysia, the trend is starting but in Australia, it has gone mad! With the strengthening of the currency, retailers are trying all kind of tactics to get us to spend our money in the country and that means big discounts (even though with the same profit margin as most of the products are shipped from US brands or Asian factories). With these websites, there is a daily offer, usually at a big discount and some of my friends are religiously spying everyday for bargains.

What kind of offers you ask?

How does a a 6 course degustation menu for 2 including 2 glasses of wine each going for AUD65, original price of AUD198 sound?

The catch? The weekend bookings were all maxed out for months and so one weekday night we decided to brave the distance to Sanctuary Cove, up at Gold Coast. With the Wife having last minute working commitments, we decided her portion of food will be shared amongst the three of us.


We haven't read too good reviews of the place after we bought the voucher but heck, even if it was crap food, AUD32.50 was still a steal!


The decor looked the part of being a posh restaurant but the service was somewhat shaky from the beginning. From insisting that we couldn't use the vouchers because we didn't print it out from hearing the waiter telling guests that they are short staffed and they will have to wait quite a while for the food, it wasn't good.


I wonder what this man will say of the service and the food we had that night. That being said, there was no comments made from him other then a "best regards".


Sanctuary Cove is an area that smells of the rich. Luxury cars, yachts and houses are littered all over like rubbish being thrown on the streets of Malaysia. 


Somewhat deceiving, the grilled ciabatta with garlic and thyme actually accounts for one of the six courses. The olive oil and the herb, not to mention the effects of the char grilling actually made this very good to munch on. 


The first dish was a single prawn with a green paw paw salad. Other than the fact that the prawn was bland, the salad lacked dressing and it reminded me of a very amateur attempt of trying to replicate a thai green papaya salad. As a first proper dish, it was not a very good impression.


The Five Spices Pork Belly with Nashi Pear, Pickled Ginger Salad & Pear Puree was next. The last thing the sauce reminded me was of pear, rather it tasted like a peanut sauce used for Satay. The pork did not have the crackling i wanted and tastewise, it actually tasted a little foul which reminded me of the days in Adelaide where somehow the pork just had a bad stink to it. I was told that the taste is due to the fact that they do not castrate the pigs, myth or fact i wonder. 


The Wild River Barramundi with Braised Fennel, Fine Herbs Salad & Blood Orange Butter Sauce was not consistent. My piece was rather dry and the skin over crisped while the 4th piece came just right. I liked the subtle sauce, if only it was a little thicker and a little more generous. 


Somehow the disappointment continued with the Eye Fillet. The outer crust of the fillet tasted pre-cooked with the saviour of the juicy tender core. The mash though was creamy and smooth, something that i can't replicate, due to the fact that the Wife would scream if she ever see me put half a block of butter into a bowl of mash.


The dessert tasting plate did show some promise, the vanilla panna cotta tasted of vanilla bean but did not set while the rhubarb soup on top had a good contrast with the use of basil. The rocky road in the background did its job in curing the sweet tooth.

The service warmed up with the appearance of an old lady, very friendly with us, ensuring that all was alright, however i can see that service was erratic with only 3 visible staff manning the whole restaurant. 

Whilst i could easily fault each dish on the degustation menu, it could have been easily to defend it by the one fact that everything with 2 glasses of wine had only cost us AUD32.50 each. To only spend even the equivalent of RM90 in Malaysia, you would be hard press to produce the above even at home. However, the portions are quite small and luckily the 4th portion was available for the three guys to fill up nicely.

AUD32.50 well paid but certainly not worth the AUD100 that it was meant to be unless the view of the yachts is actually worth that much. 

Address and contact details:

O Bar & Grill Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Verdict: 3 stars out of 5 stars. Will i go again? Probably not unless they come up with such an offer, irresistible for bargain hunters like me.