Thursday, July 28, 2011

Red Hut @ Coopers Plain, Brisbane

Have you ever experience a form of torture in the process of pleasure? Oh wait, did that come out wrong?

What I meant was, erm,  wait, exactly just that. Think along the lines of spicy food, pungent food or food with repercussions. Think any more than that and I believe you are in the wrong place. 

Great examples are like the "Smelly Tofu", a Hong Kong classic, tofu that stinks like sewage but according to those who dare, it tastes delicious once you put it in your mouth or Durian, the pungent smell that stains cars and living rooms, not to mention the breathe. 

A milder example is Sze Chuan food which uses so much chili to burn any throat if it wishes to. Most examples of Szechuan cooking involves chili; I don't know about you but the more spicier it is, the more I want to dig into it, leaving your tongue numb and the lips swollen thus the torture and the pleasure. Contrary to the belief that cold water should quench your thirst or cool down the heat, it is said that warm water does the trick better but it still feels good to have cold water instead.

So where does one go for tongue numbing food in this part of town, you ask? Well try Red Hut.

Signs you are walking into an authentic Chinese restaurant that will serve you everything spicy: a menu in mainly mandarin characters and a DIY order system where you have to write the down the dishes you want in mandarin characters (although you can approach the waitress to help you do it) and red "chilies" hanging as decor. 

Dishes come in three levels of spiciness; mild, medium and hot. Trust me unless you eat chilies for breakfast, stick to mild because that will still cause you to sweat.


Szechuan focuses on the use of chili oil and hotpots, this was one that used pork intestines. The first sip is actually almost refreshing and slightly minty from the pepper seeds before the chili knocks you off your seat. 


Another classic dish is the deep fried chicken tossed with dried chilies. If you thought that this was a lot of chilies used, we looked at the tables around us to see similar dishes with probably three times the amount of chilies. Talk about spicy.  


The Brinjal dish called "Yu Heung Kei Chi" is essentially a stir fry with minced meat, bean sauce and a little spice. This dish was probably the most comforting for the tongue to eat. 

Alongside, we had a stir fry eel with almost raw garlic and a "sui zhu" beef which beef cooked in a chili broth. Pictures at this point was reduced to a blur, probably from all the smoke coming out from our nostrils.

Nothing about the meal speaks balance and mild, with flavours so strong, pungent and spicy that your tongue goes into over drive.  Indulge in too much chilies and like one of my Gang bluntly commented, risk the wrath when it comes out (too much detail).

So if you are game for some spicy food, give them a go.

Address and contact details:

Shop1 888 Boundary Rd,
Coopers Plains 
Tel: 07 3161 9208

Verdict: 3.5 stars out of 5 stars. For someone who doesn't like their meals too spicy, this was a fun experience, once in a blue moon but don't think I will be returning so soon.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Little Greek Taverna @ West End, Brisbane

When MasterChef returned to TV for Season 3, I was stoked as a foodie. I mean what else could you ask for; an hour everyday of television of nothing but food. However, I don't know about you all but after 70 episodes, I am starting to get sick of watching the show. Tired of all the obvious commentary from the random contestants, the crying and panic during the cooking yet near perfect plating and the most cliche of phrases the judges use. As they say, too much of something is never a good thing.

So what does MasterChef have got to do with the dinner at Little Greek Taverna? Well not much except for the fact that one of the judges is Greek. Watching his mom and him go on about Greek food in one particular episode got us wondering down to the place one night.  

After hearing the Wife talk about this Greek place at the corner of Browning Street, just off where she works, we risked walking in without a reservation. Luckily, we were given a table but also 1 hour to finish up. 

Surprisingly though, they serve pretty fast to ensure you get plenty of time to stuff yourself silly before turning around to the next bunch of customers.


Their Greek Salad although heavy with the oil was refreshing, even though it came with raw onions and pretty salty peppers and olives. Maybe the cucumbers and tomatoes must have done the trick for me.  


Tzatziki and the Roasted Eggplant Dip was the perfect way to start off with a meal along with some toasted pita bread. 


This is where it starts to get interesting. Listening to the waitress speak Greek or essentially reading out from the Specials list was enchanting. The Dol-Ma-Des, pronounced with a flair was a mince meat and rice wrapped with cabbage. It was a love it or hate it dish among the table, with me finishing up my piece and the Wife giving me half her piece.  


The Lamb Shank was on the dry side and again very generous with the oil. However, if you see the trend, the chips are again on the plate. 


The star dish of the night, the octopus. Tender and juicy, this must have been beaten close to pulp before hitting the grill. Would go back and order this without any hesitation.

I have been religiously going for gym classes and yet haven't exactly seen any improvements on the weighing scale. Looking back, this maybe why; a baklava, all for myself. Sweet and sticky, just how I like my dessert. 

A good casual place for some cheap Greek food, who can complain? Just make sure you call in advance for a table, if not risk rejection, you have been warned.

Address and contact details:

Little Greek Taverna on Urbanspoon

Verdict: 4 stars out of 5 stars. I seem to be hitting all the right spots, cheap and good food, I am on a roll with this!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Grill'd @ Rosalie, Brisbane

In Malaysia, if you wanted to eat burgers, there's generally a couple of categories; the small stalls in the most random of streets, the fast food, the cafes and the high end. 

In Australia, there is Grill'd. Sitting between fast food and cafe; fast enough to be considered fast food and a nicer ambience similar to the cafes we get here. With prices around AUD10 for a burger and a couple more for chips and a drink, the slight premium over the McDs and Hungry Jacks is well worth it.  

Burgers are made to order but there's a well oiled team behind the open kitchen making sure you get your meal within 10 -15 minutes. 

What appears to the star though for me at least, is the chips that is seasoned with some herbs, dipped into one of the three dips on offer. 

There's something about chips since coming to Australia (I am pretty sure I have talked about this before), never have I been so willing to order chips with a meal (which explains the weight I have piled on), is the potatoes? 


The chips that you have to order.


Burger wise, you have a pick of beef, chicken or lamb and that night the lamb burger was calling out to me and before I knew it, it was all in the tummy. Juicy patty, fresh lettuce, a yummy sauce to round it all up and a nice bun too. 

For a franchise concept, I must say I am quite impressed. Just the place for me when we feel too lazy to cook and want a burger without resorting to the unhealthy fast food version.

Address and contact details:

Grill'd on Urbanspoon

Verdict: 4 stars out of 5 stars. With Grill'd everywhere in the city and suburbs, you can take your pick but the Rosalie one is awesome, just because I can have gelati down the road after a burger. 

Monday, July 18, 2011

Green Papaya @ Stanley St East, Brisbane

Ever since I left home and started to get used to the concept of paying rent, I realised that my eating out patterns have changed tremendously. For starters back in Malaysia, I wouldn't mind paying RM50 (AUD 15-17) per pax for a normal weekend lunch or a RM100 (AUD 33-35) for a nice catch up dinner (not that it can buy you much these days). 

Comparatively, I earn the same amount now in AUD but to splurge more than AUD 30 per pax seems almost exclusive to celebrations especially when our usual eating out doesn't seem to exceed AUD 20 per pax. 

With that thought stuck in mind, that night, I suggested we go out for a nicer dinner at Green Papaya. 

Having heard that this is a place to go for Thai and other South East Asian cuisine, there were some expectations although having not eaten good Thai food in what seems like a century, that level was never going to be very high.


It's been a long while since I seen a proper setting.

In some ways, it was good that the Gang I eat with joined us, so we could order a few more dishes to share. 


The Tamarind Fish was well balanced with sweet and sour notes, brilliant start to a meal.


The Pad Kangaroo was exciting on paper; letting you imagine a jumping animal on your plate while in reality, we are really doing the nation a favour by eating some of it before they conquer the country like the Apes. The lean meat was thankfully not over-cooked and the curry that went with it was delicious without numbing your tongue.


This may look like a plate of fried rice but don't let the looks deceive you. In fact, this is a plate of Tahu Telur,  silk soft tofu wrapped with egg and deep fried to a crisp, served with a sweet (almost rojak-like sauce, for those who know what I am talking about). Very nicely done, probably even better than the ones I get in Malaysia.


Not ordering a roast duck curry in a Thai restaurant is akin to not ordering Sweet and Sour Pork in a Chinese Takeaway for me. It is crucial and failure to not order it, causes a mental war in your head, with the question, should I or should I not. Served in a pretty pineapple, this was really scrumptious, with the only question in the head; do they recycle the pineapple for the next person? 


What looks like an otak otak is a chicken mousse which was very mild in flavour but fragrant to the nose. For those who can't eat spicy, this is the dish to order.


I have friends who are in the transfer pricing business and all I hear from them is benchmarking margins, profits and etc. With me, I benchmark the quality of Pad Thai when I go to a Thai restaurant. Above average I would say, not the best I have had but certainly a good contender.

While Green Papaya doesn't win any awards for big portions or cheap pricing, it does deliver a good experience by serving good Thai cuisine and yet has a good enough vibe for a romantic date, with a casual setting to catch up with a few friends.

Green Papaya Balinese & Thai on Urbanspoon

Verdict: 4 stars out of 5 stars. This place seems to be the place for Thai food for me but if there's any place that you think serves even better Thai food in Brisbane, let me know!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Home Town Taiwan @ Sunnybank Plaza, Brisbane

I am beginning to see the light in Brisbane especially the food scene. I can't believe I am saying this especially how I usually dread the question "where should we eat today" and if I am unlucky "oh, where did I end up here?". 

Back in Malaysia, I relied on food blogs when I wanted to explore, especially food blogs who are per se managed by friends, friends with the same palate, so to speak. In the short time in Melbourne, there were friends and relatives to trust, not to mention the big society of food bloggers that I could rely on with a rather high rate of success. 

Brisbane has a much smaller group of food bloggers, unless they are all members of a secret society. One really needs to know people on the ground. Thankfully new friends who have roamed the area for years from their university days have finally shown me the light. 

I can't help but compare (eventhough in my case, its miniscule) with the situation back home in Malaysia. Hopefully the greyness and the dreadful feeling like the Malaysians feel like I feel with the food in Brisbane will finally see light and change for the better. (For those who don't know what I am talking about, try googling "bersih rally malaysia".   

Back to food.

A couple of weeks ago, I started to feel that our Saturday breakfast session was getting rather boring. I mean, there's only so much different eggs benedict, poached eggs, french toast, smoked salmon, bacon that you can try before there all taste the same. That was when the first ray of light appeared when my friend said, why don't we try taiwanese instead. 

Flashback to the time I was in Taipei, despite having to order everything in mandarin with a menu written in mandarin, the delicious soya bean, warm dumplings and pancakes was to die for. To have it in Brisbane, I must be dreaming!

Come early is my suggestion, there is a list of breakfast items, from the glutinous rice with a fried cruller as a filling, dumplings, pancakes, mee sua and porridge. While you can't compare it with the original version in Taipei, this is pretty comparable. Breakfast can be had for under AUD10 per pax, a bargain deal, no?


With crazy winter mornings of 5 degrees, you would be happy to know that you can order a hot version.


A flour and egg pancake with chives, a staple dish that you will find in any Taiwanese breakfast place. This tasted like it was made an hour too long ago but still rather satisfying.


Nothing like dumplings to finish the morning off.

Other items I tried includes the beef and vegetable bun, the mee suah and another variation of the pancake. With a different menu for lunch and dinner along with so many other items to try, you will definitely see me popping by more often.

Located next to the Ding Hao Supermarket, at one of the indoor carparks of Sunnybank Plaza. Shop 90D I believe.

Verdict: 4 stars out of 5 stars. Cheap breakfast with a twist, exactly the thing I need after one too many poached eggs on a Saturday morning. 

Monday, July 11, 2011

Sushi Kotobuki @ Lytton Road, Brisbane

After my last entry, I thought that was it; this week is the time for some serious food blogging after a break. Instead I found myself floating in an abyss of work (my standards, at least), without any time to even think of logging onto Blogger and start a post. It doesn't help that I haven't even found time to upload pictures from the iPhone, probably the most trustworthy machine I am using for my food blog (I can hear the screams and gasps from the people who know me from my DSLR days).

As Sunday closes to an end, I finally find myself some time, to pen some thoughts before I let another week drift past. 

Where I shall start with Sushi Kotobuki? Recommended by a friend, we have been told that this is the place to go to for some funky and serious sushi makis. Hidden somewhat in the complex, it is obvious, the crowd, if any, belongs to Kotobuki. 

Forgive their dreadful English splattered all over their menu, look past the waiting time (if you don't call to reserve a table) and what you get is some good value and tasty sushi makis along with a small range of classic dishes; katsu, tempura, udon and etc. Prices are rarely above AUD10 per plate (except for one or two that uses unagi or broiled eel).


Not the freshest plate of fish but it is more than enough to curb that itchy mouth of mine for raw fish. The only complaint was a bone that they failed to pluck out; a fatal mistake if a kid was to eat that whole. 


There's something about Takoyaki and me that goes way back to the days when they first sold it at the shopping centres, especially the stalls outside the Jusco supermarket. At any time of the day, you will see me queue for some gooey balls with pieces of tako or octopus if you don't know drizzled with mayo and bonito flakes. This dish is worth ordering as an entree.  


Eventhough on the menu it says Prawn Tempura (4); they also throw in a few pieces of vegetable, in my case all were pumpkin if I remember correctly. Since I didnt expect anything apart from prawns, I take that as a bonus. Not the finest tempura but again a case of good enough to warm the tummy. 


There's a tiny story on the wall about Unagi and how they justify the price of AUD13 for the roll, go give it a read and have a laugh. With such a generous portion, I definitely wouldn't mind the price tag that comes along with it. 


This one is called the Lion King and with torched salmon on the top and crab meat as a filling, this was just as satisfying too. 


Probably a more familiar item, the spider roll was just as good too! 

Definitely two thumbs up if you want a simple meal of Japanese food and don't really care whether it is fusion, classic or influenced. The maki is definitely their specialty as can be seen on all the tables. What else can I say, it is rather affordable too! If the sushi rolls are pricey for you (i imagine 2 portions for a big size guy like me), the rice-dons are all under AUD10 and will definitely fill you up. 

Address and contact details:

Kotobuki on Urbanspoon

Verdict: 4 stars out of 5 stars. A gem find if you want to eat some sushi without busting your wallet. 

Friday, July 1, 2011

Makanan Indonesia @ West End, Brisbane

It's been an awfully long time since I put on the writing cap and start to really write some mouth watering food reviews. Blame it on the fact that I actually have got work to do in office or my laptop screen is facing the public corridor or simply by the fact that I am in bed by 10pm.

If there was one meal to write about to kick start the lazy bug, it would be about Makanan Indonesia down at West End. 

There is something about this place if you look beyond the horrendous lack of parking, the run down state of the restaurant and not to mention the unhygienic appearance. Look past the dodgy ambience and you will feel as if you have stepped into another country i.e. Indonesia or Malaysia. Almost modeled like a warung or a typical small family restaurant you get in South East Asia, I was told this is the place to go to for some good Indonesian food, seeing that everyone in the kitchen was or still is Indonesian.  





Lots of food was ordered that night; a farewell gathering to a friend who has decided that Asia is the best place for him to be at. From Tempeh to a Tempura and Tau Foo with peanut sauce, what can go wrong? While most items were rather normal, go order the tempeh, a soy based product if you really want to eat what the locals Indonesian eat.






The mains started off with Murtabak, Stuffed Squid, Curry Chicken, Beef Rendang and some Belacan Kangkung. 

The Murtabak is definitely not the version we get in Malaysia, this was like a rather big spring roll in the form of a square. The filling was rather mediocre. 

The Squid is one to order again, with the fiery chilli and the nice char.

The Curry Chicken again didn't taste like what it should be.

The Beef Rendang was rich and creamy but the portion was rather small.

As much as I want to like this place for its "hole in the wall" feel, the food doesn't deliver and eventhough it does tastes somewhat like home (even though in some cases, a poor resemblance), the tiny portions and not cheap pricing will probably deter me from coming back for a long while again. 

That being said, if there was one thing that I will come back for, it is the coconut rice they serve with the dishes above, it is the bomb.

Prices are around AUD25-30 per pax. I encourage you to order a few dishes to share among  yourselves so you can get a taste of everything.

Address and contact details:

Makanan Indonesia on Urbanspoon

Verdict: 3 stars out of 5 stars. Visit and try for its novelty and hole in the wall feel and you never know, you might love the food more than I do.