Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Back home and its fast and furious

Just a note to all those who still drop by; I am back in Kuala Lumpur and feeling right at home.

It's fast and furious all the way to Saturday when the Wife and I will have to reluctantly make our way back to Brisbane.

Hope to start blogging again so see you guys and girls soon!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Edamame @ St Lucia, Brisbane

In Adelaide, the Adelaide university students have the freedom to wonder to Rundle Mall for meals.


In Melbourne, the Melbourne university students can always take a quick walk to Lygon Street for Italian or Thai.


In Queensland, the University of Queensland students only have the campus to fall upon because it is so freaking huge and it takes you a good 15 minutes, just to walk out of the campus. Add on factors like the hot glaring sun, it explains why more than half the students here resort to buying cars. With that additional option of a car, it means students can drive a bit further out to explore what food there is to offer.


No further than a 5 minute drive off the campus, theres a row of shop lots at Hawken Dr serving a variety of cuisine; fish n chips, japanese, thai, indian, chinese and so on. With a friend wanting to go back and reminisce his university days, we went to Edamame.


Packed to the brim, there's not much service provided. Order the food at the counter and the waitresses will deliver your food. You can happily BYO with no extra charge.


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A special; Chili Pork Ramen was spicy through and through. The huge dosage of mayonnaise cuts through a bit but you have been warned. If fatty pork and chilli is your thing, this dish is for you. 



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A few of us were on a fried food mode and ordered their assorted katsu and tempura platter. All of us struggled with their huge portions and (the obvious oil involved in cooking the food). On second though, we should have ordered one of their many varieties of bento sets. 

Nothing that wowed our palates but I must say it is a good place to get some huge servings and drink beer (especially if you are a student). Love the outdoor dining, in some ways reminds me of the mamak scene back home.

Address and contact details:

Edamame on Urbanspoon

Verdict: 3 stars out of 5 stars. Looking for some food near UQ? Heres a viable option.

Monday, March 21, 2011

I am coming home..coming home..

8 months ago (or thereabouts), I packed my bags and left for down under. 


In a whirlwind of an adventure, the Wife and I found ourselves down in Brisbane or to the locals "BrisVegas". Having settling down for almost 6 months now, we find ourselves heading back to Malaysia end of this week for what I predict should be another whirlwind affair. 


The feeling of missing home brings me back memories of my flight to Australia. In a funny sequence of events, I found myself with loads of luggage and an unwillingness to pay extra; taking a flight from KUL-JKT-MEL and along the way getting upgraded to Business Class. Despite the long wait in JKT airport; how I wish every flight could be like this.


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Getting to sit in front of the plane with huge leg space.

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Tons of controls to make sure you sit or sleep well.

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I also eye an internet connection port, I wonder if there's internet.

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A glass of champagne to calm the nerves, especially with a crying baby in the first row of economy (a fact of life you got to live with).

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Freshen with the amenities bag if you need to.

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Ohh, look at the touch screen. Entertainment seemsto be on par, if not better than what Malaysia Airlines seem to offer.

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A movie before going to sleep.

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Before waking up to breakfast, oh this is life.

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Oh what a wonderful and beautiful morning skyline. I think all of my flights into Australia have landed on early mornings, best thing is getting to eat a good old local brekkie before you tuck yourself into bed. 

All in all if I were to compare with my other experience flying Business on Malaysia Airlines (which was another stroke of luck, courtesy of the Domestic Finance Minister in the family), Garuda seemed to have bucked up, got themselves a new fleet of planes and installed comfort and class equivalent to the 5 star airlines. 

Find yourself with an option to fly Garuda? Definitely worth a try.

So all those food bloggers who read my blog, when are we meeting up to eat??! 

Friday, March 18, 2011

Wagamama @ Wintergarden, Brisbane

To those who don't already know, Wagamama is an uber huge chain of Japanese fusion restaurants originating from UK and creation of a Chinese. The same Chinese who opened Michelin restaurants that he later sold to private equity firms.  


So you would think that the food be good but walking past the restaurant one day with a friend who studied in the UK,  he commented "its not nice and seriously nothing great". Since then, I have avoided it as prices aren't too cheap either, at around AUD 20 plus a dish.


Why visit you must wonder? That particular day, there was an online promotion a buy 1 free 1 voucher and immediately the chinese blood in me said "what a bargain".


Going through the menu, it doesn't have many true blue japanese dishes. Many are fusion and jazzed up or from a different asian region altogether. So don't be surprised to find a thai dish or a korean dish in a Japanese named restaurant. 


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Although we paid half price which I have no idea whether that meant half portion, I can't understand why one would pay AUD20 for a plate of udon noodles with a few prawns and pieces of seafood. While the flavour was alright and the carbohydrates satisfying, there wasn't anything else to justify the price tag.


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I believe the Beef Teriyaki fared better but then again, this a dish easily replicated with beef and a bottle of teriyaki sauce. 


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While the first two dishes resembled japanese food, the curry ramen certainly did not. I didn't tried any but judging by the speed it was finished, it could have meant the portion was not huge or it was pretty damn good.


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Since we couldn't find another person to join the trio for dinner that night, we ordered a portion of salad. Again very disappointing, just look at their interpretation of tempura prawns! That is not tempura, my friend.

With a drink and if you had paid full prices, a meal here can easily cost you AUD30 and most importantly, you definitely haven't got an ounce of authenticity unless you are not looking for any. 

Address and contact details:

Wagamama (Wintergarden) on Urbanspoon

Verdict: 2.5 stars out of 5 stars. With no Buy 1 Free 1 voucher, I would definitely not come back again, a fast food japanese influenced restaurant that cost a bomb to eat at. Then again, if you are not game enough to eat authentic Japanese food, this place is a good transition.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Shangpaign Kitchen @ Sunnybank, Brisbane

The joy of having a car, even if it was a short while was bliss. In a funny sequence of events, we were left with a friend's car for a good two weeks since he had relocated from Perth and had to park one of his cars some where. At the same time, our neighbour had decided not to rent our car park space, so talk about great timing!


So one Friday, as with our other days when we decided that we just can't be bothered with cooking, we decided to venture out for dinner. Turns out it almost became a nightmare with the original plan to visit Market Square at Sunnybank. It seemed that the whole Asian community had decided to come upon the area to eat and it was a good 15 minutes of turning left and right trying to find a car park spot before we bailed on the area. 


Further down from Sunnybank, we chanced upon Shangpaign Kitchen; well I knew of its existence from reading online reviews. Fortunately situated at Centro Pineland, there was a lot more parking.


After being seated down, we ordered and waited with anticipation.




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The metal containers and the lack of ginger slices to be seen lack appeal. However, credit given to where it is due, the xiao long bao was decent after not having a decent version for months. Every dumpling had soup and the filling was quite tasty.


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A Shanghainese carbohydrate dish came in the form of nen goh or nian gao, depending whether you speak Cantonese or Mandarin. The simple stir fry with some minced meat was sweet but to have it alone especially in such a huge portion, it got rather repetitive after a while. Best to share with a few mates.


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A balanced meal should have a protein too and after much deliberation, the Wife decided on some salt and pepper ribs. The thick batter tasted more like the famous taiwanese chicken chop, if only they served beer to go with this.

Here lies the problem with eating with the Wife and weight gaining. With the Wife putting on weight, she is eating less than usual, which means I am eating more than usual. Already as the above portions are more than enough for 2 people, the conclusion, now I know why I am growing and growing fast!

All in all, a good place to eat something slightly different, I read a lot about the fried pork buns, can't wait to give it a try!

Address and contact details:

Shangpaign Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Verdict: 3.5 stars out of 5 stars. While I can probably get better in Malaysia, beggars can't be choosers and this is a great place for some shanghai loving (till I find another place).

Monday, March 14, 2011

Driftwood & Dandelion @ Hendra, Brisbane

Work has pretty much consumed the mind for the last couple of weeks and when we looked at the calender earlier today, we realised that we were barely less than two weeks away from being home. Having not lost any weight to counter the amount of food I will be consuming will certainly be on my mind till I step on the plane back to good old Malaysia. 


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We have been quite diligently eating out a fair bit with a few new friends and it doesn't help that we are slowly getting tired of cooking at home.


However instead of diving into food, I can't wait to share what should no longer be a secret very soon, the existence of good coffee in Brisbane. 


I understand that Driftwood & Dandelion is a recent newcomer in Brisbane but from what I can see, they are definitely here to stay. With the quirky decor, the waiters and waitresses dressed in almost formal wear and plenty of coffee equipment on display, all that translates to some serious coffee drinking. 


A first I have seen, you can have coffee using any of their house blends of Driftwood and Dandelion or a further two rotating single origin blend, making a total of four blend of beans to choose from to be in your coffee. What hits the spot is that your standard latte, flat white, cappuccino or what drink you prefer is made with double ristretto shots, eliminating that water after taste, doubling the flavour without the caffeine overdose. 

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A word of warning though, the place can get very packed and with orders flying from all four corners of the store, expect a wait for your coffee. You just have to keep your fingers crossed that the place isn't overly crowded. 

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With plenty of sunlight and bright flowers, the whole place is bright and relaxing, or maybe that was illusion after drinking their coffee.

Coffee is not the only thing they do as they have a limited breakfast and sandwich menu. Based on what we had though, I reckon there are better places for breakfast. 

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Literally sardines from a can with toast. Although not a brand that I have seen in the supermarket, I didn't think this was too creative. 

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Their baked beans were good but again very simple and one dimensional with toast. 


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Their sweets were quite decent to go along with their coffee. The apple crumble and brownie were good but their rather small portion seemed a bit expensive for the price we paid (i.e. AUD 5 and 6). 

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We were told that the Driftwood is the "male" blend while the Dandelion is the "female" blend. Having tried both, the stronger and robust Driftwood is the favourite of the two. The Dandelion despite the cocoa notes seemed a tad too bitter for us. 


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The Single Origin Blends were all very satisfying and also worth trying.

All regular coffees are AUD 4 per cup with breakfast around the AUD10 range.

Having found my perfect cup of coffee, the only other wish is that there remain the same quality and hopefully open a make up stall somewhere in the CBD!

Address and contact details:

Dandelion & Driftwood on Urbanspoon

Verdict: 4.5 stars out of 5 stars. No complaints about the coffee except the first time we went, even the owner acknowledged the fact that they were flat out and that they were slow in getting the coffees out. Not terribly excited with their breakfast menu, the perfect option is to eat somewhere and pop by for a coffee and a sweet. 

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Pizza Capers @ Spring Hill, Brisbane

Pizzas in Australia is like what roti canai is to Malaysians. It has a fan base so big that you get it at almost every corner. Pizza Capers has an outlet that is literally just outside my door step and we walk past it every day after work.


So one rainy day, we decided cooking at home had left us unimaginative and got the better of us, we popped in to take away a quick and cheap meal.


Surprise, surprise, the prices were not cheap as the Dominoes and Pizza Hut ads flying around the TV. However it seemed too much effort for me to walk out of the place and find an alternative dinner so gourmet pizza it was.


The prices were much more upmarket (so were the choices, i must admit).


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There were a few tables outside but it is typically a take away store.

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After taking close to half an hour, the pizza came out and we couldn't wait to dig in.


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We opened the box and was surprised at the amount of ingredients on the pizza; scallops, prawns, mussels, squid and some fish too. One of the best seafood pizzas I had in a while.

Is it worth the price of AUD20 though? Hard to say but although it is not value for money, you definitely get what you pay for. 

Pizza Capers Spring Hill on Urbanspoon



Verdict: 3.5 stars out of 5 stars. The benefit of the place is that they will deliver to my door step if i call and i know it will be fresh since they are a stone throw away from me. They call themselves a gourmet kitchen and I think they do deliver on their promise, if only it was that tad cheaper.

Monday, March 7, 2011

King of Kings @ Fortitude Valley, Brisbane

Fortitude Valley or more well known as the Valley among the locals is a mish mash of Chinese grocery stores, run down chinese restaurants, pubs and clubs. While in the day it is the official Chinatown for the Brisbane CBD despite the rather dead and tired attire, it is nothing more than a place for me to get asian pantry supplies or some cheap fish; at night, the drunks roam the area turning it into a rather noisy and dark place.


Despite that shady reputation, this place apart from the CBD is the closest place I can get hold of some dim sum. Warned by groups of people that you will never find any decent dim sum here, we took a punt from Urbanspoon and tried King of Kings.


A tall name, i say.  


So what have i got to say? I must say despite all the warnings, you can savour a decent bite of yum cha here after all. Not the best or the daintiest, but it looks like dim sum and tastes like dim sum.

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Decent dumpling, beef tripe and my must order salt and pepper squid.


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The Char Leung had a chewy core, which i prefer over the over-fried crullers you get some times. 


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Plump har gau that I can't complain of the reputation of the area was akin to a tourist trap.


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The Polo Buns were surprisingly pleasant too.

All in all, despite the shady area and the dated decor which looks like it was untouched since the 80s, we were still served a decent meal of dim sum which was a 15 minute walk away, made much easier if the temperature stays cooling like the last weekend.

Address and contact details:

King of Kings on Urbanspoon

Verdict: 3 stars out of 5 stars. Find yourself wanting to eat some dim sum but don't want to travel all the way to Sunnybank, give Fortitude Valley i try.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Camera, Basil and Nothing else

Once upon a time, food bloggers started off with normal digital cameras, some even started off with whatever camera that came with the phone. As evolution took place, naturally the cameras grew larger, just like human beings. However, although I can't speak for all but the trend seem to be down sizing from the large DSLRs to a more handier size. For me, I have relied upon the iPhone instead of carrying the bulky camera I have with me. Hopefully with some money saved soon (god knows when), I can find a handy quality camera (don't worry I have a few options in mind). 


So where does this entry lead to?


That day my friend's fiancĂ©e offered to take some pre-wedding picture for us and while she was helping out the Wife choose some clothes, I sniffed around the photography gear. 


A lens that I always wanted, the Canon 24-70mm F stop 2.8 that costs around RM6k was in front of me. Chucked it into my DSLR and I decided to shoot pictures of my pot of basil.


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I don't know about you but i sure see a whole load of difference.


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Another thing of course is to showcase how I have managed to grow my pot of basil and it is still growing and hasn't died yet! Now to grow some rosemary, thyme, coriander, mint etc etc etc.


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For those who are interested to see the area i stay at, this is the view outside the balcony.

Ok, enough of rambling, food reviews to continue.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Bishamon Revisited @ Spring Hill, Brisbane



When we first moved into Spring Hill, we lament the fact that no good restaurants seem to be around and we had to resort to eating at home or the CBD. Then we sort of chanced upon Bishamon, coming across as a decent place for some Japanese food.


Once we mentioned that to a friend who has been around Brisbane for a while, he asked "Did you eat the Shabu Shabu buffet?"


"What buffet?"


The Shabu Shabu all you can buffet for AUD30 or was it AUD32.50.


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You have a choice of Shabu Shabu or Suki Yaki. Our friend warned that the Suki Yaki can get very sickly sweet so we took the Shabu Shabu option. The broth which is made from Kelp is almost next to tasteless and contrary to the fact that cooking lots of meat might sweeten the broth, it didn't happen so. How unfortunate.

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So although the soup remained tasteless, you will be glad to know that their sauces; one a sesame based and another a soy base are full of flavour and complimented the raw beef slices very well.


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Too much protein is not good for you, so do balance it with some vegetables but don't fill yourself up with it.


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You have a choice between beef or pork. After taking a picture of the beef, we started eating, eating and eating. All in, we managed a satisfying 5-6 plates of meat between the four of us. Apparently, another friend of mine walloped an average of 3 plates per person to get their money's worth.

So for those big eaters out there who need their dose of protein, Bishamon is calling.

Address and contact details:

Bishamon Japanese on Urbanspoon

Verdict: 4 stars out of 5 stars. Good quality ingredients and value for money (I mean AUD 30 cannot buy you that much beef elsewhere, unless you eat at home, which you could do if you have a hot pot sitting somewhere in the kitchen).