Melbourne, the food capital of Australia, where multi-cultural cuisines reign supreme. You've arrived at a food blog where good food has no boundaries - be it restaurants, cafes, takeaway joints and any other eating places. Recipes to try out with successes and failures blogged to no shame. The focus is on authentic Asian (Singapore) food found right here in the heart of Melbourne. Just remember, the best dining experience could surprise your tastebuds when you least expect it. Get ready to be surprised on my food journey. Bon Appétit!

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Yummm...

Had a scrumptious lunch at Sichuan House

Sent from my iPad

Following up: Had food poisoning too...

Update on Sichuan House coming soon...

So, I've had a craving for Sichuan House's crabs. I've heard raves about the Kong Pau Chicken, so might give it a go as well. Will go there today for another meal. Obviously I've been there heaps of times, but will do a second review this time.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Let's Bap - Korean Down to Basics Food

Let's Bap 
623 Warrigal Road
Holmesglen or Chadstone
(03) 9569 9183

There's a whole row of Korean restaurants down this strip of Asian student hang-out. Ok, probably more for a quick meal than a proper hang-out. Food can be a bit of hit-and-miss here. We went to a now-defunct Korean restaurant at the very corner of the strip, and left before we ordered. Unless sticky tables and ants crawling on the table and past your arms are what you consider delicacies, I would say this restaurant has a serious hygiene problem from what we can actually SEE. Imagine the kitchen...


Anyway, we discovered Let's Bap by chance couple of years back when all the other restaurants were shut. Not expecting much, I mean visually it really was as pared down as you would expect any eat, pay, leave place to be. They've recently undergone a reno though with more seating so that can only be a good sign.


Now shockingly I really do not know what the proper Korean names are for these dishes, but I suspect you probably don't either. 


When you order a main dish, it's more like a set. Usually includes rice, soup and those little appetitisers that a lot of Korean restaurants offer.


I ordered my fave, spicy seafood soup with soft tofu. The accompaniments were fun but obviously lacked the miso soup as I ordered, um, soup.

The soup was rich in flavour and pretty spicy. Unlike some Korean eateries where these soups tasted like those Korean instant noodle packs, the taste and richness of Let's Bap's version far supercedes the msg packets. The spiciness is another factor that surprised me. I didn't actually expect the soup to be quite as spicy as it is. Level of spiciness is nose-dripping worthy but not on a burnt-my-tongue and teary level. Hey for all we know, and quite likely, msg is used but we can all live in blissful oblivion if the food is acceptably tasty. Be warned though, it gets served in a stone or iron pot, so the heat stays bubbling for quite a while. Give it a stir and you'll find pipis, zucchini, whole egg, silken tofu, calamari and shrimps in the mixture of goodness. I'm salivating in a very unladylike way thinking of it. Yumm....I hardly touched the rice to be honest.


Those little dishes that came with it were not spectacular as they really are not meant to be. Great little cold dishes to munch on but that's about it. I have to say though, do ask for their mashed potato, sooo creamy and smooth! With their tofu, it tasted a lot better without the brown sauce. 
Not satisfied eating only 2 main dishes, we decided to order some sweet chilli chicken wings. It's passable, but I wouldn't exactly drive the whole way to eat it. The soup, sure, but not the overly doused portion of battered wings. The sweet chilli is thick and somehow too sweet. And the batter of the chicken is more hard than crispy. You have to give the chef props for consistency, but every time we get sucked in and order this, it tastes the same as usual - dry, hard and sauce cover up.
S rarely orders anything other than meat. But I've tried the Salmon a few times and he really liked it too. So this time he ordered the Salmon Terriyaki. As usual, completely fool-proof. The Salmon was cooked perfectly and the sauce was not sickeningly sweet or salty. The price was really reasonable as well (about $10 I think) especially when it was also served with rice, pickles, soup. 
I've tasted most of their other dishes. I do like their Specials, especially the Kim Chi Fried Rice with Garlic Creamy Cheese Sauce. The standout dishes are still the soups and the salmon. The rest are your typical bulgogi dishes done pretty well. They do sell those in vacuum-sealed bags for people to cook at home at their convenience ($15/kg).


Do try this place out. Parking is a pain though. Max half hour parking so you have to go out and check constantly. If you see me there, so say hi, I'm usually carrying a Birkin and ordering the same dishes.

Sapore Cafe - Chadstone Shopping Centre

Sapore Cafe
Chadstone Shopping Centre
Ground Floor (Round the corner of where Carla Zampetti is)
(03) 9568 8443

I really did mean to take pics and do a proper review seeing as I do eat there often. But I was so hungry today I completely forgot. Just wanting to update readers and remind you guys to eat there while they still have their Fish of the Day, it's their Chef's Special for the week. Generous portions at $19.50 Blue Grenadier served with small potato wedges. Their salads are also pretty good-sized, I always have the Salmon Salad ($17.50). It's a huge plate of smoked salmon, capers, creme fraiche, rosti and rocket leaves drizzled with balsamic. I was given a massive dollop of creme fraiche, which I walloped to my own shock, ok, not really. But give it a go, it's one of those cafes with the open concept in the middle of shops like Tilka and what's the name of the men's shoes place? Llyods I think.

Next time I promise a proper review.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Simple Dinner


Just a Mapo Tofu, Wafu Diced Steak with steamed rice. The Mapo Tofu doesn't look appetising but it's actually pretty good. It's a quick meal for us esp the Mapo Tofu using Lee Kum Kee's bottled paste. Don't get the paste that says Mapo Tofu (for some reason, it's got a really sour taste and makes the food taste off). Get the one that says Spicy Bean Chilli and under it in brackets it says Mapo Tofu. Like in the pic, once it's been sitting a while, the water starts coming out of the tofu. I normally use half of the small bottle paste.


As for the Wafu Beef, it's real easy to make.

Ingredients

3 pieces of Scotch Fillet Steak
1 large Zucchini (sliced)
2 large tbs butter
4 cloves garlic (chopped)
Mirin
Soy sauce
Sake/Korean Cooking Wine
2 sprigs of spring onion (sliced roughly)

Method

Mix sauces together.
Heat wok up and put in butter with garlic. Stir fry till fragrant. Add Zucchini. Toss occasionally while you cook the steak.
Then heat up skillet on high fire, add butter. When hot, cook steak for 1 min each side. Then remove from fire and slice into med-sized cubes.
Add beef and sauce to wok with zucchini, stir fry for a minute.
Ready to serve.

Sometimes the tastiest food might be just simple home cooking. No showing off fuss and especially on a cold winter's day at the end of a long day at work, you just want to veg out.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Masterchef 2010 - Adam Liaw the WINNER!

This post is probably a bit belated, but I'm absolutely elated that Adam won. The thing about it is, like Poh, they both cruised along in the first half of the competition doing mediocre non-Asian dishes. Poh was knocked out, as we all know, she came back into the second half of the competition with 2 others. From then on, she seemed to stick to authentic Malaysian food exclusively and powered along to win a spot in the finale. What was interesting is Adam recently said the same thing of his own culinary journey in the competition stating, "For the first half I was trying to be something I wasn't. I don't think I made an Asian dish. For the second half, that's pretty much all I made. There was a point where I just felt, 'Now I finally understand the food I should be cooking'. It's nice to find your rhythm.'' (Find full article here)

I think one thing us Aussie-Asians grapple with is most of the time we appreciate both our cultural roots by birth and the easy adoption of our country - Australia. I have a great appetite for both admittedly and would just as happily write a blog of Aussie and Western dishes, which I know as well as Asian dishes. Truth be told, I probably eat and cook a lot more Western dishes than Asian. But there are definitely more "authentic" dishes you can find in Australia than Asian. However, I see that changing with the influx of Chinese migrants coming our way and presenting food that they are proud to call their own and changing for no one. Looking at the crowds going to those restaurants, I'm pretty sure they have it right.

Back to Masterchef, the reason I believe Adam should win is not simply because he's Asian, as I've heard plenty of people saying he should win based on Aus not having an Asian winner for a tv show, or that Asians should support Asians. I call BS on that. Adam should win because he is the better cook. It has been said Callum has the potential and it's unfair because he's only 20 and Adam has more experience. Within the strict context of the competition, it is crucial to recognise that the best cook wins on the day of elimination or contest, not who has the most potential. It's who cooks the food best regardless of age, experience, background, etc...

The modern yet traditional approach Adam has taken with his food has combined the contemporary plating of the West with the detailed presentation of the Japanese while his cooking techniques are reflective of his Chinese background. Adam himself is the product of a mix of cultures with a Malaysian Chinese father and a mother who is British but born and bred in Singapore with 6 years of his adult life spent in Japan and he's grown up in Australia. The respect he has shown to the fresh produce he's given and the considered technique in cooking them represents what he has learnt and the natural instincts of someone who has an understanding on how best to create his own unique stamp on food regardless of which culture he chooses to embellish it with.

He is a deserving winner.

The young chap Callum Hann, was certainly no sore loser however. He has been condemned and ridiculed for not getting out sooner in the media, forums and water-cooler chats in the office. It has also been said he should not be there over Jonathon, Marion and Alvin. There may have been some degree of truth but I honestly don't know how much. Would any of the 3 be as genuinely happy and gracious with their finale loss had they got there? The ingenuity of Callum is that despite his nervous twitches and eye-blinking, he really comes across as sincere and curious about learning. The life experiences the others have cultivated are probably immeasurable but that Callum will grow into as he enters adulthood. But that young slight naivete that will make a great apprentice out of him may be harder to implement in the older dogs.

Quite possibly my fave thing any contestant did in the series was actually Callum's macarons in the London challenge. The perfect dome and freshness using raspberry and cream instead of heavy ganache filling dominating the delicacy of the macarons.

The top 2 aside, my favourite has to be Alvin Quah. The insouciance and humour he has displayed throughout the show was hilarious and his uncensored commentary delightful. Much like Aaron Harvie really. Those 2 have the greatest potential in a media career based on personalities alone. Forget about wringing out those tears unlike some manipulative contestants. If these men cry, they do so with no other intent than to express how they feel at that moment.

The Masterchef forum has been a great source of entertainment to me. Most of the times, there have been little negativity, much like the show itself, with a bunch of foodies gossiping and discussing each episode and contestant with no malice. I do appreciate some cohesiveness these days seeing as everything and everyone has to be so argumentative or combative all the time.

If not for the fact that I'll have to leave my animals behind for so many months on end, I really think being on Masterchef would be heaps of fun having those challenges and sharing ideas on food with fellow foodies.