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!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

It's a Ban Mian Day...

There are heaps I miss about Singapore. Food is obviously one of the top of the list. But being here most of my life means adaptation is key to survival when the craving becomes HUGE. 

Ban mian or the less noodly version, Mee Hoon Kueh, is one of my favourites. It is surprisingly easy to make. 

Ingredients for Noodles
- 2 to 2.5 cups of Flour (Plain)
- 1/2 cup Water (add more if mixture is dry and crumbly)
- 1.5 tablespoon Vegetable Oil
- 1 egg
- Pinch of Salt

Mix all in a food processor or mixer using a dough attachment or like me use your hands and knead well. Once it's all come together, place it in a bowl, cover with damp cloth or wet a couple of pieces of paper towels and cover the bowl. Let it rest for an hour or so. 

To cook, boil a separate pot of water and blanch noodles.

Ingredients for Braised Mushrooms
- Fresh Shitake Mushrooms Sliced about 4 punnets
- Minced Garlic (prob a tsp)
Mix the below in a bowl:
- Pinch of salt and sugar
- 4 or 5 tb Premium Oyster Sauce
- 1 tbs kecap manis
- 2 tbp light soy sauce
- 1/4 cup of boiling water

Stir fry mushroom in a small pot or pan. Mix in garlic. When mushrooms are almost cooked, pour in the mixture and simmer for a little bit.

Ingredients for Soup
- 350gm minced pork
- Spring onions 
- Light soy sauce
- 1 tsp salt
- Ikan Billis about 1 handful raw
- Dash of white pepper
- 800ml of boiling water
- 2 or 3 cubes of concentrated stock

Mix the minced pork with the sliced spring onions, light soy, salt and pepper, Roll into balls.
Boil the water in a pot and add the cubs of stock and ikan billis. Remove all ikan billis from the soup when it's done. Add meatballs and slow simmer for half hour.  All ready to be served after you add poached eggs, braised mushrooms, green veg and noodles. I like mine with sliced birds eye chillies with light soy sauce.



Big Boy BBQ Review

Big Boy BBQ

764 Glen Huntly Road  Caulfield South VIC 3162
(03) 9523 7410

Dear Readers,

Please do not hold me personally responsible for the resulting imagery coming up soon. It might induce unexplained cravings, hunger and raw animalistic squealing.

The whole dude food movement has been around for a bit now. Some might sneer but hey don't beat it till you try it. Merrywell's New England Lobster Roll sounds pretty good to me right now. And those folks down the Brunswick way are doing pretty well too. To me dude food just means unpretentious down home cooking.

Big Boy BBQ was introduced to us by my good friend H. For the uninitiated, H was originally from Texas and in case you don't know, bbq is obsessively kinda big in that part of the land. We found out the owner of Big Boy BBQ is American and yes, he uses hickory wood...

Expect a queue or a jostle for seats in this double-storey casual diner. Drinks are free-flow and self-self for $3+ and an extraordinary number of Asian overseas uni students flock the place constantly. So you gotta know it's good and value for money somewhat.

Price-wise, it's probably still not the cheapest meal in town. I mean the Asian students share a platter ($99) among a group of 6 to 8, which means it feeds about 3 people normally. But to be fair, their half-rack of ribs is similiar to a full rack at TGIFridays.

To be honest, I would come here just for the sides. The onion strings are thing, crispy and coated every so thinly with batter. You can almost forgive the greasiness of fried food for the tantalising smell and ever so pungent taste of the onion strings. 

Not a fan of chips or fries myself as too many places Aussie fish n chip joints catering to easily-satisfied customers serve up soggy thick-cut nonsense as the real thang with a generous helping of salt to disguise the awfulness of greasy mess. So when S and our friend T wanted a big serve of it, I crinkled my nose, shaking my head at the foolishness of these 2 gents. 

I waited to gloat when the chips arrived. The gloat got caught in my throat as I bit into the golden crunchy skin of the outside and the soft sweet flesh of potato in the inside. I thought the insanity of fresh hot fried anything must have played with my brain temporarily. But no...the second bite cemented it. Taste of the cajun spices and a dip in the spicy bbq sauce confirmed it for me. I've found chip haven and I sure am not going to hell for it.


 Hands up, those who have not heard of pulled pork. Now hang your heads in shame just imagine soft succulent pork moist in its own juices and smothered in a smoky thick sauce, and there you have it. The tangy coleslaw is perfect as it cuts through the richness of the pork and sweetness of the pork. Just tart enough with a hint of pickles to break up the monotony of buns and meat filling, the coleslaw is definitely a star in itself.

The potato salad is surprisingly not heavy or stodgy. The restraint is actually quite surprising as I was fully expecting big chunks of potatoes and thick mayo. Even the seasoning was just subtle. Another side dish I was more than pleased with.

 

 S and T ordered the platters. Yes, ONE EACH. 

There were the usual sides of your choice, beef brisket and pork ribs. You can choose the kind of ribs you would like - lamb, pork, beef. But it had to be the pork of course. Another kind of platter is the wings and ribs.

The beef brisket was tender and I do not care for other's opinions, I am perfectly happy just having the brisket by itself with maybe some blue corn tortilla chips. Je veux le boeuf. Delicieuse!

I was however a little disappointed with the ribs. It was not fall-off-the-bone, even though it does have a smoky flavour. Surprisingly although this was what we came here for, the other dishes were more of a standout. 


Might I be so bold as to suggest no words need accompany the above pics? Pastrami on Rye. 

Y-U-M!



 Now GO. You are welcomed.

Ajisen Ramen Review

AJISEN RAMEN HAWTHORN

367 Burwood Rd, Hawthorn, VIC 3122.
T: (03) 9818 0818







Japanese Ramen is more than just the instant noodles sold in supermarket and certainly a whole lot more complex and deep or subtle in flavour than the faux Jap places here and there masquerading actual instant noodles as Ramen.

The hours/days of brewing and simmering the traditional pork bone broth are tempered with gentle stirring and a low fire. Ramen chefs take years to master the art.

For many ramen enthusiasts especially those who have been to Japan and had the sublime pleasure of tasting the rich yet light secretion of concentrated broth, Ajisen Ramen is but a franchise with improbable and unauthentic provenance.

But hang on, although we have heard less than stellar reviews of this franchise from other states, I do not actually mind our Melbourne stores quite as much. I'm probably the first to admit the ramen tasted like they came from a refrigerated pack and the soup hardly rank high on the list, but for some strange reason, I genuinely do not mind it.

The Hawthorn store was one I visited quite some time ago after they opened, and I have been back since a few times. The service is quick, friendly, you eat and you go.

I tell you what, a mediocre passably good soup provides a fabulous base when you add a whole heap of garlic flakes and the fragrance of chilli powder, sesame seeds, seasoning and bits of nori into the steaming bowl of ramen.

I just love the kooky serviettes and logo

The Karage Ramen was exactly what you would expect from a Jap chain. The chicken was crispy enough but not super crunchy. It was slightly dry but the flavour wasn't half-bad. Let's face it, it's just an accompaniment. S added corn, as did I, to the broth and it was well worth it.


I ordered the spicy deep fried pork ribs with garlic and shallots because I was health-conscious looking forward to the onions adding another dimension to the soup as I stir it through with gusto. Although there was an obvious layer of oil skimming the top and I puked my guts out after that, I relished the different combination of flavours every ingredient and condiment added to the smell and taste of the ramen. The pork itself has a slight porky aftertaste, which is kinda unpleasant, but you can always chuck it to S leave it aside and dip it in some sauce later on.

All in all, no major complaints here. There are worse places Wagamama but I really do not mind it here at all and will revisit again and again.

Trading Hours:
Tues - Fri : 11:30am - 3:00pm, 5:30pm - 9:00pm
Sat - Sun : 12:00pm - 9:00pm

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Casting Call for River Cottage Australia!

Are you passionate about sustainable living & local produce? Could you take the reins of River Cottage Australia & spread the good living message far & wide?

The production company, Granada Media Australia, for River Cottage Australia is looking for someone who might have what it takes on camera, in the garden & in the kitchen. If this is you, apply at:

www.rivercottageaustralia.com.au

or visit them at
River Cottage Australia on Facebook or @RiverCottageAus on Twitter

Applications close 21st December, 2012 so apply ASAP!​
​​​​​​​​

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

A Quickie Lunch

I've received several emails asking what I usually do for lunch as my blog is so heavily focused on dinner. Truth is I rarely eat lunch or brekkie for that matter.

But when I do, I love having multigrain sourdough lightly toasted with sautéed diced mushrooms seasoned with a dash of minced garlic and olive oil topped off with cracked pepper.

I also enjoy celery sticks with a blue cheese dip to go along.

And of course nothing says spring like a smoothie of banana, honey and skim milk.

Yummm...

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Neil Perry's Macaroni and Cheese Recipe

On Masterclass tonight in the All-Stars version, we were witnesses to the sinful pedestrian food of Macaroni and Cheese getting a slightly more 'atas' twist by Neil Perry.

He of Rockpool Grill let us in on the recipe behind one of their most popular side dishes.

S was salivating and seeing as his dinner portion was woefully small, I decided to replicate Perry's recipe for mac cheese.

The sauce was simple - fresh cream, shredded blends of cheeses, salt and pepper, a tablespoon of paprika and garlic butter.

Half a pack of macaroni cooked al dente stirred through with truffle oil when drained. Sautée and slightly caramelise diced bacon.

Add them all together topped off with gruyere cheese. Pop into the oven at 230 degrees for a few minutes. Voila!

I think the Rockpool version of mac cheese is brilliant with the paprika adding that extra dimension and layer of flavour. Having the truffle oil (he used actual grated truffle) was fragrant and absolutely divine...

Thursday, August 16, 2012

It's a salad day

Cajun skinless chicken thigh, Caesar salad with baby cos lettuce, anchovies and soft-boiled eggs. Hmm...

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Sumo Orange

Dear Readers, I present to you Sumo Oranges! Top bun resembling that of a sumo wrestler notwithstanding, the size and Japanese origins are true to its namesake.

The skin might appear tough and rough but it's actually easy to peel. The membranes are also thin enough hiding pulp with texture very much like a grapefruit or pomelo. These oranges are seedless and really really sweet.

The Japanese spent 30 years getting them just right and our Aussie farmers have finally mastered the crops after 10 years of growing them. Effort well worth it. They are much prized in Japan and so they should be here.

You can find them in Thomas Dux and selected Coles and Safeway supermarkets.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

New Orleans PO Boy Home-Style

Not a bad first attempt with Louisiana Hot Sauce and Cajun-battered Prawns.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Gumbo Kitchen Food Truck Review

Gumbo Kitchen Food Truck

The culinary scene in Australia has been shifting to a very interesting and multi-adaptational dynamic in the last decade. It has certainly been exciting to be partaking as an indulgent audience to all it has to offer. The latest to hit the streets (literally) is mobile dining. 

Street food now has kerb appeal in Melbourne. We are not talking about dodgy kebab vans in the wee hours of the night or the run of the mill Four and Twenty pies at the footy. No, this movement was kick-started by young culinary hipsters serving actual good food. Riding the Mexican wave in Melbourne right now, you got Taco Truck peddling delicious soft tacos quick smart. Burger joint on the go Beatbox Kitchen has people singing patty praises. But the one I'm talking about today is Gumbo Kitchen serving N'awleans (New Orleans, people) tucker. 

Look, I'm as guilty as anyone taking the easy way out and buying the instant gumbo packs and yellow rice from the USA Food Store in Moorabbin. Been cheating for years with these easy to make packs. But here we are on a Saturday arvo, out in the northern 'burbs of Brunswick, where council restrictions are more generous than most. 

The line was not terribly long although the waiting took about 20 or so minutes after the order was placed. Nice friendly blokes manned the stand. If you are looking for a cheap bite, beat it. Prices are right up there with the cafes.
 

I definitely came with the intention of having some gumbo and the soft shell crab PO' Boy (Louisiana roll with meat fillings usually). 


Chicken and Sausage Gumbo $12





The winter air was slightly chilly but not biting. So a good gumbo was really a treat. My expectations were average so I was pleasantly surprised the gumbo was served piping hot and really full of flavour. 

The rice was commendably fluffy and light (trust me, I've eaten plenty of rice in my time). What's interesting is the texture and fluffiness reminded me of basmati rice but the actual grain is medium. It also soaked up the gumbo sauce so beautifully (yes, aware this is the most overused word in Masterchef). 

The chicken pieces were tender and the chorizo was, well, chorizo. The flavours from the gumbo packs a satisfying punch, probably more than I expected but not overpowering. It had a few layers of appetising tastes. From a rich but soupy texture to a very mild hint of spiciness and ends on a slight tint of acidity, which leaves you wanting more.





Soft Shell Crab PO' Boy $15
I was for sure torn between the Fried Cajun Shrimp and the Soft Shell Crab PO' Boys, but soft shell crab wins any day for me. At first I was disappointed at the thick tempura appearance of the batter, but one bite was enough to convince the converted.

The bread roll was crusty but thin on the outside and soft and airy inside. Fans of the Viet Hot Bread rolls rejoice. The thickish batter on the soft shell crab was accompanied perfectly with a dash of the Louisiana hot sauce. The biting kick of the hot sauce cuts through the deep fried floury coat and in fact provided perfect fodder without overtaking the essential taste of the sea you get in soft shell crab. 

Combined, the textures all worked well together. The batter might have a lack of crunch but it did not have to be as the soft shell crab was all pleasant crunch on its own.  Biting into the roll in one mouthful trying to encapsulate as much as the filling and roll as possible, the sensation of juicy goodness from the crab, the zest from the sauce and the chewiness of the bread were enough to lift one's spirits. 


Now I wasn't planning on dessert. But what's the point of having a Southern meal without finishing with sweets, especially pies for which the Southerners are famous for (I geddit, we are not in the US but let's stay in the moment here shall we?). 

I can assure you this Lemon Icebox Pie is far from the shitty chocolate pie Minnie served her evil bitch mistress in The Help. And even so that pie tasted great.

The crust at the bottom was a bit too thick but the lemon curd was zesty with such strong citrus flavour it went so well with the crumble. It would be marvellous served without the bottom crust in a glass with just the lemon curd and crumble on top.

Lemon Icebox Pie $4

 Conveniently located next to Gumbo Kitchen was another Texan Southern specialty, BBQ. The moment we got there, S zoomed straight in for Smokin' Barrys. The smell of the barbie so headying, he has trouble remembering his name. Men *insert rolled-eyes icon and putting-men-in-a-stereotype icon here*

Considering he had 2 racks of melt-off-the-bone racks of pork ribs the night before, S went for the nachos with spicy salsa, avocado, grated cheese, pulled pork and beef brisket. 

Forget the superlatives, it was quite simply GOOOOOOOD!

Nachos with the LOT $10
Snow Ice Mango Dessert $8.90

To finish off our icecapade, S (I swear not I) insisted we popped into this Asian joint called Dessert Story on Little Bourke St in the CBD for this snow ice mango dessert.  

We've tried this place once before in Glen Waverley after yum cha and S was fascinated by the texture of the ice mountain. Weirdly it really isn't like shaved ice although it is. It's like frozen milk grated to the finest of snowflake texture and drenched in mango juice and puree with pieces of mango for good measure. 

Therein ends the small food crawl on an early Saturday afternoon.