Tag Archives: dinner

1 week in London so far

While at first things seemed to move really slowly, one week flew by pretty damn quickly! Admin wise I’m getting closer with a bank account opened, but no way to transact and my National Insurance number application completed.

Process for the bank account was a little slow but they’re really thorough with the identity checks and making sure you’re aware of the T&Cs, something that seems to be glossed over in Aus.

Been out and about a bit too, went to visit the Science Museum which was pretty cool, my favourites were the space exhibition and the planes/air transport.

On entry, you’re greeted with these huge engines from the past, including the horizontal piston engine below, the size of it is insane!

Went to meet up for drinks with a high school friend and her friends and crazily enough one of them is Kaz’s friend. Strangely enough it turned out to be the girl she bumped into randomly last time we were here in London on holidays. Small world!

Met up with Cathy at the Ninth Ward for a drink, silly me didn’t realise it was happy hour and ran off without my change! Thankfully the bartender found me afterwards. Then it was onto The Winemakers Club a nice little wine bar that felt like you were in a cellar. 3 bottles down we decided to move on back to Tracy’s place and more wine and Indian food.

Saturday rolls by and pleasantly woken up with photos and videos from Bob and Sylvia’s wedding. Seeing the shenanigans made me miss home a bit.

Also, thanks for the song dedication guys. I was practically there! Even (partially) dressed for the occasion.

Hoping there won’t be too many more things I’ll miss, it looked like a blast! All the best guys. Also missed  Art and Lemon’s engagement already and that’s only a week in! Better have your wedding on an appropriate date!

Went for Uyghur food afterwards and it was one of the things I was craving before I left for London. Glad to find some locally, was really craving the lamb skewers. The skewers were okay (pricey though!) but they had this pot chicken with handmade noodles that was absolutely delish!

A few drinks with Long around Shoreditch wrapped up the Saturday. Gin and Tonic in large glasses, sorta like wine glasses, seems to be pretty standard here, not like the tumblers you get back home. A tip, don’t try eating the dried juniper berries.

Sunday was a lazy walk around some markets, Old Spitalfields and Brick Lane.

No shirt for me this time, but this caught me eye:

There were also food trucks next door and some smoked brisket was lunch of choice.

It was pretty damn tasty, there was a heap of caramelised onion that went beautifully with the smoky bbq sauce (strange fact: BBQ sauce isn’t commonly used here!)

Brick lane had a vintage market as well and some of the clothing looked seriously cool. Nothing I could pull off (and vintage clothing is bloody expensive!).

Plenty of graffiti and street art lurking in the lanes too. Plenty of politically motivated ones but will post up more in another post.

Party-wise I’ve locked in Transmission in Prague with flights and tickets sorted! Pretty psyched to be honest! Found out Kolsch was playing a live set a fabric so that’s locked in too!

Feeling good at the end of the week, feeling like most of the admin hurdles are progressing and I can focus on the job hunt.

There’s a few photos to put up from my walks around Brick Lane and Westminster and Southbank (no, not the one in Brisbane).

A Lot.1 of food

I’ve never had so much food from a set menu/degust before. Lot.1 on York St in the Sydney CBD was the venue of choice to mark 4.5 years of K and I. Having read good things and recommended by a good friend, it was time to give it a go ($20 back from AMEX and Dimmi helps too).

It was already pretty late for a dinner and the waitress did hint the 5 course option but we opted for the 7, seemed like decent value at $95.

First up, oysters, 2 each. Standard with lemon, nothing exciting.

Next up, chargrilled prawns with cumquat and bottarga. Cooked medium rare with good charring on the outside. The citrus in the cumquat gel was a great condiment.

A delay in service of this dish meant they gave us free champagne! Was mighty impressed with the attentiveness, we didn’t even make a comment or complaint!

The wagyu carpaccio was next and I was glad as it was one of the menu items I really wanted to try. Served with a pecorino cheese gelato and goji berries. The cheese just fused with the wagyu’s fat and the goji berries added a nice sweetness and crunch. It was excellent!

That was it for entrees. Next was mains, the Cavatelli, a pasta dish that reminded me of the Sepia forest floor dessert, except with pasta that looked a little like worms. Served with porcini cream, mushrooms and nutmeg. The taste of the mushroom really came through. A bit mixed on the pasta but overall still good.

Time for some protein, swordfish was up first and it was almost like a steak. The fish was quite salty but complimenting well with the sweet sauce and grilled bell peppers.

Pork neck came next and served with curly and super crunchy crackling. The fennel was a nice touch and it was cooked to perfection, really tender.

By this point we were super full and was hoping or assuming that this was the last dish, it was not. A plate of wagyu steak came out and while I really wanted this too, at this point I was about to explode. The Asian in me pushed on and I had 3 pieces, it was really tasty and the shaved carrots had a great colour and texture.

Overall really enjoyed this place and would recommend. Think the menu was adjusted for allergies but I think normally you’d still get 3 mains. The interior is nice with nice touches of colour, exposed brick and beams, makes for nice photos.

Dimmi also has limited number of 30% off deals for weekday bookings (don’t forget to link and use your Amex too).

Wildly oscillating to 28

As cold as winter is, there’s always one day to look forward to and that’s my birthday. Each year that means getting surprised and spoilt for a nice dinner with the girlfriend. The restaurant of choice this year was a small joint in Newtown called Oscillate Wildly, and to be honest I don’t think I’ve heard of it (then again, I don’t think I know many restaurants).

Not knowing what to expect, I didn’t even realise there was a small restaurant next to Black Star Pastry, and small it is, with only enough seats for about 20 guests. Taste-wise I could probably best describe it as Modern Australian with some Jap/Asian influence.

To get started was some pork crackling. Super crispy and airy like a chip but

Strangely enough, I really love it when there’s great bread and butter at restaurants. It’s important to be warm and crunchy on the outside and this bun sure delivered. No butter this time but something better, pork fat and what I think was some sort of pate. Delicious! We made a huge mess of the table as well. Apparently it’s only available during winter.

Last appetiser before the real meal started was a gin and tonic, in sugar cane form, it was quite fun biting into the cold fibrous cane to bring out the flavour.

First real dish was avocado, ponzu and fingerlime. This one blew my mind with its simplicity yet it just seemed to work really well. The acidity and sourness from the ponzu and fingerlime just kind of melted with the avocado.

Next up was peas, parmesan and lovage. Interesting dish with the sauce a really nice deep shade of green. There were some balls that exploded with flavour and really rounded off the peas and slight bitterness of the lovage and delicate parmesan. Really airy and subtle with the parmesan flavours being quite light.

Foie, cauliflower and maple would be the next dish. There was a nice crunch from what looks like popcorn which contrasts the smooth cauliflower puree, the shavings at the top give it a bit of resistance. Flavour-wise, lots of umami with enough maple to bring our the savoury flavours.

Next dish was basically just mushroom shitake sliced up, bits of enoki in a really dark broth. Really flavoursome and the mushrooms still retained their texture without tasting raw.

Going to something more substantial was simply fish and chips and that was really it to the dish. The fish was cooked really well but simply salted to retain the whiting’s flavour. The chips however were something spectacular, they were wafer thin strips and almost like a potato chip yet still had heaps of potato flavour.

My eyes lit up for the next dish as the waiter mentioned 9+ marbling wagyu beef. More enoki and a really nice black vinegar glaze which went really well with the perfectly cooked beef. The fat had rendered completely and just packed the meat full of flavour.

Desserts were now about to come. The first was chestnuts and vanilla ice cream. Really simple dish and I really liked how the shaved chestnuts gave bite to the dish and subdued the flavours a bit, kind of makes you savour it a bit more.

The last dessert had me a bit worried to be honest, liquorice, coconut and malt, not usually flavours I enjoy but it ended up being one of my favourites of the night. Super soft sponge cake with enough of a liquorice taste but minus the bitterness. The coconut ice cream was rather light and just finished it nicely. If it were up to me, it’d be something I could eat bowls of all day.

Kaz’s dessert was well plated which is always nice given her giant list of allergies. Beetroot, rhubarb and raspberry.

Some petit fours and a candle to finish the night, the jelly cubes were a nice way to wrap up the meal. We did get the matching wines to share and I think they’ve done a really good job to match the wine with the food. I won’t go into the detail, but I found it to be complementary both ways.

One thing that we noticed towards the end was the candle holder, felt a bit game of thrones-esque.

A very enjoyable dinner and I’d totally recommend this place. The dishes were all very well balanced, the flavours seemed to just subtly mix together and felt like they were carefully chosen but also very restrained; one way of putting it is it requires you be patient and seek out the flavours a bit.Thanks again for the lovely dinner and night out, I love how you always try to find a place that’ll surprise me. As with any other restaurant choice, it was perfect.

Paper Planes – Bondi Beach

Now I don’t usually write about restaurants, but figured since I had some pictures of food, why not? So arriving too late to see the Sculptures by the Sea, Winnie, Louis and I decided to go eat, our spontaneous restaurant of choice? Paper Planes at Bondi Beach, a nice modern Japanese joint.

Having looked at the menu, we decided to wait the 45 minutes for a table and give this place a shot. The decor of this place was pretty fascinating with Japanese themed decorated skateboards on the ceiling and paper cranes hanging about, quite a modern interior.

In the corner on one end is a sit-down bar where you can eat as well.

Despite the modern setting, sitting down there’s nice little touches of a more traditional Japanese setting with the soy sauce bottle.

The menu’s rather nice as well, sticks to the name of the restaurant and as you can see, it’s a partially folded paper aeroplane, very cool.

First thing was first, cocktails, I ended up with a ‘Tokyo Pop’ and Winnie a ‘Chee Chee Mule’. The first being Pimms and St Germain based with plenty of fruity flavours rimmed with pop rocks, the latter was Vodka based with Lychee and ginger beers. The Tokyo pop was definitely tasty and very refreshing, the Chee Chee Mule sounds better than it tastes, not a fan of this one.

Now the food, we decided to share food and picked a few different dishes, the first were entree dishes, Agedashi Tofu and King Fish Belly Carpacio. Both were very tasty, the tofu had a nice smooth texture and a flavoursome but not overpower sauce, definitely one of the better tofu dishes I’ve had. The King Fish was delicious, the chilli oil isn’t too strong and the crunch of the jalapeños gives a nice texture and a bit of spice to bring the flavours together.

The next dish is the Salmon Tartare Nachos, these are a must have, the dressing of the Salmon is just lovely and goes well with the slight saltiness of the prawn crackers.

Last entrée was the PaperPlanes Prawn Gyoza, this is probably the best Gyoza I’ve had in Sydney, what really makes it special is that lemon wasabi foam sauce. It has a nice crisp on the outside and the inside doesn’t feel mushy.

Next up was some kushiyaki, we went with the Mocha rice cake & smoked speck, Shiitake mushrooms stuffed with prawn and the Chicken thigh fillet. The first was flavoursome and delicious, the texture was good too, not too glutinous like a lot of rice cakes can be. The next two were similar in taste with the preference to the chicken thigh fillet as they were just so tender and juicy, perfectly cooked.

Our final dish was the Confit duck ramen, we weren’t too sure what to make of this when ordering, but were pleasantly surprised when it came out, beautifully presented. Digging in, it was exceptional! The curry sauce was full of flavour but not overpowering and the chilli oil adds a nice chilli hit on top of the curry. The fried noodles change up the texture and made for an amazing dish, the soft quail eggs and the crispy skin of the duck was just too good.

That was it for the savoury food, we couldn’t go without some dessert and we chose the Black egg and the Green tea rocher. The black egg is like a coconut pana cotta and a reduced dark chocolate sauce coated with a little macadamia oil. It’s a rather light dessert and the macadamia flavours didn’t flow through as much as we were hoping.

The Green tea rocher reminds me of a cross between a Ferrero Rocher and a churro (the ones from the theme parks), it’s got a nice crunch on the outside and warm chocolate and a hazelnut on the outside. The coating of green tea sugar is almost like a substitute for the cinnamon sugar, I quite liked this one.

That’s it for the food, but the restaurant has one last surprise, the waiter brings out a divided tray of water and we were a little confused. He had forgotten something and came back, he pops a tablet looking thing into each and suddenly they puff up to become a wet towel! It was like magic, we were amazed!

Verdict: Would highly recommend this place and say it’s definitely delicious.
Cost: Slightly pricey, we spent about $60each
More info: www.paperplanesbondi.com
Location: Shop 15, 178 Campbell Parade, Bondi Beach – “The beach house”
Map:

Singaporean Chilli Crab

For father’s day I decided to cook up a storm and the choice of dish would be Singaporean chill crab with a side of stir fried Hokkien noodles. The last time I tried the crab was for dinner with some friends and that ended up a disaster with me close to slicing off my finger with the cleaver (4 weeks later and it’s still not completely healed).

The recipe used for this dish was from SBS and a recipe by Alex Lee (link here: http://www.sbs.com.au/food/recipe/130/Singapore_chilli_crab). Bear in mind if you’re doing this as well, watch the video as the recipe does miss a step or two).

Here’s my result:

So how do you actually make it?

Well it’s actually very simple, you’ll obviously need a crab, here’s the one I got, unfortunately it was missing a claw, but it will do.

If you’ve bought it live (which you should), you’ll need to kill it, remove the head, break it in half remove the claws (or claw in my case). Chop the body and legs into two pieces and the claw into two pieces at the elbow joint. A full crab should give you 8 pieces of meat, enough for 3 people. You’ll also need to smash up the shell of the claw pieces a bit, use the cleaver sideways or a hammer, be careful not to go too hard, you’ll still want it to look like crab pieces. Place on some paper towels to dry.

What you’ll need for the crab (amounts are for 1 full crab):

  • 1 live (or freshly killed) mud crab
  • 2 brown onions (roughly chopped)
  • 8 red chillis (roughly chopped) (make sure they actually have a bit of kick to them)
  • Belacan or some shrimp paste (tiny bit)
  • 1/2 tbspn vinegar
  • Approx 6tbspn oil
  • 1 tbspn tomato paste
  • 2 tbspn tomato sauce
  • 300mL tomator puree
  • 3 tbspn light soy sauce
  • 1 tbspn chilli sauce
  • 4 tbspn sugar
  • 1/2 cup warm water with 1/4 tspn corn starch
  • 1 egg

First blitz the onions and chilli in a food processor until its pretty fine but not too mushy (about 20 – 30 seconds).

Before:

After:

A little extra step I like to do is to lightly fry the crab pieces, place a wok on high heat and wait til its very hot, pour in some oil and once it smokes, place the crab pieces in, be careful as the crab may still be wet and oil will fly. Cook roughly for about 30 seconds to a minute, remove and set aside.

Get the rest of your ingredients ready in preparation to make the sauce.

With a hot wok, pour the oil in, immediately after place the chilli and onion mixture/paste in and cook until it looks somewhat dry, the onion contains a fair amount of liquid which you want to evaporate. Next you’ll be adding the vinegar, tomato puree, paste, sugar and salt.

Next add the tomato sauce, soy sauce as well as water and starch mixture. let it simmer for a little bit to get the flavours out. Bring the sauce the boil and place in your crab pieces. Cook until the shell is a consistent red colour, once achieved, crack an egg in and stir to spread the egg uniformly. You’re done.

I personally don’t think crab is enough on its own, so to compliment it, I made some stir fried Hokkien noodles to go along with it. Like with any stir fry, they’re simple, but the key is maintaining high heat for the smokey flavours, this means moderating the portions you cook with so the heat doesn’t dissipate too quickly.

For my stir fry, I had the following:

  • Onions
  • Carrot
  • Chilli
  • Capsicum
  • Garlic (finely chopped)
  • Fish balls
  • Fish cake
  • Chinese cabbage
  • Bean sprouts
  • Hokkien noodles
  • 2 tbspn oyster sauce
  • 1/2 tbspn seasame oil
  • 1 tbspn oil

With stir fry, you want to arrange your ingredients in a logical manner for when you throw them in.

To make the stir fry, have your work hot and smoking, add the oils, they should smoke immediately. Add the chopped garlic and stir immediately, do not stop! Next add the capsicum, onions, chilli and carrots, keep stirring. After about 20 seconds you want to add the fish balls and fish cake, this is also the time to add the oyster sauce.

Next is to add the noodles, make sure when you dunked them in hot water you didn’t leave it too long, otherwise you’ll be left with mushy noodles. Give it a good stir then finally add the cabbage and bean sprouts, once they soften you are done and should end up with something like this:

My final results of the two dishes:

Older photos – part 2

Next up we have my partial attempt at Sculptures by the Sea at Bondi Beach, partial in the fact that I only got half way before having to leave to head to dinner. Definitely need to make more of an effort to go, more than once preferably as it’s one of those events that is always so much fun (photographically). So much choice of subject and in varying environment makes it a challenge to capture something different.

Would love some comments on this photo, bit of an experiment with the composition and the post (and funnily enough, not even a sculpture itself!)

Below is my take on Sculptures by the Sea 2011.

Click for the rest of Sculptures 2011
Click for the rest of Sculptures 2011

So the reason the photos from above were cut short was the need to attend Steve’s and Janet’s birthday at Hurricanes in Darling Harbour. Photos from the night below, nothing too fancy seeing as I only had my 35mm f/2 and no flash with me (I’ve been pretty lazy these days).

Click for pics of Steve and Janet's 23rd
Click for pics of Steve and Janet's 23rd

Sunday Dinner – Pan Fried Salmon Fillet

Surprisingly there were no left overs from yesterday’s BBQ with the family so I had to resort to making my own dinner, there was a piece of Salmon Fillet in the fridge so that’d be the choice for the main.

Salmon I keep very simple, all I did was sprinkle on some cracked pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice. In the frying pan I had a few cloves of garlic frying and once it got up to temperature, in went the fish. As it cooks sprinkle on a little salt and flip over. Serve once cooked to your liking.

Here’s the end result, with a green salad on the side as well as some potato salad.

Pan fried salmon

Made a little dipping sauce on the side made up of mustard, mayonnaise, lemon juice and a little honey.

Very quick, very simple and pretty good in taste.

Day 12 – Yoyogi Park, Ginza and the Ninja Cafe

Another day and another adventure, a good day always starts out with a good breakfast, and not much can be katsu curry with an egg. For some reason I have a strange liking for Japanese curry even though it’s hardly a proper curry.

Katsu curry breakfast

Being a Sunday, we wanted to go see some Harajuku girls, or the people dressed in cosplay as the last time we went, it was rather disappointing. This time round, it wasn’t spectacular either, but we had an interesting look into the culture of the Japanese youth in Japan.

Entering Yoyogi

Upon entering Yoyogi park, there was a very vibrant atmosphere, almost like a festival. The first sight was the water feature above and surrounding us was the sound of drums from the guys below.

Drumming away

Continue reading Day 12 – Yoyogi Park, Ginza and the Ninja Cafe

Photos from the past few weeks

So, I’ve been a lazy ass lately and photos have been piling up without being posted, so I’ve just thrown everything into one post.

First is VSA cruise of 2010, a lot of fisheye photos in this one, suprised I managed to get this in focus.

Next up are the photos from the VSA UNSW BBQ from August.

Also, 10 years later after we had all left primary school, the time capsule we had put in the ground in the year 2000 was finally dug up. Some things had changed at school, while others largely remained the same. As our memory of what was in the capsule was quite fuzzy, we all remembered the things in there being better than they actually were. The contents were a bit disappointing.

Within the last few weeks, our friend David Huynh had the privilege of graduating, finally after years of work and thousands of dollars, he’s got the piece of paper which makes it all worth it.

Nugo also tried to redeem himself with his 22nd birthday (not many photos from this one), most of you will remember he conked out really early for his 21st and this time round, he wasn’t gonna disappoint.

Thien and Kalee also celebrated their 22nd birthdays with a Korean BBQ dinner at the Bakehouse garden in North Strathfield complimented by two games of ten-pin bowling.

And most recently, during the mid sem break, I went on a trip up north to MacMasters beach on the Central Coast. Wonderful time with decent weather, and when it did get chilly, the jacuzzi was a nice touch.