Thursday, April 29, 2010

Taste of Shanghai - Eastwood

Once in a while I do crave for some nice Shanghai food. The last time it happened, we ended up at Eastwood in a restaurant called Taste of Shanghai. 
I think people rarely go to any Shanghainese restaurant and not order any xiao long bao (steamed mini pork buns). This was 1 of the first dish we saw on the menu, right in the middle of page 1 - Shanghai Steamed xiao long bao $8.80. Usually the way I 'judge' my xiao long bao is 1. whether the skin break easily when I try to lift it with chopsticks 2. whether there is steaming hot soup squirting out when I take my first bite. 
We also ordered the Steamed xiao long bao with crab meat $10.80. These xlb actually met the 2 prerequisites of good xlb for me. The skin didn't break easily, but of course we still had to be very careful. I used to not like having these with vinegar, but now I've actually learnt to enjoy dipping them in little bit of vinegar to add more taste. 
This was our Szechuan style shredded pork plus golden bun $14.80 + $5. The deep fried buns (man tou) were really good. Crispy on the outside, soft like cotton on the inside. The bun is plain, little bit sweet. Really nice to have it with the shredded pork (which would've been slightly too salty if eaten without the bun). 
Ham pastry $8.80. Here's how it looked like on the inside. Finely diced ham with some shallot wrapped in layers of crispy pastry and some sesame seeds on top. 

Here's another 1 that I quite like too - XO sauce stir fried Shanghai rice cake (didn't get to check the price for this). The rice cake was chewy, the texture was very different from normal noodles. 
Another dish that I just had to order everytime I visit a Shanghainese restaurant was this Pan fried pork bun $9.80. Usually the filling inside is similar to those in xlb. There would be some soup inside the buns too. The difference between this and xlb was that the bun itself was thicker and fluffier and the bottom part of the bun was very crispy. 
Here's the most expensive dish of the night - live barramundi with fermented rice and glutinous ball $28.80. The glutinous balls were actually my favourite part of the dish. Not that there's anything wrong with the fish, the fish itself was perfect! It's just more fun to try picking as many of the slippery sweet chewy balls up as possible with chopsticks. Good test of one's chopstick skills :)  

Another dinner where we just ordered too much again. Oh well, at least it solved the problem of next day's lunch at work. 

Taste of Shanghai - Eastwood
200 Rowe St
Eastwood 2122 NSW
Phone: (02) 9804 0388

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Honeymoon Part 5

After leaving Pangkor Laut Resort, we drove further north to another island - Penang with 1 aim in our minds - food! More yummy food!! As a wedding gift from my best friend, we got to stay at a very modern hotel - G Hotel - located at the famous Gurney Drive close to many of the famous hawker centres. 
On the first night, straight away we went to the spot where I remember all the nice hawkers were (the last time I was at Gurney Drive was I think probably around 10 yrs ago). 
The 1 thing that we had to have was the Penang fried kuay teow. Unfortunately the standard of food at all these hawkers here had dropped. Either that or our expectation were too high from all the anticipation since months ago. This was oily, soggy, not what a good char kuay teow supposed to be. 

Another famous local Penang food that was ruined by the deteriorating hawkers - Oysters omelette. The oysters weren't fresh at all with very strong fishy smell. Together with the overly gooey starchy mix, it just wasn't pleasant at all. 

Thinking I should get something that can't really go wrong but still slightly different (which only 1 hawker was selling out of 30 or so of them) - a spicy wonton noodle. I totally forgot that I was in Malaysia. When they wrote spicy, it was SPICY INDEED - unlike Sydney where most of the 'spicy' stuff was around sweet chilli level of spiciness. From the photo it looks quite 'tame', but if you have a closer look, you'll see the orange 'fringe' at the side of the white polystyrene box - which was the chilli oil that was added to the gravy. This thing BURNS!! Robin had 1 mouthful and couldn't take it. I tried and had a few mouthful, but still couldn't finish it. So just ate the deep fried wonton and the vege. So nope, didn't leave a good impression either. Even though none of these was as good as we were expecting them to, we were still full (or rather appetite was ruined). So just got ourselves some drinks and went back to hotel. 

The next morning we decided that we won't try anything that's not on our "Penang good food directory". We didn't use the directory the day before because from memory the Gurney Drive hawker centre was really good + we were tired from driving so thought we would just have something nearby. So, the first thing we wanted to get is the best Penang char kuay teow. We managed to find the stall, but it was VERY HARD to find a parking in that area. We had to go round the block like 3 times for a street parking. It was worth it though. The stall was inside a coffee shop and while waiting for our char kuay teow we also ordered some yam cake from a different stall. This yam cake is so good with the deep fried shallot and dried prawns. 
Knowing that the servings were going to be small, we also ordered a prawn noodle to share. Luckily the chilli was served separately in the spoon instead of mixing it in the soup. So Robin actually managed to eat this as well. 
Now here's the famous Sisters Char Kuay Teow. This was sooooo much better than the other we had the night before!!! Tasted better, looked better, we were much happier with this. (For those who might want to know, this is Sisters at Jalan Macalister - near junction of Jalan Macalister/Jalan Perak.) 1 thing that I miss in char kuay teow is the cockles. They don't seem to fry kuay teow with cockles anymore. Prawns were used instead. 
As for the best part of this Penang trip, the asam laksa!! A friend took me there years ago, which I had absolutely no idea how to get back there again. The only thing I remember was that it was near Kek Lok Si Temple. We didn't really have anything to do after our breakfast, so we decided to go do some sight seeing since it's Robin's first time at Penang. Guess what we found on our way?? This AWESOME asam laksa stall!! Thanks to the section of my brain that's keeping 'unimportant information', I was surprised that I could actually recognise the stall - at the side of the road with the sugarcane juice stall next to it. Both stalls were still there, just like how I remembered from a few years ago. The laksa wasn't as hot as it looked. We just had to pick the chilli out :p The soup was sour from the asam (tamarind) with lots of shredded fish. The black patch was the sweet prawn paste that was added on top. The noodle was very smooth and slippery (fun to slurp loudly :p). Together with some mint leaves, pineapple and onion, this was quite an appetizing dish which wouldn't leave you feeling bloated and queasy. 

So conclusion, Gurney Drive was a disappointment to us. Luckily we stumbled upon this laksa stall and many thanks to Elaine for the food directory. Also many thanks to CH for the nice stay at G Hotel which served us ice-cream on arrival kekeke :) 

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Honeymoon Part 4

I know it's been a while since I came back from honeymoon. As you can see, I still haven't quite caught up with my bunch of backlog yet haha.. Oh well, I'll just have to try harder to write more :p Anyway, I'll show a few more photos of my stay at Pangkor Laut Resort. 
1 afternoon while we were walking back to our room, we saw a family of 'locals' on our way. They were waiting for someone to forget closing their door so that they could go to the mini bar and enjoy some drinks and nuts. That's why it was very important to lock the door behind when we were going in or out the room. 
Here's the other local that we met around the island. Our friend here seemed to enjoy watching our tennis game, sitting near the court not afraid of those flying tennis balls at all. 
Another family of locals - garfish. They were right outside of our balcony. Probably around 6 or 7 of them every night just gathering outside of our room. I think that's their sleeping place or something :p 
Alright, enough of our new friends. Here's our dinner. Bread and butter to start off with. 
Robin ordered the mixed tempura for entree and I got the otak-otak (grilled fish paste wrapped in banana leaves).  
I find this to be quite different to the 'normal' otak-otak that I was used to. My dad used to get otak-otak from Muar in Malaysia. Muar's otak-otak was shorter but flatter, this otak-otak served here were longer but thicker. Taste quite different too. I still prefer the Muar type otak-otak than this. Seemed like the fish paste they used here had different kind of mixture in them. 
Thinking I would have something 'local', so I ordered the nasi kandar It came with variety of curries and vegetables. I was quite happy when I saw the papadums but I was disappointed when I started breaking them. They had gone slightly soggy and not as cripy as they should. The curries were nice, not too spicy which suited me. 
Robin ordered something more 'western' - ginger and coriander crusted grouper. It was served with mashed purple yam, zuchini and red bell pepper coulis. The mashed purple yam was quite an interesting substitute to the more common mashed potato. 
We had scoops of ice-cream for dessert, which weren't anything great plus the lighting wasn't ideal, so I had skipped the photos. 
We took a walk to the jetty after dinner. See the faint lights in the distance? Those were the lights from the main Pangkor island. 
The pool and the beach early in the morning on our last day at PLR. As I have shown the breakfast buffet in earlier post, so we'll skip right to lunch on that day.
We had to leave the island at 2, so we decided to have an early lunch which wasn't too long after our buffet breakfast, so we just ordered some entrees to share and desserts. Here's our prawn salad. 
Second entree, vegetable spring roll. 
Both of us had the same dessert - tofu pannacotta. Very very nice dessert. The pannacotta itseld was similar to the 1 I had at musashi, but the presentation was much better here and the condiments were different. Special mention to the gooseberry here.

This was the first time I tried a gooseberry. Kinda look like a cherry, but I can't really remember how the taste was already :p 
More anchovies at the jetty on our way back. 
Some bigger 1s too! Seriously, if anyone planning to visit, highly recommend to bring a net. Then you'll have unlimited supply of ikan bilis for sambal or nasi lemak.

Last photo from this beautiful island, my failed attempt of panorama of Emerald Beach. I guess I'll have to go back there again so that I can try again. Agree? :D 

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Criniti's @ Parramatta

This has to be the busiest restaurant among all others on Church Street at Parramatta. When mum and friends came over for a visit, bro decided to book a table and ordered the biggest pizza I had seen. They ordered some garlic bread to start with (I was late and by the time I got there, all I saw was empty plates which had garlic bread on them :p) Luckily that was the only thing I missed. 
We had the chicken caesar salad ($24.90) to share for the table. Nicely grilled chicken, creamy sauce, big pieces of grated cheese and crispy fresh lettuce. Nothing to complain about for a chicken caesar salad. 
Just in case there wasn't enough, brother also ordered some pasta. I'm guessing my sister picked this fettucine boscaiola ($28.90) because this is her favourite pasta sauce. 
Now, here's the reason bro wanted to bring us there. The 1 meter long pizza! The 3 toppings that we had for our pizza al metro (price varies depending on toppings) were Godfather, Australiana and funghi (front to back)

Now I know why this restaurant is always busy. Even late at night when others are almost empty there's probably still some queue outside waiting for table here. It's not exactly cheap eat, but when we averaged it out among the 8 or 9 of us, it was actually not too bad. 

Criniti's Southern Italian Cuisine
291 Church Street,
Parramatta NSW
Tel: 1300 274 648

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Breakfast @ Bills

I had been wanting to visit Bills for the famous scrambled eggs ever since MC gave me the recipe of Bill Granger's scrambled eggs years ago. I've made them a few times, but never got try the 'real deal'. Opportunity for visitng Bills came about when my best friend came from Malaysia for a visit. Her flight arrived early morning, so I thought breakfast at Bills would be the perfect way to begin her day in Sydney.
For drinks, she ordered a Sunrise drink of orange juice, banana, yoghurt and berries ($5) and I ordered the Rosehip and mint punch ($5). I had no idea what rosehip was back then (later found out that it's fruit of a rose plant), just thought anything + mint punch shouldn't be too bad. 
True enough it's a very refreshing drink. Didn't have any rose taste though. I was thinking if it's got something to do with rose, maybe it would have the rose flavour (like rose cordial), but nope, didn't taste any of that. It was more like a lime + mint mix but red in colour. 
I knew what I was going to order even before we stepped into the restaurant. Here's our Scrambled organic eggs with sourdough toast with extra mushrooms ($13.50 + $4). As expected, eggs were soft and fluffy and creamy. I really wouldn't mind this everyday for breakfast. We were also very very impressed with the juicy garlicky sautéed mushrooms.
Here's our thick round Ricotta hotcakes with fresh banana and honeycomb butter ($17.50). Writing about it now gives me the craving for it. Fluffy hotcake with melting butter on top, thick body hiding pieces of ricotta within, dripping with maple syrup and accompanied by sweet ripe bananas. 

We were so full after our breakfast, so we went for a walk at The Rocks market. Guess what we found there? Guylian Cafe! We got a bit tired after walking for about an hour, so we went in and had a drink each. 

CH ordered the Guylian hot milk chocolate ($8). A jug of hot chocolate came with a cup where there's a piece of chocolate lying inside.
I ordered the dark chocolate shake ($10.25). I was sort of disappointed with this. I was looking forward to a bitter sweet icy cold chocolate drink, but this was overly sweet for my liking. It's more like a milk chocolate shake than a dark chocolate shake. For this price I think there are plenty other nicer dark chocolate drinks around.

All in all, I think I fed my overseas guest fairly well (if not overfed) on that morning :) 

Bills @ Surry Hills
359 Crown Street, 
Surry Hills 2010 NSW
Tel: 93604762

Guylian Cafe
91 George Street
The Rocks
Sydney 2000 NSW
Tel: 82747500