Sunday, June 30, 2013


Bakchang, or glutinous rice dumplings are traditionally eaten on the 5th day of the 5th lunar month. As with many Chinese practices, this practice also stem from a folklore from the period of the Warring States. According to legend, packets of rice were thrown into the Miluo River to prevent fish from eating the body of the poet Qu Yuan, who drowned himself there after he unsuccessfully warned his Emperor and countrymen of the expansion of the neighbouring kingdom. This folklore is also known as the Duanwu Festival or the Dragonboat Festival and this packet of rice has evolved into the bakchang we eat today.

We did not make our batch of bakchang in time for the 5th of the 5th but it was perfect weather for some warm packetful homely love. The night before, Mel soaked the glutinous rice, mushrooms and bamboo leaves in water.

We were both wondering if we bought enough ingredients, such as dried shrimps and chestnuts. Oh well, we would only know the next day.

Mel's friend, Hooi Li, came the next day. Mel woke up real early to start stir-frying the glutinous rice with caramel sauce, soy sauce and five spice powder. I helped with the stir-frying, too, and we both wondered if the rice was too 'burnt'. Hooi Li did not think so, so it was fingers crossed.

Hooi Li brought with her some marinated pork belly and in no time, Mel demonstrated how to fold and hold the bamboo leaves to keep the ingredients safely tucked. We made sure there was one piece of pork, one piece of mushroom and two chestnuts in each dumpling.

I have had bakchang all my life but admittedly, this was my first attempt at making them on my own. It took me quite a few dumplings before actually getting the folding 'right'. Not very perfect, the shape, unfortunately.

I left the tying to Mel. She had a good sifu (her mother) and she herself made a patient teacher, too. Haha, it must have been trying to have a student like me, who could not get the leaves properly folded.

In total, we made 52 bakchangs!

We boiled them in batches and watched the time. The first batch went in for 2.5 hours and we were quite excited.

Although it was a lot of work, it was much fun, too! I really enjoyed myself!

Grand opening ceremony of a bakchang - success!

The texture of the rice was great, and the taste of the other ingredients blended well. Only inconsistency was the saltiness of the rice, perhaps due to how the stir-frying was done in a frying pan instead of a wok.

Out of the 52 dumplings, only one leaked. Not bad. And since we had so many bamboo leaves leftover, we will be making more dumplings on another rainy weekend! Orders? Teehee...

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Super Bowl Chinese Restaurant

Super Bowl has been in Chinatown forever. However, after nearly 10 years here, this was my first try. They were the only place open that early in the morning. As there were only two of us, we opted for Breakfast Set D ($7.80), which included a bowl of preserved egg and pork congee (we swapped this with chicken fillet congee), a plate of steamed rice noodles (cheong fun), a plate of fried noodles and one Chiu Chow dumpling.

Honestly, I could not see why they are popular. The waitstaff were rude, the menus were sticky from the layers of oil and what not, the food, well, just average.

Superbowl Chinese Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Super Bowl Chinese Restaurant
41 Dixon Street, Sydney, NSW 2000, Australia
Tel: +61 2 9281 2462
Open daily 8:00am to 2:00am

Monday, June 24, 2013

Minh Hai BBQ

Strategically located just across the road from Market City, I have never noticed this small restaurant and have always mistaken it for a takeaway place.

I was pleasantly surprised by the modern interior. They were clean and had Jay Chou songs playing in the background.

Like iTaiwan, we placed our orders through a touch screen.

We ordered our favourites - roast duck and roast chicken (XW had to have her drumstick).

Comes with complementary soup.

For a quick no fuss meal, I will consider coming back again. Lovely roast and barbeque they have.

Minh Hai BBQ on Urbanspoon

Minh Hai BBQ
92 Hay Street, Haymarket, NSW 2000, Australia
Tel: + 61 2 9281 9720
Open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner

Friday, June 21, 2013

Mamak Chatswood

Seems odd that I do not include a post on a place I frequent. Maybe because I dine here pretty often that I think, why bother, right? And they already have made their name. Oh welllllsss.....

It is always this crowded, especially during weekends.

Most people who come here only have their rotis. Very few know that their other main dishes are pretty good, too. Take their nasi lemak ($8.50) for example. Add fried or curry chicken/fish/lamb/vegetarian for $3 or sambal prawn/cuttlefish for $4 and heaven!

This is my must-have - their mee goreng ($11.50), wok-tossed Hokkien noodles with eggs, prawns, fish cake slices  and fresh bean sprout. Other than the ambience and price, it is exactly what it is like back home.

Similarly, I also recommend their Maggi goreng ($11.50). Just like the above but using Maggi noodles instead. Sometimes, I wish they had Indomie goreng, too.

In Sydney, I still think they make the best rotis. All their rotis are served on stainless steel plates, just like those back home and with standard fish curry (which I absolutely love!), dahl and a dollop of sambal at the side.

The original Roti Canai $5.50

Roti Planta $6.50

Roti telur bawang, the classic egg roti with sweet red onion $7.00

Roti tisu, an extra thin, extra crispy, extravagant version of roti canai $9.50
Roti kaya served as dessert with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream $7.50

I think the ais kacang ($6.00) and cendol ($6.00) desserts need no intro here.

And all Malaysian drinks on their menu are priced at $3.50 per mug. I almost always ask for teh halia (ginger teh tarik).

Depending on the team on duty, service can be responsive while at times, not so. Be prepared to queue on weekends, although I still wonder why they would rather have a few tables left empty to have a longer queue outdoors. Winter now, so hopefully they won't make diners wait in the cold when there are tables indoors.

Mamak on Urbanspoon

Mamak Chatswood
Shop P9, 1-5 Railway Street, Chatswood, NSW 2067, Australia
Tel: +61 2 9411 4411
Open daily 11:30am to 2:30pm, 5:30 to 9:30pm (10:30pm on Friday and Saturday)
*Reservations not accepted

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Istana Restaurant

It has been a while since I last visited Istana up in Thornleigh. The first time was probably 6 years ago, and even then the place was as packed as a sardine can.

This time, we were there at 5:30pm and were fortunate to get a table for three immediately. I suppose smaller tables are always easier to get.

Otak-Otak ($6.80) started off the meal. The cod fillets seasoned in spices and grilled in banana leaves were fragrant with just the right texture.

We also enjoyed the Belacan Kangkung ($17.80), water spinach stir-fried with garlic, shrimp paste and chilli, especially the kick from the belacan.

We felt that the Curry Kapitan Chicken ($17.50) was average. Not lemak enough, perhaps, which was why it was not as oily as we expected.

The deep-fried King Salmon cutlets with spicy salt ($20.80) was a nice surprise. The deep-fried cutlets had us all thinking the same thing - we will pack this to bring home if we are too full to finish it!

If you are willing to pay the price, Istana serves good Malaysian cuisine. They are just a stone's throw away from Thornleigh Station and definitely serves the huge population of Malaysians and Singaporeans in the Hills District.

Istana on Urbanspoon

Istana Restaurant
238/230 Pennant Hills Road, Thornleigh, NSW 2120, Australia
Tel: +61 2 9481 8855, Fax: +61 2 9481 9699
Open daily 12:00pm to 3:00pm, 5:00pm to late

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Welcome BBQ

Do not be fooled by the humble appearance of this restaurant. There is more than meets the eye.

The Korean ahjuma that runs this place is super friendly. She leads us to the back of the shop where more tables were. Yes, the deception includes a comfortable open backyard, too. And promptly after taking our orders, those little dishes are served.

The seafood pancake is fragrant and not too oily. Like.

The most fun part comes in the form of the barbeque. Have to admit that they have the cleanest barbeque grill I have ever seen in a Korean restaurant!

We all eye the spicy ingredients to wrap with the meat...

... and to down all that Korean solids, a bottle of Korean liquid!

Welcome BBQ on Urbanspoon

Welcome BBQ
94 Rowe Street, Easwood, NSW 2122, Australia
Tel: +61 2 8065 9881
Open daily from lunch till late