Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Vegie Hut Vegetarian Restaurant

During one of my many annual visits to rellies in Melbourne, my aunt and cousin brought me to Vegie Hut for a wholesome vegetarian dinner.

The place was simply decorated with earthy colours and was bustling with diners.

I enjoyed the variety of flavours present in the Oriental Entree Platter ($24.10).

I laughed myself silly at the thought of ordering a Veggie-Fin Soup ($5.40). Talk about not supporting shark fin soup!

The Braised Chinese Mushrooms on Vegetables ($15.10) was a simple dish. I liked the juiciness of the mushrooms.

The Honey Veggie-Prawn ($17.80) was crispy and my young nephew, little Kevin, absolutely loved it. Kids and fried stuff, sigh.

I was surprised that imitation meat/seafood would cost more, just like the real deal. A plate of Steam Fish with Enoki Mushrooms set us back $19.60. Hm, a little pricey, in my opinion. It did taste very fishy, though.

Ah, and complementary tong sui always tastes sweeter. ;)

Vegie Hut Vegetarian on Urbanspoon

Vegie Hut Vegetarian Restaurant
984 White Horse Road, Box Hill, VIC 3128, Australia
Tel: +61 3 9898 2287, Fax: +61 3 9898 9419, Email: yvonne@vegiehut.com.au
Wednesday to Monday 12:00pm to 3:00pm, 5:30pm to 10:00pm

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Petaling Street: Malaysian Hawker Food @ Haymarket

My Melburnian friends used to take pride in the countless Malaysian makan places they have down south. One particular place that I constantly hear is Petaling Street. Therefore, when they were opening an outlet here in Sydney, I was keen to give them a try. Even more so when I found out that a friend is one of the shareholders.

They sure know where to place themselves - the busiest street in Sydney, George Street and facing Market City. Definitely going to call out to the local Chinatown and visiting backpacker crowds.

Ranging from $10 to $30, I personally think that pricing is a plus point for the portion and the taste. Another plus point is the ambience, as it reminds me of home because of the constant Manglish/Singlish conversations jabbed with random words in Canto, Hokkien, Hakka and Malay. Here are some of the things I have tried over multiple visits:

Something like a rojak with lots of tofu minus the rojak sauce is the Malaysian Hawker-Type Deep Fried Bean Curd ($6.50). Eaten with thin strips of cucumber and blanched bean sprouts, this can be treated like salad.

I am a big fan of their Chee Cheong Fun which they call Steam Rice Roll ($6.80). Texture of the rice rolls covered in sweet sauce combined with the beancurd sheets, ah, perfect for a Malaysian-style arvo tea break. Every time I have this dish, I would recall the chee cheong fun aunty come round on her modified motorcycle with a giant brollie and a signature poh-peh-poh-peh honk. I would run out to flag her, run back in to grab a plate and then run back out to fill the plate up with awesome chee cheong fun and steaming hot chew bouncy fishballs!

I prefer their version of Chicken Satay ($6.80 for 4 skewers) to that of PappaRich's. The reason is because the taste of turmeric is not overpowering and the peanut sauce is of the right texture, one that is sauce-like and not jam-like.

Michael loves their Short Rice Noodle in Claypot ($11.80). I was excited about it too until I realise how oily (and fatty) it is! It is, however, a generous serving with a good amount of Chinese mushrooms and minced pork. The KL versions would give you a raw egg on the top of the heap for you to stir in on your own.

My favourite and most recommended dish would have to be their Char Kuey Teow ($9.50). It comes with big prawns, superb wok hei and of course, deep fried pork lard pieces. The duck egg version costs a few dollars extra.

Omelette Rice ($10.90) is a simple dish of fried rice wrapped up in an omelette. It's a tad spicy, if you're not into chillies.

But if you are big on chillies, the Sambal Kangkung ($14.80) would make you a very happy person. Crunchy and yes, very spicy.

The Sizzling Minced Pork and Bean Curd ($16.80) comes sizzling on a hot teppanyaki. My bro loves ordering this dish back home. Here, other than the price which is a little on the high side, it tastes exactly like home.

Fancy some Steamed Fish with Malaysian Soya Sauce ($14.80)? For the price, it actually is a pretty good catch. The sauce was cleared till the very last lick. Goes down very well with white rice.

To end any meal, do order their ais kacang ($5). It comes with a lychee at the peak of the colourful shaved ice mountain.

Petaling Street: Malaysian Hawker Food on Urbanspoon

760 George Street, Haymarket, NSW 2000, Australia
T: +61 2 9280 1006; E-mail: petalingsydney@gmail.com
Sunday to Wednesday 11:00am to midnight
Thursday to Saturday 11:00am to 2:00am
*Cash transactions only

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Mr. Han's Traditional Restaurant

First of all, I have to apologise because I did not take down the names of these dishes. However, I did make a mental note that they all tasted quite good.

All the orders were served piping hot, especially this plate of brinjal. This was full on veggie with capsicum, cucumber and potato. Just a tad oily but we had to be careful with the heat when we bit.

Then there was a chicken dish. I think this was Shandong chicken, which was done well. Not too salty and the meat was juicy and tender.

The steamed fish had thumbs up from us, too. Sometimes, simple dishes are sufficient for a hearty meal.

The only (and our biggest) setback - we do not read Chinese. Thankfully, I am conversant in Mandarin, so that helped.

Mr Han's Traditional Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Mr. Han's Traditional Restaurant
261 Rowe Street, Eastwood, NSW 2122, Australia
T: +61 2 9804 0288

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Mamak Village Chinatown

Located strategically along the busiest stretch of Chinatown and adjacent from Mamak is Mamak Village. No, not the same. At all.

Other than the set up of the place, everything else did not hit the right note for me.

I ordered a plate of nasi lemak and when it arrived, I spot a few misses. Since when nasi lemak comes with carrots? Also, does that look like authentic sambal to you? More like sambal out of a jar! Disappointed much.

Rachel's roti canai also had the same sambal. The roti itself was too oily and too thin. The curry and dahl did not look very inviting and were quite bland. Gosh, disappointed much again.

Okay, drinks are pretty straight forward so they should taste better, or so we assumed. The cold teh tarik did not taste like it was properly 'pulled' in any way. The warm Milo, too sweet.

The waitstaff were apologetic for the long wait for the food, which perhaps triggered my 'this place is not as good as the establishment across the road' radar. To top that off, we witnessed how a waitress dropped a trayful of food and drinks on the floor, causing a loud crashing sound to reverberate through the whole place. I felt sorry for her but also for myself for the sub-standard food.

Argh. And when I checked-in on Facebook, a friend immediately commented: Oh no! You should have told me you were going. Too late to warn you not to go!

At least someone else shared the same sentiments.

Malay Village on Urbanspoon

Malay Village Chinatown
Ground Floor, No. 1 Dixon Building, 1 Dixon Street (corner Goulburn Street), Sydney, NSW 2000, Australia
Tel: +61 2 9264 4780
Sunday to Thursday & Public Holidays: 11:30am to 10:30pm
Friday & Saturday: 11:30am to late

Thursday, July 18, 2013

When you live with a chef...

I have been blessed throughout my stay here in Sydney to have housemates who either enjoy cooking or work in the culinary line. One of them is Michael, who is sous chef at Cargo Bar.

So, when you live with a chef, you would get great home-cooked food tweaked to your unique liking, such as... 

Our own version of prawn noodles without prawn. Haha... but with everything else.

Our own version of Hainanese chicken rice with lots and lots of spring onion!

My ex was an avid cook and fussy eater, which was good for me because I would get good stuff. Below is his version of an Aussie brekkie. All freshly made.

Do I cook? Well, you would have to wait to find out. ;)

Monday, July 15, 2013

The Rag Land

Not too long ago, Jenny forwarded to me a Time Out Sydney link with an accompanying question: You want to go try or not? They got nasi lemak.

... Jenny knows me very well for that DEFINITELY caught my attention.

I was a little confused because the title of the article was Rag Land Cafe. In my tired mind, I asked: A cafe that serves nasi lemak? So what cafe is this? A Malaysian one or an Aussie one? Photos with non-Asian patrons further fueled my confusion but wait, a familiar surname caught my sight - Jiew. Could it be someone related to my high school classmate? I did a search using my best friend, Google and as it turned out, the place is Malaysian. After some Facebook stalking (yes, I am scary that way or for a more positive term, resourceful) and some messages, I found out that they are relatives indeed!

Evidently, the name "The Rag Land" stemmed from the name of the street it is situated on, Raglan Street. The street name rang a bell but I could not place my finger on it. Jenny reminded me that it was where Masterchef Billy had his pop-up Halloween Dessert Degustation last year. Oh, there! I do not recall a cafe across the road!

The indoor set-up is no fuss with recycled furniture (would you like to be seated at the ironing board, miss?) and a simple background of white all round. Outdoors, I could hardly tell that it was there. Talk about blending in!

A little retro, old-school, antique-ish in decor with a cardboard moose to boot.

Haha, and while some of us thought of 3 Little Pigs, some others thought of the pork belly that they are famous for. Obviously, some of us are more gastronomically-inclined than others.

As critics (the SMH Good Cafe Guide, ahem) have been raving about the coffee (regular $3.50, large $4.00), we decided to try it out. One mocha, one flat white, one latte and one cappuccino for us, please. Haha, just happened to want different ones, we did not plan on that! But when David worked his magic on the Golden Cobra to serve up the four variations, we all agreed on the verdict - awesome!

May I add that it was pretty damn awesome for someone with an engineering background.

The description on that cardboard said it all. How apt to nickname our national dish the brekkie of champions. Only served on weekends, it was well worth the $12. Oh, and be there early, meaning before 10:30am. Both times we were there, we just managed to order the last servings.

Replacing fried anchovies and groundnuts for tomatoes, we could not find any fault in this dish. The portion was generous, the sambal was Malaysian-standard spicy and the curry chicken drumstick with potatoes were fragrant and tender. I would easily rate this the best nasi lemak in Sydney.

On our second visit, instead of trying their famous pork belly and egg roll, we tried their simple pork belly sandwich ($8.50). When it was served, we pulled it apart to check the content. I looked at Jenny and said, "It looks like char siew to me". When Dave found out that it was us seated at the table (wine barrel, more like), he skipped over to explain, "No la, not char siew la, more like tau yew bak," and hopped back to man the coffee machine.

Tau yew bak, like seriously? But no kidding, he was right! If you want a fusion of Western and Asian, or specifically Malaysian brekkie, you got to have this!

Our third visit saw us finally trying their famous pork belly and egg roll ($8.00). Not a good idea to have this after a plate of nasi lemak, to be honest. But I could not resist after watching the waitress walk back and forth serving at least four plates of this, I had to order one to try.

The pork had a little too much caramel sauce sweetness but otherwise had the right tenderness and the egg, well, I am an egg addict so anything with egg gets two ticks from me. Wash all the fatty food down with a refreshing glass of minty lemonade ($3.50).

The washroom is a little tight on space but clean. A trip to the washroom also allowed me to catch a snippet of the action in the kitchen. I wonder if it's a family affair because the conversations were in Hokkien and Cantonese, or at least the bits I heard.

Thank you, Dave, I shall call in again!

*And enjoy fatherhood!

The Rag Land on Urbanspoon

The Rag Land
129 Raglan Street, Redfern, NSW 2017, Australia
Tel: +61 414 770 107
Tuesday to Friday 7:00am to 3:00pm
Saturday 8:00am to 3:00pm
Sunday 9:00am to 2:00pm
Closed on Monday and Public holidays

Friday, July 12, 2013

Takeru Victoria Plaza Chatswood

The group of young Malaysian students training to be English teachers here in Macquarie introduced me to the Victoria Plaza branch of Takeru. As they are tucked away in a corner of the plaza and not clearly visible from the street, I did not know of their existence. Also, perhaps because the year they started, 2008, was a really busy year for me.

Like many modern Japanese and Taiwanese restaurants, Takeru also use technology for the ordering process.

Another F&B trend - open kitchen concept - patrons get to see what happens.

Not quite sure who ordered a bowl of edamame but we all dived into it as soon as it gets placed on the table. Haha.

As usual, I get for myself an unatamadon, a delicious bowlful of eel and scrambled egg on rice ($12.90). Sprinkle some chilli powder and I am a happy little girl. Or erm, young lady.

Then there was an order of maguro mentai mayo don, a bowlful of raw tuna, spicy cod roe and mayonnaise on rice ($12.50).

I have never had Japanese curry in a restaurant but friends seem to enjoy it. Evidently, there was an order for tonkatsu curry ($12.30).

There was a special dish called omelette chicken cheese ($12.30), which I would imagine to be very cheesy.

Some of us ordered dessert to share. I opted for a serving of cheesecake and black sesame ice-cream ($6.50). Both were yum.

Ambience, cleanliness and service were good. And I reckon the price of their food is pretty standard, too. Adds to the many Japanese options we have around.

Takeru on Urbanspoon

Takeru Victoria Plaza Chatswood
Victoria Plaza Shop 10, 369 Victoria Avenue, Chatswood, NSW 2067, Australia
Tel: +61 2 9412 1203, Fax: +61 2 9412 1467
Open daily for lunch and dinner