Thursday, July 31, 2014

So, this is why we have been eating baked beans...

Oh my.... the number of times I have walked past Tetsuya's trying to make up an occasion of sorts to dine there. I mean, how does one justify blowing more than half of what most people earn (in Malaysia, that is) in a month on ONE meal?

 All I can say in answer to that is, thank goodness for mightily persuasive friends. (I'm looking at you Andrew!). And thank goodness for truffle butter on a piece of wholemeal bread. The butter was so good that le hubby just did away with the bread and ate it as it was after a while.

The first dish to arrive was the savory custard with avruga; to be known hereby as the smoothest, most luxurious chawan mushi I'd ever tasted to date. It quite literally melted completely in my mouth. I believe I also speak for both my dining companions when I said that.

We had the carpaccio of snapper with umeboshi next. While I remember that it did taste good at the time, the flavors proved to be entirely forgettable. And this was just from the fact that none of us raved or even mentioned it afterwards.

Have I mentioned that I was slightly allergic to scampi? I am quite flummoxed as to why, because I have always been (and still am) able to eat every other type of shellfish with no problem whatsoever. Every time I eat scampi, my lips will swell up and there will be a tightness in my throat and chest. Which is a total shame, as I really, really love scampi! Tetsuya's marinated scampi with walnut oil and egg was absolute perfection; sweetness and flavors that just exploded in your mouth!

But boy, did I pay dearly for it for about half an hour or so.

Couldn't resist rubbing my hands in glee when I saw the famous slab of ocean trout being brought to our table. Oh hey, we finally met, confit of Petuna ocean trout (accompaniments not too important as they didn't bring much to the dish imo)! Jason loved this to bits, heaping praises after praises upon it about how everything went very well together. To me though, it didn't quite live up to the hype. Don't get me wrong; it was good but it just wasn't as mind-blowing as you'd think.

First hot dish of the night was the slow cooked flounder with yam and scallop gnocchi. A solid one with tender slices of flounder in an addictive savory sauce. The latter more than made up for the mild tastes of the former.

The roasted partridge with chestnut risotto and nettle was hands-down my favorite of the night. Not only was it as tender as a well-cooked chicken, it also won in the flavors department! The accompaniments complemented each other really well in terms of their flavors and textures. I especially enjoyed the chestnut risotto.

Do you like kebab? If you do, you'll probably like the lamb backstrap with jerusalem artichoke and pumpkin seed yogurt. Not that it was a bad thing, really, that it tasted like Middle Eastern street food as it was delicious! That just means that it was done right in my books. :)

 I found the basil soup with apple granita and mint really refreshing. It was sour and slightly sweet. Both my dining companions didn't seem too impressed by it though. In short, I think this is something you'll enjoy if you like sour-y snacks like plums etc.

Was looking forward to their chocolate cake. Andrew said it was surprisingly light.

If he meant it as light in the "effortless to eat" sense, then yes, it was light alright. I thought it was one of the best chocolate cakes I'd tried. This was definitely chocolate cake done right; creamy and super decadent with its multitude of different textures and... Oh, just take my word for it, it was the perfect chocolate cake.

We have finally come to an end of the blog post with the petit fours of yuzu macarons and caramel-filled chocolate truffles. I couldn't care for the yuzu macarons but absolutely loved the chocolate truffles (refer to title of blog for reason why). 

Worth a visit. But not unlike Quay, once is probably enough for me. :)

Tetsuya's on Urbanspoon

Monday, July 14, 2014

KFC goodness at The Sparrow's Mill

Met up with Amy, Susan and Christine for some Korean fried chicken a few weeks ago.

The restaurant was already filling up at a rather early dinner time of 5.45 pm.

Our hearts kinda stopped for a beat when one of the servers told us they'd run out of fried chicken due to the sheer number of people coming for it, but quickly returned to normal when she came back from the kitchen to tell us that there was fried chicken (hallelujah!), but we were gonna wait just a little longer for it.

Collective sighs of relief were heard all round.

Susan ordered her favorite jap chae and being a well-seasoned dish it was, disappeared quite quickly. I did wish for more vegetables but that was really just me as a stir-fried vegetable-lover.

Forgotten the name of this sliced beef dish but while I had some misgivings initially, I ended up being pleasantly surprised. The slices were tender and yielded easily to the teeth. I loved pairing it with the onions that still retained some crunchiness. Heaven.

I might have forgotten to take a picture of the ban chan but suffice to say that while there was nothing that blew me away, they were solidly good. Now, here comes the heart (or artery, whichever) stopping bits. Oh hello there, you beautiful, crispy thing!

Yeap! Was a happy camper alright. I was the first to have one and when I bit into it, Amy giggled and said, "Oh my, I can hear the crunch!" Need I say more? Apart from the fact that they were also succulent!

Two servings of fried chicken proved to be an easy task for the four gluttons that were us. We managed to finish them all, with Susan helping me with the skin on my last piece because you know, I wanted to watch my weight LOL. Jokes aside, comparisons between Sparrow Mill's sweet and spicy with Naruone's was inevitable; I hereby declare Sparrow Mill the winner! This is because their sauce wasn't sickeningly sweet or had the consistency that was not unlike glue.

Unlike froyo, I fully welcome the sprouting of more of these Korean fried chicken joints. Sydney, brace yourselves!

The Sparrow's Mill(참새방앗간) on Urbanspoon

Monday, June 23, 2014

Popped my cronut cherry!

Braving horrendous parking situation, the hubby and I found ourselves at the buzzing Brewtown Newtown one Saturday morning.

We were promptly seated and found the service to be reasonably quick and efficient despite the number of patrons.

Refer to lame, ill-conceived post title; couldn't not order it after seeing it all over my Instagram feed. It was oh-so-good; think of a good, fresh doughnut but with flaky textures and it has glaze that just melts in your mouth, giving you the kind of happiness typically reserved for the best-est sugar hits.

On to something more substantial (because we shared that cronut, ehem). The black pudding lover hubby did what I predicted by ordering the grilled black sausage home made hash browns, canadian bacon and house relish with boiled eggs, which he liked, a lot. His words were, "Everything is perfect!" and I shall leave it at that.

I also didn't surprise anyone by going for the beetroot cured ocean trout, avocado smash, rye sour dough toast, dill, persian feta & beetroot relish. It was brought to our table looking like this.

So I took the liberty to shove the greens aside to give you this gratuitous shot of the gems hidden underneath. Subtly sweet and earthy slices of salmon combined with slightly tart beetroot for a taste explosion. And let's not forget the fetta that contributed by giving it a savoury kick!

Love everything there but probably not returning anytime soon because we can't be bothered going round and round in search of a parking spot. Yes, even if it's for a good brunch and cronut.

Brewtown Newtown on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Yayoi - the good and the bad


I thought this deserves a mention.

 It wasn't everyday that a management team would take to what was decidedly quite harsh criticism so graciously. But Yayoi had managed that and kudos to them! Thank you for showing gratitude to your customers, and for valuing their opinions. This was despite my so-called lack of expertise in reviewing restaurants, as pointed out by some detractors, because you know, you need some special taste buds of sorts to pass verdict on food. *rolls eyes*

But going back to a more cheerful topic, I fully intend to visit them again when the opportunity rises, if only to prove the point that being the type of business that can take criticisms in its stride and values its customers PAYS.

First things first, readers, if you haven't noticed, I do not like giving bad reviews. This is simply because:

a) I do not wish to court controversy.

b) I do not want to ruin's someone's business.

My blog is therefore more like a platform for me to share all the good eats that I have been blessed enough to enjoy. However (of course there's a however), there will come a time where you just have to speak up about a bad experience... NOT to bring a business down, but to improve it so Yayoi's staff, if you're reading this, consider it constructive criticism.

Because I think you're on to something good here. :)

It had a lovely and simple setting that the hubby and I both loved. To my delight, we were seated right next to the big window where I could do some people-watching.

Now, here's grievance number 1: While the service from every staff was accommodating and friendly, there was one that simply stood out for being, how do I put this... OVER friendly bordering on being downright meddlesome. Firstly, not only did her introductory speech sound highly rehearsed, it was also done in halting English that was painfully slow. Not to mention awkward.

Secondly, her befuddling persistence in showing us how the iPad ordering system works. It was highly condescending because this was after we told her repeatedly that yes, damn it, we know how it works. It's hardly new technology now is it? Apparently not, because she showed us the steps anyway, despite the barely concealed look of annoyance on my face. Even the hubby who was a more patient person than yours truly couldn't hide his annoyance when he stopped her mid-sentence by going, "Yes, we have been to restaurants with the same system and we know how it works."

Grievance number 2 was the Kama rice gimmick. I understand that you have to stand out from the crop of Japanese restaurants in the city but why would you do it in a way that requires your customers to wait 25 minutes for rice that... wait for it, wait for it...

... tasted EXACTLY the same as any other rice!

At least do something Instagram-worthy.

You are not a fine-dining establishment so some of your customers really do not have all day, moreover if one couldn't even detect a slight difference between this and normal rice. Just the thought of having to wait more than 25 minutes for my teishoku meal to be brought to my table has guaranteed a no-return.

The obscure, proverbial rocket science technology that two functional adult brains wouldn't be able to figure out on their own without any help.  Before you call me out for being too impatient for my own good, note that there was a couple seated next to our table that totally tuned out midway through her tutorial. (I am serious, the lady actually started getting busy on her phone while her partner was just nodding perfunctorily to that particular server.)

Fortunately though, their food was quite good. We had the agedashi tofu as a starter and found it to be full of depth and flavor thanks to the dashi broth, but kudos also to the variation of textures within the tofu itself too. We thoroughly enjoyed this one.

My salmon teriyaki teishoku was just the right size for me. Almost everything was great, especially the salmon teriyaki which had really thick, sweet sauce that hit the spot. The miso soup was really good too but you've gotta be pretty crappy to screw that up! Ditto the agedashi tofu. The only thing I wasn't entirely too happy about was the chawan mushi, which could be a lot smoother and packing more ingredients!

A close-up shot of the great salmon teriyaki.

The hubby's set came after mine and his comments were that, everything on it tasted good, especially the pork tonkatsu. "Properly done," were his exact words, and that was also applied to the beef. He tossed me the salmon salad that I didn't quite like, simply because of the yuzu dressing. I just don't think they were a great match but it could be just me. *shrugs*

All in all, an above average experience when you factor in the great food. A tad overpriced but still within an acceptable range. Which is why I'll impart these pearls of wisdom that the hubby brought up on the way home, "if your food is good, it will sell itself." So, cut it with the rice gimmick, the unnecessary introduction, the iPad ordering system 101 and you've got yourself a gem of a Japanese restaurant, for those days when you feel like pampering yourself with a luxurious, hearty Japanese meal.

Yayoi Japanese Teishoku Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Melbourne: Hopetoun Tea Room

The hubby and I queued up a total of 45 minutes for this, so I'd be damned if I didn't blog about it. Fortunately though, there was an upscale spice shop opposite it so I wasn't totally reduced to tears of boredom.

The in-laws (excluding the ever-busy father) arrived about 10 minutes before we were ushered to our table. The place did feel a bit cramped and I happened to bump into this lady who was preparing to take a sip from her teacup. Turned around and was ready to apologize profusely...

... until I saw her glare that could melt a thousand icebergs.

Like I was going to apologize after that! Calm yourself woman, it's not like I did it on purpose!

But I digress. Anyway, we ordered quite a few items to have as a light lunch. There was the generously packed club sandwich that comprised of tender and moist chicken breasts and fresh greens. Solid stuff, but I particularly love the toasted breads they were sandwiched between; perfect golden crunchiness.

The warm French crepes were great in all its glorious carb simplicity. They were light, airy and went really well with the slightly acidic orange-flavored caramel and the sweet berry compete.

My smoked salmon salad came with the freshest of ingredients, and I am glad to report there was none of that feared "fishiness" associated with a product left in the fridge for too long. Also glad to report that the salmon slices were enough to satisfy a salmon addict aka yours truly.

Their fresh baked scones were most certainly as described. These came out warm, with a lovely sheen on top that just about begged to be devoured. And boy, were they! They were gobbled up faster than anything else on the table!

Another favorite was certainly the vanilla slice. Hopetoun's was not overly sweet and had pastry that crumbled quite easily (read: not soggy aka left out for too long). The custard was also thick, creamy and flavorful. I believe that this is one of their most popular items, hence the relative freshness!

Now, on to my personal favorite... the apple and blueberry crumble! Oh, how do I describe thee?? I used to be a purist who thought that apple should never be baked... EVER! Thank goodness I had changed since then because... APPLE PIE! But seriously though, Hopetoun's had a great fruit to crumble ratio so you feel sorta healthy eating it.

Right... I don't know who I was trying to kid with that. XD

In a nutshell, good food and even better desserts. It's a Melbourne institution that you should visit at least once. I will probably go for a second visit, but only with an advance booking. Me no likey queuing up with a grumbling tummy! #foreverfat #foreverimpatient

Till the next post!

P/S: Oops, I forgot to mention that they have some very good teas as well. :)

Hopetoun Tea Rooms on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Cabin Fever launch party at The Oaks

I don't drink.

No, really.

I was therefore a little hesitant about accepting the invitation to the Cabin Fever party at The Oaks a week ago, that is...

...until I read that there would be awesome food by an acclaimed chef.

How does one say no to that? And judging by the amount of people, it seems I was in good company too. Thank you, Gemma from Wasamedia!

The bar had a plush setting, and the hubby and I ended up being plonked down comfortably on one of the big couches for most of the night while enjoying the very reasons we were there.

First things first, say goodbye to your preconceived notion that pub food is greasy and unsophisticated.

Now, I am slightly ashamed to admit that I might have picked up more than a couple of this, the bacon, bourbon and caramel popcorn. Because dang, it was so good! Such a step-up from those you get at a cinema in such that this had thick caramel that enveloped your tongue in its sickly sweetness, with a slight smokiness from the bacon to boot! The savory aftertaste of the latter further cemented its gourmet popcorn status.

Hello, pillow-y soft warm ice cream (what I call marshmallows, toasted or not).

And the juiciest chicken wing ever! I am not exaggerating. The crispy fried smoked chicken wings & chilli vinegar was one of the best I had tasted in a while now, and not just because it was so juicy your entire being just shivers in delight at every bite. The slight sour-ness from the vinegar also gave it a unique kick..... to "diet? What diet?" land. I positively devoured the crispy skin of this baby.

And might or might not have taken an extra helping too. *cough*

I can never be a vegetarian lol.

Moving along, the first item of hubby's favorites came next; the pigs in a blanket, which was described as "smoked hot dog in puff pastry, onions and ketchup for grown-ups." This was quite good, if not a bigger mouthful than I thought. I am not too much of a hot dog person so I can't really delve much into this, except to say I like it.

Silly me was so excited to write about all that food that I have almost forgotten to post the picture of this refreshing drink that was served upon arrival.

Another look of the bar from where we were seated. The place just felt so cozy!

Moving along, remember how I said that the hot dog was the first of hubby's favorites?

Now, feast your eyes on the second, le cheese and truffle toastie. In his words, "So simple, yet so, so good." In mine, oh my God, I NEED to have this again! I can wax lyrical about this for aeons but who would want to read all that so I'll just have to settle for trying to describe its taste. Imagine the most perfect, fragrant toasted bread with a decadent filling that was wafting with the earthy, luxurious scent of truffle.

You have to try it to fully understand but a fair word of warning; it is highly addictive!

The journey into food coma-land continued with the frickles with smokey bacon aioli aka fried pickles! We were apprehensive about this at first but that apprehension was soon gone on my part upon the hubby (also my guinea pig) taking a bite of it and having approval register on his face. So I took a bite and thought it tasted like all the delicious naughtiness in the world with a really unique sourish tang from the pickles.

The last thing we sampled on that day before calling it a night was the crab cake sliders with oaks slaw. Not particularly memorable but still pretty darn tasty!

Go enjoy all of these (and more) now while it is still up and running!

The ski lodge pop up is located in The Oaks’ front bar, nineteenthirtysix. It will run throughout the winter months (June 6 – August 31). Opening hours are Sunday to Thursday 10am – midnight and Friday & Saturday until 1:30am.

The Oaks on Urbanspoon