My Yoghurt Journey

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I have never liked yoghurt.  I avoided it at all costs.  I would not eat anything with yoghurt, whether it be Indian or Greek food, or any kind of yoghurt for dessert.  The sourness of the yoghurt just turns me off, and to this day I wonder how people enjoy original flavour froyo.

But I got converted to yoghurt by a friend, Ann.  One day after dinner with Ann and Ms LW, we decided to go for some yoghurt.  Ann told me how good the froyo was at Yo-Chi so I thought “okay, I’ll give it a try for once.” Arriving at Yo-Chi Carlton, I was surprised at the interior decor.  It felt slightly sophisticated, like when I went for my first appointment at the Genius Bar at Apple Chadstone.  A friendly staff member approached us and asked if we wanted to try any of the flavours.  I told her that I’d rather not since I don’t like yoghurt, and wouldn’t want to waste it.  I got convinced into trying the hazelnut one anyway, and boy was I surprised at how good it was!  The hazelnut flavour wasn’t too overpowering, but yet enough to kind of disguise the natural sourness of the yoghurt which I so sincerely dislike.  I ended up getting a small serve of hazelnut, salted peanut butter, and salted butterscotch.  All these flavours weren’t sour.  Yo-Chi has a really impressive range of toppings for your froyo.  They range from sliced fruit to coulis and compotes, to more unhealthy but more yummy stuff like crushed oreos and chocolate bits.

Since that experience, I have been back to Yo-Chi about 6 times.  Although I have slightly overcome my yoghurophobia, my past experiences of sour yoghurt are still etched in my mind, leading me to trust no other froyo shop but Yo-Chi and the same flavours – with the addition of chocolate.

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My standard Yo-Chi dose is the above four flavours in a small cup/bowl, topped with raspberry coulis, Yo-Chi homemade crumble, crushed oreos, honey roasted cashews, and mini M&Ms.  It is delicious.

So, to all the froyo haters out there, give Yo-Chi a try.  Each day that passes that you don’t get to try Yo-Chi is a day that is gone forever, never to return.  But for the record, I still, to a great extent, dislike Greek yoghurt.  I don’t think I’ll ever be converted to that.

Yo-Chi Frozen Yogurt on Urbanspoon

Taste of Singapore

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Having been in Melbourne for almost 2 years, and traveling to the Oakleigh/Clayton area about 3 times a week, I am quite ashamed to say that I’ve never been to Taste of Singapore.

So one Saturday after Young Adults Fellowship some churchies and I decided to go to Taste of Singapore for dinner.  Even now I wonder why for all the past Saturdays I chose other venues for dinner – I mean, I must’ve have gone for dumplings or Korean food 20 times.

Anyway, arriving at Taste of Singapore, we were greeted with a very modest establishment.  It looked like a family-run business.  They had a range of Singaporean/Malaysian foods like briyani and rendang, but it was what was on special that caught my eye.

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I haven’t had Mee Soto for ages.  I think the last time would maybe be about 4 years ago.  So I got the Mee Soto, and a slice of kueh salat.

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The food was taking quite some time to prepare so I ate my dessert first as I was starving.  The kueh salat was really up to standard.  If I wasn’t waiting for my Mee Soto I would’ve had at least 1 or 2 more slices.

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After about 15 minutes, the Mee Soto finally arrived.  Them serving the dishes one by one reminded me of Sue’z Delight, but the wait was made pleasant by the friendliness of the staff, as opposed to the obnoxiousness of the Sue’z Delight staff.

The Mee Soto was really really good.  The key to a good Mee Soto is the soup, and Taste of Singapore has perfected the recipe.  I was also pleasantly surprised to see it served with begedil (deep fried mash potato thingy), something which I frequently ate during my high school days.  Oh, the memories that came flooding back.  My only complaint would be that the serving size was rather small.

Based on this experience, I’d say Taste of Singapore is a value-for-money Singaporean eatery that is worth the trip for any Singaporean.  And I really like supporting family-run business too.  However, if you’re looking for the more Chinese kind of Singaporean food, you won’t find it here.  For stuff like char kway teow, kway chap and hokkien mee, go to Bert’s Cafe in Bayswater.  That said, Bert’s Café doesn’t have mee rebus/mee soto, or other Malay kinds of Singaporean food – Taste of Singapore is there for you.

What are you waiting for?  Head to Taste of Singapore now for your bowl of Mee Soto!

Taste of Singapore @ Ida & Abas Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Babka Bakery Café

Whenever I hear the word babka, I instantly think of Israeli bubka – for all the Singaporeans out there, it looks something like a giant kueh bahulu, just that the inside isn’t spongy, but rather made up of many layers of cake-like texture, with chocolate in between.  If you can’t picture this in your mind, just google it :)

Anyway, arriving at Babka, I found that the Israeli bubka that I was looking forward to was nowhere to be seen.  Instead, the café was small and cluttered with too many tables and chairs.  Right beside the entrance was a cupboard full of all sorts of jams, which also served as the separator between the seating area and the entrance.

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We were actually there for the lemon pie.  April said she’d read that Babka had really good lemon pies.  So we sat down and ordered a slice of lemon pie and honey and pecan pie.  Though each slice was $7.50, I must say they were very generous with their slices.  My only complaint regarding the presentation would be that the lemon pie was not sliced properly, as the tip kinda collapsed.

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The lemon pie was slightly too acidic for me, even with the cream.  While the caramelised top of the pie was nice and crunchy, the pastry was a bit on the soggy side.  The honey and pecan pie was good, but nothing too great to shout about.

Because I was dissatisfied with my coffee from Breakfast Thieves just before, I decided to go for another long mac at Babka.

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Their long mac saved the day.  It was served in a glass with all three layers, and the espresso, though obviously not any fancy house blend, had a full bodied flavour that one would expect from a well-extracted shot.

Overall, although the coffee was good, I wouldn’t return just to have another.  One last note – on urbanspoon I read that many customers were displeased with the service, but I felt that the service was pretty good.  The waitress who took our order was friendly.  Unfortunately, customers don’t return for good service.  They return for good food.

Babka Bakery Café on Urbanspoon

Breakfast Thieves

Most of the brunch places I’ve been to don’t have anything Asian on the menu, with the exception of vague menu items such as “salad with Asian dressing” – whatever that is.  So when I saw that Breakfast Thieves had something Asian (with specific details), I thought that it was time for me to try something Asian for brunch for a change.

I didn’t like the way the menu was set out though.  Each dish had its own name, like my Asian dish was called Robin Hood – I don’t see what connection there is between Robin Hood and the dish, or between the names and ingredients of the other dishes for that matter.  The protein was ocean trout smoked with pu-erh, set on a bed of soba noodles.  The dish came with edamame, crispy enoki mushrooms, red dates, and sliced chilli, in a plum wine consommé.  IMG_5980

As you can see, the plating was very good.  The ocean trout was cooked nicely, but it could perhaps have a slightly more ‘smoky’ aroma.  The soba noodles didn’t seem homemade.  The other ingredients like edamame and shitake mushrooms complemented the dish well.  The crispy enoki mushrooms were still crispy when the dish was served.  However, unlike the sauce from Proud Mary’s potato hash the week before, the plum wine consommé was terribly disappointing.  Don’t get me wrong, the dish did need some kind of sauce or broth to bring all the elements together, but perhaps plum wine wasn’t the best choice of flavours.  Although it was clarified well, it tasted like red date juice, and was way too sweet.  I was somewhat glad that we were seated outside along the footpath, such that the table was slightly tilted, causing the consommé collecting at the lower half of the plate, leaving the top half relatively dry where I could protect the fish and the crispy mushrooms.  The chilli was also sliced unevenly, and was by no standards spicy, adding almost no extra flavour to the dish.

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As usual, for my coffee I went for a long mac, but was let down yet again.  If you’re going to serve a long mac in a glass, then please be sure to serve it with the three layers, if not just serve it in a cup – or the layer profile will end up looking something like a latte’s.  The house blend had a tinge of sourness to it, and tasted somewhat diluted.  Most places I know make long macs with two shots, so if the long mac I got did have two shots, they were very weak.  After looking at the menu again to see what constituted the house blend, I was not too surprised to find that 20% of it was Ethiopian Yirgacheffe.  That was where the hint of sourness was coming from – I’ve had a single origin long mac made with Ethiopian Yirgacheffe before.  It just doesn’t have that kind of full bodied flavour.  Can’t fault Breakfast Thieves for this one though – I should’ve looked at the menu more closely or asked the staff before ordering my coffee.

Overall, my brunch was rather depressing, and I don’t think I’ll be returning.

Breakfast Thieves on Urbanspoon

Proud Mary

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After a long night of working on my thesis, I thought I’d post about Proud Mary, since it’s been a couple of weeks since I was there and April reminded me about posting yesterday.

So here we are at Proud Mary.  See the number of group handles!  They had a range of blends available but I don’t know why they don’t advertise their blends more aggressively.  This applies to other cafes as well.  I wonder why they don’t tell their customers about the other blends that they have – I’m always happy to try a blend that is not their house blend – just something different for a change.

IMG_5377As usual, I went for a long mac, but unfortunately I have to say that the strength of the espresso wasn’t really that great.

But whatever disappointment I had from the coffee, they made up with the main.  I ordered the potato hash, based on Ms JQ’s recommendation.  I was actually going to go for the ox tongue, but I thought I’d go for the hash instead.  As a typical Asian, I somewhat tend to move away from the more common items on the menu, thinking that they’re available everywhere.  Hashbrown?  Yeah head into Maccas if you want one.  But after my experience at Top Paddock with their ricotta pancake, I really want to give every common menu item a try.

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So here it is – Proud Mary’s potato hash.  The hash was packed full of flavour even by itself, and I really liked the texture of the potato.  The bacon added another dimension of saltiness to the dish, and the kale was really really good.  But the highlight for me was the sauce.  Oh that sauce…  I remember watching a Masterchef episode once when Marco was on the show (during Marco week) and he set this challenge for the contestants – to recreate his signature dish – the one with lentils, ravioli and quail.  He said that the sauce is what brings the whole dish together – and I never really understood that until I had this dish.  The sauce was really nice – it was rich in flavour, the consistency was perfect, everything about it was good.  As Marco says “Perfection is many little things done well.”

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As you can see, my egg was perfectly poached.  Ms JQ and April‘s poached eggs were slightly overcooked though.  One of them poked their yolks but nothing flowed out ><.  Well, at least we got one perfectly cooked egg.

I would really like to return to Proud Mary to have the potato hash again.  Apart from Top Paddock, I’ve never visited a cafe more than once, but I will make the exception for Proud Mary’s potato hash too.  I just hope they improve their coffees.

Proud Mary on Urbanspoon

Steer Bar and Grill

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So I haven’t had steak in a long long time… and April told me about Steer Bar and Grill having an early dinner special for $40.. so I joined April and Ms JQ for dinner.

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Arriving at Steer, I was surprised to find that the restaurant was empty apart from the staff – we were the first to arrive!  We were led to a table in the corner of the restaurant, near the kitchen.

We were shown the specials menu, with appetisers, mains, desserts and drinks.  A two course meal costs $39.50, and a three course meal costs $5 more.  The three of us decided to go for the two course meal as the dessert didn’t seem too appealing.

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I chose to have the steak tartar as my appetiser over the salmon or pork terrine as that was something I had never had before.  I really enjoyed it – the textures were good – there was some sort of crunch in the beef, not of nuts or croutons, but something along the lines of ginger (in terms of its crunchiness), but I wasn’t able to identify it.  The toasted tarragon bread complemented the dish really well, and perhaps I would have liked one more piece.

For the main I ordered the Scotch fillet, but unfortunately I cannot remember the full name of the dish, except that it began with John.

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The steak came with a side of steak chips (alternatively mash or spring vegetables).  The scotch fillet was cooked to a perfect medium rare, and was seasoned well.  Having said that, I think the chips could have done with a little more salt.  April and Ms JQ ordered the two types of Wagyu steaks available, but I felt that their steaks were slightly underdone and not as tender.

As for Steer being the best steakhouse in Melbourne, I don’t think this is the case, but for $39.50 I reckon its a pretty good deal, and is worth the trip for anyone who loves steak.

Steer Bar and Grill on Urbanspoon
Please pardon the photos for being slightly out of focus – I’m learning how to use a prime lens.

 

Charcoal Chicken Express

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From 2010 to 2012, each week when I head to church on Sundays in the northern suburb of Dianella in Perth I’d always pass Charcoal Chicken on Grand Promenade.  Upon approaching the lights at the junction of Grand Prom and Alexander Drive, the scent of smokiness in the air is unmistakable – even at around 8.45am, the staff of Charcoal Chicken are firing up their charcoal grills, preparing for the day.

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My favourite item at Charcoal Chicken is surprisingly not the chicken, but the lamb ribs.  The flavour that they impart into the ribs is simply astonishing – I haven’t been able to find such tasty lamb ribs anywhere in Melbourne.

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Walking from the parking lot into Charcoal Chicken, I always find that the Chinese eatery next door is relatively empty.  I suppose it’s hard to attract customers when the aroma of the charcoal grill of the shop next door travels as far as the junction about a hundred metres away.  Enter Charcoal Chicken and the first thing that you’d notice is that despite the many customers few eat-in.  Personally I enjoy having my meal there while the lamb ribs are freshly grilled.  Approach the counter to order and be mesmerized by the automated rotisserie, with a whole heap of burning coals below.  Watching the juices from the meats drip down to other meats below or onto the charcoal, and even thinking about that now while I’m on the plane back to Melbourne, makes me salivate.

This week I had the opportunity to visit Charcoal Chicken twice, so I decided to go with the chicken first then the lamb ribs – save the best for last, right?  If I have the chicken, I always go for the Portuguese chicken, which is brushed with a spicy marinade just before the serve it.  If you can’t handle spicy foods, the standard chicken is your only option.  One reason why I dislike roasted chickens is because the breast meat is overcooked 9 times out of 10.  But for Charcoal Chicken, despite the seemingly uncontrolled cooking time of the chicken, the breast meat is always succulent as ever.

1/2 Portuguese Chicken & Chips

1/2 Portuguese Chicken & Chips

Lamb Ribs

Lamb Ribs

Now for the lamb ribs, the sweetness and stickiness of the marinade is absolutely perfect.  And unlike many other places, you get to see the rack of lamb ribs cut in front of you and then served immediately.  I’m quite a big eater, but a rack of ribs and chips always fills me up.

I can’t think of anything negative about Charcoal Chicken, and in fact I reckon it’s the best chicken and lamb ribs in Perth.  If you know of places in Melbourne which suit this writeup, please let me know and I’ll definitely check it out!

Charcoal Chicken Express Dianella on Urbanspoon

Good Fortune Roast Duck House

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Looking for the best roast duck in Perth?  Stop looking.  Good Fortune Roast Duck in Northbridge exists solely for the purpose of satisfying roast duck lovers like you.  This review is not only based on my own opinion as most of the other posts on this blog are, but is the somewhat informal collation of my churches and friends who have, at various points in time, eaten here with me.

Good Fortune Roast Duck House has the best roast duck in Perth.  It also has the best 干捞面(dry egg noodles) in Perth.  I once had a similar dish at Hong Kong BBQ on Francis St – suffice to say that I’ll never order that dish again.  Its inauthenticity was appalling.

I haven’t tried the other dishes at Good Fortune, only the干捞面 with various meat combinations – roast duck, roast pork, soy chicken, or BBQ pork.

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By the way, as a side note, when eating these roast meats, please eat the skin too.  The skin’s relationship with the whole dish can be likened to fish being an essential component of Fish & Chips.

However, if you’re after great service, Good Fortune is not for you.  Don’t say you weren’t warned, the wait staff didn’t win the Friendliest Person award.  The following dialogues are translated from Cantonese into Singlish, the national language of Singapore*.

You ready to order not? You think you can sit here for so long without ordering ah?!

We night time no soup with the noodles one!  You want soup must ask the chef leh.  So you want or not?

For the quality of the food, I can overlook the poor service, but it’d be nice if the staff were friendlier.

If you’re in Perth, pop by Good Fortune for the干捞面 – you won’t regret it!

Good Fortune Roast Duck House on Urbanspoon

 

*National language of Singapore is defined here as the language which everyone speaks.

Merchants Guild

A friend told us that she had heard good reviews about this place, so we visited on a Saturday morning. As usual I ordered a long mac, while my 3 friends decided to get a cup of prana chai each. Looking at the reviews on urbanspoon, it seemed as if the prana chai was really good! But I still wanted my long mac. To my dismay, the blend was really salty, as if salt was added to it while it was being brewed. Having said that, I’m still happy I didn’t get the prana chai, as I felt it could be likened to drinking a scented candle (not that I’ve tried that before) after trying just 1 teaspoon of it.

IMG_4500 Now for the food. I ordered the bacon toast, which was served with bacon, 2 poached eggs, an avocado (mashed, mixed with parsley, grilled corn, and lemon juice), a slice of toast, and some kind of spread with pine nuts. The eggs were poached to perfection, but for the price, I felt that perhaps I could have been given another slice of bacon. The spread on the toast was really tasty, but the dish as a whole was let down by the avocado, which was way too acidic. The lemon juice overpowered the taste of the avocado and corn, and I felt like I was eating some kind of lemon juice cream.

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Food aside, I think that a good café should at least be able to serve a decent cup of coffee. Though the flavour of the long mac was strong (not diluted like some other places), the saltiness was quite off-putting. I won’t be returning anytime soon.

Merchants Guild on Urbanspoon

Cicerello’s (Mews Road)

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Since Thursday I’ve been in Perth on holiday (long story to follow), and tonight’s dinner some church friends and I decided to go to Fremantle for Fish & Chips.

If you’ve been to Perth, you’d know that in Fremantle there are only two main Fish & Chips places – Kailis and Cicerello’s.  I have always had a liking for Cicerello’s, perhaps because the seating has a more cosy setting, as opposed to Kailis, which looks more like a school canteen.  Because of this, I always go to Cicerello’s for my Fish & Chips.

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Cicerello’s claims to have WA’s number 1 Fish & Chips, but if you walk down to Kailis, a sign outside reads ‘voted best…’.  I’m not really interested in voting for which is the best, and I don’t think there will ever be a definitive answer – and the difference between the two Fish & Chips may be so minute that it even eludes a true connoisseur.

For tonight, instead of having the traditional Fish & Chips, I thought that it’d be nice to try something more gourmet, after all, I’ve had the traditional Fish & Chips so many times.  The menu stated that there was ‘Herb Crusted Fish with Seasonal Vegetables’, which sounded gourmet enough for me, so I decided to go for it.  As the menu didn’t elaborate as to which fish would be served, I asked at the counter, and was slightly disappointed to find out that it was the standard Hoki from New Zealand, which though wild caught, is snap frozen.  I wanted to change to snapper, which was supposed to be fresh from today’s catch, even at extra cost, but was not allowed to do so.  At that time, I thought perhaps it was because the Hokis for this dish had already been prepared with the herb crust, but this was not so.

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The sauce you see on the top is the herb crust.  I still don’t understand why they couldn’t have grilled the snapper and put the sauce on, but oh well.  The sauce was pretty good, though slightly too rich for me.  The lemon juice helped to cut through that richness.  Veggies were cooked well and were hot, but were under-seasoned.  And the fish, it was slightly overcooked, drying it out even more after the defrosting process.  Then again, there would be no guarantee that a snapper fillet would have been perfectly cooked.

The next time I visit Cicerello’s, I reckon I’ll stick with the traditional Fish & Chips.

Cicerello's on Urbanspoon

Andrew’s Burgers

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Note: A burger place in Melbourne has the same name as this post; it just happens that I share the same name as the owner of Andrew’s Burgers in Albert Park.  But the burgers to be featured in this post have nothing in common with the Albert Park ones except that they are burgers, and that we are both called Andrew :P

I actually can’t remember how this burger thing started for me – all I remember is April constantly reminding me to make burgers before Ms CC leaves Melbourne.  So a couple of weeks ago we decided to come to my place for burgers.  Forgive me for the low quality photos – they were taken with my phone.

I wanted to try making my own BBQ sauce and patties, because what fun is there in inviting people over for dinner only to serve them store-bought patties!  For the patties, I used 2kg of minced beef, about 100g of breadcrumbs, 2 brown onions, 1 garlic bulb, and 3 eggs.  I blended the breadcrumbs, onion and garlic in the food processor then added it to the meat, which had already been mixed with the eggs.  Then salt to season of course.  Watching many seasons of MasterChef Australia taught me that it is okay to taste the raw mince to see if there’s enough salt, but I didn’t do it.  What I did instead was fry some to taste, and it was pretty good, though a bit on the salty side.  Some of the salt would come out during the cooking process I guess.

The BBQ sauce was made using this recipe which I found online, but I found it slightly too acidic, though my guests thought it complemented the beef patty well.  I pan-fried some sunny side ups for the burgers too.  The rest of the ingredients couldn’t be made myself so they were store-bought – bacon, iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, and cheese (vintage cheddar).  The burger buns were also store-bought.

A side of chips was also prepared.  Using desiree potatoes, I cut them into chip size and par-boiled them in heavily salted water.  A recent episode of MasterChef Australia with the godfather of modern cuisine Marco Pierre White showed him saying that if you’re going to salt water for boiling, make sure that you can actually taste the salt, if not there’s no point adding salt.  After par-boiling, the chips were drained and left to dry, then put in the oven at maximum temperature for 20 minutes, sprinkled with herbs and salt.  Lots of fat had oozed out of the patties during the cooking process, so the fat was drizzled on the chips for extra flavour.

Here it is:

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I was pleasantly surprised with the burger – the patty was juicy (I was really hoping for that), and the chips were tasty, though they could’ve been crispier on the outside.  A good experience though, and for the next burger I want to try beef and lamb mince together and see how it turns out.

Bethel BPC Daily Vacational Bible School

Hey everyone!

I’ve taken a really long hiatus from blogging because I’ve been so bogged down by assessments first, job applications, and most recently, a friend’s flooded apartment.  In the midst of the job applications and the flooded apartment was my church’s Daily Vacational Bible School (DVBS).

DVBS is a three day program for children from the ages of 2 to 12 to come to learn about the Word of God.  Starting at 10 and ending at 3, the daily program involves singspiration, games, and most importantly, lessons from the Word of God.  The theme for this year was ‘I am fearfully and wonderfully made’, taken from Psalm 139:14, which reads “I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.” (KJV).  I praise and thank God for this ministry of the church which allows children to come to learn from the truth of God’s Word during their holidays.

I thank God that this ministry has also given many of us opportunities to serve God.  It is truly a privilege for us to serve Him.  This year I was involved in the DVBS by playing the guitar and cooking for one of the lunches.  It was really encouraging to serve alongside so many brethren from the church.  Areas of service include, but are not limited to, arriving at church earlier than the specified time, opening the church, blowing balloons to mark the entrance, setting up the registration table, setting up tables for the lessons, preparing the lessons, brainstorming about the art n craft sessions, preparing the games, cooking the morning teas and lunches, washing up, cleaning up the church, closing up etc.

The flooded apartment took up much of my time in the afternoon for the first two days, but I thank God that it was all done up by Wednesday, allowing me to focus on cooking for Thursday’s morning tea and lunch.  At this point, thank God also for the prompt response of the carpet cleaners and electrician.

Thursday’s morning had homemade curry puffs and homemade quiches.  The curry puff maker was worried that nobody would eat the curry puffs as the cooks on Wednesday had also made curry puffs – but I said no true Asian will complain about having curry puffs more than once, don’t you agree?  The curry puffs and quiches were a hit.  We also had banana cake, the recipe of which can be found here.  Nuggets, fish fingers, and spring rolls were also prepared.

For lunch, we had two kinds of fried rice, chicken porridge, and ee mien.  It was my first time making ee mien but I’m glad it turned out quite well.  The fried rice was super good too.  For dessert, we prepared jelly slices for the adults, and for the children we had aeroplane jelly with ice cream – it was really popular with the kids, though we overestimated the amount of jelly required.  I think we still have at least 4L of jelly in the fridge.

In all, thank God for the opportunities of service, and for the children who came to learn from the Word of God.  Almost nothing is more encouraging than seeing a 4 year old invite her friend from school to come for the DVBS too.

When thinking of the Word of God, this hymn springs to mind:

Thy Word is like a garden, Lord, with flowers bright and fair;
And every one who seeks may pluck a lovely cluster there.
Thy Word is like a deep, deep mine; and jewels rich and rare
Are hidden in its mighty depths for every searcher there.

Thy Word is like a starry host: a thousand rays of light
Are seen to guide the traveler and make his pathway bright.
Thy Word is like an armory, where soldiers may repair;
And find, for life’s long battle day, all needful weapons there.

O may I love Thy precious Word, may I explore the mine,
May I its fragrant flowers glean, may light upon me shine!
O may I find my armor there! Thy Word my trusty sword,
I’ll learn to fight with every foe the battle of the Lord.

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works. 2 Timothy 3:16-17

 

Housewarming

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Since moving into my new apartment at the start of this year I haven’t had the opportunity to invite people over to my place for dinner like I used to do last year, mainly because of my timetable this semester.  But two weeks ago my lecturer (who takes both my Wednesday and Thursday classes) went overseas for a conference, so that was my big chance!  I invited 10 friends over for dinner on the Thursday, April being one of them (I am looking forward to April’s review on her blog).  I was slightly worried that 11 people, including myself, wouldn’t be able to fit in my small apartment, but it turned out okay.  Some people had to sit on the floor because there weren’t enough seats.

That was the biggest dinner gathering at my house yet – and on the back of that experience I do think my apartment can accommodate maybe 12 or 13 people?  There seemed to be a few empty spots on the floor that day.

To prepare for the dinner, I went to Queen Victoria Market early Thursday morning after gymming to get all the ingredients ready.  I should’ve taken a photo of all the groceries that I bought but I forgot, probably because I was so pre-occupied with starting to cook!  Never in my life have I bought so much food at one go.  I spent the rest of the day cooking.

For dinner, I decided to cook homemade curry chicken (by homemade I mean I blended a paste then fried it with curry powder), beef ribs soup with Vietnamese spices, and cabbage with mock abalone & black fungus.  I took as many photos of the cooking process as I could (when I remembered, haha!), and I will post the ‘recipes’ here too!  But the thing is, I’m not really good at following/writing recipes, because I generally cook by taste, so I will post the ingredients and sauces that I used for the dish, and I’m sure you can figure it out :)

I started with the beef ribs soup, because I wanted to give it the longest cooking time, to soften the beef ribs and allow the spices to infuse into the soup.  Someone from church taught me to make this soup, and since then I’ve made it thrice.

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First, the beef ribs have to be roasted in the oven (about 180 degrees centigrade until they caramelise) with one brown onion (chopped, of course).  This is to caramelise the ribs and the onion, to ‘create’ more flavour.

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The other ingredients in the soup include corn & carrots (which can be eaten later), and garlic and ginger (which you will probably not eat).  The white pouch in the middle of the pot is the spice pack.  From past experience I’ve found it useful to put it in the middle of the pot and weigh it down with the ribs so it doesn’t float to the top when the soup is boiling.

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Here’s the spice pack box.  Really good, you should try it!

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When the beef ribs are done roasting, add them into the pot, then add water.

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Boil away!  I used a magic pot for the soup, which was cooked for about 7 hours, reheating it thrice, but 3 to 4 hours should be sufficient.  Season with salt, not light soya sauce.  I don’t have a good picture of the soup (and the other dishes) because when everyone came it all became a blur and I forgot.

After finishing the preparations for the soup, I started on the curry.  My pastor taught me how to blend a ‘foundation’ paste for curries, which someone else taught him before.

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It consists of garlic, ginger, shallots, brown onion, almonds, and cashews.  He didn’t tell me the proportion of the ingredients, so I went with my gut.  It should end up looking like this:

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This paste, fried in oil with curry powder (I used Baba brand), will give you a great curry.

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One of my guests baked bread to dip in the curry too!

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For the vegetables, I completely forgot to take pictures, but I used half a cabbage, 2 cans of mock abalone, and lots of black fungus.  Stir fry some garlic and shallots in a pot, add the cabbage, mock abalone, black fungus and vermicelli (which have to be soaked in hot water and drained beforehand).  Add about 1 bowl of water and let it cook away, stirring occasionally.  Leave the pot over low heat to prevent the cabbage from burning.  When the cabbage softens, season with oyster sauce, salt, and a bit of sugar.

Now we come to the most exciting part of the dinner – dessert!!

I tried making creme brûlées for dessert, but as this was my first time making them (coupled with the difficulty of using various-sized ramekins), I thought I overcooked almost all the brûlées, because they looked like steamed egg when I removed them from the oven.  Then again, I haven’t seen a creme brûlée without the blowtorched sugar before.

I didn’t want to disappoint my guests so I decided to make a second dessert which I knew they would enjoy – chocolate mousse with crushed scotch fingers and raspberries.  I used scotch fingers because I couldn’t find original Digestives in Woolworths, but they didn’t work as well because they softened, leaving the crunch element crunchless.

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To see the recipe for the chocolate mousse, click here.

I only started blowtorching the brûlées when it was time to eat them.  Everyone had a shot at blowtorching the brûlées as no one had done it before.  The sugar I used was Demerara sugar, which is generally used with creme brûlée.

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Here we are!  The brûlées turned out to be not overcooked, had a nice smooth texture, and a crispy layer of sugar on the top.  Some even added more sugar and blowtorched it after finishing the top layer.

I really enjoyed dinner that night, including all the cooking that came before the dinner.  Seeing everyone enjoy the food made me really happy, and I hope there are more opportunities for me to invite them in the near future!

Fat Bob’s Bar & Grill

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Fat Bob’s Bar & Grill, located in a corner in Moorabbin, is a US-themed burger place.  The owner, Bob (yes, Bob really exists), was inspired to open his own place after a visit to the US in 2011.  Read their full story here.

My church buddies and I always go for dinner together after our Young Adults’ Fellowship on Saturdays, in numbers usually upwards of 15.  So today the 20 of us turned up at Fat Bob’s.  There wasn’t space inside to seat all of us so we had to sit outside.

The menu comprised mainly of alcoholic beverages, but I was just there for the burgers.  As I was quite hungry, I decided to order an appetiser too (popcorn chicken), and a friend ordered the onion rings.

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The popcorn chicken was quite tasty, though slightly overcooked.

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The onion rings were quite a disappointment.  The batter wasn’t crispy and the onions didn’t taste like onions.  You’d find better onion rings at Hungry Jacks.

2014-04-26 17.56.30Here’s my main: Spartan burger.  The patty was cooked to medium, and the taste was rather good.  But the burger was lacking texture.  The onions were done 2 ways – caramelised and deep fried, but the deep fried onions definitely weren’t freshly fried.  

Having tried Andrew’s Burger in Albert Park, if I had to choose between the two, I’d go for Andrew’s Burger.
Fat Bob's Bar & Grill on Urbanspoon

Hammer & Tong

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With an 89% rating on Urbanspoon, Hammer & Tong must be one of the most popular cafés in Melbourne.

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On the day of my visit, the line snaked all the way till the edge of Brunswick Street.  As there were 8 of us, we were given the largest table in the café, in the corner.  This proved to be slightly inconvenient when we wanted to have our orders taken, as it was very difficult for us to get the attention of the staff.

I heard from some friends that the soft shell crab burger (pictured below) is really good.  But as I don’t like mayonnaise, and the menu stated that no changes were to be made to the menu during busy periods (from the line outside the café I assumed I was there during a busy period), so I decided not to get the burger.

The staff didn’t ask us if we wanted coffee when we sat down, so we had to wait for about 10 minutes before we could order any coffees (after waving for their attention).  I got a long mac, as usual.

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I settled for the wagyu beef for $24 instead.  IMG_4313 IMG_4319

The first picture is how the dish was plated, the second was taken so the beef could be seen more clearly.

Cooked to a perfect medium rare, the beef was exceptional.  It was served with a mild mayonnaise, which was unexpected and relatively unpleasant at first glance, until I tasted it with the beef.  I don’t really like mayonnaise much, but the mayo went really well with the beef.  I wouldn’t order it again though, because it is a bit pricey.

Hammer & Tong on Urbanspoon

Vincent the Dog

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Shielded from the hustle and bustle of Lygon St in Carlton is Vincent the Dog, located along Drummond St, just slightly south of the intersection between Drummond and Elgin St.  A friend and I were chilling in my place deciding where to go when his Google search brought his attention to this café.  Checking out the urbanspoon page for Vincent the Dog, I was surprised to find that there was only one blog post for the café.  So my friend and I made our way to Vincent the Dog, and were surprised at how empty the café was although it was somewhat lunch time.

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The menu boasted of their pies, so I decided to give the beef pie a try, while my friend went for the pulled lamb burger.  The beef pie was definitely the best I’ve ever had.

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Humbly served with a side salad and onion relish, the pie doesn’t really look that special.  Only when I cut into the pie did I actually realise how good it was.  The pastry was flaky, something similar to perhaps the best croissants you could ever find, but yet not excessively buttery.  The beef filling was tender, seasoned to perfection, and the sweetness of the onion relish complemented the whole dish.

Usually when I visit a café I’d definitely go for a long mac, but as it was such a hot day I decided to have a pineapple, apple and mint frappe.  I’ve never really been one for blended fruit, but the frappe was different.  IMG_4234

Will I go back?  Definitely!  I didn’t try the coffee the first time so I’m definitely going back for that.  They’ve got quite an extensive range of coffees, especially one that said it’d be cooled with an 8g ice ball or something like that.  My next visit will most likely be within the next two weeks, and when that happens, the update to this post will soon follow :)

Vincent the Dog on Urbanspoon

Third Wave Café

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Not many cafés in Melbourne have an identity as unique as Third Wave Café.  The menu in TWC features dishes from slow-smoked American pork/beef ribs to Russian blintzes.  Having never had Russian food before, a couple of friends and myself decided to pay TWC a visit on Saturday.

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I was really happy to finally get a long mac served in a glass, where I could see the layered effect of the foam, milk and espresso.  They had two blends of coffee available that day, depending on the type of coffee you order, so I decided to have a long mac with each blend.  I personally prefer the lighter blend – The Dark Horse.IMG_4265

My main: meat blintzes.  It was really good, although I may not have been able to enjoy the dish to its fullest because I didn’t have it with the sour cream.  The crepes were soft, meat well-seasoned (though I did add pepper as I like pepper with almost everything savoury).

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Will I come back again?  Most likely.  I want to try the other Russian dishes too.

Third Wave Cafe on Urbanspoon

Burch & Purchese Sweet Studio

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After our church activity today, a couple of us decided to visit Burch & Purchese in South Yarra.  Having never been there before, I was really excited to (potentially) meet one of Australia’s most famous pastry chefs, Darren Purchese.

Upon stepping into B&P, we were immediately offered a sophisticated looking dessert, which was something like raspberry, honey and muesli.  As this was an unplanned event, I didn’t bring my DSLR, and in the moment I also forgot to use my phone to take pictures.

Towards the inner section of B&P near the kitchen where all the magic happens, a group of people who seemed like they had planned and informed B&P of their trip there were being offered another dessert.  As my friends and I happened to be there too, we also got some for ourselves.  Darren explained that it was raspberry, lychee, honey, and muesli topped with some pastry cream and white chocolate.

To take home, I bought a coconut, passionfruit, ginger, mint creation.  Specifically, the dessert contains salted oat & ginger crumble, passionfruit curd, coconut ‘caviar’, mint jelly, passionfruit jelly, coconut mousse, white chocolate velvet spray, and white chocolate and mint wafer.  All that for just $9, beautifully assembled in clear ‘glass’, allowing the viewer to see all the layers clearly.  If you’re wondering how I remembered all the details about the dessert, it’s because whenever you purchase a dessert from B&P, a small piece of paper with all the details is included with your order, so you know what you’re eating when you get home.

COCONUT, PASSIONFRUIT, GINGER, MINT

Why did I choose this over the explosive raspberry creation which Darren himself said is the most popular?  Because this is Darren’s favourite!

So… it tasted pretty unique.  Coconut and ginger are flavours that I generally do not take, but I had to go for something less classic from B&P.  I was thinking of getting the chocolate and hazelnut one but I thought that this ginger one would be something different.  The crumble had just a slight hint of ginger, absolutely perfect, not overpowering.  Passionfruit curd was good and went really well with the coconut ‘caviar’.  The ‘caviar’ cannot be had by itself as it doesn’t taste that great, but with the rest of the elements it works really well.  The mint jelly, strategically placed in the middle (hidden under the passionfruit jelly), cuts through the heaviness of the coconut ‘caviar’ and mousse.  The only thing I couldn’t figure out was the yellow marshmallow on the top – it wasn’t on the small slip of paper, but it had some sort of gingery taste.  Will ask the B&P staff on my next visit.

Burch & Purchese Sweet Studio on Urbanspoon

Bluebird Espresso

So April invited me to join her and some others at Bluebird Espresso one Saturday…

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The first shock of the day: they do not cater for groups above 6 on weekends.  Once we entered the café we understood why they had such a policy – there weren’t many seats in the café, and it looked like only one table could accommodate more than 6 people, but it was already semi-occupied.

Well, nothing better to start a brunch off but a good cup of coffee.  I ordered a long mac as usual, and am pleased to say that the roast of the day at Bluebird Espresso was really good.  IMG_4066

Now for my main – baked eggs

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It was my first time having baked eggs, and having read many other reviews about this dish, I had really high expectations.  Bluebird Espresso didn’t let me down.  The yolks were still runny, and the sauce was really tasty.  The chorizos had some spice to them, and I guess my only gripe would be that there wasn’t enough bread to mop up the sauce at the end.

I would go back to Bluebird Espresso if I had the chance, but with the number of cafés in Melbourne and the limited number of Saturdays a year, I guess going back will have to wait.

Bluebird Espresso on Urbanspoon

Bert’s Café

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Singaporean living in Melbourne?  Wondering where to find authentic Singaporean cuisine?

Stop wondering.  Bert’s Café is here just for you.

I’ve been to Bert’s Café thrice.  Although I must say that my first visit was the most memorable in terms of the food, my subsequent visits were pretty good too.

The owner updates Bert’s Café’s Facebook page each week, informing potential customers of their specials for the weekend.  You can find their Fb page here.

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I always order the bak chor mee and the chye tow kuay when I’m there.

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The bak chor mee looks like it could have come from any hawker centre in Singapore.  Although my bowl of bak chor mee on the third visit wasn’t that great, the first 2 times it was really good.  Think it was the chilli that changed the taste of the whole dish.

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Hokkien Mee.  My pastor’s favourite dish.  A must-try.

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Char kway teow.  I’m not really a char kway teow fan, and the last time I went back to Singapore I didn’t even have it once.  But this char kway teow was really good.  However, if you like your char kway teow with hum, you will be dissapointed.

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Chwee kueh.  I think this dish can be skipped if you’re not a great fan of chwee kueh.  The chai po was a bit too sweet, and the kueh wasn’t at the right consistency.

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This is the most value for money dish.  At $6, you cannot find a better and cheaper chye tow kuay.  If you’re only going to eat chye tow kuay, 1 plate may not be enough though.

Overall, Bert’s Café is a really good place if you’re looking for Singaporean cuisine.  Yes, some dishes may not be as good as others, but not all the chwee kuehs in Singapore are fantastic either right?  The owner is a really friendly guy, and if he isn’t too busy in the kitchen he will go out to talk with the customers.  For a place the size of Bert’s Café, the menu is really extensive, and for him to be able to prepare so many dishes without much waiting time is really applaudable.

Let me know how your visit goes!

Bert's Cafe on Urbanspoon

Industry Beans

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Since I arrived in Melbourne a year ago I haven’t been to many brunches or cafés :(  I remember when I first landed in Melbourne on the 18th of February last year I went to a café somewhere for brekkie, and since then maybe on 3 or 4 occasions I did go for brunch.

But i’ve got a friend who enjoys brunching.  Hi April!  If there’s anything that you need to know about April, it’ll be that she loves her coffee and brunches.  Almost every Saturday afternoon at our YAF meeting you’d hear about her experience at her latest café, or her craving for her next brunch.  After hearing so much about the brunch scene in Melbourne from April, I really wanted to give it a try.  With significant illocutionary force on my part, April asked if I would like to join her and Ms CC for brunch at Industry Beans.  Thanks April!

Industry Beans is a pretty new café I think, as I tried to Google Maps it but even on street view the café was nowhere to be seen.  I was trying to figure out where to park, as I reckon there is nothing worse than driving to brunch on a bright Saturday morning and not being able to find a parking lot.

And here we are!  Industry Beans, tucked away in one of the small streets in Fitzroy.

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First we have the coffee!

Long Macchiato 3.8

Long Macchiato 3.8

Finally, a long macchiato in a glass!  The blend of coffee was really aromatic and I enjoyed every drop of it.  My only gripe would be that it wasn’t layered – but for the quality of the coffee I could look over that small detail.

Coffee-rubbed beef burger 18

Coffee rubbed beef burger 18

My brunch – coffee rubbed beef burger.  Even while I am typing this I wonder to myself if I ordered the wrong dish.  Do people eat burgers for brunch?  I’m not sure.  I ordered it because I thought the coffee rubbed thing sounded quite interesting, but unfortunately I couldn’t detect even a hint of coffee in the beef patty or the rest of the burger.  The patty was slightly overdone, in my opinion, and the onion strips and vegetable crisps were slightly hard, like they were deep fried and left out for a while before being served.

Here are some of the other dishes that we ordered:

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Deep fried duck eggs 18

Industry Charcuterie 21

Industry Charcuterie 21

The portion sizes of the duck eggs and the Industry Charcuterie just seem too small to justify their respective prices.

Ice coffee 6

Ice coffee 6

When I was about 3/4 through my burger I noticed that the people seated behind me had ordered ice coffee.  The presentation style struck me, so I decided to order one to try (actually I was more interested in seeing the espresso slowly diffuse into the milk).

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Here we are, making our own ice coffee!  Ms CC helped me pour the espresso while I attempted to photograph the art happening before our eyes.  This was the best shot that I got of the process :)

In general, though the food at Industry Beans was slightly disappointing, I would return any day – the coffee is one of the best I’ve tasted.

Industry Beans on Urbanspoon

PS: All photos were taken with my newly acquired DSLR.  Let me know what you think!

Hong Kong Trip

Over the past 24 years I have been to Hong Kong almost 20 times, so much so that I cannot remember the exact number.  In 2008 I applied for a HK ID card, so now when I visit HK I can enter via the automated machines (haha!).  I’m sure you’re wondering why I visited HK so many times.  Well, my father is from HK and I still have relatives there.  Whenever I visit HK I stay with my grandparents, who live in a suburb about a 15 minute bus ride to Mongkok – the area that I’m most familiar with in HK.

There is something about the food in Hong Kong which I really like.  Maybe it’s the fact that many of those foods cannot be found in Singapore (or maybe I am unaware of where they are being sold).  Here are some of my favourites.

On my first night in HK, I had dinner with my grandparents at this restaurant called Goteborg (哥登堡).  I’ve got no idea where they got the name from.  Each time I visit HK I eat here once, because I am usually only in HK for a week or so, and the food is really cheap and good.

For HKD$70, I can get the following dishes, and toast, which I didn’t photograph.  It’s simple western food, but very reasonably priced and quite delicious.

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For dessert, my grandparents and I went across the road to have some 糖水。My all-time favourite HK dessert is the black sesame paste.  It’s more a cross between paste and soup.

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A good 芝麻糊 is completely black in colour.  When you use a spoon and scoop some up, then pour it back into the bowl, you shouldn’t be able to see specks of black sesame mixed with a colourless starchy liquid (like mung beans in tau suan).  It should be completely black.  It shouldn’t be too sweet, and because it is served hot, when you gently blow it to cool it down the paste should fold back like a silk sheet or a soft pillow having a slight depression, then effortlessly returning to its shape.  I cannot find any 芝麻糊 of the like in Singapore.  Just yesterday I tried one in Amoy St Food Centre but it was nowhere near HK standard and I will never buy 芝麻糊 from that stall again.  If you know of any good 芝麻糊, please let me know.

When I was in HK I ate so many egg tarts.  I don’t know why egg tarts aren’t as available in Singapore as they are in HK.  Almost every bakery has egg tarts displayed at the shop window.  Some bakeries even have a special oven-thingy outside their shop for passers-by like myself who just want to buy an egg tart or two.  And the egg tarts in HK are absolutely amazing.  Personally, I don’t enjoy the egg tarts with fluffy pastry, but rather those which in HK they call cookie-饼 egg tart.

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Next we have the dimsum.  During this trip I had dimsum twice.  Once at 翠园 in Mongkok, and the second was at the famous 添好运 (Tim Ho Wan) in Sham Shui Po.  翠园 is a restaurant which has yumcha in the mornings (people sit there from early in the morning to almost lunchtime chit chatting), then a la carte dinner at night.  Many of the dimsum dishes cannot be found in Singapore, or perhaps only in more atas dimsum places.  The standard is also much higher.  I remember going to Swee Choon once, ordering the 凤爪 and being incredibly disappointed.  Don’t need to worry about that in HK.

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Ox stomach in satay sauce (HK style)

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Beef tendon in Chu Hou sauce

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Phoenix claws or chicken feet (凤爪)

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My all-time favourite bao: 麻蓉包.  The filling in the bao is sesame paste (it is not supposed to be flowy).  I gave 流沙包 up for this bao because 麻蓉包 is only found in HK.

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Yin-yang fried rice.  Fried rice covered with shredded pork in tomato sauce on one side, prawns in cream sauce on the other.  Only time I ever had this in Singapore was at the chinese restaurant in CHIJMES, and they had to ask the chef to specially cook this because it wasn’t on the menu.  I’m not sure if the same restaurant is still there.

TIM HO WAN

Now according to my dad, the original Tim Ho Wan outlet that was awarded with 1 Michelin star in Mongkok is now closed because the landlord wanted to raise the rent by a lot.  This is how it works in HK – the better your business is the more rent the landlord wants.  They still have an outlet in Mongkok, but it isn’t the original store anymore.  Apparently the main outlet has now shifted to Sham Shui Po, and that was the one I visited with my dad.

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The 1 Michelin star 酥皮焗叉烧包 (baked bun with bbq pork)

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马拉糕

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猪肝肠

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萝卜糕

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If you’re walking to Tim Ho Wan from Sham Shui Po MTR station, you’ll probably pass by a row of shops selling heaps of CNY stuff.  These shops sell stuff at wholesale prices.  Worth checking out if you’re in the area.

Did I mention that I don’t like to queue?  I’d rather eat something less nice and not queue than queue for 45 mins just to try whatever stunning dish there is.  But at street food stalls, there is no such thing as a queue.  You just walk up to the stall and shout your order out when the lady asks you.  No need to queue – just join the mass of people in front and slowly squeeze your way forward.  I managed to snap a shot of this stall when nobody was ‘queuing’.

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My favourite street food is the 炸大肠.  It is quite salty on its own and when you bite into it the fat just oozes out – yummy!  But I only had two sticks.  If you ever buy from these stalls, make sure you tell them your order all at once – if not you’ll get a scolding – just like what I got when I wanted to add something to my order at the end.

I also visited Ngong Ping 360  with my dad when I was in HK.  Apparently it has the longest cable car ride in Asia.  But in my opinion, there is nothing new about cable cars.  Once you’ve taken a ride in a cable car, the rest are the same.  The only thing that changes is the scenery.

In my view, there is nothing attractive about Ngong Ping 360.  The only interesting thing we tried there was this ice cream thingy.  And there was free Wi-fi so that was good.

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Have you ever tried the char siew in HK?  It is absolutely amazing.  I think it’s got to do with the type of pork they use.  The char siew in Singapore is always so dry and unappetising, whereas the char siew in HK is so tender, juicy, delicious.  I don’t eat char siew in Singapore anymore.

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This is my only photo of the char siew I had at the Royal Garden Hotel in TST.  When I remembered to take a photo of it at the serving area it was completely gone.  For a HKD$500++ buffet, you’d probably not eat char siew, but go for the more expensive items like sashimi and seafood.  The fact that the whole lot of char siew was completely depleted speaks volumes about its quality.

Oh, something special about the buffet at Royal Garden is that they always have a special dish for the diners.  Upon seating each diner is issued with a coupon, which they can use, at any time during the buffet, to redeem the special dish.  The last few times I went it was crab, which isn’t really my personal favourite, but this time, it was really good:

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On Sunday, I visited my friend’s church in Sham Shui Po.  When I was in Melbourne I met this girl from HK who was in Australia on a working visa.  During her short stay in Melbourne she attended my church, Bethel Bible-Presbyterian Church, and when she heard that I was visiting HK she suggested that I visit her church, so I did.  Exiting Sham Shui Po MTR station, I had breakfast at a 茶餐厅 nearby, then headed off for church.  It was about a 10 minute walk from the station.  The church currently rents a unit in a building on the corner of two streets, mostly quiet apart from the charismatic church in the neighbouring unit.  During the service I was not aware that it was a charismatic church next door so I thought the guy was practising kungfu.  Nonetheless, it was a blessed time of worshiping the Lord and fellowship afterward.

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After church, I followed some of the young people to a nearby café in Shek Kip Mei for tea.  I only ordered a macchiato because I had a dinner appointment with family at night and didn’t want to spoil my appetite.  I also wanted to try the coffee in HK.  They said that the building in which the café was located used to be a factory, but after the factory moved out and many years of being unused, the building has now been converted into an arts ‘haven’.  I didn’t really have a walk around, but the café felt something like Chye Seng Huat in Singapore.

As for coffee, I don’t like lattes or flat whites or cappuccinos because I don’t really like milk that much.  I usually order long black with no sugar.  But last Sunday I decided to have a macchiato, because I wanted to have a shot of espresso with just a bit of milk.  Not really.  I was more interested in seeing the three layers of the macchiato.  When I took my barista course in Melbourne the instructor told us that a proper macchiato has three layers.  The top layer is the foam, second layer is the mix of milk and espresso, and the third is pure espresso.  The top layer should be a ‘mix’ of the foam and crema, and most people eat the foam with a teaspoon before savouring the shot of espresso.  In order for the layers to be visible, the macchiato had to be served in a clear glass. That was what I was looking for.

Something like this:

But what I received was this:

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If I was in Melbourne I’d definitely request that the barista make another one in a proper glass.  But at this café I decided not to, because I was afraid I had to wait another 30 minutes.  The coffee was pretty good though.  The waiter offered to get me a teaspoon but it never came.  I guess they were just too busy.

You might’ve noticed that so far I haven’t mentioned anything about congee and noodles.  Here it is.  Nathan Congee and Noodle is a place which I visit, sometimes twice or thrice, when I am in HK.  It is a must-go, cannot-miss place.  Each time I go I always have a bowl of congee and a bowl of noodles.  Most of the time, it is 皮蛋瘦肉粥 (century egg with lean meat congee) and 牛腩面 (beef brisket noodles).  But I think its real specialty is the pig’s liver and kidney.

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Nathan Congee & Noodle.  11 Saigon Street, Jordan.  Nearest MTR: Jordan.

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牛腩面 (beef brisket noodles)

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皮蛋瘦肉粥 (century egg with lean meat congee)

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Poached pig’s liver and kidney.

I’ve saved the best for last.  Nowhere does it as good as them.  I’m more a fan of the liver than the kidney though.  The liver is poached to perfection.  There isn’t that grainy texture which can be felt in the pig’s liver from other eating places.  Even when the liver cools down, the last piece, a victim of the Asian-last-piece-syndrome, it doesn’t develop that grainy texture.  That’s why it is the best.  If you’re in HK, you have to give it a try.  Enough said.

Old Hong Kong Kitchen – Square 2

Just this evening my I had dinner with my extended family at Old Hong Kong Kitchen at Square 2.

One issue I have with Square 2 is that the walkways are so narrow.  I don’t know why the architects who designed the building didn’t think to make them wider.  Some shops are also hidden away in such obscure corners that I often wonder how they even get customers.  Anyway, back to the food.  The food was pretty good, except for the dessert which was a bit weird.  I didn’t take photos of all the dishes but here are some of them:

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Roasted suckling pig.  It was okay but I think the skin could’ve been more crispy.  I had a go at eating the head but gave up after a while.

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Grass smoothie anyone?  This was the soup we had.  Till now I am not sure what the green veg is or why had been minced and mixed into the soup.  Apart from the weird colour the taste was fine.

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Steamed cod.  I wonder why the fish looks so distorted.  It doesn’t even look like a fish anymore.  Steamed to perfection though.  The grouper on the other table was slightly undercooked.

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Veggies served in a broth of some sort.  The broth tasted really like the shark’s fin soup that the other table had.  Maybe the chef was too lazy to whip up some other sauce for the veggies.

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Dish of the day – roasted duck.  The skin was crispy, meat was succulent.  No faults at all – my compliments to the chef!

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Lobster.  The taste was alright but I wonder why it was cold when it came to the table.

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Chilli crab.  The sauce was unbalanced and tasted something like sweet and sour sauce.  But I guess I could deal with that since the mantou was quite good.  The most annoying thing was the presentation.  I have never been to a restaurant which serves a crab dish with the crab’s head upside down and at the bottom of the plate.  Even Good Year Seafood Village beat them on this.

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The abalone had not been braised long enough as it was still a bit tough.

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Weird dessert no. 1: mango and coconut jelly.  Sorry about the photo, you can’t see the coconut jelly from the top.  The coconut jelly was quite weird.  It had this pasty feel to it that made me feel like I was eating a liquified eraser, but then again the coconut taste wasn’t too rich.  Wonder what they did to it.

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Weird dessert no. 2: Coconut ice cream with mango sauce.  I don’t know what else to call the mango sauce.  To me, it was strangely sour and was just so overwhelming.  I wish I had more ice cream to go with it.  Maybe 3 scoops of ice cream and a drizzle of the sauce would’ve been good.

Will I go back again?  Yes, not for the crab or the dessert but for the duck.  I’d happily go upstairs to the food court for a bowl of tau suan after that.  Beats coconut icecream drowned in mango sauce any day.

Good Year Seafood Village

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Few days ago I went to this seafood restaurant in the East far away from my house to try the chilli crab.

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The restaurant was located in this super ulu avenue and the walk up to the restaurant was along a gravel road.  Oh boy.  Not only that, the food was nowhere near affordable.  It was just slightly cheaper than Jumbo Seafood.  In retrospect, I think I’d rather have eaten at Jumbo instead – more expensive but better food.  I didn’t manage to take photos of all the dishes but here are some:

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The chilli crab.  Well, I guess there wasn’t anything really wrong with this dish but it wasn’t a standout dish either.  It was a bit too oily though, and perhaps a little too spicy.  The crabs were $42/kg, and this crab was slightly below 1kg.  It was also slightly overcooked.

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Butter crab.  The crab was obviously deep fried in some sort of batter.  I don’t know why but when it arrived at our table the batter had already gone soggy.  I don’t think it takes that long to walk to our table from the kitchen.  This was really disappointing.  The butter flavour was okay.

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This had to be the worst dish of the day.  麦片虾.  Who would’ve thought that a seafood restaurant could come up with such an appalling version of this dish.  Where should I start?  The prawns were not fresh.  The batter was soggy and the shells were not crispy so it was pretty difficult to eat the shell with the prawn (for this dish if the prawns are fried properly I will eat the shell too, because it’s nice and crispy!).  I reckon the same batter was used for both the crab and these prawns.  The cereal had a strong curry taste.  Maybe they added curry powder to give the cereal a yellowish colour but it was a tad too much.  Just two days ago I had this dish at Jumbo Seafood and it was so good.  And it was way too expensive – $26.  Take into account the ambience, the restaurant’s location etc… $26 is just a rip off.

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The sweet and sour pork.  Nothing too exciting.  I felt it was too expensive too – $15.

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Here’s our final bill.  You can see the address there – I hope you will stay away.

Baker & Cook

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Today I had the opportunity to visit a café in Singapore – Baker & Cook, a small café tucked away in Greenwood. (http://www.bakerandcook.biz/)

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The area brought back many memories.  I remember cycling around the shops there when I was young (Baker & Cook wasn’t there at the time), going for Science tuition nearby, and ordering birthday cakes from Lana Cakes, which is probably still there.  I still think Lana Cakes has the best chocolate cake.  I’ve never been one for more modern and fancy ways of presenting chocolate cake.  Lana’s traditional chocolate cake still appeals to me the most.

Baker & Cook has a nice, cosy seating area inside, though for a café it really should have an outdoor seating area.  My uncle told me that the café lost the permit to seat customers along the walkway just outside.  We weren’t there at the usual time that people visit cafés too, but rather somewhat close to their closing time (8pm).

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Oh how I’ve missed the hissing sounds of espresso machines in Melbourne cafés!  Having had many a cup of coffee in Melbourne, I had to try the coffee there.  I ordered a long black, which was served with a small bite-sized brownie.  In Melbourne I always drink long black with no sugar, as I feel the milk dilutes the taste of the coffee, and I have been trying to cut down on sugar.  I used to drink long black with 4 sugars!  Having the espresso just mixed with the same amount of hot water allows me to smell the aroma and savour the richness of the espresso.  It was good, but I think I prefer Melbourne’s.

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I had a smoked salmon quiche with beetroot salad.  The quiche was okay, nothing too exciting, classic combination of smoked salmon and dill, though the only thing which I didn’t like was the olives.  I’ve never liked olives and pick them out of everything I eat – I’d rather go through the trouble of picking it out of my quiche at the start than suffering later.  The beetroot salad was surprisingly good – my uncle’s recommendation.  The amount of beetroot I ate there is more than all the beetroot I’ve ever eaten in my entire life.  You see, I’m not a fan of salads – and something as red as beetroot isn’t really appealing.  There were more salads available but they all fell under the I-don’t-like category.  I am happy I took my uncle’s suggestion though because the sweetness of the fresh beetroot and the saltiness of the smoked salmon really went well together.  I suppose beetroot is also slightly deceptive in a certain sense – it has such a deep red colour but the depth of its taste cannot compare to its colour.

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For dessert, I had a pecan tart.  As a linguist, I found the difference in pronunciation interesting.  Once in Melbourne I said /pɪkən/ but the person I was speaking to (he was from the US) did something like a recast and said /pɪkɐ:n/.  Since then I’ve been using /pɪkɐ:n/.  But today at Baker & Cook, I said /pɪkɐ:n/ but the staff couldn’t really understand me until I said /pɪkən/.  Maybe it’s just the difference between American and Singaporean English (yes, I do mean Singaporean English, not Singlish).  Having said that, I’d try /pɪkən/ in Melbourne again and see how I go.  Maybe it is pronounced as /pɪkən/ in Australian English – I’ll let you know how I go.

Anyway, the tart was quite good, not too sweet, but I still don’t know what the filling of the tart was, apart from the pecans of course.  The crust was a bit too hard though – I was trying to cut it with a knife but it was like trying to cut a rock so in the end I just poked it with my fork and nibbled at it for fear of having to visit the dentist the next day.

Will I go back again?  As I’m only back in Singapore for 6 weeks I suppose not – I want to try the coffee in other cafes too!  But I will make a smoked salmon quiche when I’m back in Melbourne and post the results on this blog.  And serve it with a beetroot salad.

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