My Yoghurt Journey

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

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

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

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

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