Cho Cho San

On another promising day off, I wanted to squeeze in a quick post on when my family and I went to Cho Cho San last month. The last time I was here was about more than 2 years ago when it was still relatively young. I had not started my blog then but thankfully most of the same dishes still stay on the menu.

Everyone else on the table were huge fans of sashimi except for mum and I. It may be a tad premature to say but, this experience may have converted me a little. Maybe it had to do with the quality of fish being used and the concoction of sauces used. A plate of kingfish was ordered and I surprisingly liked it! I’m not an expert when it comes to the taste of different raw fishes as it all tasted the same to me but, I could definitely comment of how great the sauce was – super tangy and fresh and sweet at the same time. We decided to order the trout next and again, the sauce perfectly complimented the fish.

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An array of other dishes followed soon after. I am a huge fan of miso marinated eggplant so I had to try it. I could always use more sauce drizzled on the top but this renditionw as great too. The crunchy exterior did not become soggy and gave a crunch in every bite.

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Luscious full dumplings with a smooth and silky skin. The chilli that was promised with the dumplings gave subtle heat bringing it together in flavours.

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The first time I had this the last time, I went to to recreate it almost every week till I became sick of it. Of course, without the crab bits as that would’ve been time consuming for me to prepare for a normal lazy dinner. It’s great to have the crab addition this time round and glad to know that the flavours and texture remained consistent.

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I’ve seen many renditions of this beef in terms of cuts and presentation. The last time I was here, it was thinly sliced with actual bits of pickled onion. The sauce remained the same. This time was a much thicker cut.

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This was a different rendition of the agedashi toufu. The broth was much lighter and clearer than usual. The batter was also slightly different to how it’s usually served. Nonetheless, it tasted great and always will be a must order at any Japanese joint.

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Now for the desserts! We had these exact desserts the last time we were here as well. Absolutely still love the Japanese Pavlova! The amount of ginger in it is amazingly refreshing. And not to mention their oh-so-famous matcha ice cream. Great flavours but melts too fast!

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Cho Cho San
73 Macleay St POTTS POINT 
www.chochosan.com.au

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LuMi Bar & Dining (Third visit)

After much of a hiatus from adjusting into my new lifestyle, I’ve found some spare time to write one of my overdue visits to places that I have been wanting to write about. Some revisited places and some new.

You’ve probably seen me commenting on other’s posts on giving them recommendations for great fine dining or degustation menus in Sydney with none other than Lumi! Last month around mid-March, I decided to come here with my family to celebrate after my graduation ceremony. I’ve always loved how they stuck to the dishes but the flavours are always changing with the seasons.

The snacks were completely different from what I had from previous visits. There was the cucumber with horse radish cream, a thing of raspberries on a cracker (my memory fails) fried muscles with aioli, and some brioche bread. My dad and Josh decided to share half a dozen oysters between them. Not forgetting their super silky chawanmushi which was parmesan favoured this time round.

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Next was a thing of crab meat in a tomato broth with some basil oil. The meat was silky and the broth gave some punch of sourness to the entire dish. The basil oil pulled everything together by giving it some sweetness to balance it out.

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I had this dish during my second visit and thought it was one of the more interesting dishes from the whole menu. I definitely can comment on the consistency in the making of this dish as it tasted and presented exactly like how it was previously. It was definitely an acquired taste to the rest who haven’t tried it.

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I always look forward to their ravioli course because they’ve always done it so delicately. Each ravioli piece is about the size of two thumbnails and there definitely needs to be more of it. Again served with a tomato-y broth, the ravioli was stuffed with pumpkin! By this time, mum pointed out how tomato may be the ingredient that the degustation was focusing on and the waitress confirmed it!

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The pasta was kind of like the first time I had it but with some crab meat to go with as well! Again with a tomato-y base. Love tomato! The pasta here is always cooked to perfection, never over or under.

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Ok OMG, this lamb. The major flaw the whole table had with this was that there was only one piece. My parents are avid food and wine lovers and said that this was probably the best piece of lamb they’ve ever eaten. Rightly so! So tender, so juicy. Marinated overnight with a miso concoction only to be charred to perfection just before serving. I personally could use a whole jar of that pickled carrot too.

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On to the palate cleanser – strawberries! Extremely refreshing and sour way to end the savouries and move onto the main dessert.

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And finally, we have the dessert which at least looks like a blanket of snow but once you cut into it, a rhubarb reduction oozes out from the centre. The white snow surrounding the bowl is made out of bits of coconut meringue which just melts in your mouth – just like snow!

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Overall a great experience once again! Service was also extremely consistent throughout all my visits. 10/10 would come back for a fourth time.

8 courses was priced at $110pp. Make sure to request the 8 courses for lunch as they only do it for dinner. The standard lunch menu consist of 3 or 5 courses.

 

Lumi Bar & Dining
56 Pirrama Road, Pyrmont
www.lumidining.com

Food from Penang Island

It’s always a must for my family and I to take a trip up to Penang Island every year to visit family and to over indulge ourselves with the food there at least 5 times a day.

Because my mum grew up on Penang Island, it is only natural that she knew all the best spots in town – even surviving stalls since she was a kid! The history never cease to amaze me every time we are there. Almost every street has a significance to the town itself or even a memory from my mum’s childhood.

I thought I’d share our family favourites from Penang here. These are definitely our must go-to outlets, and more!

 

Edgecumbe Road (Gurney Drive) Mee Rebus and Pasembur

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Previously known as Edgecumbe Road, there facing the sea comes one of the best mee rebus I have ever eaten. My personal favourite is the mee goreng basah! Located in a small somewhat dodgy looking hawker lot, sits both the mee rebus and pasembur (Malay-Indian rojak) side-by-side.

 

Lorong Selamat Char Kway Teow

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You seriously can not go to Penang and not have a plate – or two – of char kway teow. I am sure there are many favourites going around, but this is famous for the reason that it’s so good. I always love my CKT a bit charred around the noodles, and they do it right here. Also, definitely grab a bowl of ice kacang at the restaurant they’re situated at which comes with ice cream! Comes in handy to wash down the spiciness of the chilli!

 

Ayer Itam Wet Market

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This place sends me shivers down my spine in really great ways. Probably the hottest part of Penang, for some reason, sits a wet market. Within the vicinity of this wet market sells really, really, really yummy curry mee and assam laksa! Next to a tourist hotspot that is the Kek Lok Si Temple, you’d have to stop by here for a meal.

 

Padang Brown Open Food Court 

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This has been a recently new find. We came here to try the popiah that is unusually covered in prawn broth (second picture). So good, if anything, come here to try this. We also discovered a lok lok (steamboat) shop next to it and decided to give it a go. Amazing spread of food as pictured above along with great sauces to dip them in. There is also a store at the corner nearest to the entrance that sells mostly kuih, and interestingly, kerabu bee hoon. That is a must try as well.

 

Chulia Street

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Along this street at night runs lines of food stalls by the road side that you need to get into. I am sure any stall would taste great but try finding the won ton mee (first picture) stall that has lines for days. That’s where you’ll find the plate pictured above. Around the area in a tuckshop, they sell local desserts that you probably have not heard of before as they can only be found in Penang.
Just around the corner is a traditional steamboat restaurant called Goh Huat Seng Steamboat. Powered by charcoal with a flame that keeps on burning on the top.

 

Nasi Kandar Line Clear

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Legend has it that nasi kandar originated from Penang itself. Nasi Kandar Line Clear which is situated in yet another dodgy alley boasts an array of dishes to accompany the various types of curry that is going to drench your rice. Happy picking.

 

Loh Bak @ Kheng Pin Coffee Shop on Penang Road 

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Saving the best for last. Loh bak, and even more, their thin prawn fritters. Lord. Their sauces are also nothing like the usual loh bak sauces as well. MUST have if you’re in town.
While you’re on Penang Road, you have got to stop by the famous chendol cart!

 

This is more or less our guide to Penang’s food. Hope this would help you in your next adventure to Penang Island!

 

Some photo credits to Joshua Sim. 

 

 

 

 

 

Vegan Dark Chocolate Cake (Recipe)

Ok, so I have been MIA since… October? Life kind of took over for awhile – the usual – work, studies, interviews, exams. And in between all that, I just wanted to eat and relax.

Alas, it is a new year! Happy 2016 to everyone and it’s definitely going to be a challenging year for me. I got my first job to start off my career, and it’s making me wonder if it’ll have as much time as I did when i was a student to be constantly try out new places to indulge in. Which always reminds me of that triangle where you can only pick 2 categories and not have all 3 at one time.

For Josh’s birthday in November, I was wondering what cake I’d bake for him and while I was procrastinating for final exams, I randomly decided to watch an episode of Nigella’s new show Simply Nigella. In that episode, she made the most indulging looking dark vegan chocolate cake I have laid my eyes on, and I rarely do chocolate cake at all. All in all, i have made this cake 4 times in various ways and garnishes, and they’ve all worked out perfectly moist and delish.

As it was an originally a vegan recipe, it called for coconut butter, which you can get from Harris Farm by the way, or any organic shop I suppose but I haven’t checked on that. But I have also used normal butter for the same amount required and worked just as well too!
And the soft dark sugar required can be bought from your regular baking section at Coles or Woolies under the CSR brand.

All the pictures shown have been taken at the various times I have made this cake.

The recipe makes only 1 layer. And don’t worry like I did if the mix looks really watery, it’s actually the key for it being so moist and light.

 

Recipe

Equipment needed: Saucepan/small pot, spring cake tin, baking paper, spatula

For the icing
75g Coconut Butter/Unsalted Butter
50g Soft Dark Brown Sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon Coffee Powder (I used the Campos Superior Blend I had at home)
1 1/2 tablespoon Cocoa Powder
4 tablespoons Cold Water
150g Dark Chocolate (I used a 75% Cadbury baking chocolate), finely chopped

For the cake
225g Plain Flour
1 1/2 teaspoon Bicarbonate Soda
1/2 teaspoon Sea Salt
1 1/2 teaspoon Coffee Powder
75g Cocoa Powder
300g Soft Dark Brown Sugar
375g Hot Water, recently boiled from the kettle
75g Coconut Oil, when solid (If melted, 90mls)
1 1/2 teaspoon White Wine Vinegar

To decorate
Dried Rose Petals
Pistachios
Or… anything you feel like!

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 160C Fan.
  2. For the icing, put all of the icing ingredients except the chopped chocolate into a saucepan. Bring to the boil, making sure everything’s dissolved. Then turn off the heat but leave the pan on the stove. Quickly add the finely chopped chocolate and swirl the pan so that it is all covered by the mixture. Then whisk until you have a darkly glossy icing, and leave to cool. Give the icing a stir with a spatula every now and again.
  3. Line the bottom of your springform cake tin (you will need a good, leakproof one as this is a very wet batter) with baking paper.
  4. In a large mixing bowl, put the flour, bicarbonate of soda, salt, coffee, and cocoa powder in a bowl and use a fork to mix till it becomes uniformed.
  5. In another smaller bowl, mix together the sugar, water, coconut oil and vinegar until the coconut oil has melted, and stir into the dry ingredients. Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 30 minutes. Though, do check at the 25-minute mark to see if it is already done. When it’s ready, the cake will be coming away from the edges of the tin and a cake tester will come out clean.
  6. Once the cake is cooked, transfer the tin to a wire rack and let the cake cool in its tin. Once completely cool remove from the tin.
  7. Turn to your icing, and give it a good stir with a spatula to check it is at the right consistency. It needs to be runny enough to cover the cake, but thick enough to stay (mostly) on the top. So pour over the cake, and use a spatula to ease the icing to the edges, if needed. If you wish to decorate, now is the time to do it. In which case, sprinkle with rose petals and chopped pistachios or anything else that you want. Leave to stand to cool for the icing to set before slicing into the cake.

 

Let me know if you’ve tried this and how it worked out for you!

Maedaya Sake & Grill (Richmond, VIC)

If you’re one to always chase for authenticity like me, look no further for a Japanese bar and grill restaurant. It honestly upsets me that this has to be all the way in Melbourne. During my recent trip to Melbourne, we’ve decided to have dinner at Maedaya!

There is sort of a story to this. Last year when we were in Melbourne, we were supposed to have dinner here for the first time. However, on the way back from Phillip Island, some city council has failed us by having a large pot hole in the middle of the motorway causing our rental car’s tyre to burst. Two hours on… It was about 11pm till we arrived in the city on our last night and that was that.

So, coming back to this place. We were so pleased with everything this place had to offer us that we came back for the second time on our last night! I have to apologise in advance as I didn’t take any pictures on the second night where we order some other dishes too. So hopefully my words will tantalise you enough to try this place out.

How the ordering works is through using an iPad where you just get to choose and order items from. They obviously have a dedicated tab for the grill, and as well as an extensive range of sake!  

Their beef udon is one of the best beef udon’s that has ever graced my life. We ordered two during our first night and one more on our second night. Mind you that everything is also designed to share. I totally recommend this on your order list.

Their house made hojicha ice cream is creamy in texture and full of flavour. The two matcha/red bean mochi has been imported from Japan. THE BEST MOCHI EVER. I even had to look it up right after to see if I could get some across. It turns out I can but not without travelling through a few channels. 😉

The mochi is uber soft and delicate. It just melts in your mouth and feels like a cloud when you pick it up. Major love for this mochi. I can not stop raving about it to anyone and everyone.

We ordered quite a bit from the grill and this is their double glazed chicken with spring onion skewer. Really tender chicken with a sweet glaze. We also tried their grilled scallops, onigiri, and pork individually.

They also have a standard tasting plate which comes with a variety of chicken, pork, and toufu skin. I would recommend this as an introduction to the grill.

Their agedashi toufu is also really good! I will never pass a bowl of agedashi toufu whenever I am at a Japanese restaurant.

We also ordered some okonomiyaki which was so fresh and amazing. We saw it on the first night but was too full to order anymore so we got it on the second visit. Must order.

And if you’re into sake, man, this place will be just up your alley. If you don’t want to wreck your brain trying to figure out what you would like to try, they offer a sake tasting that may change from time to time depending on their availability. It comes with three different types of sake ranging from a variety of notes.

After that, the friendly staff will still be able to assist you in ordering a particular choice from the menu. They also do suggest which sake goes with the different items on their menu. Very informative, so it will be worth your whole getting some knowledge out of them.

All in all, would totally 110% go back with a heartbeat. Never had Josh and I experience such as amazing Japanese feed in Australia. It is totally affordable as well. They offer a range of seating options from private cubicles to the bar or even outside. It also makes the experience better when there are friendly and accommodating staff

It will also be great if you made a booking before you go as they are always full, even on weekdays! But their waiting times are not as long as you would think as we only waited 20 minutes when we went back for seconds without a booking. So, totally make this an effort to visit this place whenever you’re in Melbourne! It’s so accessible via tram from the city. It takes you right to their door step.

Overall rating: 9/10

Maedaya Sake and Grill
400 Bridge Road RICHMOND
www.facebook.com/sakeandgrill

Melbourne Food Itinerary

After my last day of classes at university ever (or for now), a much needed vacation to Melbourne was needed. Josh and I really had one aim for Melbourne, and that was to eat. EAT. I made me think about how my family and I used to just take weekend trips up to Penang Island just to eat. We still do that by the way. And maybe Melbourne is our Penang.

We arrived Saturday bright and early to make full use of the day and was greeted with the most amazing weather Melbourne has ever graced us with. But because it wasn’t time to check in yet, we headed to Cumulus Inc after setting our bags in the lockers at YHA on Flinders. So, sit back and relax as I take you on the food journey we had.

Cumulus Inc

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Upon entering, I gathered a really classy vibe from this restaurant. It was definitely more of a proper restaurant than a chilled cafe. Their baked eggs seemed to be a hit there so I decided to have a go. Their bread was one of the better breads I’ve been served along with baked eggs. The baked eggs itself was pretty alright. Their coffee was decent as well. After giving this a go after seeing all the writeup’s, I probably wouldn’t go back again.

Doughboy Doughnuts

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IMG_6447This was one of our must-go places when we wanted to make the trip down. Also because we couldn’t make it last year because we assumed they were opened everyday but weren’t. They’ve since relocated from QVM to Welcome To Thornbury temporarily while waiting for their new store to open. We got to the place at 12pm and it has just opened. A little out of the way but it seemed that we’ve stumbled upon a food truck haven. Junkyard/servo turned bar and food truck gathering offered a wide selection of food from the food trucks that arrived on what i assumed was a first-come-first-access to a spot basis as I saw a couple of other food trucks driving pass seeing as they were already full. We didn’t get to try any of them as we were full from before. The doughnuts itself was very fluffy in texture and not dense at all. Their variety of flavours were very interesting and great! I was definitely recommend this place as your to-go doughnut joint.

We had Maedaya that night but I’ll save that for a post on it’s own as it was the most spectacular Japanese food I’ve had in Australia so far. Even Josh said it was amazing, and he never says anything like that. So much so, we went back a second time on our last night.

On Sunday, we picked up our GoGet car to make a trip to the Mornington Peninsula. I did some research before going and found Port Phillip Estate to have insane reviews. This vineyard is a bit further up in Red Hill, about 25 minutes from Mornington town.

Port Phillip Estate

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You could opt for either a two or three course menu for an affordable price. This was one of the rare times I experience a winery utilising seafood so much. It’s usually the usual poultry and garden grown things. I guess being close to waters had it’s perks. The was they presented their food was everything you’d expect when dining in a winery. You know they handled their seafood well as our entrees of scallops and ocean trout was made to perfection. Their desserts was a given a modern twist to very homey desserts. We had a slow baked Red Hill apple which was essentially sort of like an apple crumble. Really good. I would highly recommend this restaurant if you decide to make a trip to Mornington Peninsula.

The following day, we went back to try some of St Ali Coffee Roasters’ food after trying their coffee during the start of our day before driving to Mornington.

St Ali

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Loving their coffee here. Super strong blend, just how we like it. Their milk frothing was done well too. I saw that they did a lot of egg dishes here so I had to take one of their egg dishes here. Their corn fritters also seemed to be their hit here so I decided to try that. The corn fritters were not dry and their flavours were good too. The eggs were done perfectly, evidently through the runny yolk.

Shortstop Doughnuts

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This place gave a interesting variety of doughnuts. You’d get your traditional doughnut texture, a cake texture, and a cruller. We gave each texture ago and was very satisfied with the outcome. The doughnut texture was very flight and airy, while the cake texture wasn’t as cakey as you’d thing it would be. It was still light and crumbly without being dry. The cruller was something like an airy churro soaked in the choice of flavour. Super rich but super yummy. Not for the faint hearted. Their filter coffee was amazing as well.

Proud Mary

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If you’re coming to Melbourne for the coffee like us, Proud Mary has got to be one of your stops. A lot of Sydney specialty brewers like Brewristas and Handcraft have been importing their beans lately too. We just went for the coffee and I had to get their geisha that was being offered that day. The geisha was hailed from Panama and it was light, fruity, and smooth. The other cup was Guatemalan caturra which was also fruit, smooth, but strong.

Jimmy Grants 

IMG_6437We made a quick stop for a snack at Jimmy Grants by George Colombaris. Being avid fans of Masterchef, we had to give it a go. Their souvlakis was full of flavour but found it too small for the price paid which was $11 each. But to be honest, Melbourne seemed to have way smaller portions than Sydney.

The Kettle Black 

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What’s a trip to Melbourne without eating the famous ricotta hotcake from Kettle Black or Top Paddock. Which are, by the way, by the same people. Because we’ve tried Top Paddock during our trip last year, naturally, we went to Kettle Black. Nestled in between tall, modern office blocks was an old Victorian-esq building. Their food was amazing and so beautifully presented. It was like every Instagrammer’s dream; pretty food, great lighting, and a famous location. But this actually tasted great. I say that because every time i see multiple pictures within a week about the next hype, i decide to go and try it for myself but get disappointed most of the time! I am almost sure that people are just doing it because a) other people are or/and b)it just looks pretty for the gram or/and c) someone is being compensated to promote them.
The ricotta hotcake was less sweeter than the last time I had it, and also much thicker. So we weren’t able to finish it this time but the waitress commended us for our efforts. HAHA!

The Mussel Pot 

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Just $12 for 1kg of fresh mussels, you’d get the freshest bowl of mussels at the Prahran Market. We had it with the coconut and chilli flavour and it was so flavourful. I’d so recommend this place if you’re in the Chapel St area doing some shopping. But we didn’t even come in here because we were shopping nearby, it’s been a point to visit the Prahran Market every time we are down to get the freshest homemade food items here from dips to pastas to the finest ingredients sourced from Australia and the rest of the world.

Hammer & Tong 412 

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On our last day, we decided to give this place since so many people that have gone here have raved about it. Unfortunately, all the dishes that were raved about before just left the menu as it has been now changed to the next seasonal menu. However, the softshell crab burger was still available and that was good! A new addition was a chicken burger and that was even better IMO! So definitely get that one. BUT again, i think it was a bit too pricey at $17 just for a burger alone. It would have been much more worth it to have it come with a side of something.

Patricia Coffee Brewers 

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OK, this one of the most amazing coffee places I have been to. Super friendly staff and amazing coffee to boot. Such an amazing end to the trip. Their fliters was very well done. My cold filter came with a super cool flask to be poured onto a giant block of ice. I also tried a latte from them to which they recommended which blend would suit better with soy milk. I think more baristas should do that if there was an option. I really wish Sydney had the coffee culture Melbourne has! That is one thing i will definitely miss from Melbourne. Also, their coffees are generally cheaper there too. Soy milk is only an additional 20 cents as supposed to 50 cents in Sydney. I could get used to their pricing if I moved there. And yes, we took away Shortstop to fly them back to Sydney too.

So, that was basically my food itinerary in Melbourne! I hope these would help you make some choices if you are planning a trip down. From everything listed, my must to-go places are definitely Shortstop, Patricia Coffee, Maedaya (stay tuned), The Kettle Black, The Mussel Pot, and Prahran Market. Port Phillip Estate if you’re going to Mornington Peninsula!

Menulog Eats

Let’s all agree that Menulog was created for people like us me who just couldn’t be bothered cooking something or even walking the distance for some food. I was honoured to have won the 2015 Menulog Food Lover Blog Awards in The Foodie category. Massive love to those who have voted for me, I don’t even know how. Especially after some of the blogs that I know I was up against.

The Foodie

One of the prizes included Menulog vouchers. I then decided to have a dinner with them with some close friends. At the same time, I had the idea of doing a list of some of my favourite restaurants to get a good feed from via Menulog. On the night, I ordered some Thai from from Thai La Ong, Newtown and Indian from Sangha’s Tandoori Palace, Croydon Park.

Thai La Ong has been one of my favourite cheap joints since starting university at Sydney Uni. It is home to any student on campus for their $7 lunches. My picks are always their pad si ew (black bean sauce)  and pad khi mao (chili and basil sauce). This is the epitome of comfort food for me. Another add I would go for is their moo yang BBQ pork as well, so succulent.

Pad Khi Mao and Pad Si Ew from Thai La Ong
Pad Khi Mao and Pad Si Ew from Thai La Ong
Complimentary side bowl of prawn crackers
Complimentary side bowl of prawn crackers

Since moving to Marrickville, I was on a quest to find my new favourite Indian restaurant. We stumbled upon Sangha’s Tandoori Palace and decided to give it a go because of their reviews. Being a huge fan of briyani, we got some lamb briyani and chicken briyani for the night. I’ve also decided to give their whole tandoori chicken a go. It turned out to be super succulent and tender, not dry at all as how I find a lot of the ones I have previously tried at other places. This place does spice well, which is definitely why I will always go back to this place.

My other picks at this place would also be their palak paneer, mango lassi, and garlic naan.

Lamb and Chicken Briyani with a side of Cucumber Yoghurt
Lamb and Chicken Briyani with a side of Cucumber Yoghurt
Tandoori Chicken with a side salad
Tandoori Chicken with a side salad

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Some of the other restaurants I frequent with on Menulog are

  • Pho PHD Vietnamese Restaurant (Marrickville) for their pho rice noodle soup with medium rare beef, fresh rice paper rolls with pork, and the boneless stuffed chicken wing.
  • Maya Tandoori (Surry Hills) for their lamb briyani, palak paneer, saag paneer, fish tikka masala, and naan.
  • Tre Viet (Newtown) for their special fried rice, and grilled pork with tomato rice.

I have yet to find an awesome Chinese restaurant on Menulog, if you have one, please hit me up with it.

*This post was written with my own intention