Friday, 29 November 2013

Perth Visit 2013 (07/11 - 12/11)

Perth City, or also known as Dullsville to locals, was my home for four years of my life. The nickname came about as it is the most isolated major city in Australia - all the other major cities are on the East Coast! Ironically, I now miss Perth and find it less "dull" than Brisbane. I'm quite biased as I had an established social circle and my mother is there too. 

Whilst waiting for my visa to be granted earlier on this month, and being unemployed at the time, my mother thought it would be best if I could pop over to pack some of my belongings that I had left behind and also an excuse to catch up again. Also, what better than dear old Mummy sponsoring my entire trip! Spoilt brat

Tickets were soon bought after confirmation of Mummy's registered days off and the anticipation of actually going back to Perth brought me much joy and excitement - I got to see Mummy, friends & especially the food!

Virgin Airlines' Scrambled Eggs & Bacon breakfast option. Served with a small fruit salad & Raspberry muffin.

Day 1: On board Virgin Airlines by 8:50am and a 5 hour plus trip to Perth. Nearly sustained Carpal Tunnel Syndrome after killing time playing games on the worst console ever. After arrival, Mummy had a surprise - a friend of mine, Aaron came with her to surprise me! We then went to Old Cathay for lunch - had to order Nasi Lemak as the first dish as per usual. After lunch, we decided to stop by the Victoria Park Hotel, where I used to play Australian Poker League (APL) tournaments every Monday night, for a beer or two. After beer, we went back to where Mummy was living and dropped off my luggage. Then, Aaron and I went to the Fuse Bar for my long over-due game of poker after a year! Managed to sit tight and scrape my way through to final table. Along the way, APL had free goodies to give out via lucky draw. I won myself a Corona bucket and a pair of aqua blue sunnies! It was also a great time to meet up with Isaac (whom I've also known through poker).

I would probably class Nasi Lemak as my favourite dish. I could also probably eat this 3 times a day and still not get sick of it.

Jellyfish & Shredded Chicken Salad

My beloved Corona bucket which I had to give away due to the lack of space in my check-in luggage T_T

Me with my new sunnies!

Outside table at City Garden with Isaac

Some fucking Spicy Chilli Beef indeed. It nearly made me cry when I was dared to bite a bit off the dried chilli. Jesus, that was a stupid move.

My absolute favourite at this restaurant: Chilli & Garlic Pepper Pork Intestines. To those who cringe at eating innards, I've converted quite a few of my Western friends with this dish!

After poker, Aaron had to leave early and by that point, I've had quite a bit to drink. I convinced Isaac to go for supper at City Garden. After supper, he dropped me off. I had quite a late shower and crashed (this may seem irrelevant now, but it makes sense in Day 2).

Day 2: Headed down to North Bridge again, for a traditional Chinese breakfast for champions: Dim sums! After a year being in Brisbane, I could not believe that one of my favourite Chinese restaurants for dim sum, had shut down. Disappointingly, Mummy and I headed down to Dragon Palace instead. Service was shit - slow, ignorant staff who seemed to treat Westerners better (couldn't believe we felt racism in an Asian restaurant wtf?).

Mummy's bored pose

Clockwise from bottom left: Siu-mai (pork dumplings), Har Gao (Prawn dumplings), Fung Zhao (Phoenix's Feet aka Chicken feet) and tripe.

After breakfast, Mummy and I decided to walk to the city for a look-around. Aaron's girlfriend, Phoebe, was also a friend of mine who is an amazing nail technician. She was surprisingly free, for a Friday afternoon and Mummy treated us both to have had our nails done. Here's a little Mesha FAQ: I love sparkly things, so non-bling/sparkly nails was not an option. I chose Aqua/Teal acrylic nails this time. Mummy chose a more subtle, but more classy, Silver glitter instead.

Phoebe working on Mummy's nails

Absolutely love my nails! Phoebe somehow made these nails so light, they almost feel like my own nails! 

After our nails were completely bling-ed up, we decided to go shopping around for my partner's one month belated birthday gift: A Phillip water-proof electric razor.

I was quite sad that I actually missed out on the annual Good Life Festival in Brisbane this year, which is like a Foodie's dream expo. Surprise, surprise! Perth had it's Twilight Hawker Market! Better than nothing, I suppose.

People, people everywhere!

One Mexican stall that caught our attention. It sold roasted corn with a combination of toppings. 

We ordered "Miss Piggy"to share, which consisted of pulled pork, salsa, grilled corn and we requested guacamole as an extra. Yummy & Healthy!

Mummy & I, overlooking the Twilight Hawker Market.

Mind you, "Miss Piggy" wasn't our dinner. Oh, no sir! That was just an appetizer between us! Since we had to head back to North Bridge anyways, I asked for some recommendations from Mummy. She brought me to this Chinese restaurants that sold offal dishes. It was one of the best mix pork innards (pig's ears, stomach and intestine) stir-fried in sambal! *in love*

zomfg! So good!

After dinner, Mummy and I headed back. I needed a good shower after spending all day in the CBD area. HOWEVER, much to my disgust, her landlord locked the bathroom door! How rude! Apparently, I woke him up when I had a shower the night before and this is like his "revenge/teaching us a lesson" for showering too late. The worst part is that he wasn't even sleeping in the master bedroom with his wife cause he snores worse than a Snorlax.

Literally, the walls shake and we could even hear him in the bedroom down the hall (which was probably why his wife asked him to move as they had a newborn). Seriously, wtf?

You do NOT lock the bathroom door. No bloody tenant is going to want to rent if they can't even take a shower whenever they like? What if they were a shift worker, like I was as a waitress and don't finish until late? By late, in this instance, was like 10:45pm. Urgh

Mummy and I resorted to wiping ourselves with a face towel that night.

Day 3: Woke up and headed straight to the bathroom for a shower. By the time we finished refreshing ourselves, Mummy took me to the new Hippo Creek branch in Karawarra for brunch. Instead of the sit-down, proper dining menu, we ordered from the bar menu instead. The "bar" food there was bloody amazing and pretty darn cheap for the amount of food we ordered. The appetizers, we had the choice of 3 for $38, so we ordered 1/2 dozen natural oysters, 1/2 dozen Kilpatrick & Buffulo Wings with blue cheese dipping sauce. On top of that, we ordered a pizza and I had a pint of cider to myself. Boy, were we stuffed!

Au naturale oysters

Pizza & Buffulo Wings

After this late lunch, we wandered round to Carousel shopping centre to kill some time before meeting up with D'Arcy at Malaysian Delight, for obviously more food.

Le Mr. Know-It-All

After dinner, they wanted to show me the new Perth casino. It was no longer known as the Burswood casino as the famous Melbourne Crown casino took over and turned it into another Crown casino! To be honest, I was skeptical about the change and so-called renovations, thinking, how much would there be to change.

Boy, oh, boy, was I wrong.

The new Crown Perth casino is... is... omg! Totally revamped, inside and out! There was firstly, more parking and they've also created an easier access to the casino from either ends. The interior of the casino decorated with gold-related decor and it simply looked fancier and obviously much newer. Floor space was also extended, so noobs can get quite lost in there. Pokies machine galore and so many more new tables with even $5 Black Jack tables. WTF?! From a mediocre casino, Crown has turned Burswood into one of the best I've seen in Australia! (Brisbane's Treasury Casino is shit in comparison now, but news of renovation to Treasury has been going around).

D'Arcy and Mummy was lucky that night, making quite a profit. Mummy, turned $25AUD + $5AUD (contributed by D'Arcy) into a whopping $300AUD. By a pokies machine. Lucky biatches. On the bright side, Mummy decided to share the good fortune with me by giving me $100AUD as pocket-money. Definitely a spoilt brat now.

After the casino, we went home and after the same wiping-body ritual we had the night before, we soon crashed into deep slumber.

Day 4: It was finally a day to actually sort through the crap I had left behind. Surprisingly, I thought I had two boxes full, but instead, it seemed like most of my things had disappeared, including my uni assignments, much to my despair (I had a few assignments that I had lost the soft copy and needed the printed version. Wanted it as a contribution to my portfolio, but all is gone FML). After sorting and packing, we caught up with Dominic, again at Malaysian Delight.

Can you guess what I ordered?

YESH. More Nasi Lemak! :D

Then, there's Mr. Supposedly-Shy, Dominic

Who told us to take this awful photo of us! 

After lunch with Dominic, I had to rush off and drop my sorted belongings home before Mummy had to drop me off in the city to meet up with Omar and Dawson for dinner. I was happy when we all agreed to go to Sinabro, as it is one of my favourite Korean BBQ restaurant.

This is how much food we had ordered between the 3 of us wtf. Notice the bottom right corner.

We ordered so much, there wasn't enough room on the table!

Happy times.

Day 5: Last day in Perth. Spent the morning arranging and packing my luggage. Went to the city again as I had a slight problem with my nails. Had lunch prior to fixing my nails at Nao Japanese Restaurant. Saw Phoebe. Fixed my nails. Done. Caught up with Elizabeth for coffee and then some alcoholic drinks.
Spicy Ramen with charsiu

The lovely English lady, sipping her latte.

Just the two of us

After catching up with Elizabeth, Mummy and I realized how long it has been since we actually went to Miss Maud's for their smorgasbord! It is not exactly the fanciest/best buffet I've been to, but somehow Miss Maud's have left quite a few good memories and I enjoy the selection & quality of the food served at the buffet. We had also invited Aaron & Phoebe for dinner.

Group photo! <3

Day 6: Had an early morning flight back to Brisbane. I couldn't believe how fast 5 days can slip right past you, especially when you're having fun.

Mother & Daughter selfie

I definitely do miss Perth, especially now, with renovations and the introduction of more restaurants and shops. What made Perth so important to me, despite it being Dullsville, is the experiences I've had living there - I started and finished university, made many friends (a huge transition from being the unpopular kid in high school into developing lasting friendships), experiences with the opposite sex, introduction to alcohol and so many more important aspects of my life.

Most of all, I miss my mother! :(

Monday, 25 November 2013

Easy Naan Bread Recipe (I Have Naan Left!)

Naan is a popular leavened flat-bread which most of us associate with the Asian cuisine- in particular, Indian cuisine and cuisines from the surrounding area. 

Naan also holds its own place in my heart as it brings back fond memories of going to a mamak stall at ridiculously stupid early hours in the morning for a very, very late supper. This bread pairs well with the spicy, aromatic herbs and taste of all sorts of Indian curries, and especially, when it is freshly out of a tandoor oven, along side tandoori chicken. My absolute favourite naan, which I order every single time I visit Steven's Corner in Malaysia, is the Garlic Cheese Naan (think garlicky pizza with puffy, soft, luxurious naan bread as the "pizza" base). The Steven's Corner OUG branch is still the original place I go to for that particular naan!

Funnily enough, I only decided to make my own a long time ago whilst in Australia during a Caravan, Camping, Boating & Fishing expo. How weird, right? The chef on the day won us over with his Bush Spiced Naan Bread & Crusted Roo recipe and ever since, I have been using the recipe (simplified to accommodate what I already have at home) to make naan.

So, on weekends when we are out of bread at home (and when I actually find the motivation as I am that lazy!), this is a great simple, almost fool-proof way to make your own naan at home without a tandoor

1 sachet or 1 tsp dried yeast
500g plain flour (I used 2 cups)
3/4 cup warm water
3 tsp sugar
1 beaten egg
2 tsp salt
1/4 oil (I used olive oil. Macadamia oil was used in the original recipe as it was the feature produce of the day. Any cooking oil should work fine.)
1/4 cup of yoghurt/milk*
3 tsp spice mix of your choice* (Especially in Australia, there are many bush spice mix available in grocery stores. If bush spice isn't available, get creative and mix your favourite mix of herbs or throw in some poppy/sesame seeds!)
*:What I did not use in this batch as I was lazy didn't have any and wanted see the result without those ingredients.

1: Mix 1 teaspoon of sugar with 1/4 cup of the warm water, then add the dried yeast. Mix the yeast in and let it sit until froth appears.

Not the best looking image of frothed-up yeast. Looking at this still give me goosebumps.

2. Whilst waiting for the yeast to froth, I quickly beat up an egg in a separate bowl.

If your egg doesn't look like this, well.. I don't know what you did wrong. Seriously! Jokes.

3. In a big bowl, mix other remaining ingredients together and the started yeast. Knead dough for a couple of minutes, into a smooth ball.

Mine isn't perfect. Don't judge! If yours looks a bit rough, like mine, it's a sign that more flour could have been added (just don't add more than 3 cups in total). Yoghurt or milk does help for a smoother dough, from what I've heard.

4. Cover the bowl with the ball of dough (I used clingwrap) and leave it in a warm place until it has doubled in size (mine took 45 minutes to an hour).

5. Take the risen dough and a)If you are bloody awful at measuring a perfectionist, you can attempt cutting equal portions of the dough. b) If you are like me, I just estimate and pull off chunks of dough as I go along. These portions are to be rolled into balls/spheres.

6. Dust a large chopping board, or any clean surface you are working on with a little bit of flour. Flatten the balls of dough with a rolling pin until they resemble small pizza bases. 

Extra sprinkled flour helps the dough not to stick to surfaces. Don't over do it. I used half a tablespoon for each ball of dough.

7. Heat up a non-stick frying pan on medium to high heat. The original recipe said to use hot BBQ plates or a cast iron pan. I used one of those small non-stick frying pans you can easily get at any grocery market! No oil needed. 

8. Once the pan has heated up, put those flattened dough into the pan. Again, the original recipe stated for it to be heated for no longer than 30 seconds maximum, assuming if you are using a scorchingly hot BBQ plate or cast iron pan. For me, on high heat, I decided to play it safe (didn't want the dough to be still raw) and 30 seconds on each side. 

Just a heads-up that the dough will puff during cooking. I completely forgot about that and freaked me out for a second!

The End Result:

Burnt marks on my batch as I really seared these on high heat!

I found some of mine a bit dry as due to a number of factors - I rolled some of the dough quite thin and left it a tad too long in the frying process. But the rest were good! I mean, who doesn't like fresh, hot bread? Flat or not flat!? Especially with generous portions of butter! 

For breakfast, I had this with Spicy Tuna Mayo (swear I have that with everything!) and some cheese or just some butter.

I definitely can't wait to make more variations of these in the near future! 

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Nao Japanese Restaurant Review

Ramen! Ramen everywhere! I am now a self-professed ramen addict!

In Perth, I recalled visiting a tiny Japanese restaurant, donkey years ago, called Nao, (which was introduced by a friend of mine) renowned for its ramen dishes. So obviously, I had to re-visit Nao!

It is still a tiny restaurant, however, they have upgraded the back area with lounges (they actually have a toilet now!)

The kitchen is literally almost right next to us! 

I love ramen with a spicy broth, so I had to order the Spicy Ramen. Mother had the Miso Ramen.
Spicy Ramen

Miso Ramen

Service was prompt and food arrived soon after orders were taken. I wasn't quite impressed with the presentation of the food (mine had no bean sprouts!). The Miso Ramen looked alright, but mine was really, really plain looking - with just one thin layer of charsiu (pork) and one nori sheet (dried seasoned seaweed). 

Taste-wise, it was good, however, I think I've been spoilt by Taro's Ramen and half-expected more toppings. The noodles were thicker than Taro's but still somewhat al dente and chewy (personally, I prefer the thinner ones). The broth is also quite rich (I am not too sure whether it would have been considered a tonkatsu, considering it was quite a rich, fatty broth). 

The best part about Nao, is the choices of ramen offered (plain, spinach infused and chilli infused) and a large selection of extra toppings, at extra cost. 

I was quite surprised at the prices charged at this restaurant - for the large bowls of ramen we ordered (with no extra toppings), it was $10AUD (Miso Ramen) and $11AUD (Spicy Ramen) respectively. Money-wise, this is an excellent restaurant!

Nao also offers a variety of other classic Japanese dishes if ramen is not your thing, but why would anyone go there for something else? 

Anyways, this restaurant has definitely made it to the "Frequent Revisit (Whenever I'm in Perth)" list!

  • Presentation: 2/5 (Could have been better!)
  • Taste: 4/5 (Great ramen and full of flavour)
  • Service: 5/5 (Quick! Couldn't be better especially when empty tummies are growling for food)
  • Monetary value: 5/5 (Huge-ass bowl. I was stuffed after mine and that was without any extras)
Don't you just love ramen? I do! Check it out in Perth!
Nao Japanese Restaurant
117 Murray Street | Perth, WA 6000
(P): 08 9325 2090

Nao Japanese on Urbanspoon

Monday, 4 November 2013

A Mini Revisit Review: Taro's November Special - Jiro Ramen

My, how time flies! It's November already! 2013 has definitely been the fastest year ever! As everybody knows, I love going back to Taro's (like literally at least once a month, minimum) and love how they have monthly specials, offering different special dishes or free ramen upgrades (ramen quantity upgrades). 

Decided to head down and saw Jiro Ramen as November's special! 

I love how quiet it is as one of the first customers there in the morning! 

I'm still a noob with regards to ramen so, here's what a little researching showed:

"Ramen Jiro is of course technically ramen, but it is somewhat different from any other ramen in Japan. It is tonkotsu broth with shoyu added, but the broth is more like a thinner (but very rich) pork gravy and in most branches it has a large amount of suspended fat (abura). The noodles are (typically) very thick and chewy but not quite as eggy or yellow as regular ramen noodles...The pork is a very rough cut, usually from the tenderloin but sometimes from some less recognizable part  of the pig, and occasionally will be mostly fat. The veggies are usually cabbage or moyashi (bean sprouts), and each branch has its own ratio of the two. Ramen Jiro is certainly not for those who are health conscious, and those of weaker constitutions can feel a bit queasy after eating there for the first time, especially if they force themselves to finish the whole bowl." 

Taro's version of the Jiro ramen!

Well, I didn't really know what Jiro Ramen was, and thankfully I ordered the small, cause holy bejeesus! It's a huge portion in comparison to the other ramen! Now, after Googling, I thank God I grabbed a take-away container and brought it home.

I never had Jiro ramen, but I think it is alright (I'm still the fire tonkatsu kinda girl) bug it could have been fattier in a way. The broth is very rich but based on my research, I personally felt it could have more lard (I love pork lard and I don't care if I died of a heart attack later on! It's too good to pass up!). Taro's version had a lot of bean sprouts, which I find awesome and had a smaller ratio of cabbage.

The noodles were thick (think thicker, bigger, badder version of the ramen) and al dente! Chewy, thick, noodle-y heaven. If I had known better, I would have had asked for raw chopped garlic, but oh well, it's still good!

Will be back for more monthly specials!

Fat Noodle Restaurant Review- Brisbane Treasury Casino & Hotel

Another restaurant review which has been held back for a while is the Fat Noodle Restaurant at the Treasury Casino, Brisbane. Personally, I feel that this restaurant has been overlooked and is very much worthy of a visit and has easily gained a spot in one of top Asian restaurants I love in Brisbane, which is unsurprising as it is the brain-child of Luke Nguyen.

Fairly quaint restaurant, and surprisingly quiet for a Saturday afternoon.

I've only noticed it this time round, I this is what makes the Fat Noodle, quaint. Do you see it?

No? They've hung hundreds of orange chopsticks and big woks!! XD

Upon arrival, we were greeted with friendly staff and since it was fairly quiet, we were able to choose where we wanted to sit and chose a table nearest to a window for view and optimal lighting for my photos! :) Within a couple of minutes, they brought us a pot of complimentary jasmine tea in a funky iron cast (I think it's iron cast or simply some stupidly heavy metal) teapot.

Small but heavy!

Someone is checking out his tea.

Me, happy to have lunch out on a Saturday!

Table-mat aka the menu.

This time round, I opted for the Hainanese Chicken Rice as I wanted a simple, light meal and James ordered the Fat Pho Noodles. Prior to ordering our food, we ordered beer! Definitely a Saturday pre-meal drink and what could be better than ice-cold draught beer?!

He is definitely looking happier with pints of beer!

My dish arrived first (simply cause it's chicken rice, and for chicken rice lovers, you know how fast they plate it up!) within minutes of ordering! Talk about prompt service! And James' came within a couple of minutes apart.

My awesome Hainanese Chicken Rice! Definitely one of the best presented chicken rice dish I've seen in like forever. 

As a sworn Hainanese Chicken Rice lover, I am impressed with the standard! The rice is nice and fragrant, with deep-fried, crunchy shallots on top. The chicken broth (as boring and plain as it looks) is surprisingly rich with chicken flavour. The only one thing that is a bit untraditional is the slight drizzle of kicap manis (sweetened, thick soy sauce) on the chicken and veggies. The chilli sauce and garlic paste was also awesome on its own but definitely enhanced the flavour of the dish (though the chilli sauce could have been a bit more sour than sweet, but hey, I am definitely not complaining too much about the chilli sauce! It's awesome!).

Chickennnn! The more I stare that this photo whilst writing this post, the hungrier I get. Stop salivating all over the keyboard, dammnit!

I'm a sauce-girl. No food is good without a good sauce! Now, stare at the garlic paste.

I must be so Asian right now - actually have a close-up photo of the rice wtf

Rich, beefy goodness of the pho! Pho power!! Out of all the pho places I've visited in Brisbane, this one is the best!

I love this restaurant and every time I've been there, their food standard still wows me. It is also surprisingly affordable (I still somehow associate high prices with casino restaurants). The chicken rice is $16AUD whilst the beef pho is $18AUD.

Another random reason I deem this place highly worthy, despite the somewhat low ratings on Urbanspoon, is the quality of the congee/porridge. Holy fudge, it's fucking awesome! On our first visit to the Fat Noodle, James ordered the seafood congee and I had seriously doubted the quality until I took a mouthful and declared to the world that I haven't found a congee/porridge anywhere I've been to in Australia that good! Okay, most Asians are biased when it comes to congee. Some like it watery with huge chunky bits of meat, but I like mine like the one served here! Thick, rich with flavour (seafood) and filled with fish, and other seafood. Huge thumbs up!

We had also tried the Chicken Pad Thai and Roasted Duck on other occasions and it was all good (I remembered the duck being slightly dry, but overall, the food is yummy!). I also went another time with an ex-friend of mine and she had the Caramelized Pork Ribs with Egg - it was wholly flavoursome but I found it a tad bit too sweet.

Verdict time!

  • Presentation: 4.2/5 (Nicely presented but obviously not to a fine-dining standard; Good)
  • Food/Taste: 4.5/5 (Awesome but I see an inconsistency in some of the dishes I ordered in the past. Fantastic nonetheless!)
  • Service: 5/5 (Absolutely felt like I was sitting in a fancy, upper-class fine dining restaurant! Everything was quick and smooth.)
  • Monetary value: 4.5/5 (I think it is uber awesome to get fantastic food without breaking the wallet)

Overall, I would definitely give it a 4.5/5! Fat Noodle, you've got me as a regular!

Asian Chow-time at:
Fat Noodle
130 William Street (Treasury Casno & Hotel)
Brisbane, Queensland 4007, Australia
(P): 07 3306 8888

Fat Noodle on Urbanspoon