Wonder meals

They say the best Chinese restaurants are the ones that look dingy and tacky. If this was the case, I was going to one of the best Chinese restaurants in Canberra, complete with plastic flower decorations, weird never to be used napkins (they take them away as soon as you sit down like they are only for decorative purposes) and even with a crazy guy muttering to himself sitting near the entrance.

I had been here previously when it was attempting to be a yum cha place tucked away at the back of Belconnen with dirty carpets, oily food and limited menu, but now the place has had a makeover including new owners (apparently they are the same people who ran the yum cha at the Deakin club), new menu and a new name: Wonder meals.

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Fried potato slice with chilli pepper ($12.80). What looks like noodles, tastes like vinegary and crunchy? Apparently fried potato slice. It was truly unlike anything I’ve had before and a preview of what unusual dishes were yet to come.

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Leek pie ($6.80 per serve). It was like a leek/shallot/noodle/egg dumpling but I believed it lacked salt and definitely needed soy sauce.

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Stir fried shredded meat with garlic stem ($15.80). Perfectly cooked garlic stems with tasty shredded pork. Yum!

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Lotus seed puree buns ($6.80/3 pieces). This is one of my favourite bun fillings. When I broke it in two (to get rid of the yolk centre), I noticed that the colour of the filling wasn’t as dark as I’m used to and it didn’t taste very strong, so with the addition of the yolk contamination, I didn’t bother finishing it.

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Fried noodles with shredded meat ($10.80). I don’t know if I didn’t like the noodle texture or I was just surprised by the dish as it was not what I expected. The noodles were extremely starchy and instead of being chewy, it gets stuck in your teeth, but despite not being a fan of the texture, I found it oddly addictive.

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Steamed bread stuffed with meat ($4.80 per bread). Tasted great but it would have been better with a hint of sriracha. The bread absorbed a lot of the sauce but even then, the juices still drip when you take a bite.

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Peek-a-boo!

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Steamed spare rib with glutinous rice ($25.80). I’ve had lots of glutinous rice but nothing like this before. It was so incredibly sticky.

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Pan fried pancake with egg and salted paste ($3.80 per serve). A crispy fried pastry with chili paste folded into the layers.

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Menu taken from their website. We really wanted to try their marinated Chinese yam with blueberry jam ($13.80) for its vivid purple colour as well as strange combination of foods, but it was for some reason unavailable which was a shame.

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There are three sections to the menu: the unusual mains menu complete with handy pictures; yum cha options and BBQed skewers, which covers a lot of palette preferences.

There weren’t many people during lunch service and I don’t know how busy they are during dinner but I think people should definitely come here to explore a cuisine that is so diverse beyond chow mein, stir fries and curries.

Venue: Wonder Meals

Address: 2 Cohen Street, Belconnen, ACT

Phone: (02) 6162 0074

Wesbitehttp://wondermeals.com.au/

Opening hours: 10:30AM to 2:30PM, 4:30PM to 10:30PM Monday to Sunday

Wonder Meals on Urbanspoon

C dine Bar

Despite my best efforts to keep on top of things, readers giving me heads up about new restaurants and what to try next, I still get pleasantly surprised when a restaurant pops up in a place that I didn’t even know existed. C dine Bar is located in the new Kingston area near Travillian Quay, right next to where Morks will be relocated to.

I quickly browsed the menu before I rang to book a table. Steak check image, seafood check image, great sounding pastas check image and oooh they have croquettes too! Bonus! image

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Complimentary warm linseed bread with garlic compound butter. The butter was sadly too cold and it took a bit of mashing before it (sort of) spread over my bread. Nice bread though.

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Entrees~

Pork cheek croquette pork croquette, wild mushroom, peas and garlic cream ($18.00). I expected at least two croquettes of this size for $18.00 but at least the one we got was very tasty. I could have smothered that sauce over anything, it was sooo good.

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Chowder bacon, clams, salmon, mussels, potato and cream ($16.00). I did appreciate the variety of seafood and the uniformly cut pieces of potato that didn’t disintegrate into the chowder making it all gritty and starchy but I wish that the ‘soup’ itself was a little thicker and fuller.

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Scallops green pea and bacon risotto, pecorino, carrot foam ($18.00)First of all, you could have taken the carrot foam away and you wouldn’t have noticed, it added zero experience to the taste and texture. The scallops were big and juicy with a good sear on either side, it made me realise I haven’t had a good scallop in a while.

I’m the first to say that I would push my partner over for some cheese but this risotto had A LOT of cheese. Sadly, everything below the scallops just reminded me of a cheesy version of a basic fried rice that you would get from the local Chinese take away.

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Mains~

Crab ravioli blue swimmer crab ravioli, crispy caper flowers, house preserved lemon and butter ($28.00). Now this sounded like an A+ dish and I was very close to choosing it as my main but thankfully my friend chose it so I was still able to eat a steak. I thought the pasta was a bit too thick which was very evident around the edges of the parcels when you bit into it. It could have done with a bit more ‘sauce’ as well as the whole thing felt a bit dry.

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Not stingey on the filling.

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Pork ribs smoked pork ribs, house made Bourbon BBQ sauce, lime wedges, side of your choice ($34.00). I didn’t expect that a fancy place like this would have a ‘hands on’ dish like ribs, but they do and they were deeelicious! I would have expected more for $34.00 but TimmyC couldn’t finish them so I had to step in. Oh the things I must do for him. image

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Comes with a classy plastic bib.

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C and Land 300g dry aged bone in sirloin, yabbie (they only had prawns that night) dipping salts, red wine jus, béarnaise, side of your choice ($38.00). After knowing that at least someone on the table was going to choose the crab ravioli, I had one last decision to make. C and Land? Or the seafood pie which was on the specials board? I felt like steak but didn’t want to be disappointed like so many times before when I order steak at a restaurant.

The steaks are aged in house and it is served with red wine jus AND béarnaise  well I was able to take a chance on that but just in case it comes to me still moo-ing on my plate, I ordered it medium (rather than my usual medium rare) just to be on the safe side. 

A great steak and I haven’t had one of those in a long time out in a restaurant. They cooked it well so I probably could have ordered medium rare. I wanted to pick up the bone and gnaw on it, but I decided against that and picked up one of TimmyC’s pork ribs instead.

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Sides~

Truffle polenta chips ($8.00). By far the best side dish. Crispy and tasty, you definitely have to try this (also good for a ‘mop’ of all those sauces).

Zucchini, bacon and parmesan ($8.00). What I expected was zucchini cooked al dente with bacon sparsely sprinkled between pieces then topped with some parmesan cheese. What got was slightly overcooked zucchini with oily bacon stuck in melted parmesan clumps. image

Lobster poutine bisque, lobster meat, melted cheese ($12.00). I couldn’t detect the bisque and I think we found one bit of lobster meat. It was not at all what I expected and very disappointing. This side does not come ‘free’ with the mains and will incur an additional fee but I don’t think it is worth it.

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Dessert~

White chocolate parfait white chocolate parfait, 30 second vanilla cake, verjuice puree, pistachio crumb ($16.00). It sounded good in theory, so good that two of us chose this dessert. You could at least taste the white chocolate in the parfait but I couldn’t understand why the verjuice puree had to be there. The vanilla cake that was torn into pieces and scattered around the plate could have done with some  custard or a caramel to give it a bit of extra something.

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Warm hazelnut cake hazelnut cake, chai ice-cream, quince puree, moscato gelee ($16.00). I didn’t expect the cake to be a hazelnut sponge and I didn’t exactly love it as it was a little dry as well as underwhelming. Melting some of the chai ice-cream on top helped it a bit but the best part of the dessert was the moscato gelee and that can’t be good.

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Despite the critique I have over small elements of some dishes and the desserts, I had an overall pleasant dining experience and for some reason am very keen to come back. The whole menu screams things that I would like; I just hope that they execute them better than some of the dishes that we ate here tonight.

Venue: C Dine Bar

Address17/19 Eastlake Parade, Kingston, ACT 2604

Phone: (02) 6239 5299

Websitehttp://cdinebar.com.au/

C Dine Bar on Urbanspoon

Mekong River – Mmmm noodles, get in my belly

I had eaten at Mekong River before but it wasn’t particularly memorable and I just never got around to blogging about it (story of my life at the moment). Unknowingly, it is now under new management and chef but everything looks exactly the same.

My friend and sat down for a quick lunch, we had craving for noodles!
Luckily for us, all their lunch specials were mostly noodles and even though there was just the two of us, we ordered three dishes as we were keen to try this place out (yet again).

(photo from previous visit, this time we were given a lunch specials menu)

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Pad Kee Mao Flat rice noodle with chili  basil and choy sum with Chinese BBQ pork ($10.00 lunch special)We were very surprised to see our first dish to come out just minutes later after we ordered (albeit we were the only ones there, but that’s still fast!). I took one bite and I had a stupid grin on my face. That was good. Even though there was no meat in my bite, there was so much flavour in the noodles, herbs and vegetables and it was all served piping hot from the wok (I have a thing about eating hot hot noodles). Do I dare say it is as good if not better than Thip’s Thai in Belconnen?

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Don’t be fooled by all the chili floating around in the dish, I couldn’t even taste it but you can request hot if that is what you’re after.

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Crispy noodles with chicken ($10.00 lunch special)Dishes two and three came out in quick succession but I had to eat the crispy noodles before they got all soft from the pool of delicious thick gravy. With a slight hint of ginger, I was in heaven, although it was a bit awkward to eat the noodles as they pointing in all directions until they went into your mouth. Probably not a first date type of food.

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Lard Nah Flat rice noodle with special sauce, onion, carrots and Chinese broccoli with beef ($10.00 lunch special). If you grew up with this dish, you get cravings and this hit the spot for us. The thick pool of gravy didn’t take away from the al dente crispiness of the vegetables.

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Maybe the best noodles in Canberra(?), if not, definitely in my top 5 list. I probably can’t directly compare to the Noodle house as everyone usually goes there for laksa and noodle soup but the dishes are less oily at Mekong River and all the vegetables are fresh which makes a huge difference. I will have to come back and try the noodle soups to make direct comparisons. 

By far one of the more superior restaurants in the neighbourhood (and I’ve eaten at all of them). 

VenueMekong River Restaurant

Address19-27 Woolley St, Dickson, ACT 2602

Phone: (02) 6162 1988

Opening hours: Open 7 days

Lunch: 11am – 2:20pm

Dinner: 5pm – 9:30pm

Fri – Sat: 5pm – 10pm 

Mekong River Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Getting my fruit intake #canberra #flute #galette #pear #food #foodies #foodblog #breakfast

Hi Quizabel, this is from one of my favourite bakeries in Canberra- The Flute bakery in Fyshwick across from the new Good guys location near Bunnings. They are open 8 – 3 Monday to Fridays. Cash only. Definitely worth a visit.

High tea at Adore tea

It probably wasn’t the best weekend to do High tea at Adore Tea being the Father’s day weekend but when I inquired what differed between ‘Blokes High tea’ and the normal high tea, the difference was minimal and I probably preferred the ‘meatier’ savoury options.

The high tea was staggered out and timed with two savoury courses and two sweet courses over a leisurely one and a half hour period. We were each greeted with an option of sparkling wine, a beer or a non-alcoholic sparkling wine. I should have just gotten the alcoholic option and given it away as the non-alcoholic sparkling wine tasted like bubbling sweet cordial.

Blokes High tea ($48.00 per person)

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Top tierpotato salad. Not very creamy and almost watery. Not the best way to start the high tea.

Middle tier beef with onion chutney finger sandwich. The chutney made the sandwich particularly tasty.

Bottom tierham and mustard finger sandwich. Very simple and too plain.

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Matching tea – Oh I can’t remember exactly, but it was either Platinum Black or Earl Grey berries. Very nice.

A party of three was probably not the best amount of people as it meant that three of us had to share one pot of tea, which still (just) allowed a cup of tea each but four people meant there was two to a pot.

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Top tierCracked pepper mountain bread and lamb with mint jelly. The cube of meat looked a bit unappetizing but it was okay as a savoury morsel.

Middle tierPotato chamomile soup made in house. I couldn’t detect the chamomile but the potato soup was nice and warm with a decent amount of black pepper.

Bottom tier‘meat kebab’ and a different take on a meat pie, ‘meat pie voulevant’. The ‘kebab’ was a bit simple and I didn’t expect to find it at the high tea but it was much better than the voulevant, which I had to play ‘find the meat’ and because there wasn’t much sauce it was very dry.

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Matching tea‘Green with envy’ green tea. A lovely refreshing light tea to balance all the savoury food.

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Top tier – raspberry and apple crumble tart.

Middle tier – lemon meringue tarts and macadamia and caramel slice.

Bottom tier – warm scones with cream and house made jams (strawberry and mixed berry) infused with Earl Grey tea.

I’ve always been a fan of their jams but the best thing for me on the tier is the macadamia and caramel slice, deeeeeeeelicious.

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Matching tea – Rooibos Tea with caramel. I don’t usually like teas that smell sweet and had nothing for the palette but you could really taste the sweetness without the heaviness of sugar.

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Final courseNip of port with whisky infused fudge. The port was very smooth, not overly sweet and didn’t burn on the way down. The fudge was supposed to be infused with a little bit of real whisky but most of the flavours should have been from their whisky tea. I thought it tasted like the icing that you would get from a packet cake mix but it was better than getting sickly sweet OTT fudge.

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They had very friendly service and their knowledge of the food was impeccable. Overall the food was okay but I really do like the fact they have not only ‘matching teas’ with each course but have actively sort out to try all the include their tea infusions as an ingredient. I’ve been to a lot of high teas in Canberra and this is one of the better ones. It is also lovely to enjoy the sunshine outside or their live music when they have it during the warmer months.

They had chosen the best of the best of their teas to be included into the high tea to showcase their signature house blends. Once I dwindle down on my tea pile at home, I definitely coming back for their green tea.

Venue: Adore tea

High tea: Every Saturday 11:30am or 2pm

AddressShop 6, Federation Square One, 18 O’Hanlon Place, Nicholls ACT 2913 

Phone: (02) 6230 9962 

Adore Tea on Urbanspoon