A close up of the yoghurt berry panna cottas. I love the double walled glasses, I gotta get me some of theses! #hyattcanberra @hyattcanberra #dessert #food #foodie #foodblog #cbr #canberra #101localhumans #humanbrochure #visitcanberra #localscan #hightea

20140630-073525-27325260.jpg

Advertisements

Three eateries in 3.5 hours – Master Zhong

Between our sugar rush from Dessert Castle and having already eaten at two eateries that night, we decided to walk to our next venue just down the street in the Uni lodge precinct. We were happily conversing and braving the bitter winds when I spotted a food van across the road. Master Zhong brought much delight to me and my Asian friend who loves street food. TimmyC summed it up perfectly on his FaceBook:

Dinner at Monster $150
Dessert at Dessert Castle $50
The look on the girls’ faces when they discover the Master Zhong’s cheap takeaway food caravan….. priceless.

My friend Anita looking very happy that we found this food van.20140628-134734-49654571.jpgIt is a simple set up, a trailer all fitted out with a fridge, noodle cooking station, pre-made sauces and congee as well as a deep fryer. It is really aimed at the International students living on campus with having already multiple Asian restaurants in the area as well as a supermarket, Chatime and Meet fresh but we were very happy to have bumped into them while we were in the area. The owner spoke Cantonese and Mandarin (and one would presume some English) and was happy to find such excited girls to come sample his food. He told us that he usually has a different flavoured congee every night (perfect for this weather) but tonight he had burnt it as he looked away for a second so it was unfortunately not on the menu tonight.  The menu ranges from hot dogs, sandwiches and chips to laksa, red bean cake and beef brisket noodles.

Only two men are running the ‘Master Zhong’ food van which is probably a good thing considering how small the interior is.20140628-134730-49650580.jpgWhat was supposed to be a light supper or snack turned into a menu sample expedition! We ended up ordering fish balls in curry sauce, beef balls in curry sauce, chicken wings, dough sticks and a bowl of beef brisket noodles.

The owner let us know that the fish balls and beef balls were hand-made and not the frozen machine made ones that you would usually find at the supermarket. The sticks came with 5 balls for $4.00 each, once cooked they are dipped in a curry sauce and given to us in a paper bag. I found the whole thing to be rather quite salty so I threw them in the noodle soup to wash off some of that excess salt. The dough stick ($2.50) was heaven in a stick.

Left to right: beef, fish and dough stick.20140628-134833-49713057.jpgA dough stick straight from the fryer is seriously the best. Hot, crispy, chewy and comforting.20140628-134836-49716247.jpgBeef brisket noodles ($8.00). I was surprised to find that the noodles weren’t egg noodles which is usually how it is served, the soup and noodles were cooked nicely but I found the brisket to be inconsistent as some pieces were very soft and tender while others were a bit more chewy and tight. Our experience with the noodles would have probably been better if we weren’t eating it outside while the wind was blowing our hair across our faces and we could still feel our nose. 20140628-134903-49743419.jpg

20140628-134901-49741893.jpgQuite the crowd building up around Master Zhong, indeed he is very popular with the local ANU students.20140628-134904-49744919.jpgDeep fried chicken wings ($3.00 each). This should be no surprise to long-term readers that I ordered this, it was nothing particularly special but when you’re standing out in the freezing cold, a hot chicken wing sure does hit the spot.20140628-135046-49846719.jpgOur whole bag of food was less than $25. I am excited to try his congee next time and then buy a whole bunch of dough sticks to eat with it.

Is this a dodgy looking food van? Yes, but it is exactly what I’ve been waiting for to come to Canberra. While the hipster places are building a mini Melbourne with exorbitant prices, I’m looking for a little slice of Hong Kong with their street foods, cheap(er) prices and opening hours that I could get used to!

Venue: Master Zhong

Address: It is a trailer parked across the lane from Spicy Ginger Cuisine (approximately 2/25 Childers St, Canberra ACT 2601)

Wechat ID: Danny 1966168 (I don’t know what this is, it must be a young person thing)

Opening hours: 9:30pm – 1:30am Closed Sundays (and closed also Mondays during uni holidays)

Master Zhong on Urbanspoon

Three eateries in 3.5 hours – Dessert Castle

It didn’t take long to literally drive down the street to our next destination Dessert Castle but it did take us a while to find it. I was trying to quickly Instagram between meals as TimmyC drove past the ANU street theatre, past Spicy Ginger cafe and then all the way near Dominos and Chatime. I would have been no help anyway because I didn’t have my glasses on (yes I’m getting old) so we decided to park first and then find it. Turns out it was just to our left next to Shanghai dumpling cafe. There was signs on the door but with dim colour changing lights on the inside it wasn’t particular obvious and it was lacking an outdoor sign from the ceiling.20140627-072557-26757367.jpgCould you spot Dessert Castle easily from the street?20140627-072558-26758707.jpgI must admit, I had already made up my mind about this place before I even went there. I saw photos on other blogs and it just looked like a bigger selection of sub par cakes from a cafe looking awkward next to a bunch of froyo machines and some chocolate truffles, but TimmyC wanted to take me out to dinner and then dessert at Dessert Castle to make sure for ourselves. Fair enough, you can’t judge a venue without experiencing it for yourselves.

Inside was a lot smaller than I thought it would be. To your right is a wall of frozen yoghurt with lots of different flavours ranging from taro to peanut butter. At the far wall is the cake cabinet housing a large range of individual cakes, macarons and chocolate truffles while coming back around the other wall is the drinks, menu and cash register.

A big selection of macarons and chocolate truffles.20140627-072602-26762694.jpgA large glass cabinet full of individual cakes and tarts.20140627-072601-26761353.jpgA big wall of froyo with about 10 flavours.20140627-072600-26760009.jpgEverything inside was very ‘busy’ between the ceiling, the ever changing coloured lights, the froyo wall and all the cake selection, it was hard to focus on just one thing.20140627-072648-26808996.jpgTimmyC couldn’t decide what to get and his eyes darted around like a kid in a candy store. I suggested he order the crepes from the menu which he did not see and he knew then straight away what he wanted. I opted for macarons and froyo to get a wider scope of the menu.

Despite the lumpy look of the macaron shells, I decided to get two. I asked if they were made on site and I was informed that three sources make their macarons but what I couldn’t understand was if there are three different suppliers/people making them, why did they all consistently look lumpy? Also some of the fillings looked like a split cake batter which I was a bit dubious about. They also said that they have a size requirement for their cakes, so that must mean they source those as well.

Macarons – Tim tam and salted caramel flavour ($2.50). I was relieved to find that the macarons had a great texture and they weren’t stale but unfortunately, all I could taste was sweetness and I couldn’t distinguish the flavours. There was a hint of salt in the salted caramel one but other than that, they just tasted really sweet.

Lump looking macarons but I took a chance.20140627-072647-26807476.jpgIt looks like my macaron had goosebumps.20140627-072910-26950210.jpgBut at least it had a good texture.20140627-072911-26951674.jpgOreo cheesecake ($6.50?). My friends ordered this cake and it tasted surprisingly really good, it tasted like a mix of white chocolate and oreo in a smooth cheese cake that wasn’t overly sweet or heavy.20140627-072645-26805658.jpgThis is a huge container, don’t fill it all up as the price is based on weight, $2.20 per 100g.20140627-072644-26804289.jpgI tried to choose my flavours wisely at the froyo section. I started off with nutella, then peanut butter which came out a different consistency, followed by cookies and cream, chocolate, cherry and plain. My taste tester tub, which looked like 50 shades of brown came to $7.05. The cherry flavour was TimmyC’s favourite, to me it tasted like a mouthful of pink nerds candy. My favourite (if I had to choose) would have been the Nutella but because this type of frozen yoghurt like most froyo franchises isn’t creamy, all the flavours tasted watered down (fancy fillings strawberry is still my favourite). You can also add toppings but I didn’t bother with any, the amount of people I saw licking their fingers from dripping froyo to the topping counter was disconcerting.20140627-072729-26849520.jpgPancakes with maple syrup, strawberries, banana, whipped cream all topped off with chocolate sauce  ($12.00). We thought ordering off the menu meant that it was a hot menu item but sadly everything was very cold. The pancakes had no ‘bend’ to them and felt crumbly when you cut through it while all the condiments were OTT and too sweet. It might have been okay if you were under the age of 10 and you just wanted a sugar hit.20140627-072732-26852710.jpgThis is all we could finish of the pancakes before we gave up.20140627-072916-26956203.jpgCrepes served with strawberries, banana, vanilla ice-cream, whipped cream all topped off with chocolate sauce  ($12.00). Again, this was cold, underwhelming and too sweet.20140627-072735-26855868.jpg20140627-072734-26854249.jpgFlat white ($4.00). Nothing amazing about it but the slight bitter coffee taste was refreshing between all the sweet desserts.20140627-072731-26851107.jpgI wanted to like it, after all the staff were very friendly and asked us as they walked past about what we thought. It was all underwhelming but I was surprised to find that what I thought I would like the least being the best tasting dessert (the cheesecake). I guess I had high expectations of a place that had dedicated their whole store to desserts that the calibre would be much higher.

After all the sweetness and not being particularly satisfied, I asked one of my friends if they would like to go to the Golden Drum for a bit of supper. She was keen so we left Dessert Castle and started walking up the road when something magical happened….

Venue: Dessert Castle

Address35 Childers St Canberra, ACT 

Website: http://www.dessertcastle.com.au/

Dessert Castle on Urbanspoon

Three eateries in 3.5 hrs – Monster

Well this is a first! I’m writing a blog post the night of going to the restaurant. This is probably partly due to eating at three eateries in 3.5 hours like my heading suggests and I’m still digesting and also partly because of my excitement of serendipitously finding a new food venue without looking for one.

We start the night off at Monster. I had been here before when it was still just serving salads and simple sandwiches but now they have officially opened the bar and restaurant under the new name with awesome opening hours that sees the kitchen serving food til 1am, so now you have an option of a meal/snack/drink after a late check in at Hotel Hotel or after a movie at Palace Electric. Upon reading the menu, the aspect of the dishes did remind me of Mocan and Green Grout but that’s because the chef Sean McConnell used to work there.

Quick picture of the busy kitchen.20140626-223339-81219154.jpg

20140626-223333-81213880.jpgI love that big fire-place!20140626-223335-81215235.jpgUnique light fittings, a big fireplace, colourful tables and the cement urban jungle surroundings give lots of different atmospheres at Monster depending on whether you sit at the bar, the middle of the restaurant, cosied up near the fire-place or in the casual dimly lit perimeter.20140626-223337-81217864.jpgFunky Goodspeed bikes for Hotel hotel guests to borrow free of charge.20140626-223336-81216565.jpgThe salt bowl reminded me of broken pottery, the water glasses looked like glass bottles with the top cut off and the water jugs were unusual too. All this adds to the funky setting which is Monster.20140626-223340-81220447.jpgOrganic cola ($5.00). Hipster places don’t sell mass produced big corporation soft drinks but organic cola. It tasted like gummy cola lollies.20140626-223612-81372440.jpgLemon and lime bitters (back) and a Rose and orange drink (front) $5.00 each. The rose and orange drink had a strong rosewater aftertaste. A bit too overwhelming for me.20140626-223610-81370972.jpgBar menu~ 12pm to 1am

Yabby jaffle, creme fraiche, horseradish ($16.00). The humble jaffle is transformed into a culinary delight with lemony creamy flavours in the filling. It probably could have done with a smidgen of salt somewhere to help bring out the flavours of the yabby.20140626-223613-81373845.jpgA close up of that yummy filling.20140626-223615-81375255.jpg38 hour pork neck bao, cucumber kimchi ($18.00 for 2). The bun isn’t as soft and smooth as Ippudo but it is a good attempt with the bun having a slight sweet taste with a fluffy chewy texture. The pork next was extremely tender with a perfect crispy exterior. I’m not a fan of kimchi but I did like their cucumber kimchi which provided a bit of sauce that gave it a slight hint of chilli. I would order this again, even with the steep price tag.20140626-223616-81376607.jpgNot as white, soft and smooth as other pork buns that I’ve eaten.20140626-223717-81437947.jpgIt fits nicely in the hand.20140626-223716-81436427.jpgA close up of the tender pork neck filling.20140626-223719-81439678.jpgHand cut chips, house made ketchup ($10.00). I was impressed that it was just like the description had said, hand cut with the skin left on for a more homemade feel. I like my chips on the crunchier side so for me these chips were too potato-y with their thick cut nature. My friend and I weren’t particularly fond of the homemade ketchup, it was like a really strong pasta sauce but the boys really enjoyed it.20140626-224104-81664278.jpg20140626-224102-81662919.jpgShared plates~ 12pm to 10pm

Eggplant, smoked goat’s curd, katsuobushi and sesame ($18.00). My mouth was confused by this dish. The Asian elements of nori, katsuobushi and the Thai herb didn’t seem to fit in with the goat’s curd. I’m not usually a fan of goat dairy products but this was mild enough to eat on its own without the strong aftertaste.20140626-224027-81627230.jpg

20140626-224025-81625814.jpgWagyu flank, baby leek, soubise, ash ($29.00). All the elements of this dish took a back seat to the soubise. The sauce had an almost chunky puree texture and tasted like caramelised eshallots with a hint of garlic. The Wagyu itself was a bit disappointing having no real taste but was slightly better when dipped into the jus that had pooled to the side of the plate.20140626-224154-81714610.jpgSlow cooked pork cheek, caramelized onion, kale and kohlrabi ($26 .00). I preferred the pork over the beef because of the amount of flavour that they pork had. My piece of pork was 50% fat, 35% crispy skin and 15% meat. It was very flavoursome but I had to cut some of the fat off because it was just too much (that never happens!). The crispy kale, what looked like crackle and kohlrabi all contrasted against the soft caramelised onion and tender pork.20140626-224413-81853231.jpg

20140626-224429-81869203.jpg The funky sleeve that the bill comes in.20140626-224432-81872002.jpgIt ended up being $150.00 for four people without dessert. Nothing particularly caught our eye on the dessert menu and we had plans of trying out Dessert Castle anyway so we paid the bill and went to our next destination down the road.

The waiters were friendly and always wanted to know how our meal was going, while the food came out consistently allowing time to eat each share plate. No particular dish was ‘OMG outstanding’ but I would be happy enough to come back here to take advantage of their location and convenient opening hours.

 

Venue:  Monster kitchen and bar

Address: Nishi building, 25 Edinburgh Ave Canberra, ACT 

Phone: (02) 6287 6287

Monster Kitchen and Bar on Urbanspoon

Transformation is now complete: the European to Pomegrante

While I was happily reading through HerCanberra‘s list of new places to try, my heart skipped a beat as I read the line “European was changing hands“. Oh no! My wonderful friend had given me a voucher to go there for Christmas and I was waiting for a special occasion to use it (which goes to show that you shouldn’t wait, every day is a special day). I definitely am not a fan of wasting vouchers so I quickly rang up to see if they would still honour my voucher. They still answered as the European so I was thinking that they hadn’t changed over yet.
When we arrived, they confirmed that they had changed owners but would still take my voucher that they were still running under the name of the European because the signage was lost in transit. Phew! That was very lucky!

The “European” which is now Pomegranate has just changed their signage but when I went last week they were still operating as the European even though they menu and everything else had changed.20140615-091242-33162225.jpgEntree~

Chargrilled QLD King prawns served with avocado and mango relish ($21.00). The prawns were lovely and juicy with some spice I couldn’t pick which left hints of a Turkish influence in my mouth. The salsa was a combination of my favourite ingredients and definitely complimented the prawns. One couldn’t help but notice that for $21 we only received there scallops and three prawns, luckily we had a voucher!20140615-091243-33163572.jpgPan seared jumbo scallops with lemon mash and eggplant relish and parsley salad ($21.00). The scallops weren’t particularly ‘jumbo’ but they a good sear, freshness and natural sweetness which made up for the size. My preference was more for the prawns but TimmyC really liked the scallops. 20140615-091244-33164884.jpgMains~

Chargrilled Cowra lamb cutlet, served with crispy fried potato with herbs and coriander ($28.00).TimmyC had his eye on the lamb even before I finished taking photos of the menu and browsed through it myself. I also wanted him to order this so I could eat the potatoes! The lamb was nice albeit nothing special (again only three in the serve) but when I looked at the potatoes I couldn’t help but notice that there was lots of parsley but no coriander. I enquired with the waitress about the parsley/coriander situation and she apologized and said she will get the chef to make a new side of potatoes for us. 20140615-091247-33167564.jpgWagyu striploin with mash potato, exotic mushrooms and beef jus ($31.00). I couldn’t help but do my happy clap when I ate this. The steak was well cooked and melted in your mouth. The mashed potato was so incredibly smooth and creamy and there was a good mix of mushrooms sandwiched in the middle. I found the portion size more generous than the lamb and because of the rich potato, it would have also been more filling. My mouth is salivating as I write this. I would definitely order this again. 20140615-091246-33166217.jpg Extras~ The second time around but the coriander didn’t make up for the lack of crispy potato but eating the fine dice relish was definitely tasty. 20140615-091248-33168909.jpgPalette cleanser homemade pomegranate sorbet with crushed pistachios. We were given this and said it was compliments of the chef. We didn’t see anyone else receive one so I couldn’t tell if it was because I was taking photos or because they mixed up our potatoes. It tasted like frozen ribeana, it had a tart aftertaste but still cleansed the palette.20140615-091436-33276623.jpgThe restaurant itself looked rather funky. We took a liking to their book collection, they encouraged us to browse and they said that the books were there to be read.20140615-091250-33170349.jpg20140615-091432-33272550.jpgAs we were waiting for our desserts, TimmyC and I were browsing the elbulli book and drooling over their amazing looking creations.20140615-091435-33275169.jpg A funky lamp on the book shelf.20140615-091433-33273875.jpgDessert~ We were meant to share one dessert but that idea went out the window when TimmyC couldn’t decide between two options.

Mixed nut ice cream with cinnamon crunch and caramel sauce ($14.00). I was convinced that this was what I wanted after the waitress informed me that everything including the ice-cream was made in-house. It tasted like a decadent Christmas pudding with dried figs and a mixture of nuts. The caramel sauce was super tasty and I wanted more more more! 20140615-091454-33294925.jpgWhite chocolate panna cotta, pomegranate granita and peach ice cream with honey wafers ($14.00). I thought it was odd to pair a panna cotta with a granita as well as an ice cream but I was really impressed when the dessert came. The presentation was beautiful with the panna cotta skewed to the side of the glass and the contrast of beautiful colours. Alas I knew it wasn’t meant to be as soon as I put my spoon through the panna cotta, it was thick like a mousse pudding and when I tasted it, I could taste white chocolate but it had a gritty texture that was really disappointing. The granita was similar to the palette cleanser but had an icier texture and the ice cream just tasted like canned peaches. I told TimmyC not to bother finishing it and just help me share my mixed nut ice cream.20140615-091457-33297823.jpgThe beautiful presentation of the dessert.20140615-091456-33296354.jpgWe didn’t get very far with out panna cotta but we enjoyed the honey wafers which was the best part of the dessert.20140615-091459-33299127.jpgI found the service to be very attentive and friendly and although one of the desserts was really disappointing, overall I really enjoyed my experience here and I would order that steak again in a heart beat. The new owners of Pomegranate are the people who used to run Ottoman cuisine.

The bill came to $129 for two people, three courses and no drinks. Luckily my voucher was for $100 so we only paid $29.

Venue:Pomegranate

Address: 31 Giles street, Kingston

Phone: (02) 6295 1515

Opening hours: Lunch | Tuesday – Sunday | 12pm – 2:30pm
Dinner | Tuesday – Saturday | 6.00pm – 9:30
Brunch | Saturday – Sunday | 8.00am – 2pm

Pomegranate on Urbanspoon