Kokomos

I know I am late to the game. Kokomos have been open for a few months now but I have never gotten around to trying it until last night. I had heard that it was ‘pricey but tasty’ so when we spotted their island banquet option, it was a good excuse to try it out.

Island banquet 8 most popular dishes ($49.00) you can add a key lime pie to the banquet and at $1.00 pp, why wouldn’t you?

Salt and vinegar taro chips. The taste of vinegar isn’t too strong; nice and crispy but there were more interesting things to eat.

Mullaway ceviche coconut, ginger, cherry tomato, Thai basil, tostadas.

Fried chicken bun bread and butter pickles, hot sauce. Succulent crispy hot chicken with all the right trimmings. I was really sad when I finished the bun and had none left.

Prawn toast lime and sweet corn, smoked chilli mayo.

Lamb ribs sweet and sour glaze, puffed wheat. This was so tender and had a really nice glaze.

Udon noodles seared beef rump cap, egg yolk, crispy eschalot, kombu butter. I might be biased because I really love udon noodles, but this dish with its egg yolk creaminess reminded me of a creamy pasta dish without the heaviness. So delicious!

Iceberg salad pickled red onion, sunflower seeds, creme fraiche, dill. I thought it sounded boring because it had iceberg lettuce, but surprisingly this dish works!

Smoked beef rib molasses glaze, puffed rice, roast eggplant puree. Another really tender protein.

Rotisserie Huli Huli chicken lemon butter gravy. I loved the flavours of this chicken; the meat was juicy and the lemon butter provides just the right amount of tangy flavours.

Dishes were coming thick and fast, it was almost a shuffle game to fit everything on the table. Just as we adjusted plates and cups to move out of the way for one dish, another dish would appear almost straight away. We were served all the savoury dishes within the hour, but I would have liked a slower pace.

We really enjoyed everything and it was hard to choose a favourite but the pick of the night would have been between the fried chicken bun or the lamb ribs, but the udon noodles were a close second.Key lime pie – this was a pretty decent serve per person and I did enjoy the unusual green colour. The base by itself wasn’t very nice but the pie with cream altogether had a nice balance of sweetness, creaminess and tart flavours.Added on top Yes, my greedy eyes couldn’t help but order a few more items that weren’t included in the banquet.

Lobster lollipops kombu, sesame bonito mayo ($18.00 4 pcs). This was disappointing and fell really flat. You couldn’t really tell it was lobster and as tasty as the mayo was, it didn’t save this dish at all. I wouldn’t bother ordering this again.Pecan pie burnt butter ice cream ($10.00). I didn’t think this was sweet enough and instead, I was getting bursts of salty flavours. The ice cream reminded me of a creme brulee with the torched sugar crust. I would not order this again.It was a shame that the extras we ordered were a disappointment but if you stick with the Island banquet and it has those dishes, you can’t go wrong.

The staff were friendly and attentive, although there was some confusion with the dishes as one of us had dietary requirements but it was eventually clarified. I can imagine this place getting loud as the nightlife and bar begins to take over, but on a weekday we were not rushed, could talk comfortably and enjoyed our food.

Venue: Kokomo’s

Address: 1 Genge St, Canberra ACT 2601

Phone(02) 6171 2092

Yes, I ate there last night and wrote this post quickly out of spite because TimmyC didn’t think I could get it done.

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Rubicon

It had been years since I had been to Rubicon and after the fantastic meal I had the other week, I wondered why I stayed away for so long.There was a choice of four, five or six course degustation and we decided on six courses (surprise surprise) with a few extras. When we had the ‘Design your own degustation‘ explained to us that we could choose any six items on the menu it threw all reasoning out the window. It meant I could have 6 Wagyu steaks or Timmy could have all the desserts but the whole table had to decide on the same 6 courses, so we had to compromise.

Amuse bouche~ orange, rhubarb and walnut.Extras~

Toasted garlic, chive and parmesan ($1.50). This wasn’t as delicious and moreish as Sizzler parmesan bread (I swear they use some sort of addictive drug to make that), but it came out very fast and it was at a bargain price.Oysters with smoked bourbon sauce, bacon, shallot, pecorino ($4.00 per oyster). Not my favourite as I found the sauce overpowering the other ingredients. It had too much going on and I couldn’t even tell there was an oyster in there with all the other textures.Design your own degustation 5 courses($80.00 pp).

Yellowtail kingfish sashimi, green nam jim, lime, yuzu, coriander, coconut, cress. This dish had a perfect balance and pairing of flavours. This was definitely worth ordering.Scallops, confit chicken, bacon jam, apple, calvados. I LOVED this dish and I was surprised as a lover of scallops, for me the chicken stole the show on this one.Roasted pork belly, celeriac remoulade, crackling, apple. Classic pairings that work really well together; the pork was incredibly tender.Green beans and snow peas, tarragon and lemon dressing ($9.00). This was my attempt to eat more vegetables during the degustation but I really could have skipped it. The snow peas were just a touch over cooked and I wasn’t a huge fan of the dressing.Duck confit, ginger miso roasted mushrooms (swiss, king, oyster, enoki), braised cabbage, duck brik. I was a little disappointed with this dish as I wanted more saltiness to the duck, the mushrooms to be more flavoursome and the brik outer layer to be crisper. In hindsight, I probably would have skipped this course.Shoestring fries, smoked paprika ($9.00). I know this sounds simple, but it was delicious because it was served ridiculously hot with the right amount of seasoning. YUM! Also the perfect side to the rib eye.Chargrilled Wagyu rib eye, onion, boulangere, asparagus, horseradish, sauce bearnaise. YAY! This was really delicious and cooked perfectly. BOO! I was starting to get uncomfortably full and forced myself to finish it. I probably would have enjoyed this more, earlier on in the degustation.Cooked perfectly to my liking.Palette cleanser~ carrot and green apple sorbet. I wouldn’t have been able to tell this contained carrot except by the colour.Dessert~ they let you choose different desserts (phew!)

Caramelised apple tart, sablé, butterscotch, creme fraiche sorbet. This was definitely not what we expected as we thought the tart would be made from pastry, not sablé. The base was really hard in comparison to the apple and we found ourselves having to stab our spoons in the base just to break it. It had a beautiful butterscotch sauce but we felt it just wasn’t the same calibre as the savoury dishes we had chosen.Spiced rum and honey panna cotta, drunken fig, sauternes jelly, hazelnut, earl grey ice cream. I liked the sound of spiced rum and honey in a panna cotta but oh my! This would have been considered a fire hazard with how much rum was in it. It was so intense, we didn’t even finish half of it, albeit it was the biggest panna cotta I have seen.Even though we didn’t completely love our desserts, we had a fantastic time and I look back on my savoury courses fondly. The service was friendly and attentive and I definitely look forward to going back soon.

Venue: Rubicon

Address: 6A Barker St, Griffith ACT 2603

Phone(02) 6295 9919

Rubicon Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Hannara Korean BBQ – All you can eat

Stop the press! Run, don’t walk. Hannara Korean BBQ cuisine is now doing ‘all you can eat’ Korean BBQ.

I had dragged my friend to Hannara at the beginning of the year when they had just opened but nothing really stood out from other Korean restaurants. We tried a variety of dishes including japchae, fried chicken and bulgogi but what made me have food regrets was smelling other people’s Korean BBQ sizzling away. So when I read that Hannara was now doing an ‘all you can eat’, it was the perfect excuse to go back.

There are three buffets to choose from: ‘Premium Wagyu and seafood buffet($69.00pp), the ‘Wagyu BBQ buffet($59.00pp) and the ‘standard BBQ buffet($49.00pp). The whole table ordered the Wagyu BBQ buffet which included Wagyu meat, some deep fried seafood and bibimbap as well as everything from the standard BBQ buffet.

There are some terms and conditions attached: The menu you request can be sold out. Age under 10 is $20 pp. There is a penalty fee for leftovers. ALL food’s quality is the same as the single menu. Take out not available. Limited to 90 minutes from the first serving.

Ordering the Wagyu BBQ buffet meant that we could have delicious Wagyu meat as well as all the Korean fried chicken, japchae and corn cheese that we wanted!And so it began, our ‘all you can eat’ adventure included some very delicious Wagyu meat, crunchy fried chicken, some judgment from the neighbouring tables and ended in a lot of belts being undone.It might not look very pretty, but the meat was delicious.Korean BBQ is the perfect winter warmer and a fun delicious way to catch up with friends. I’m a huge beef fan so the Wagyu beef was my favourite, the Korean fried chicken was nice because the sauce came on the side and came with the perfect pickled vegetables. I thought the bibimbap was a little sad looking and disappointing but I would definitely come back again! I had lots of fun and didn’t leave smelling like charcoal (their extraction fans work quite well).

The service was prompt as there is a bell on each table, the meat didn’t take long to cook and 90 minutes is ample time to order, cook, stuff your face and repeat as many times as needed.

Venue: Hannara Korean BBQ cuisine

Address Shop 1,2&3 – 16 Moore street, Canberra ACT 2601

Phone(02) 6193 3016

Maestral- long time no see

It had been years since I had been to Maestral in Weston and a revisit was long overdue. When I stepped into the dining room, I had forgotten how tiny their space was, but it always filled with happy patrons and today was no different.

Platter potatoes, calamari, pan-fried fish, prawns and oysters to your liking ($36.00). Everything on the plate was finished. I loved the potatoes, the calamari was tender without being oily, the prawns were plump and the fish was cooked perfectly. Unfortunately, the Kilpatrick oysters weren’t as grilled as I would have liked but the oysters themselves were fat and meaty.Hand made pasta with chilli, capers and crab meat ($30.00). I loved the texture of the pasta and it was cooked perfectly. The sauce had lots of flavour and a nice dose of chilli kick; I would happily eat either of these dishes.Garden salad ($5.00). A simple light salad that was well dressed and stifled our guilty conscious of eating something green in our meal.The service was attentive and food came out in a timely manner. I must go back again soon, I really do miss seafood.

 

Maestral Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

OTIS Dining Hall

It seemed like a particularly long week at work, so I convinced my friend that we should deservedly go to have lunch at OTIS to celebrate surviving the first week back.

We had the 3 course deal for $64.00 pp but I’ve listed the à la carte prices.

Starters~

Spaghetti no. 5, pecorino, pepper and truffle ($18.00). This is definitely a dish best eaten hot. I couldn’t really taste any truffle because it was so pepper dominant, but I love pepper and cheese so this worked really well for me. The serve was small so the taste didn’t become monotonous.Mains~

Baked ocean trout, hollandaise, spring vegetables ($32.00). My friend really enjoyed her main. I tried the hollandaise sauce and it had a wonderful zesty kick to it.OTIS pepper steak, silk-wood brandy jus, side of frites ($42.00). If you know me, you know I love my steak and now you know I love my pepper, so you mathematically I would love this dish (and I did!) but what made me take my breath away was the jus. It is so rich that not long after pouring it onto my plate, it started to form a skin. Not only did it give a great flavour enhancement to the beef, it made for the best dipping sauce for my fries.Desserts~

Magnum and meringue, lemon curd, shortbread ($16.00). A great combination. The perfect amount of sweetness with the perfect amount of zest, served within an array of textures.Crème caramel, whisky, smoked sea salt ($16.00). This was so smooth and rich and while I did really enjoy it, I found myself having to flick back and forth between the lemon curd of the other dessert to break up the intense sweetness.The staff were very friendly and attentive. We had long lunch to enjoy to the whole experience and we left feeling full and very satisfied. My friend was so impressed that she already decided when she was going back (without me too!).

Such comfy comfy seats!Venue: OTIS Dining Hall

Address: 29 Jardine St, Kingston ACT 2604

Phone:  (02) 6260 6066

Flatheads

I remember going to Flatheads back in the day at least once a week. They delivered on giving me a delicious cheeseburger and I always ordered a potato scallop that I would slide in under my bun lid. For it me it was always quick and reliable.So you could imagine my delight when I saw that The Food Avenue posted the return of the awesome fish and chip shop but other than being in the same location, everything else has changed. The menu is different, their look is a thousand times more modern and it really is just an extension from Duxton’s bistro as they share the same kitchen. There are a lot of ‘on the go’ products even for those with a sweet tooth.Check out their menu!Fisherman basket calamari, oysters, panko crumbed prawns, fish, chips, lemon and tartar sauce ($20.00). I wanted to eat fish and chips and as much variety as I could, so this was the logical choice for me. Unfortunately by the end of it I was having deep fried sweats and I couldn’t eat anymore, leaving behind some calamari, some prawns and a lot of chips. I didn’t love my oysters as it looked like someone had gouged them while shucking the shell. I wouldn’t order this again unless I shared it with someone and ordered something else non deep fried but I would like to go back and try with cheeseburger (no potato scallops on the menu, boooooo!) or their pizzas.BBQ King prawns and salad chilli, garlic ($20.00). After indulging in a big breakfast, my friend wanted a lighter lunch option but she was surprised to see a big portion and that her meal also came with chips. I was amazed to see 6 prawns in the box but my friend said that she was little disappointed with the lack of freshness because they were hard to peel. It got really messy real quick- not a first date meal.Fish and chips barramundi, lemon, tartar sauce ($16.00). My other friend really enjoyed his lunch but he couldn’t finish it. You can get your fish either battered or grilled.The service was friendly, I think they have incredible opening hours and it is handy to have a take away shop in the area. I wonder if you could just grab a big bottle of water from the pub otherwise you’ll be left paying $4 bucks for Mount Franklin water like I did.

Venue: Flatheads

Address: cnr Bluebell street and Macpherson street, O’Connor

Phone: (02) 62477330

Opening hours: 6am – late, 7 days

The Commons Street Feast

Friday night was the opening night of The Commons Street Feast and where were you Canberra? Perhaps you were busy with Christmas parties or perhaps the other half of you was oblivious to the fact that these awesome food trucks have set up a home in Canberra for the next 7 days. Either way, I was taken by surprise about how quiet the event was, especially on opening night.

We arrived 30 minutes before our butler service started so we could scout the area, checking out all the food vendors. This is essential to see what’s on offer and knowing what to promise your stomach later on. I was surprised to see the set up was so spread out. A lot of the vendors had barricades to zig zag a long line in anticipation of large crowds, there is a large funky pyramid in the middle (with different artworks on each side) pumping out music to the crowd and lots of picnic tables set up all over.

The Butlers

TimmyC is not a fan of lining up (in fact, who is?) and it is hard to time food well when you have dispersed to take on different lines. So I had preemptively booked a butler for my party of three in anticipation of the usual large crowds that flock to foodie events like this.We met our friendly butler Ben who was to look after us for the next two hours. The butler service had reserved tables under the shade of trees just right of the entrance but I explained to Ben that that would be no good for photos, especially with the sun setting soon. We found ourselves on a table next to the pyramid, in the centre of all that is happening and Ben asked if we wanted to walk around and browse the area and he could recommend things, but we explained that we had scouted the area and we knew what we wanted already, so let’s begin.

We had ordered dishes from three different vendors on his tablet (if it was a little busier it would have been quicker to order from one vendor at a time), we tapped our card and paid right there on the spot on his device and off he went. While we casually sat there and took in the atmosphere, Ben raced back with dishes from one vendor at a time in quick succession. For people who just wanted to sit, eat and take photos, this butler service was really working out for us!

Handy little contraption took our orders, printed receipts and allowed us to pay there at our table.

Our butler was super friendly and enthusiastic the entire time and when I asked him questions about vendors that only a food blogger would, he would race off and find the answer for me. At first I thought maybe 1 hour of the butler service would have been enough, but I’m a slow eater so I was definitely not rushed with 2 hours. Ben mentioned a lot of tables who have booked one hour didn’t get to try as much as they wanted.

Bao Stop

The first thing I wanted to eat was the Peking Duck fries that I wanted to pair eventually with TimmyC’s Mary’s burger. With the butler service this was able to happen, if two people were to line up in each line, you might have ended up with cold fries and a hot burger.

Peking Duck fries ($15.00). This was loaded with sauce and duck on top of crispy shoe string fries. I really enjoyed the pairing of the hoisin sauce to the chips and even when all the duck was eaten, I still liked eating the chips with shallots (maybe it’s the Asian in me).

Thai in a Box

Chicken pad thai ($13.00). This was definitely not my choice but my Mum said she wanted noodles that this was the only choice on site. She found it too sweet and didn’t finish it although it was served very hot and fast.

Mary’s

This was an exciting highlight for me when I read the vendors who were coming. Not knowing what to try first, we just chose the classic cheeseburger.Mary’s cheeseburger ($14.00). Mary’s had the longest lines but our butler came back pretty quickly with our order. I really enjoyed their soft buns, delicious beef patty and cheese but TimmyC found their patty a little small and that they were a little heavy handed with their sauces. I agreed but I still really liked it. TimmyC also mentioned that it reminded him of Grease Monkey. I wonder what their fried chicken tastes like…

Smokin’ Grill

After being intoxicated by the smell from their smokers, I sent Ben off to get me beef short ribs with slaw and corn chips ($20.00). He came with a with a blackened, pepper encrusted tender beef rib served with undressed slaw that cut through the pepper and meatiness of the rib. The meat was really nice but I thought that it was a little steep for the tiny serve that we got.

The Grace caravan

Mumsy was freezing by this point when the sun had set and it was unusually cold for this time of year. I sent Ben off on a mission to find her some hot tea, even if it was just to hold and gather some warmth. He found an assortment of teas from Grace caravan and Mumsy chose a lemongrass and ginger tea ($4.00) and while he was there he may as well grab that caramel slice that she had been eyeing off for $5.

Happy as Larry

I was starting to wonder if our butler was judging the amount of food that we were eating but that didn’t really stop us from ordering more. I was impressed with Happy as Larry’s split level set up carrying one massing looking wood fired oven and had to try one.Margherita San Marzano tomatoes, basil, fior di latte, extra virgin olive oil ($16.00). The pizza smelt really good but this was so hard to eat because everything other than the crust had no stable structural integrity. As soon as you went to pick up a slice, the topping would slide right off. Definitely not a first date food. I really enjoyed their ingredients, maybe if they had slightly thicker bases it wouldn’t be so sloppy.

De Wafel

De Traditional speculoos + whipped cream ($9.50). TimmyC could not help himself and had to order waffles while we were there. They had an ever so slight crunch to the exterior while being fairly soft and pancakey in the centre. I really liked the combination of toppings and will definitely be trying  crumbled speculoos at home.

Messina

Now this was the big reason why TimmyC wanted to go to The Commons. Messina has cleverly done a novelty take on an International Soup Kitchen with cute homage to Campbell’s canned soup packing to match. What was also very smart of them was everything was pre-made and frozen. All the server had to do was pop the lid and give you a spoon. I imagine lines for this place to be long in the coming days but it should be a quick run through as you’re given your can and spoon.Faux Pho salted coconut sorbet, kaffir lime marshmallow, lychee meringue, chilli cashew crunch ($9.00). At first I was confused if they had forgotten to add anything other than the coconut sorbet in my can as that was all I could taste, but if you delve deep in the depths of the can, on the very bottom was all the other goodies. I loved the heat from the crunch which was off set by the cooling coconut and I loved the kaffir lime mixed through it all. I chose this because I loved all these flavours (again perhaps it is the Asian from within) but I don’t know if I came across any lychee meringue in my spoonfuls.

American chow down peanut butter gelato, cream cheese gelato, oreo cookie crumbs, pretzel crunch ($9.00). TimmyC’s stronger affinity to sweetness meant he enjoyed this tin a lot more than I did, I found it a little OTT. They definitely had American flavours in there, it tasted very peanut buttery and chocolatey with crunchy textures.

Other stalls

It may come as a surprise to you that I didn’t get around to eating from all the vendors, but here are some photos of the other places. You might have also noticed that there are stalls missing (Fritto + co, Urban pasta etc) but apparently there will be around  7 food trucks that will be swapping over from around Wednesday. Ribbies barbecue weren’t able to open on the first night but were hoping to be ready for the weekend.

Yalla Yalla!

Vutu

Pact beer – Canberra represent!

Capital Brewing co. – Canberra represent!Pialligo Estate – Canberra represent!Sakura on wheelz

MeetThe One – Canberra represent!

Rolling schnitzel

Kransky Brothers – Canberra represent!

A special mention to these guys, they let me try some of their kransky it is sooooooooo good and reasonably priced. I’m going to get this next time.

Mantooth’s place

Keep your eye out on their events calendar, there are plenty of things to do like random karaoke, table tennis and Christmas carols. Also check out my previous post to see the opening hours and what you need to know.

The Commons Street Feast- what you need to know

The Commons Street Feast is finally here in Canberra and there are a few things you need to know

Information and photo are taken from their website.

  • The Commons Street Feast is located in Commonwealth Park from 9th-18th December
  • It is a free event and is open to all ages, with licensed 18+ bar areas on site
  • Seating – they have a range of seating options, including a ton of picnic tables for you to use. There is also seating available in the pop up bars and restaurants, plus an open grass area for those who wish to bring along a picnic blanket. You can also hire a selection of deck chairs to use as well
  • The Commons Street Feast is a completely cashless event. You will need to bring along cards (eftpos or credit) to pay for your food and drinks
  • Butlers ($50/hr) are sold out Friday (9th) and Saturday (10th) already, so book ahead to avoid disappointment
  • Opening hours

    • Friday 9 December 4pm – 11pm
    • Saturday 10 December 12pm – 11pm
    • Sunday 11 December 12pm – 9pm
    • Monday 12 December 5pm – 9pm
    • Tuesday 13 December 5pm – 9pm
    • Wednesday 14 December 5pm – 9pm
    • Thursday 15 December 5pm – 10pm
    • Friday 16 December 4pm – 11pm
    • Saturday 17 December 12pm – 11pm
    • Sunday 18 December 12pm – 9pm

You’ll know what my Instagram feed will be filled with for the next week and a bit. I hope to dabble in Mary’s, Messina’s international soup kitchen range, Bao stop, Ribbies, Bites on Wheels, Kranksy Brothers, Fritto & Co and Meet. I think it will require a few trips to get through my list.

Lolo and Lola November pop up dinner series

It was pointed out that Lolo and Lola have only done four pop up dinners since their humble beginnings and it dawned on me that I had been to three of them. I would stop hogging but it is so good; I am not willing to give up my seat!You really need to get yourselves to one of these events if you’re lucky and fast enough, December is already sold out and the next one is in February (now that is sold out also!) . Each month has a different theme and November’s dinner focused on one of the main islands of the Philippines- Luzon.Lolo and Lola November pop up dinner ($65.00pp).

It was hard to choose a favourite from the menu (apparently not so hard for some, TimmyC loved the crepes), everything was so different but at the same time everything was so delicious.
This is more of a food porn post as I have not seen any of the dishes repeated in subsequent dinners.
Tinapay ensaymada bun served with liver spread.Check out how fluffy that bun is and how beautifully whipped that butter turned out.
Lumpiang sariwa savoury crepe of sauteed vegetables served with soy-caramel peanut sauce.
Kinilaw Filipino ceviche: melange of seafood in spiced calamansi dressing.
Half time drinks: the taste reminded me of banana lollies.
Habhab “Lucban” noodle dish with chicken, vegetables and spiced vinegar. We were encouraged to eat this with our fingers, needless to say it got messy really fast.
Bicol Express tender pork belly and butterflied prawn in chilli-coconut sauce.
Caldereta grilled beef sirloin and vegetables served with rich “caldereta” sauce.
Ice scramble streetside ice blended treat topped with powdered milk and chocolate sauce.
Sapin-sapin purple yam frozen parfait, jackfruit leche flan, pandan sponge, toasted coconut and coconut “latik” caramel sauce.
Jay and Kim have always been wonderful hosts and they take great pride in their cooking. It has been so amazing to be exposed to the delicious flavours from their origins.
Good luck trying to get into their next dinner. I might see you there.
😉

 

The Cheesecake Factory cheesecake

While casually shopping in Costco, I walked past the freezer section that I don’t often venture past only to find myself slowly reversing and pressing my face up to the glass. Do my eyes deceive me? Was that really what I thought it was?

Yes ladies and gentlemen. Costco Canberra (for now) is selling The Cheesecake Factory original cheesecake ($21.89), complete with graham cracker crust and the smooth cheesecake filling that we all know and love. Upside: it is all pre-cut and equally portioned for your convenience with a paper dividers; it’s the original cheesecake so you can dress it up however you like it (I had mine with berries, passionfruit, my friend added Nutella) and it tasted like I never left Hawaii.

Downside: the serving suggestion was to thaw it in the fridge for 8-12 hours (ain’t no body got time for that, I just left it on the counter until I was ready to eat it); our pineapple isn’t as sweet so I can’t replicate my favourite flavour.I take no responsibility with what you do with this information.

returning to XO

It had been just over a year since I had last been to XO in Narrabundah and I was about eleven months overdue for a revisit. With a promise of fabulous company and new dishes on the menu, I booked for the next free day everyone was available.

Starters~

Shantung bao twice cooked pork belly with cucumber, pickled daicon and ginger ($8.00 each). It might seem steep to pay 8 bucks for a bao but it is worth every cent. The pork belly is a thick cut but very tender; the meatiness is balanced by the vegetables and the bao is super soft.

The baos are teeny tiny but mighty tasty.XO FC wings marinated in butter milk with kewpie mayo ($10.00). I love chicken wings and if you fry it, I will come! These were really crunchy while remaining succulent and I love mixing the mayo with their modified sriracha sauce.Steamed dumplings minced prawn and pork with spicy soy vinaigrette ($16.00). These were so delicious, we ordered another serve just before we started on desserts. A delicate steamed parcel in a beautiful spicy soy which made it very hard to share with other people.Small plates~

Vanella stracciatella dressed with tomato nam jim, granny smith apple, crushed peanuts and crispy shrimp ($18.00). This my friends….Was the dish of the night for me and that is a massive call since I also ordered Asian bolognese. To be honest, I didn’t pay attention to anything else on the menu once I confirmed that my old favourites were still there. TimmyC suggested we get this dish and I casually dismissed it aside allowing him this as his ‘one’ while I chose 5 other plates. It is difficult to describe this dish, it was a mix of stretchy cheese, different flavours and crunchy textures. You MUST order this!!! Asian bolognese stir fried udon in XO chicken ragout with a 60° egg ($18.00). This dish was the sole reason I came back to XO, I’ve been having dreams about this ever since I had it the first time. I think it is genius to use udon!Shallow fried tofu shallow fried tofu seasoned soy and candied ginger ($16.00). I can see how this was supposed to be a simple tasty dish with a ridiculously soft tofu but I found it underwhelming in comparison to the other dishes.Hiramasa Kingfish miso cured with pineapple relish, wasabi nori, spelt and freeze-dried raspberry. Kent was nice enough to treat us to one of their new dishes on the menu, this would have been $18.00. It was interesting to have the Kingfish served in cubes, the curing processing apparently makes the flesh ‘tighter’ and it gave the dish a very meaty feel. This is a dish where you have to eat all elements together; the wasabi nori had a kick but the pineapple made it very sweet and it seemed like we were eating a sushi without rice.Larger~

Prawn Kapitan spicy Nyonya style curry with wok fried king prawns ($34.00). The prawns were really fragrant and tasty but I was hoping for more of a sauce to mix into my rice.Crispy lamb ribs tossed in a sticky plum sauce ($28.00). A popular favourite amongst the table, it is a little messy to eat. Ditch the chopsticks and just use your hands.Sides~

Cauliflower nuggets fried with mixed spices and mint yoghurt ($12.00). I was hit with a strong taste of cumin which probably would have been offset by the yoghurt but the bowl got taken away before I could go back and smear some on.Desserts~

Chrysanthemum tea soft serve ($5.00). I knew when I made the restaurant booking that I wanted this for my dessert, I was just hoping that they still had it. Anyone that has had a chrysanthemum tea popper growing up, this is exactly that flavour in soft serve form. I encourage all those who have not tried chrysanthemum tea to order this, although I  don’t know if they still  have it on the menu because they have just released a watermelon szechuan and sumac soft serve yesterday.Black rice pudding coconut ice-cream, golden honeycomb  and lime meringue ($14.00). I love this dessert but I  was surprised to see that the desserts had not changed for a year. Chef AK explained for these popular desserts to be replaced, it would have to be just as good but he assures me that something is in the works.Pandan panna cotta gula melaka syrup and sesame tuile ($12.00). The panna cotta isn’t really sweet and all the sweetness comes from the intense syrup. The texture was super smooth which was a good contrast with the crunchy tuile.They might have turned down the volume dial on the music but they still play the music that I love. The staff was attentive and everything came out a timely manner.

One wonders why I’ve stayed away for so long but since the three days of not being there, they have already released a new soft serve flavour and there will be new dishes released in December. Looks like I’ll need to head back there ASAP.

XO Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Teddy Picker’s

It had not been 12 hours since we arrived home when TimmyC asked me if I wanted to eat breakfast at home or out. After 13+ years together, you’d think he would know the answer to that question. I had the exact place in mind of where I wanted brunch as soon as I was back in Canberra; the newly opened Teddy Picker’s in Campbell.

As we drove past roads lined with parked cars, it was reminding me of the almost impossible car parking situation in Braddon but we eventually found a spot a short stroll away. We were met with a relatively short line and we were told it was going to be a 10-15 minute wait until a table for two was available. With that, TimmyC ordered what appeared to be a very tiny small coffee ($4.00) and a Dream Cuisine croissant ($5.00) for whilst we waited outside.I love the funky interior setting of the cafe, the natural light through the windows makes it the perfect place to take food photos.Brunch is ready!Large flat white ($4.50). TimmyC said it was a nice smooth coffee but not the nicest one he has ever had.

The coffee had beautiful latte art before TimmyC dumped all the sugar on top.Vermont Chai infused tea recommended with soy ($5.50). I didn’t think the taste of chai was very strong but it was very milky and frothy.Pressed French toast blueberry custard, lemon yoghurt, macadamia ($17.50). There is an ever so slightly crunchy exterior of the French toast before you hit the squishy soft almost pudding-like centre. I like the subtle sweetness on the surface of the toast but I felt that the blueberry custard didn’t add anything except for visual effect. We really enjoyed the yoghurt + fresh blueberries + toasted macadamia combo.How soft and squishy does that French toast centre look!Eggs Benedict Christmas ham, smoked hollandaise, rye muffin, poached eggs ($16.90) + Teddy’s hash brown ($4.50). I think the Teddy’s hash brown makes everything better; add it to your benny, whopper, heck even your oats! I love how it was crunchy on the outside and soft and potatoey on the inside. TimmyC substituted the Christmas ham for Pialligo Estate bacon which accentuated the smokiness of the hollandaise. The rye muffin was a little tough to cut through but I really enjoyed this breakfast.

The big plate makes it look like something is missing from the breakfast.The eggs were cooked perfectly.This hash brown is what you need in your life right now!Double points to Teddy Picker’s for an awesome extensive tea menu and their collaboration with local businesses such as Tea Garden Co and Red Brick Espresso.

Once we were seated, the wait staff were very attentive, friendly and efficient. There wasn’t a long wait time for our food after ordering and our water bottle was never empty. I cannot wait to go back and try more of their menu.

Venue: Teddy Picker’s

Address: 53/65 Constitution Ave, Campbell ACT 2612

Phone: no phone number- don’t bother booking, they only take walk ins

Facebook//www.facebook.com/teddypickersest2016/

Teddy Picker's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - ZomatoThey even have a cute ‘dog bar’ area for your furry companions.

Of course it did

Of course it did…As soon as I left Canberra, all these exciting things open/happen.

1. Orexi– the new Greek restaurant inside the Hellenic club in Woden had a soft opening recently, so the restaurant shouldn’t be too far off from opening (or has? I can’t seem to see anything on their instagram account)

2. Eat Canberra is launching ‘Eat Canberra Food Tours’. This sounds pretty awesome and I can’t wait to see where the guides take people to showcase the best of Canberra’s dining scene

3. The Hungry Buddha is opening their Belconnen restaurant! They have a soft opening on the 20th but they have a great deal for all those who are interested in trying their new Belconnen venture at a discounted rate: enjoy dinner for two for $50 until 30 June 2017 (save $56!). To participate, purchase an opening special voucher here before the 31st October 2016: www.deals.thehungrybuddha.com.au

4. The Duxton is hoping to re-open its doors later this month to show off their newly renovated bar which will include a roof top terrace!

5. The Forage– 22nd October 2-7pm I’m missing out on the last one of the year 😦 **update- due to bad weather The Forage has been postponed until 12th Nov 2016!

6. Molto down in Kingston foreshore are finally doing wood fired pizza again!

7. Another bar across the border has also recently seen renovations. The Tourist Hotel in Queanbeyan offer a number of specials across the week but they have ALL YOU CAN EAT bourbon rubbed chicken wings EVERY DAY for $15!!! This has my name written all over it and I left to go on holidays. 😦 I will have to go ASAP when I get back

I’m home in time for- Lolo and Lola‘s next pop up dinner 16th Nov
I’m still waiting for- Oscy’s burger and charcoal and Le Bon Melange to open

I know I’m probably not going to get any sympathy for missing out but I hope you all enjoy what is on offer in Canberra while I’m away.

Empire BBQ cafe

When our usual Chinese roast meat eatery in Dickson was closed, my friend and I found ourselves venturing to other establishments that offer a similar menu. We went upstairs to what used to be the Family Food Court, which was now the spacious restaurant of Empire BBQ cafe.When we were seated, we were given menus and hot tea. While my friend and I were deliberating what to order, she couldn’t find the dishes I was talking about and it turns out we were given different menus. Make sure when you go to look at both of them before deciding what to order.Combination chow mein ($14.80). A rather large serving of chow mein, which had my favourite crispy egg noodle underneath absorbing all that delicious sauce.Roast pork with noodles ($12.80). My friend didn’t know exactly what to expect when she ordered this dish, but she didn’t think that the noodles would be served separately to the roast pork. The noodles might seem a bit bland to some but they are a big staple in the Hong Kong cuisine served with a little bit of oyster sauce and sesame oil topped off with some greens. The pork was nice as it wasn’t really fatty and it had the quintessential crunchy crackling. I do prefer my roast meats with rice, so I will order that next time.The roast pork had a good fat to meat ratio, all topped off with that perfect crackling.The food is reasonably priced and the dishes came out rather quickly.

I liked how the menu has a bit of everything from the western Chinese food like chicken and cashew nuts and honey prawns to Chinese offal (beef tripe, pig stomach etc) and also foods you don’t usually see on a menu like congee. I would like go back to try their congee and eat more of their roast meats range.

 

Venue: Empire BBQ cafe

Address: 28 Woolley St, Dickson ACT 2602

Phone(02) 6247 2477

Empire BBQ cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato