Shinzo ramen

After coming back from Osaka only two weeks ago, I knew one of the things I would miss (besides seeing kawaii things EVERYWHERE) would be the food, more specifically, the ramen. So my eyes widened when I saw a Facebook post that Nu signage had just completed the signs for Shinzo ramen in the ANU area. The menu looked limited but it was filled with different versions of tonkotsu, my favourite ramen of all time.

Here’s the menu:I don’t know what we did before social media, but I am used to restaurants counting down to when they open, creating hype, having giveaways; meanwhile, I couldn’t even find a phone number for this restaurant. There are two random photos using the shinzo hashtag on Instagram, but there was no Instagram account, no Facebook page, not even a poorly designed website that had ‘website coming soon’. I had to resort to good ol’ fashion stalking. I sent my friend who works near the Unilodge at ANU on a mission to find the shop front, he was able to send me the opening times and warned me it was almost a hole in the wall as he walked past it twice without realising it.

They seem to have a section for making noodles cornered off at the front.TimmyC and I arrived just after they had opened for dinner and there were already a few people inside. There are three big tables with 8 stools each and it’s an order at the counter and then find yourself a seat type of system.Soft drink can aloe vera juice drink with pulp bits + peach juice ($3.00) this was a nice drink with aloe pieces and tasted like peach flavouring.Signature tonkotsu ($15.00) when I saw that the broth had a rich colour, I had such high hopes but alas, I was only disappointed. There was flavour there, but it wasn’t fatty, almost to the point of creamy – which is what I look for in a tonkotsu. The noodles were a bit harder than I would have liked and although I don’t usually indulge in the egg, it was completely hard-boiled. The pork was done well and seemed to be the only saving grace.A promising opaque rich brown colour.That egg is definitely hard boiled.The bowls have a weird sloped shape, so they are wide at the top and narrow at the base. After a while, you find there isn’t much soup because the bowl isn’t that big, throwing off the soup to noodle ratio.Black garlic tonkotsu ($16.00) I was really disappointed when I couldn’t taste much difference between my black garlic and TimmyC’s signature tonkotsu. I bit into a tiny black chip hoping it would taste like black garlic bit it felt like I was biting a burnt wood chip. Again the broth could have been more flavoursome and have more depth, the egg was also completely hard-boiled, while the pork was good, it was messily cut and broke into chunks when served in the bowl.Pork gyoza ($7.00) I was a bit dubious when they put down the plate, the gyoza wasn’t pan-fried on one side which is what I’m used to and when we bit into them, they were cold and not cooked all the way through. When I told them, they were very apologetic and replaced them. There was a bit of a wait until the new set arrived and they gave us complimentary edamame beans. The second plate was cooked all the way through, but the dipping dish wasn’t big enough and you had to awkwardly dip both ends of the dumpling or double dip. I wouldn’t order them again, they don’t have a crunchy texture when one side isn’t pan fried but the taste was okay.The edamame beans we got given while we waited for our second set gyoza.They had a flyer saying that they were a family owned business and wanted to improve, you can write feedback on the back and return it during your next visit to receive 10% off. I wanted to give them my feedback but didn’t know when I would be back, so I left it there on the table when I left. My list of improvements included: pan fry one side of the gyoza, maybe improve on their tonkotsu broth, don’t overcook the egg, have a better shaped ramen bowl and also suggested they could maybe they could have a noodle ‘softness’ choice for customers.

I did like the staff’s friendly attitude and the price (for Canberra) is fair considering it includes the bamboo, seaweed, egg etc. I was hoping to cover my lips in a fattiness that only a collagen-rich tonkotsu could provide but I don’t think I’ll be getting that here. It is still early days considering they only opened last Thursday, I hope they improve.

Venue: Shinzo ramen

Address: 35 Childers St, Canberra ACT 2601 (next to Shanghai dumpling cafe)

Opening times:

Monday – Friday 11:00 – 15:00, 18:00 – 21:00

Saturday 11:30 – 14:30, 18:00 – 21:30

closed Sunday

Handy tip: there are no bathrooms at this restaurant

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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

Leonard’s bakery – Hawaiian series

A wonderful reader suggested I hunt down malasadas while I was in Hawaii. When I went to google what malasadas were, Leonard’s bakery popped up in my browser; apparently that was the place to go get my Portuguese doughtnuts from!When I walked in I was a little shocked to see that most of the cabinet was empty. Were they all sold out? 😦 Thank goodness I quickly spotted a sign saying that their doughnuts are made fresh to order.Flavours and prices at Leonard’s bakery.After a short wait, we were handed a pink bag with our goodies.Malasadas – Portuguese doughnuts ($1.10 each excl tax)

Originalsugar malasada. I was absolutely blown away by the texture. For something that I thought was going to be oily, it was not at all. It was pillowy soft and when you took a bite it revealed a beautiful doughy matrix . The outer coating of sugar gave it the perfect amount of sweetness.

Cinnamoncinnamon sugar malasada. I am a huge cinnamon fan but I preferred the original flavour.Malsada puffs – malasadas with filling ($1.50 each excl tax)

Custard – custard filling. The custard filling wasn’t OTT so the overall sweetness levels was still perfect. I really love custard and I just wanted to slurp all the filling out. Malasadas are definitely worth trying if you’re visiting Hawaii. I love how there is a Leonard’s food truck near the outlet centre, it is the perfect sugar hit you need before  you do more shopping.

Doughnuts come in a cute pink box when you purchase 6 or more with a tiny discount.

Venue: Leonard’s bakery

Locations:

933 Kapahulu Avenue, Honolulu, HI 96816Waikele Shopping Center 94 Lumiaina Street, Waipahu, HI 9679

 

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.

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

Hello Kitty Diner

There is so much cuteness in one cafe but the Hello Kitty Diner isn’t just for little girls.Even their booths are covered in this cute material.I really wanted a cute cheeseburger with the iconic Hello Kitty bow but we had just come from lunch so all I could squeeze in was a cute milkshake and a waffle for an afternoon snack (don’t give me that look).

When we were seated, we were given water in these really cute paper cups.The Pancake Milkshake ($8.00). This had little chunks in it and yes it tasted and felt like a pancake milkshake with maple syrup. I don’t know if it is worth $8.00 for the size, but I didn’t want a lot and it didn’t disappoint in flavour.Cinnamon waffles apple pie ice-cream, salted caramel ($8.00). I was pleased to see that it was freshly made and was hot and crunchy, while a lot of cafes I have been to serve a warmed pre-made one or even worse, from frozen. The fact that it was in the shape of Hello Kitty’s head topped with a cute bow was just a super cute touch. I really enjoyed the apple pie ice-cream that went really well with the salted caramel sauce. A perfect sweet treat that isn’t overly sweet or filling.True, a lot of the appeal of this diner comes from the novelty of having cute Hello Kitty detail around the cafe but the food we experienced was surprisingly quite good, albeit a little over priced for some things.

Venue: Hello Kitty Diner

Address: The District, ChatswoodInterchange, 436 Victoria Avenue, Chatswood, NSW

Phone: 04 3017 7850
Hello Kitty Diner Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Kusina

It was just coincidental that I was able to get to Kusina‘s Monday Madness AND Boodle feast in the same week but I was one happy well fed girl!

Monday Madness~

All you can eat served with unlimited papaya salad, rice and soft drink ($24.00 pp) every Monday

I would definitely recommend booking; I booked for a table for four and we were seated on the last available table. When we ordered we said that two of us wanted the ‘fry up platter’ and the others would have the ‘grill platter’, which meant that we could try a bit of everything. Some of the pork pieces were really fatty but the grilled meats were marinated really well so that was our pick of the platters. The first platters were served with banana leaves underneath and were well presented, while the subsequent ‘refills’ were just meat on a plate. They were happy to give you more of anything when you had finished which minimises food wastage.

Fry up platter crispy chicken wings + crispy pork bellyGrill platter grilled pork belly marinated with sweet BBQ sauce + grilled chicken marinated in lemongrass, garlic, soy



Boodle Feast~

($36.00 pp – minimum of 4 people?) last Sunday of every month.Again I would definitely recommend booking, this feast only happens once a month and man, the restaurant was packed when we arrived. I didn’t know what to expect and no one really explained anything to us, I just knew that there wasn’t going to be any cutlery which meant I had to tie my hair up, clean my hands and wear something with lots of patterns so you couldn’t tell how much food I dropped on myself.

I told a waitress that we were ready to eat when all the guests had arrived and moments later, an impressive sized board was placed on our table. I didn’t catch all the names but the gist was (starting from the top left) potato salad, corn cobs, beef, grilled chicken wings, pork belly, fish balls, prawns and rice in the middle. Everything was really good, there was a vast difference in texture, flavours and meat. My pick of the platter would have to be the grilled chicken wings (regular readers would not be surprised) and the prawns (oh that sauce!). It was easy for me to get ‘handsy’ with most of the food but I really struggled to eat the rice without a spoon or chopsticks, especially since it wouldn’t clump in a ball for me as hard as I tried. I ended up with a lot of grains of rice in my hair (at the end of my plait, I didn’t just tip rice on my head) and down my dress, but it is a different way to experience food and I’d be happy to it eat again.

We didn’t understand if anymore was coming so we requested more chicken wings and rice, which we were happy to extra pay for. They came back with more rice and only two chicken wings but we weren’t charged more.

Leche flan ($9.80). A little thicker than I thought it would be, it had the texture more like New York cheesecake rather than an egg custard but it still tasted very nice.

The Public Place

My friend was coming from the north side of Canberra, so it seemed to her that she was driving to the other end of the earth (in Canberran speak) when I asked if we could have brunch at the very new The Public Place all the way down in Chisholm.We didn’t have a booking, we just rocked up and hoped for the best but we were able to get a table for three pretty easily on a Saturday.Mary had a little… burger slow cooked pulled lamb, aioli, rocket, fire roasted capsicum, crumbed (crumbled?)  Persian fetta and house tzatziki on a soft white roll with fries ($16.00).The first thing I noticed was the lack of fetta on the bun, I quickly enquired with a waitress who was very apologetic for the lack of fetta and pickle with the burger. I really enjoyed this burger more than I thought I would. I really liked the combination of the meaty lamb, saltiness of the fetta and the sweetness from the capsicum. No food regrets.

The burger before adding the fetta.The burger after adding the fetta.The Big Block 300g beef burger, house aioli, lettuce, tomato, pineapple, bacon, egg, lager braised onion, cheddar cheese on a soft white roll with fries and pickle ($20.00). Man, that was one gigantic beef patty! I didn’t like the texture of such a thick patty, I think I would have preferred two thinner patties. I enjoyed that they were very generous with all the ingredients and that the patty extended to the perimeter of the bun, a very important factor to me when it comes to burgers.Publics House Benny 2 poached eggs (my friend asked for fried) on a toasted bagel, house made potato and 16 hr slow cooked smoked ham hock crispy rosti with a smokey charred corn puree, avocado smash and a house chipotle hollandaise ($19.00). I think this dish was a bit confusing. My friend was lured by the sound of the rosti but I don’t think it translated well on the plate; instead of being crispy, the texture reminded me of bad faux meat. Overall, my friend was left disappointed and helped me finish my sausage roll instead.Sausage roll ($5.00?). The greedy little girl in me wanted to try as much as possible and if that meant including a sausage roll in my order, so be it. The sausage roll was a decent size with golden flaky pastry and the filling tasted like sausage meat. I want to try their house made pies next time.Orange and ginger juice ($8.00). A bit steep for a juice but it was made fresh to order.Tea ($4.00). I was impressed with their selection of milk which included lactose free, almond, coconut and soy.Hot chocolate ($3.50). If I didn’t get a juice I would have definitely ordered one of their decadent sounding hot chocolates like salted caramel or coconut rough.You have to line up and order at the counter and I felt ordering took a little longer than anticipated but the speed at which the food came was phenomenal. The staff were friendly enough and I really liked how the pies and pastries were made in house. Not the best cafe in Canberra but it has potential, a happy welcome to the southside dining scene nonetheless.

Mmmmm so many pie options.Venue: The Public Place

Address: 42 Halley St, Chisholm ACT 2905

Phone(02) 6292 9952

Websitewww.thepublicplace.com.au/

 

Valley Grill

Some people found it odd that I went from Biota and Tetsuya’s to eating at my local Southern Cross Club at the Valley Grill with my family for my birthday, but what they didn’t know was that I was trying out their new menu to eat a beef cheek that I had been craving since Peppercress shut their doors.

Since the closure of Peppercress, some of the menu has been adopted down stairs at the casual dining area of Valley Grill. It is family friendly (it even has a kid’s gaming area), has decent prices and can cater for big numbers.

Mains~

Char Grilled Camden Valley Chicken Breast succulent corn fed chicken breast, marinated with oregano and garlic and served with Tassie thick cut chips, tossed green salad and a creamy mushroom and brandy sauce ($24.00).
48 Hour Braised Wagyu Beef Cheek rosemary and thyme marinated Wagyu beef cheeks gently braised in red wine and served with Parisian mash, sautéed mushrooms, smoked bacon and a red wine jus ($27.00).It is still the tender ‘meat cloud’ that I remembered it to be. I was worried that there was be a slight variation between transferring this cuisine downstairs but they didn’t disappoint. Yum, yum, yum!
Vegetarian Mediterranean Strudel char grilled farm fresh vegetables, halloumi cheese and baby rocket pesto in a filo strudel, served with tossed salad leaves and tomato couli ($20.00).
Porcini mushroom risotto porcini mushroom risotto served with crispy sage leaves, toasted pine nuts and freshly shaved grana padano cheese ($20.00). I almost got food envy when I got to try this. It is a creamy, rich and cheesy risotto that is definitely a winter warmer.
Chicken schnitzel premium chicken breast schnitzel rolled in Panko breadcrumbs and served with Tassie thick cut chips, tossed salad leaves and fresh coleslaw ($19.00). We were shocked to see that the schnitzel didn’t come with gravy (!!!), so we had to ask for some before we started eating. It was a nice succulent piece of chicken but I prefer traditional breadcrumbs on my schnitzel and a thicker gravy.
Chicken Parmigiana premium chicken breast schnitzel rolled in Panko breadcrumbs, topped with Napoli sauce and cheese. Served with Tassie thick cut chips and tossed salad leaves ($21.00).
Even though I was eating from the new menu, it seemed like everyone else chose their meal from the more traditional club menu. Everyone generally enjoyed their dinner but I preferred the new additions to the menu over the club favourites.

Seriously, the plating was a bit OTT, I found the ridiculous pots holding the salad and chips almost as useless as a deconstructed coffee (see more ridiculous plating here). It made the mains look very small in comparison and they were very hard to eat out of.

Sure, this isn’t fine dining on the south side but there are food good options for those who are dining with large numbers or lots of children and no one wants to do the dishes.

Venue: Valley Grill

Address: Southern Cross Club

Access: A member needs to sign you in

Phone:  (02) 6293 7200

Valley Grille Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato