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

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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

 

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

A bite to eat re-run

TimmyC asked me where I would like to go for brunch on a lazy Sunday morning, I rattled off half a dozen south side options and he narrowed it down to three; it was my turn to pick. I chose A Bite to Eat because I didn’t eat as much as I wanted to last time (see my previous post here) and I had a craving for a thickshake.

We walked to the counter and asked if there was a table for two available, the waitress said that the whole top area was reserved but there was a cute table by the window available. We were given two menus and headed over to our table.

We grabbed a table by the window and cute cushions.Flat white (I don’t remember the price) and Caramel thickshake ($6.60). I didn’t have the greatest thickshake experience the first time, especially when it came highly recommended by a close friend but I was willing to give it another shot. It came in a tall old school metal cup which kept it cold throughout our meal. Smooth, thick and sweet just like a good thickshake should be. Even though we were both full, TimmyC and I drank every last drop because we didn’t want to waste it. YUM! When I get thickshake cravings, I know where I’m going to go!Breakfast served all day~Sriracha should be at every cafe.Pig pocket tortilla pocket filled with scrambled eggs, mozzarella cheese and a bacon ($8.40). I know small things amuse small minds but I loved the fact that the house made baked beans version of this dish was called a bean bag. SQUEEEEEEE! So cute. This might not seem very complex or interesting, but it was exactly what I felt like eating. There are a combination of sauces on the table to help make it to your liking.Standard two free range eggs (scrambled, poached or fried) with bacon on sourdough toast *with butter on request ($14.00). It is funny  that this is called ‘standard’ because this is one of TimmyC’s standards for breakfast at a cafe. He asked for fried eggs and also requested butter.

TimmyC should just point to his shirt when he orders breakfast. I love the decor here, everything is laid back and very relaxed. I thought their prices were also very reasonable. Despite being busy, the service was friendly and attentive; I was actually surprised about how fast the food came out.

I didn’t need edible flowers all over my plate, a doughnut sitting on top of my thickshake or quinoa on every dish, I just wanted a simple breakfast with my sweetheart in a cute cafe and A Bite to Eat delivered on every level. I’m so glad that this cafe is on the south side.
A Bite To Eat, A Drink As Well Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Progressive dinner – Sydney edition 

When I’m in Sydney, I try to eat what I can’t get in Canberra, foods like ramen, fresh sushi, good Thai and of course dumplings. So when I had limited time in Sydney and had only eaten ramen and sushi so far, there was nothing else to do but drag my friends for a progressive dinner to tick more boxes from my ‘to eat’ list.


To go to somewhere new, where over half the menu really excites you but you know you can’t order that much was really hard. My friend was telling me about Petaling Street, an awesome hawker restaurant and I was keen to make it the first stop during our progressive dinner in Sydney.

A few key dishes (and drinks) were chosen and enjoyed by everyone but my favourite dish was the roti canai with curry chicken. The roti was nice and flaky while the curry had lots of flavour with tender chicken.

Progressive dinner stop: #1

Venue: Petaling Street: Malaysian Hawker Food

Address: 760 George Street, Haymarket, Chinatown, Sydney,NSW

Amount per person: $10.00

Cheong fun, roti canai with chicken curry, char kway teow and Hainanese chicken rice.
Petaling Street: Malaysian Hawker Food Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


This was an unexpected stop as a fellow foodie pointed out that we were in close proximity to a Thai place, which did cheap small bowls of noodles. It sounded like a perfect addition to the progressive dinner and I was keen for some Thai food anyway.

Do Dee Paidang have tom yum soups, all with different meats, a choice of noodle and different levels of chilli. I along with the other non-chilli eaters stuck with the tom yum soup with tender pork rib and fresh noodles. We enjoyed the sour taste of the tom yum with the delicious meatiness of the pork ribs, while the hardcore chilli eaters went with the level 3 soup (out of 7). Watching one of the chilli eaters sweat and struggle with the heat of the soup made me curious about how hot their bowl was. I coated my spoon in a little bit of soup (I’m not crazy enough to actually drink any of the soup) and licked it, immediately I could feel the heat on my tongue which quickly spread to the back of my throat. Whoa, that was intense, I wonder who actually eats level 7!

Feeling bad that we were taking up a table even though we just wanted noodle soup, I order entrée of chicken satay skewers ($8.90), which were more expensive than our noodles ($6.00) but were really really delicious and I don’t usually eat satay.

Progressive dinner stop: #2

Venue: Do Dee Paidang Thai Noodle Bar & Cafe

Address: 9, 37 Ultimo Rd, Haymarket NSW 2000

Amount per person: $4.20Do Dee Paidang Thai Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


We were told that they were no longer selling Papa roti for the day and my smile quickly turned into a frown. I was really looking forward to eating a coffee bun with a delicious buttery aroma.

Progressive dinner stop: #3

Venue: Papa Roti

Address: 663 George St, Haymarket NSW 2000

Amount per person: five sad faces 😦 😦 😦 😦 😦


Din Tai Fung was along the way of our progressive dinner and it would have been ridiculous not to stop. The hard part was not ordering any fried rice, although my friend couldn’t help but order a pork bun too.

We ordered 24 dumplings (and drinks) between the 5 of us and savoured each and every bite.

Progressive dinner stop: #3

Venue: Din Tai Fung

Address: 644 George St, Sydney NSW 2000

Amount per person: $13.00Din Tai Fung Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


You are wondering how we were able to eat more after 3 stops already, but remember we were sharing one delicious original Hot Star chicken ($8.50) between the 5 of us. We tore it into 5 pieces while it was still really hot and it was a few bites of heaven.

Progressive dinner stop: #4

Venue: Hot Star

Address: 96 Liverpool Street, Sydney NSW 2000

Amount per person: $1.70Hot Star Large Fried Chicken Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


TimmyC and I were all Aqua S-ed out as we had been there for the past two nights and had already eaten all the flavour combinations but it didn’t stop everyone else from enjoying it. I was surprised TimmyC preferred the pandan ice cream over the lychee (dairy free) but I think it was because of the creamy ice cream texture.

Aqua S change their flavours every Thursday.

Progressive dinner stop: #5

Venue: Aqua S

Address: 27/501 George St, Sydney NSW 2000

Amount per person: $5.00Aqua S Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


A friend of ours popped into Black Star Pastry’s pop up store in the Kinokuniya earlier in the day and got some goodies to share. He got their famous strawberry water melon cake ($7.50/slice) and a caramel panna cotta ($9.00).

Progressive dinner stop: #6

Venue: Black Star Pastry (pop up)

Address: The Galleries, 2/500 George St, Sydney NSW 2000

Amount per person: $4.80Black Star Pastry Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


I had promised to take TimmyC to Messina and a promise is a promise. Everyone else had returned to their hotels and while TimmyC and I light railed our way straight to The Star.

We had chosen ‘Gay ol’ time’ which didn’t taste anything like a gaytime but TimmyC still really enjoyed it.

Progressive dinner stop: #7

Venue: Messina

AddressCafe Court, Level G, 80 Pyrmont StreetPyrmont NSW 2009

Amount per TimmyC: $4.80Gelato Messina Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


I was really impressed with the amount of stops we were able to make without being ridiculously full. We got to eat a lot of variety and the best of what every venue had to offer. Tell me dear reader, have you had a progressive dinner?

 

Orient Kitchen 

The lovely Canberra foodie and I caught up at her local shops to explore the new eatery that was Orient Kitchen. Weston Creek is already a hive of different eateries but it was handy to have a ‘Chinese roast meats’ place closer to home.Homemade pan fried dumplings chicken and garlic chive dumplings (12 pieces $13.80). These were pretty tasty although I prefer my dumplings a little more cooked to have that crunchy exterior. I like how they served this with Chinese vinegar and ginger.Mixed BBQ platter (2 choices) roast pork and roast duck ($18.80). I thought the pork had an extremely crunchy crackling and slightly over salted but I did preferred it over the roast duck. I found the roast duck pieces to be too thick (breast pieces) and the meat felt a little gritty and dry; the bony pieces that had a good meat to skin ratio were fabulous though.Shantang chicken boneless crispy chicken in spicy tangy vinegar sauce ($16.80). I really enjoyed this dish as there was plenty of chicken with crispy skin, lots of sauce and it wasn’t too salty. I think if there was more cucumber it would be more refreshing on the palette.They were a bit busy but food and service were very prompt. It felt like more of a take-away or quick meal atmosphere as Canberra foodie and I quickly found ourselves to be the only people left in the restaurant and we felt obliged to leave when they were packing up around us.

There are many menu items that sound tasty at a reasonable price, I’d be keen to go again.

Venue: Orient Kitchen

Address: 19 Brierly Street, Weston, ACT

Phone: (02) 6288 3330
Orient Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Galleon Cafe – Melbourne series

 

TimmyC’s trendy cousin took us out for brunch at the Galleon Cafe near Ackland street; it is a hipster central cafe decked out in mismatched vintage furniture (it reminded us of A bite to Eat in Chifley) and really friendly staff. There was a bit of a line up at the front to get a seat but since we didn’t mind squishing to one side whilst sitting outside, we got a table fairly quickly.
Us seating outside smooshed to one side, just trying out the fish eye camera lens that I got for Christmas.
A peek inside the cafe: the view from the outside.
There was a bit of a wait for food and beverages but they were super busy.
Scrambled tofu with mushroom, spinach and crispy fried enoki with sour dough toast – vegan ($14.50). I surprised even myself when I ordered this but I love a good tofu scramble ever since my friend made an awesome one for me years ago (hello Mellie!). I think because it doesn’t have a sauce or bacon, it needed a good dose of flavour or salt from something and this tofu scramble just didn’t have that. I think if it had more salty notes or chilli it would have been a lot better. I love the addition of fried enoki and I think I’ll be doing that more often in my own home cooking.
Eggs Benedict made with our house made hollandaise sauce with bacon and two eggs ($14.00). I really liked their house made hollandaise and was sporadically dipping my forkful in it. The eggs were probably ever so slightly over cooked, maybe 30 seconds less it would have been perfect. 
Poached eggs on toast (full serve $10.00) with a sweet potato hash brown ($4.50).
Banana and date loaf (baked in house) toasted with vanilla bean ricotta (half serve $4.00?). I am always torn between savoury and sweet for breakfast, so today I decided I will have both. It probably didn’t really matter what was underneath because the vanilla bean ricotta stole the show! A semi sweet, rich creamy paste that I smothered all over the bread. I’m going to have to start making my own ricotta soon.
Fresh juice orange, pineapple and ginger ($7.50). This was a nice refreshing sweet juice but I couldn’t taste any ginger.
Despite being bogged down heavily with patrons, I found all the staff at Galleons to be super friendly. I loved the diversity in the menu from different toasts, bagels, breakfast bowls to a wide variety of vegetarian, non vegetarian and a whole bunch of extras. The most expensive menu item was $15.50 and a lot of options come with half serves for those who don’t eat as much as me; making this place very accommodating and cheap!

 

Venue: The Galleon Cafe
Address: 9 Carlisle St, St Kilda VIC 3182
Phone: (03) 9534 8934

The Galleon Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Jimmy Grants – Melbourne series

TimmyC’s trendy cousin asked me if there was anything in particular I wanted to eat while I was in Melbourne. Besides going to Movida, I didn’t really have anything else in mind and I was just going to go along for the ride to places that she was willing to suggest, but when posed with the question, it made me think about what I couldn’t get in Canberra easily and my first thought was: Greek food.

The schedule was tight while we were in Melbourne, so much to eat yet so little time. We devised a game meal plan and figured while I was getting my fill of Melbourne shopping between meals, I would drop into the Jimmy Grants location within the Emporium Melbourne for a late lunch.

It was finally good to sit down after some non-stop shopping in the giant mall that is Emporium Melbourne but there was plenty of people eating in the food court even though it was around 3pm. When we looked at the Jimmy Grants menu, we could not go past the lamb option so we went with Mr Papadopoulos lamb, mustard aioli, chips, onion and parsley ($11.00). We both really enjoyed this and it was exactly what we needed. Delicious tender lamb in a soft pita bread filled with chips. Mustard aioli wouldn’t have been my first pick of sauces but in fact the flavour tied the whole thing together.

I think it was good to have Jimmy Grants in the more relaxed atmosphere of the food court rather than going to the garishly decorated restaurant that we had driven past the night before. We were able to get in and out with exactly what we wanted even with our time constraints. I will definitely come back to eat more off the menu, why oh why can’t one open in Canberra?
All the options I should try next time!
Filled with lots of lamb which was balanced out by the bread, onions and the chips so it didn’t seem so meat heavy.  

Venue: Jimmy Grants

Address: Emporium Melbourne, Level Three, 287 Lonsdale Street, CBD, Melbourne

Phone: (03) 9020 4336
Jimmy Grants Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Mister Zee’s

Mister Zee’s has only been opened for three days but I have been waiting months for this restaurant to open. We went last night for dinner and even though there was four of us, I proceeded to order almost half the menu.Chocolate baklava shake ($8.00). I must say this was one of the first things that caught my eye when I read the menu; I thought it was an odd combination but I definitely wanted to try it. It was a delicious chocolate milkshake and at first you couldn’t really sense any baklava but towards the last third you start to notice the filo pastry that has been blended through. I don’t know how well a milk shake goes with the amount of food we ordered, maybe this would be better if you were looking for something sweet after one menu item as opposed to half of the menu like we had ordered.Charcoal chicken served with Lebanese bread, toum (garlic dip), pickles (half $13.00). When the plate we put in front of us we were really underwhelmed as the chicken looked cold and dry but I was surprised to find it slightly warm. I ate a bit of the breast which was on the drier side but even when I ate around the thighs it was also dry. There was a nice flavour through the meat but all the deliciousness was in the skin. The salty charcoal flavours were delicious and the way it was cooked left the skin nice and crispy. I really wished the Lebanese bread would have been slightly warmed, it would have made a fabulous difference. The pickles were really strong, eye widening type of pickles but the flavours became refreshing as we were eating it between other dishes.

We didn’t know what this was but found out very quickly that it was garlic dip. It went really well with the chicken.The pickles were almost as intense as their colour!Lebanese nachos choice of chicken, lamb or falafel served with fried Lebanese bread, tomato, onion, parsley, cheese, hummus, labneh ($15.00). We chose chicken for the meat and we really enjoyed this. The fried Lebanese bread wasn’t oily and sickly but rather addictive and super crunchy, I was surprised it didn’t get soggy towards the end and it kept its crispness. I would easily order this again.Lamb kofte with spicy tomato sauce served with rice pilaf ($18.00). This was really nice at first but as the dish got colder, the meat got tighter and tougher; I would definitely recommend eating this while it is hot. I didn’t find the tomato sauce spicy at all and while we really enjoyed this dish when we first tried it, I found myself preferring the other menu items after all our order arrived.Hummus ($6.00). We didn’t really read the additions to every dish but I wish the server at the register pointed out that many of our dishes already came with hummus and we really didn’t need to order any more additionally. I was hoping for more of a garlic hit but it was rather mild and smooth.Babaganoush ($7.00). I don’t know if they had given this to us complimentary because we ordered so much but it was a lovely gesture. Babaganoush isn’t my first preference of dip as I find some versions have too strong of a burnt eggplant taste but I surprisingly enjoyed this dip.Shish choice of chicken, lamb or adana (minced lamb meat) served with salad, Turkish flatbread, hummus (triple $26.50). We had all started dipping our Lebanese bread from the charcoal chicken plate in dips but as soon as the warm Turkish flatbread hit our table we all happily swapped breads almost instantly. To have more choice we naturally ordered one of each type of shish and I was really surprised to find that chicken was my favourite with its delicious flavours while remaining succulent. The lamb pieces was a close second but the adana, just like the lamb kofte was nice while it was hot but it as it got colder, it too got tougher. I would love to eat a kebab made up of the chicken pieces wrapped in flatbread which was smeared in hummus. Mmmmmm…

While we were happily stuffing our faces, someone who we presumed to be the manager asked us what we thought of the meal. After our compliments on certain dishes, he was really interested to find out what we  didn’t enjoy as much. We went through things such as the dry charcoal chicken, cold Lebanese bread and the texture of the adana to which he all seemed to be aware and said he was working on getting the perfect balance of a succulent moist chicken while getting that crispy salty skin, the problems of heating Lebanese bread and still working on getting the perfect cooking time of the adana. I was really impressed about how he had taken the feed back on board and that he really wanted to better his product. I then quizzed him about his dessert menu and in particular why there was no Lebanese doughnuts available, he proceeded to then tell me how they are made fresh every day but the batter is only good for so long but they hope to make a batter (which takes 2-3 hours) ready for opening time and by the time it reached late afternoon, they would make another batch for night time.Something sweet~

My friend and I were still eating dinner when the waitress came over and gave us complimentary dessert, I presumed it was because we had given feedback in addition to my enthusiasm for their desserts. I thought it was so nice of them.Baklava ice cream sandwich ($6.00). Before we even ordered, I was asking the girl at the front counter many questions which included: what is adana? Is everything on the menu available? Do you have baklava ice cream sandwiches? She then explained that the ice cream sandwich was a literally a piece of baklava cut in half with ice cream wedged in the middle. It isn’t as sweet and overwhelming as it sounds because the baklava isn’t that sweet and flavours and crispy texture went really well with the ice cream. I would eat this again, but it is definitely not a first date food as it gets messy very quickly.Knafeh ($6.00). We were told that this was made by a local couple and I was super excited to try this ever since I had it late last year when we had that pop up shop. It had a delicious subtle sweet flavours of rosewater and pistachios with a beautiful smooth texture. I would have loved this if it was served warm. *drool*I was surprised for a place that would do a lot of take- aways had such nice spacious seating, good heavy cutlery and crockery. It is nice to have something different to eat when there are so many cafe and Asian options in the area. I will definitely be back to try more and eat more of what I’ve already tried. Waiting times didn’t take long, the prices are reasonable and the staff were very friendly and efficient.

We spent just under $100 between the four of us ordering dinner and we were really full even before the desserts arrived but everyone knows that you have a separate stomach for dessert. I think you could easily be content with a single shish ($14.50) and leave enough room for something sweet.

Venue: Mister Zee’s

Address: 122 Bunda Street, Canberra, Civic, ACT

Phone: (02) 6152 0306

Opening hours:

11:00am – 9:00pm Sunday – Thursday

11:00am – 10/10:30pm Friday and Saturday
Mister Zee's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Wednesdays at Little Brooklyn 

I made it no secret that it didn’t take much to convince me not to cook dinner and head out to Little Brooklyn for their hump day specials. Last week’s flavour was teriyaki, it seems like they change it up every week.  Hump day specials at Little Brooklyn include 1kg of chicken wings and a drink for $15.00, tonight’s flavour is chicken korma with lime and cumin yoghurt. Where will you be tonight?

La crepe – Westside

Of course while we were waiting for our food from Miss Van’s, my friend’s and I couldn’t help but be enticed by the delicious smells coming from La Crêpe the next shipping container over. There’s nothing much more to really write than they smell amazing, Nutella was made to be on crepes and they even do ‘take aways’ so there is no excuse not to get one… Or two.

Here is their menu, crepes range from $5.00 – $9.00. Which one would you have picked?The guy noticed me taking photos and struck a pose. My friend was talking to him and he was super friendly and had helpful advise for when we head to Paris.It takes skill to get a crepe that thin. My friend made her husband wait as she went to get a second one to take away. How cute is the packaging! It looked much easier to eat than on the plate.A photo of my crepe before it got quickly devoured.Friendly service and it didn’t take that long for us to get our crepes even though we were impatiently drooling.

Venue: La Crepe

Address: Westside Acton Park, Barrine Drive, Acton 2601

Opening hours: hopefully similar times to Miss Van’s?

***This place is now closed *** 😦

Miss Van’s Street Food – Westside

We weren’t exactly starving but I was still keen on dragging my friends to Westside Acton Park and trying out Miss Van’s Street food which I had been waiting for weeks to open. I had been stalking their menu in anticipation of their opening and found it was a small but had precise flavours of Vietnam. I was hoping since that the menu is so refined that all the dishes that they prepare would be good.

Have you been to Westside Acton park yet?What would you choose from their menu?Beef Noodle Soup | Pho Our pho stock is cooked for a minimum of 24 hours following a closely guarded family recipe! We use only fresh noodles. All pho bowls are served with lime, thai basil, beanshoots, coriander and shallot, add your own sriracha, Miss Van’s chilli and garlic oil, fresh chilli and hoi sin. 

Rare beef noodle soup (pho tai) rare sliced marinated flank steak ($11.00). I had a spoonful of my friend’s soup and the broth was not oily or sweet but full off flavour with a slight chilli kick. I thought it was unusual that the beef wasn’t the thinly sliced stuff you get from an Asian grocer but rather more hand cut with additional beef chunks, despite the thicker cuts the beef was really tender. I probably would have ordered this if I didn’t have a big breakfast out and going straight to an afternoon tea, it would have also been a little harder to eat a noodle soup on low hipster seats.Check out the generous portions of beef!Vietnamese sandwich | Banh Mi our sandwich rolls are made on a signature Viet/French baguette, all banh mi served with whole egg ago, lightly pickled carrot, radish, coriander, soy sauce and chilli sauce. 

Chicken roll (banh mi ga) shredded chicken, confit shallot, house made pate ($7.00). I really liked the bread roll that they used, it had a crunchy exterior with a nice soft interior. Mmmm… My friend gave me all his coriander (yum!) so my view on this banh mi is a little biased. I’m not one for pate but I had it the way it was intended and it was really nice as it gave it an extra kick of salty goodness. When  I was ordering, they asked me if I wanted their homemade chilli that they said was hot, I asked for a little and it gave it a nice extra level of flavour. There was a tiny bit of gristle on the chicken but it didn’t ruin the bun as a whole.My friends ordered the pork roll.Soya bean milk homemade, infused with pandan leaf, lightly sweetened with palm sugar ($5.00). A subtle sweet drink with a hint of pandan after taste.Specials mini pork spring rolls ($5.00). Nice and hot crunchy spring rolls that are easy to share, too bad the specials menu are constantly being changed. 

I enjoyed the food that we shared from Miss Van’s, although the seating is a little harder to eat noodle soup. The food didn’t take that long to come and there are plenty of condiments for those who like their food nice and spicy.

Venue: Miss Van’s Street Food

Address: Westside Acton Park, Barrine Drive, Acton 2601

Opening times during Winter:

Wednesday – Saturday 12pm – late
Sunday 10am – 6pm

 

Miss Van's on Urbanspoon

 

Bharat International re-run

It has been a while since I’ve blogged about Bharat International, but I have been going there on and off for years. Although, I felt that the food and cleanliness of the area was going downhill during my last visit and so I’ve held off on going back until a work colleague mentioned that when he went to get some sweets before Diwali that there were new owners and that the place looked a little different.

I had hoped the change was for the better as Bharat International was my window into traditional Indian food and sweets that you wouldn’t usually find in Indian restaurants that have made all their dishes more mild and creamy to suit the Australian palette.IMG_9562The differences are subtle but the place looked a lot cleaner, they have shuffled things around and most importantly they still serve choley bhature! It is still an ‘order and pay’ at the front counter situation but they don’t have the flashing number in the dining area and instead they yell out the ticket number which can be sometimes missed if you’re talking excitedly amongst friends.

I went with my friend who has an Indian background and I had many questions to ask him as I read the menu. Besides the usual lunch menu, the new owners have expanded and added a list of chef specials of curries and specialty items. Additionally they have also added ‘thali‘ options, so someone could taste an array of different things with the added bonus of a discounted price.

Pani puri ($4.99). I have never seen this in my life! It was handy to have a friend who knew what he was doing. He quickly put spoonfuls of the centre liquid in each delicate crunchy ‘basket’ and we quickly put the whole thing in our mouths. It was unexpectedly really cold on my teeth but eventually my teeth got used to the temperature and I started to explore the taste sensation of tamarind sweet and sour water balanced out by potatoes and onions with a crunchy texture. The second ‘shot’ of pani puri, I was more prepared for the temperature against my teeth and it was much nicer.

Have you seen anything like this? If I wasn’t with my friend, I wouldn’t know how to eat this.IMG_9582Chat papri ($5.99). This is a little harder to share but in my mind it was like adding the shards of pastry from a samosa to a pool of yoghurt, tamarind chutney and hint of mint. These delicious mouthfuls was like eating a broken vegetarian samosa with lashings of sauce added on top and I would definitely get this again; I just have to remember what it is called. :/

Chat papri is pictured on the right next to the choley (chickpea curry).IMG_9574Choley Bhature. I still love this dish, the bread is a little oily but it goes really well with the chick pea curry, onions and pickles. We are all familiar with naan, roti and other Indian breads but I’ve never come across bhature until I went to Bharat International.IMG_9572Malai kofta ($13.99). Okay I’ve fallen in love with the ‘Westernised’ version of this from another restaurant so when this didn’t taste exactly the same, I wasn’t the keenest on it although my friends tasted my sauce and absolutely loved it. The little patties were very potato-ey but I found the sauce to be a whole lot of cream and very bland. My friend proceeded to eat the rest of my dish as I moved onto something else.IMG_9579IMG_9581Rice ($2.50). This was a mountain of rice for $2.50, although it felt a little dry even for basmati rice.IMG_9576Mango lassi ($4.00?). Your average mango lassi, I had it in anticipation of coming across something hot. I thought it was a small serve.IMG_9575Goat curry. I couldn’t remember which one my friend ordered but she liked her curry a lot.IMG_9570Masala dosa ($9.50). This was the crispiest crepe I’ve ever had and I loved it. The filling consisted of strong curried potato flavours with mustard seeds and served with a side of something made mixed in with desiccated coconut. The accompanying sambar was nice but being a heavy meat eater I probably would have preferred a meat component but I loved the crepe.IMG_9586A peek inside the masala dosa.IMG_9588An assortment of sweets. I’m not quite sure what any of these are called as my friend snuck off and surprised us with a plate of sweets to share but when he describes the process of making each sweet, it is elaborate! That clear looking one on the right is apparently made from pumpkin; it had a really interesting texture that was really syrupy.IMG_9591The shop is much more tidy and although differences were subtle, it makes a huge difference to the atmosphere and sets the new owners apart.IMG_9564They have moved the freezer section and added more freezers. It looks much better and more organised nowIMG_9569Not much difference in the dining area except for the TV screens showing Bollywood movies.IMG_9594I like coming here because when my friend describes the cooking and preparation of these Indian dishes, it sounds tedious and very laborious; it is much nicer to go somewhere and buy everything you want from savoury items and complex sweets. I would recommend not coming here just before Diwali as the line can be very long and slow as it seems like everyone in town is in there.

Bistro Nguyen’s

My friend and I have made a tradition out of meeting up for Friday lunches, usually we eat Asian food because it is cheaper, generally faster and sometimes we just crave noodles and rice. So when I heard a new Vietnamese restaurant had opened up in the city, we had to go immediately. Bistro Nguyen’s is located on the corner of the Melbourne building near Nourthbourne Avenue and Alinga street. The decor is a mixture of different chairs matched with different tables, I didn’t trust the durability of the plastic stools at our table so I swapped them out for a metal ones.IMG_9915It was very busy during the Friday lunch rush, it was completely full inside so we took a table outside.IMG_9917I don’t know how I feel having all the mouth side parts of the utensil facing up, but what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger right?IMG_9921It is an ‘order and pay at the counter’ situation but not only that, the food is only delivered to the table whenever it is ready and not in any particular order, which meant that we received our the pho first and the grilled pork rolls and drinks last with a pretty decent waiting gap in between.

Grilled pork rolls Nguyen’s special grilled pork rice paper rolls with herbs and special dipping sauce (3 pieces $7.50). These were very disappointing rice paper rolls. There was no taste of herbs, you could barely taste the pork and the dipping sauce didn’t help either. The pork looked like processed brown meat that did not look grilled. I will not be ordering this again.IMG_9949IMG_9948Rare beef pho traditional  beef noodle soup slow cooked with the heart and soul of Nguyen’s secret family recipe. A quintessential Vietnamese dish! ($12.50). I tasted my friend’s pho, it is sweeter than all the other broths that I’ve tried but still very flavoursome. At first my ‘very picky broth taster’ friend liked it, but towards the end she said that she could taste a lot of MSG and that she would not be ordering it again. I rather enjoyed the spoonful I had (being a less picky broth taster) and I would consider trying it next time.IMG_9933Pho served with all the garnishes.IMG_9938Saigon pork roll made fresh daily by our master baker. Saigon roll filled with pork belly, Vietnamese ham, home-made pate, mayo, pickled carrot, cucumber, coriander and a dash of soy sauce ($7.50). I would have usually gone straight for the pho but it was crazy hot out so I grabbed something more temperature appropriate. I’m surprised they let me order this considering I asked for the home-made pate to be omitted *gasp!* but even then they asked to clarify that I wanted to take the most ‘essential’ ingredient. All the meat looked processed and there was barely any in the roll, I liked the taste of the pickled carrot which was good because that was the only thing I could taste besides the crusty bread roll. I don’t know if they forgot the mayo because the whole thing felt pretty dry in my mouth, although I don’t know if this would have been any better if I had left the pate inside.IMG_9943I did consider picking out the chillis but they had no taste to them what so ever. Can you squint and see the meat inside the roll?IMG_9947Vietnamese black iced coffee ($4.00). It was definitely needed on this hot day. They didn’t have any smoothies available so I just stuck with water.IMG_9942We had a pretty cheap lunch but it wasn’t completely impressive. I don’t want to judge this place yet because I’ve eaten such a limited portion of what they offer. I would come back and have their pho and I’d also be interested to see how their stir fried/rice dishes are. Their menu covers a large range of Vietnamese dishes including pho, vermicelli, rice dishes, Saigon rolls and stir fries.

Venue: Bistro Nguyen’s

Address78-80 Alinga St Canberra, ACT

Phone: 02 6262 6888

Bistro Nguyen's on Urbanspoon

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)

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