Yat Bun Tong re-run

I recently met up with a few fellow food bloggers (check out some of their awesome blogs here and here) for dinner at Yat Bun Tong (see my first post here). It is so nice to meet up with such like minded people and laugh about the same things we go through like- forever questioning ourselves of who is actually really ever reading our blog other than our number one fan (thanks for your support YummyLummy).

Serina from MsFrugralEars with her awesome mandarin skills took charge with ordering and conversing with the staff. It was refreshing not having to look at the menu or having the responsibility on deciding the whole table’s meal, which is the default mode that my friends usually put me in.

Shanghai steamed bun (10 pieces $13.80). It is still no Din Tai Fung, but I guess it is unfair to compare. The dumpling wrapper is the Goldilocks of thickness, not too thin and not too thick, it was just right. I’m still not completely sold on the soup interior but am still happy to have it there. They don’t always remember to give you a spoon but please do request one for easier eating.   Shallot pancake ($7.80). The pancake was crispy and flaky which reminded me of roti with flecks of shallot. I really enjoyed the texture but I think I would have liked more shallots and more salt throughout the pancake.Hot and sour soup ($5.80 per serve). My eyes widened when they lowered this bowl on the table. It was enormous! I asked Serina ‘I thought you only ordered two serves?’, she responded with ‘I did’. The waitress explained that the chef wanted to give us more but would only charge for two serves. I loved that the soup was full of lots of ingredients and most of us easily had two bowls. If it was a tad (chilli) hotter and you added a few drops of chinese vinegar like you’re supposed to, it would have been perfect.I took a photo of the serving bowl next to my bowl so you could see how big it was.Shanghai pan fried pork buns (10 pieces $14.80). This was the one dish I was determined to order after seeing photos from Michelle’s instagram who in turn saw it from Wita (#contagiousfood). The buns were light and fluffy with a good meat filling and a little bit of soup inside. It reminded me very much of Sydney food, which says a lot. I would happily return just to eat these.The filling inside the buns.BBQ duck spring rolls (2 pieces $6.80). We were told that this was a popular menu item and I can see why. A crispy hot spring roll filled exclusively with delicious duck meat complimented by the hoisin dipping sauce. These would make a good starter, maybe I’ll order these next time before I sit down and even look at the menu.Fried handmade noodles with black pepper beef ($15.80). People were starting to get full but insearchofgoldenpudding and I wanted to try their handmade noodles. I really like black pepper beef but usually with rice, it felt odd eating them with noodles especially when I’m used to eating my noodles with pork and vegetables. Some people might not like the fact that it came with no vegetables.

I really liked their handmade noodles, it wasn’t overly oily although it was a tad softer than I would usually have it.  I really like black pepper but even I  thought it was borderline overwhelming, next time I might try their handmade noodle with seafood in X.O sauce.I had a much better experience at Yat Bun Tong this time around because of the selection of food. I will definitely be back to eat more pork buns and eat more noodles.
Yat Bun Tong Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Yat Bun Tong

We were driving home from Sydney when I realise there was nothing but carrots, eggs and butter in my fridge, so I made plans to meet my friends in Braddon to try out the new dumpling restaurant Yat Bun Tong for dinner.

On a Sunday night without a booking at 7pm, we were very lucky to get a table for four without a reservation. The menus are huge  (and heavy) because of the diverse range of dishes and the accompanying photos. I had to be careful not to over order and there were a few dietary restrictions within the group.I was torn between ordering the Shanghai pan fried pork bun (10 for $14.80) or the Shanghai steamed bun (10 for $13.80) but because I know the pan fried pork buns can be filling, I went with the steamed dumplings so I could order more dishes instead.

I expected them to come out in a particular order but instead they came as they were ready and the gap between waiting times wasn’t that long. It was a struggle to fit everything on the table though as the plates are rather big.

Garlic chicken fried rice ($12.80). I wanted a more garlic flavour but it was nice enough as an accompaniment to the other dishes.Fried beef onion dumplings (15 for $12.80). These weren’t fabulous but still rather tasty and I preferred these over the steamed ones.Pan fried chive cakes (2 for $8.80). Not very flavoursome and definitely not worth ordering again.Shanghai steamed bun (10 for $13.80). There is a little soup inside each dumpling which stayed inside as the dumpling wrapper wasn’t too delicate. I didn’t love the taste of the dumpling though.Deep fried soft shell crab with spicy peppery salt ($19.80). I was surprised to see that this was a rather large serve. The batter was a tad too thick but there was plenty of delicious fried garlic, chilli and shallots.Chinese broccoli with garlic ($14.80). A simple tasty dish to break up the oily and heaviness from the other dishes.Someone told me that Yat Bun Tong have the same owners as Chinese Kitchen Dumpling House in Woden. It’s no Din Tai Fung but it is better than other dumpling places I have tried around town. I would like to come back and try the other dumplings like the Shanghai pan fried pork bun and also try their noodles which I hear is quite nice.

Venue: Yat Bun Tong

Address: 61/10-12 Lonsdale street, Braddon, ACT 2612

Phone: (02) 61520880
Yat Bun Tong Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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

Wonder meals re-run 

There are three types of Chinese restaurants: 1) the Westernised Chinese restaurant that can be found in most suburbia shops 2) the more traditional Chinese restaurants with Asian delicacies and then there is Wonder Meals.

I have always found Wonder Meals very bizarre; everything from the name, the strange decor down to the menu, which had changed since I had last been. I can’t fully describe it. Menu items include poached tripe with duck blood curd, cold dressed pigs ears and pungent and chilli chicken gizzards just to name a few. I was trying to warn my food companion that things on the menu are a bit strange but we will stick to the ‘safe’ side of things which may or may not be to our detriment.

Set up with chair covers, linen napkins that you will never get to use and surrounded by fake flowers, just another day at Wonder Meals.Steamed and fried bread ($10.80). This was the first thing to arrive within minutes of ordering and I was pleasantly surprised to see it served with condensed milk but it meant that we were eating sweet first. Obviously the fried version tasted better than the steamed but the steamed buns make for good sauce moppers, so we left them for when the main dishes arrived.Fried beef fillets with abalone mushrooms ($20.80). This was very garlic-ky and salty which was balanced out by the boiled rice. It was a fairly big serve because it felt like we kept eating the same thing over and over again; I got a bit bored of it towards the end.Fried garlic shoots with shredded pork ($15.80). I had ordered this previously and it wasn’t as nice this time around. I thought the garlic shoots weren’t at their best which made the whole dish very mediocre.Pan fried dumplings (guotie) ($12.80). After getting fairly full from the previous dishes and being over an hour after we had initially ordered, I just assumed that they had forgotten about these but apparently they didn’t. I tasted the first one and it was very (temperature) hot but left a bitter vegetable taste in my mouth, I then asked for soy sauce and it made it much more tolerable.I was surprised that the restaurant was so busy on Friday night but I did sense the feeling that a lot of tables started to get frustrated with the service after being ignored several times and having to wait a long time between dishes. You really have to come here yourself and order some ‘out of the box’ items to decide if you like it or not. Maybe I’ll be more adventurous next time.

See my first post about Wonder meals here.

Shanghai Dumpling King

I was excited when Shanghai Dumpling King was setting up shop because that meant there was another place south side to eat dumplings until I learnt that they are a sister restaurant of Shanghai Dumpling Cafe in Civic, but an opportunity arose where I was there more for the company rather than the food so fellow foodie Food Porn Journal and I went together.

It was lucky that we had similar tastes so ordering wasn’t an issue; we wanted to try the xiao long bao, pan fried dumplings and some noodles, and that is exactly what we got! Oh and we also squeezed in a dessert (or two).

Steamed mini pork buns also known as Xiao Long Bao, a specialty from Shanghai. Buns are filled with broth so be careful when eating it (8 pieces $11.50). I was pleasantly surprised that the wrapper didn’t break as I picked it up gently and placed it on my spoon. Each dumpling did have a ‘soup’ inside as promised and although it wasn’t terrible; the wrapper was too thick and threw out all the proportions. Not the worst that I’ve had (the bad ones bubble out a thick brown liquid, have not much of a soup inside and the wrappers break easily) but it wasn’t particularly good either.IMG_0948[1]I could see that the wrapper was too thick when they put down the bamboo steamer but I was still willing to give them a go.IMG_0949[1]Seafood pan fried dumplings (15 pieces $13.00). The filling reminded me of a fish paste which I didn’t mind so much (Asian taste buds!) and each of them had a crispy side.IMG_0954[1]Shanghai fried noodles traditional Shanghai style fried noodles stir fried with pak choy and sliced chicken in a soya sauce flavour ($12.50). I love a good noodle and this was by far the best dish of the night. The chicken was moist, the pak choy was fresh and everything was coated in a soy sauce without being overly salty.IMG_0952[1]Dessert~

Pancake filled with red bean paste ($9.50). I was really surprised to see this on the menu as it is not very common (you can also get them at Dumpling Inn). I thought the crispy outer layer in addition with the red bean filling made the pancake overall very dry. I’m used to a more deep fried and oily pancake.IMG_0955[1]A cross section of the red bean pancake. It might appear to be a thin filling but you don’t need that much red bean for the taste.IMG_0956[1]We were deep in conversation so I don’t remember what the wait time was like but it wasn’t particularly long. We didn’t have any waitressing issues or long waiting times like a lot of people seem to be experiencing, but we did go on a Monday night which meant it wasn’t too busy. I wouldn’t go out of my way to say that this place is a ‘dumpling king’ but I would come back and order noodles and maybe try their other main dishes.

See other blogger reviews from Mouthless Mutters and Food Porn Journal.

Venue: Shanghai Dumpling King

Address: 1/33 Gartside Street, Wanniassa, ACT

Phone: (02) 62313456
Shanghai Dumpling King on Urbanspoon

 

Use your noodle!

I have always been disappointed with the food choices when the beautiful Enlighten festival comes to Canberra. It always reminds me of the over priced, mediocre food that you would find at Floriade, but one event at a time.

This year, the Night Noodle Markets presented by Citi will coincide with the Enlighten Festival, bringing with it a whole lot of yummy food from interstate as well as some Canberra locals including Morks and Thirst Thai. I have finally found the list of vendors who will have a stall at Canberra’s first Night Noodle Market.

You’re welcome 😉

Restaurants at Enlighten Night Noodle Markets

 

Business Name

Cuisine Style

Spanthai Thai
Zagyoza Japanese
Teppanyaki Noodles Japanese
Shallot Thai Thai
Bao Stop Bao
Let’s Do Yum Cha Dumplings
Let’s Do Yum Cha – Trailer Dumplings
Hoy Pinoy Filipino
Daniel San Japanese
Thainabox – Food Truck Thai
Roti Road Malaysian
Thirst Thai Thai
N2 Extreme Gelato Liquid Nitrogen Gelato
Mini Pancakes Dessert
Morks Thai
Song Laos Cuisine South-east Asian cuisine
Kiyamachi Tei Okonomiyaki

 

 

Get excited Canberra!

Venue: Enlighten Night Noodle Markets

Address: Reconciliation Place, Canberra

Opening times: February 27 to March 8

Mon – Wed 5pm-9pm

Thurs – Fri 5pm-10pm

Sat 4pm-10pm

Sun 4pm-9pm

Around the world in 5 hours

Now that Friday incorporates more food at the Multicultural festival, I use it as a scouting mission for the next big full day.
Tonight I tried lots of new things that I’ve never eaten before and there is definitely more to try on Saturday.
Clockwise starting at 12:

Pan rolls from Sri Lanka ($2.50 each)– they taste like a spicy crispy croquette!

African cigars ($9 for 4 pieces)– I really wanted Kpuff Kpuff but they aren’t available until Saturday. This had a spring roll pastry feel but the filling reminded me of an ethiopian meat samosa. Mmmm

African feelings ginger beer ($5.00)– an intense ginger taste that left a mild burning at the back of the throat. Absolutely delicious (for ginger lovers)

Churros ($10 for three churros and dipping sauce) – well this isn’t new but it’s what we wanted at 10:45 pm complete with caramel sauce

Aegean platter BBQ octopus, tzatziki, Greek salad, olives, fetta and pita bread ($15.00) – for the first time I didn’t dive straight into the Greek doughnuts (tomorrow!). I loved everything on this plate

Lokma ($5.00) – I’ve never had a turkish doughnut. They are small, super syrupy and juicy inside. Eat it in one bite or your clothes will get messy

Plantain chips ($6.00) – I would have liked more salt but they came out super hot and fresh

Bhutanese beef momo ($2 each) – one of the better momos I’ve had at this festival. Yum!

Gozleme ($10.00) – I’ve never had one at the multicultural before but it still wasn’t anything special

IMG_9703

 

On Saturday I want to eat: Iranian, Eygptian, Hungarian, Tongan, more Bhutanese and more from the African van.

 

Disappointment and lies

I had heard whispers that there was going to be another dumpling restaurant opening in the south side area and they were confirmed when Mouthless Mutters went to Schnitzel Haus next door.

I went there two Saturdays ago to check the area out myself but all I could see was a big red sign which said that Shanghai Dumpling King were going to be open by mid January even though there was no sign of opening yet.

The other thing that I noticed was that their name was very similar to Shanghai Dumpling Cafe, which is one of the few establishments that have made it onto my ‘will not return’ list. I hope they are not associated with each other and I’ll be keen to see if their dumplings and food are any good.IMG_9382

Dumpling Tuesday

I try to eat dumplings whenever I can but coincidentally, I eat/make a lot on Tuesdays. Last night was no different.

I’ve never made a vegetarian dumpling before but I find that although the quality of the frozen meat filled ones fluctuate, vegetarian ones are always delicious, so stick to those!

In other Dumpling news:
Dumpling Inn in Jamison has not re-opened yet. Boo…
Another dumpling restaurant is opening in Erindale soon. Yay!!!

Last night I pan fried frozen chive vegetarian dumplings
2015/01/img_8942.jpg

Akiba- good things come in threes

Yes, I did go back to AKIBA for the third time in a short time span but in my defense, it was my friends’ first time so really I went for their sake.

Despite having been so many times, I did notice several new things about the place and menu since their official launch last week: the outdoor seating is now completed, AKIBA now serves breakfast and to my dismay the steak tartare and smoked potato have both been taken off the menu.

Excuse the photo lighting, we were in the booth right underneath that fluorescent sign.

The new roomy outside area at AKIBA.IMG_8037.JPGWe all started off with an AKIPOP ($7.00) all without the ‘boom’, the flavours include: pineapple, coconut and chilli; sour cherry and vanilla and strawberry mint. They were all carbonated when I was expecting mixed fruit juices for some reason. The prominent taste in my AKIPOP was the pineapple, I couldn’t taste the coconut and the chilli was a nice burn at the back of the throat after every sip.IMG_8046.JPGThe new menu after AKIBA’s official launch. Why oh why did they take the potato and steak tartare off the menu?!IMG_8042.JPG

After having tried most of the menu, we of course were going to come across things that we have eaten before and recommend it to our friends, but there were still 6 menu items that we hadn’t tried but one of them wasn’t available that night.

The items we couldn’t resist ordering again included dumplings, sashimi, pancakes, baos and the beef short rib. We ordered the J.F.C again but for me it was still just fried chicken and nothing special.IMG_8146.JPGOyster, black vinegar, ginger wine (4 pieces $10.00). I warned my friend that you would have to set your oyster ‘free’ before trying to one shot it. I found this topping much nicer than the ume mignonette.IMG_8069.JPGShiitake and water chestnut dumplings, red vinegar, black pepper (4 pieces $10.00). I found the red vinegar over powering in comparison to the dumpling. Out of the three dumpling choices, this is my least favourite.IMG_8054.JPGRoast broccoli, miso blue cheese, sesame seeds ($9.00- we were given this as a complimentary dish). Having mentioned to Jed a waiter who sees us every time we dine, that there was only several items left to try, he said that he would let us try the broccoli free of charge. TimmyC looked sceptical, he DOES NOT like blue cheese, I mean I’m not a fan but I’m more tolerant than he is. TimmyC flat out did not like it so a friend and I ended up finishing it. The blue cheese itself is still a strong bold flavour but it is dulled out by the al dente broccoli. The flavours of this dish won’t be for everyone.IMG_8072.JPG I asked to see the breakfast menu because I was keen to see what was on offer.

The breakfast menu of AKIBA, not many options but hopefully they do this small selection well.IMG_8044.JPG

Food came out at a fast and steady pace, we didn’t book a table we just walked on in and as always the service was really helpful, attentive and friendly. Just in case you didn’t know their opening hours, I’ve attached their flyer underneath.IMG_8056.JPGI promise I won’t go again… For the rest of the year. 😉

 

Akiba re-run

I did intend on returning to Akiba but not this soon, this was all TimmyC’s doing, he was super keen! Despite the bad weather, we head in with enthusiasm and we giggle when we are seated in our previous seats with the same server from our first visit (see my previous blog post here).

Here is the menu, this time complete with prices.IMG_7690.JPGNatural oyster, ume mignonette (4 pieces $10.00). All of the oysters were still anchored down in the shell so when I tried to one shot my oyster, I ended up sucking all the mignonette and then having to go back and set my oyster free, which by then was then just an oyster. Bits of the shell did break off so I had to spit them out after eventually getting to the oysters. Instead of four quick shots of oysters, it ended up being a little bit more effort than I thought it would be and the flavours weren’t particularly amazing.IMG_7692.JPGKingfish sashimi, coconut, nam jim, coriander ($12.00). We loved this dish during our first visit but this time it was much hotter and it caught TimmyC off guard. I still really liked it but TimmyC couldn’t eat much more after his first bite.IMG_7693.JPGYellowfin tuna, organic Japanese soy, wasabi panna cotta ($14.00). I had forgotten that there was supposed to be a wasabi panna cotta until I re-read the menu just now. I didn’t notice this component and to me this was just a really nice sashimi.IMG_7699.JPG

IMG_7698.JPGSteamed prawn and chicken dumpling, chilli oil, black vinegar dressing (4 pieces $10.00). I thought this was a really nice dumpling and I really enjoyed the black vinegar, but I didn’t think there was anything special about this dish.IMG_7696.JPGPork belly bao, char sui, asian slaw ($8.00). Wow, what a turn around in almost every aspect. The cut of pork was much more suited to fill the bao, the bao itself was much nicer but still not perfect; they are now made in-house rather than brought in from Sydney. There was definitely a bit of everything within each bite which makes it easier to stomach the steep price attached (Ippudo buns are $4 a pop).IMG_7694.JPGThe bun is brimming with excitement and it can barely contain itself.IMG_7705.JPGIMG_7710.JPGSweet corn pancake, chilli caramel, togarashi ($4.00).

Kimchi and angasi pancake, kewpie mayo, sirracha, ittogaki (4.00). I liked how you can just order one pancake as this allowed us to explore more of the options. Both were really nice but I think we liked the kimchi and angasi pancake more comparatively because it had more bold flavours.IMG_7703.JPGIMG_7704.JPGSmokey roast potato, pecorino custard, smoked eel teriyaki ($5.00). “Here’s your one potato”, I giggled at the introduction of our dish. I’m surprised that TimmyC ate and liked this because he isn’t a big fan of cheese. The potato was super super crispy, the pecorino custard wasn’t over powering and a unique concept and the eel helped bring everything together. I really liked this and was very tempted to order another.IMG_7701.JPGWe had ordered 8 items that we requested not to be staggered out, I wanted to see how fast the service could be and TimmyC was very hungry. Between ordering and receiving our last dish it was definitely super fast; I’m going to guesstimate under 10 minutes, but my stomach, mouth and photography couldn’t keep up and I probably wouldn’t do this again unless there was a whole group of us and we were all really hungry.

Caribbean chicken bao,  charred pineapple, kewpie mayo ($8.00). We got greedy. We wanted to try a little bit more; TimmyC wanted another pork bao and I wanted something that we hadn’t tried before, so we compromised and chose this. Although the chicken was super moist and tender, I didn’t think that the pineapple was charred but more importantly I didn’t see how these flavours in the bao work together. I didn’t like it.IMG_7713.JPG

IMG_7711.JPGCharred asparagus, uni butter, seaweed powder ($14.00). The asparagus itself was nicely cooked and the butter tasted lemony and almost had a cheesey flavour. This was cooked in their very big fancy oven (which was very $$$) but I don’t see how it is any better than me cooking it at home in a pan with butter, salt and pepper.IMG_7714.JPGTea smoked duck ham, gruyere custard, umeboshi and rosemary ($7.00). This was almost unrecognisable as a duck flavour, it was more familiar in my mouth as a cured pork product that has a really nice smokey flavour. I’m not completely sold on all the flavours and compared to other menu items, I probably wouldn’t order this again but TimmyC liked it.IMG_7720.JPGTo give you a size comparison, I took a wider shot against my water glass.IMG_7722.JPGChocolate tart, pickled strawberry ($9.00). It wasn’t as great as the first time that we had it; I felt that the soft chocolate tart component had more coffee flavours with harsh bitter after taste.IMG_7724.JPG

IMG_7726.JPGHand crafted pottery is slowly coming in as the training wheels are coming off.IMG_7723.JPGAfter having eaten most of the menu, I still really enjoy Akiba but I definitely have ‘go to’ dishes and other ones that I probably won’t bother with. I cannot wait to see their breakfast menu!

Akiba

If you had asked me earlier in the day what I was doing on Saturday night, I would have told you that I was going to sleep off the food coma that I was about to be induced in after heading home from a 24hr interstate return trip.

I did not expect to drive back from Wollongong and immediately proceed to the doors of Akiba and line up for 45 minutes in the miserable weather, but that is exactly what TimmyC and I did after I had read the following Facebook post from HerCanberra:

I’m blaming HerCanberra and Eileen from The Food Avenue for enticing me to wanting to go to Akiba that night.

FB

What happened next was quite embarrassing, I hopefully will eventually learn to laugh at the situation, but for now I’m cringing every time I think about it. I accidentally stood at the front of the line thinking it was the back. The lovely people who were actually indeed in front of the line and had started waiting before 5pm, were very sweet not to swear at me as I innocently stood in front of them and started chatting to another 101localhuman as well as star food blogger Eileen (The Food Avenue). It wasn’t until I asked Eileen ‘how many people do you think are in front of you?’ did I realise my mistake. I proceeded to then squeeze in with Eileen and her partner who were second in line and I didn’t stop feeling guilty until I knew that everyone that was in line before the opening, was easily within the first 100 people *phew*. I think the weather put off a few people because 45 minutes after the opening, people that just came in were still within the first 100 people, which meant they got 6 dishes for free.IMG_7617.JPGWe could see the staff being briefed inside and as it rolled around to 6pm, the door was slowly opened and we were greeted with loud applause, lots of high energy and chants of ‘Akiba’ by the staff. It all felt a bit strange and surreal but it pumped me up before our meal.

There was some confusion with the menu about the portion sizes and prices. First of all there were no prices written on the menu and they had ‘special discounted prices’ on the night for the desserts so I couldn’t tell you if the dumplings were a bargain or if you were better off buying a packet of frozen ones at home. Secondly, some dishes come as a serve (regardless of how many are on the table) and some come as per person, so it might not have been advantageous for the very generous Eileen to allow me to sit at her table.  The food menu is divided into the following headings: raw, dumplings/bao/pancakes/buns, meat and fish, veg and dessert.

A look into the menu of Akiba.IMG_7531.JPGOne of the first to be seated with other patrons followed closely behind, the restaurant fills up fastIMG_7527.JPGA close up of the oyster bar.IMG_7612.JPGDrinks~

Snap, Crackle and Pop punch Ketel One vodka, Rice bubbles infused milk, pineapple and lemon Note: contains no milk ($20.00). This sounded like a really cute drink and I love how the rim of the glass was coated; everyone who tasted it thoroughly enjoyed it.IMG_7538.JPGFukushima Zombie Secret blend of Rums, triple citrus and ginger. For when you need to blow off steam! ($18.00 but we were charged $15.00). This was someone else’s drink but I think the alcohol was very strong in this cocktail.IMG_7540.JPGLychee cider ($10.00). I was surprised to see that this was a local product but I think TimmyC was expecting something a little sweeter.IMG_7539.JPGFood~ With only six dishes for free and no idea about portion sizes, we decided to choose our top 6 and then order again if need be afterwards.

Kingfish sashimi, coconut, nam jim, coriander (one serve 4 pieces). As soon as I took my mouthful, my palette went on a flavour journey, it was rather amazing really. There were so many flavours in the mouthful and I really liked the addition of the coconut cream. It’s a shame that it was the first dish to come because nothing much could compare; this was definitely one of my favourite dishes of the night.IMG_7544.JPGIMG_7545.JPGBeef tartare, pink peppercorn, pickled cucumber, fried egg puree, sweet potato crisp. I wouldn’t have chosen this one personally, but I’m really glad that someone did. The crispy sweet potato acted like a sandwich cover and made it much easier to eat in a few simple bites. You wouldn’t have thought that it was raw meat; dishes like this goes to show that you should try something new and you might be pleasantly surprised.IMG_7548.JPGIMG_7549.JPGIMG_7552.JPGBeef short rib dumpling, preserved lemon, shiitake mushroom, star anise broth (one serve 4 pieces). The filling was very tender and almost like a pulled beef. I was impressed with the size of the dumpling, how thin the wrapper was and the addition of the star anise broth gave it the sauce that it needed to not dry out.IMG_7555.JPGSpiced pork jowl, pan cake, pickled white peach, cucumber, negi. This was oily, potato-ey and salty but I loved every bite. The white peach gave it a sweetness and crunch that helped with the oilyness and it reminded me of my Mum’s potato scallop when I used to wedge it into my hamburger.IMG_7557.JPGIMG_7558.JPGPork belly bao, char sui, asian slaw (one bun per person). This was one of TimmyC’s favourite dishes but I didn’t like it as much. I thought that the filling should maybe have been more uniform across the bun (maybe a wide slice rather than little thick pieces) as there were some mouthfuls that had zero filling and the bun wasn’t as white and fluffy to what I’m used to. The sauce on the pork was salty but well balanced by the asian slaw.IMG_7561.JPGIMG_7563.JPGA closer look of the inside of the bao.IMG_7564.JPGUntil this point, food was coming thick and fast from the kitchen, but they finally must have hit a breaking point because it was a loooooooong time before our last dish arrived. We didn’t mind as we were happily conversing but eventually our chicken arrived.IMG_7543.JPGJ.F.C., lemon braised onions, parmesan (one serving 4 pieces). J.F.C stands for ‘Japanese Fried Chicken’ and as soon as we found that out, it definitely made it to our top 6 dishes. I found it a little disappointing that they didn’t take it to another level like the other dishes and it was actually in fact… Just fried chicken.IMG_7567.JPGHaving two keen bean foodies on the table, it was no surprise that we wanted to order more dishes outside of our 6 free ones; it was for multiple reasons: 1) we wanted to suss out the prices of the meals 2) we wanted to try more from the menu and 3) we weren’t really full from the food so far. We asked our designated waiter how much the dishes were before we ordered them and he came back with the answer of ‘keep it hush hush but if you order two more dishes we’ll also give them to you free’, which really didn’t help us with our first point but we were happy enough to order another two.

There was another long wait before we got our final two savoury dishes and our very kind waiter was profusely apologetic but we didn’t mind at all as we were still happily talking. They gave us an additional complimentary serving of beef short rib dumplings as an apology for the slow kitchen and not long after, our dishes arrived.

It was starting to get really busy inside Akiba.IMG_7569.JPGBeef short rib, tamarind caramel, thai basil (one serve). This was so tender that I’m pretty sure if I sneezed it would have fallen apart. A big chunk of meat that super tender with great savoury flavours.IMG_7611.JPGSoft shell crab bao, pickled baby gem, creamy ponzu (one bun per person). I think in their haste they forgot the creamy ponzu and it definitely needed it. I don’t think I’m in love with their bun because I’ve had better but the soft shell crab itself was crunchy, had a nice meaty component (not just all the crispy legs) and was seasoned well.IMG_7613.JPGThere wasn’t much on one side of my bun.IMG_7616.JPGDessert~ They were giving us a special discount price of $8.00 each but they were unable to tell us how much the desserts would be charged after the official opening.

Chocolate tart, pickled strawberry. There were two parts of the chocolate tart: the hard part which tasted like solid chocolate and a soft velvety part which had delicious caramel coffee notes that everyone wanted to end on.IMG_7621.JPGTofu cheese cake, anzac crumb, pandan jelly. Don’t be put off by the tofu in the cheesecake, it is more for the texture. As non picturesque as it is (comparatively), I really enjoyed it, it was light on the palette and you could really taste the pandan in the jelly; it was a very small serve though. Between the two desserts though, I would probably prefer the chocolate tart because of soft velvety component.IMG_7620.JPGI thought stomach wise, I was just on the borderline of being content but the longer I sat there afterwards, the ‘fuller’ I felt, but admittedly that was after sharing NINE savoury dishes and a dessert. Maybe if you don’t go from brunch straight to dinner (or eat like a normal person), you’ll require less food.

I would like to thank the lovely Eileen (The Food Avenue) so so so much for letting me hijack her table and allowing me to order more food than if it was TimmyC and I (he is useless).

The restaurant sits 152 patrons with outdoor seating eventually to come with another 60 person capacity.

I wouldn’t have minded to sit in a booth; my bum was feeling a little sore after sitting on stools for over two hours.IMG_7626.JPG

IMG_7628.JPGI really liked the food here, despite a few hiccups which is to be expected during the opening of a new restaurant. Akiba has an exciting menu with lots of variations; I will be returning very shortly and I will be keen to find out some prices.

Venue: Akiba

Address: 40 Bunda Street, Civic ACT 2600

Website: http://www.akiba.com.au/

Opening: The official opening is Monday (8th Dec) night. They envisage being open 7 days a week for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The kitchen will close around 10 ish and the place will transition into a bar serving interesting cocktails until early hours of the morning.
Akiba on Urbanspoon

Enlighten Night Noodle Markets is heading to Canberra

I shared this to my FaceBook page, but for those who missed out on the news:

Enlighten Night Noodle Markets is heading to Canberra

Save the date now for the much anticipated Enlighten Night Noodle Markets, launching in the ACT from February 27 – March 8, 2015. Expect an exciting array of Asian-inspired dishes, themed bars, music and heaps of atmosphere, all amid the spectacle of lights that is Enlighten. Restaurants interested in participating can register here.

Chinese Kitchen Dumpling House

It is very rare that I get a chance to meet up with TimmyC for lunch during the work week but we made a date and I suggested dumplings (outside of a Tuesday!), I used this opportunity to meet him at the Chinese Kitchen Dumpling House as we have not been since their renovation.

I was running a little late as every man and his dog decided to also go to Woden Westfield and circulate around the car park during Friday lunch time. TimmyC chose a table on the outside which I preferred for photo lighting reasons, the inside decor looked very ‘old world Chinese’ but a little dark, crowded and noisy.IMG_6704.JPGThe wait for service didn’t take long (it probably took longer to decide what to order) and after we ordered, drinks promptly followed. The first serving timing was super fast! Our rice with two BBQed meats was the first to arrive. It would have been annoying if two people who weren’t sharing the meal received their meals with such a time difference (we had almost finished the rice before the first set of dumplings came out), but we did request that whatever food was ready for it to come out ASAP. IMG_6703.JPGTwo mixed BBQ plate with rice (Roast Pork and BBQ duck). I like this combination as it allows you to pick your favourite two BBQed meats accompanied with rice and some vegetables. I love eating the rice with the sweet soy sauce that usually comes with BBQed meats. I really liked their BBQed duck, after all Chinese Kitchen has been doing this for years so I knew they had their skills down pat, it was just a bit disappointing that the roast pork pieces are chopped so small, I don’t know if it is to give the illusion to make it look like more.IMG_6709.JPGPan fried pork and chives dumplings (15 pieces $13.80). I knew the dumplings would be small so I had no qualms that we couldn’t finish it between the both of us. They came out super hot which was not great for my over enthusiastic mouth. I really liked their crispy pan-fried bottoms but I think I prefer my dumplings to be bigger.IMG_6714.JPGShang Hai steamed pork bun (10 pieces $14.80). The steamed pork buns were not perfect but definitely in the top few that I’ve had in Canberra. It also came out very hot but because there is a little ‘soup’ that develops inside it, it probably burns you even more. The meat filling tasted okay although I think you could never go wrong with pork. I had to ask for soy sauce and vinegar which confused me a little as it is essential to dumpling eating, although I was disappointed when the vinegar had the colour of Apple cider vinegar when it should look red, so I stuck with the soy sauce for my dipping. I also would have preferred a Chinese spoon to eat these properly.IMG_6712.JPGThe trick is to nibble an air hole to allow the dumpling to cool a little before consumption but all without losing the essential ‘soup’ inside, hence why a Chinese spoon would have been handy.IMG_6715.JPGI didn’t get to try much from the menu but I tried the essentials: bbqed meats which was always their specialty before the refurbishment and also their dumplings which is something new to them and they have concentrated more on after finding the demand was high in Canberra. I thought the service was fast and attentive before we received all our food, but if you wanted anything else after that (like sauce or spoons), you really had to wave your arm off before someone would come and attend to you.

Venue: Chinese Kitchen Dumpling House

Address: Corinna St Woden, ACT

Phone: 02 6260 4888

Chinese Kitchen Dumpling House on Urbanspoon