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. 😉

 

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

CBD Dumpling House dinner

Taking international guests around for a very disorganized dinner is never easy especially on a Friday night but when they mentioned they wanted dumplings with lots of variety, I knew exactly where to take them.

CBD dumpling house has been open for three weeks now, but I haven’t rushed out and try it as their menu is almost exactly the same as their sister restaurant Dickson dumpling house (see my ‘must have’ list here).20140215-095406.jpgWhen we went in around 9pm on a Friday night, it didn’t take long to get a table for 6 without a booking. Inside was bustling with patrons, busy kitchen hands and servers whizzing by with orders.20140215-095428.jpg

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20140215-095448.jpgWithout taking any chances, I ordered majority of things from my ‘must have’ list with only two new dishes that I haven’t tried before. The dishes come out exceptionally fast which we as why I was hesitant to order until all 6 of us had arrived. Food quickly filled our table and before I could put my camera down, plates were shuffled around to accommodate the next dish. It was very squishy and we had to conglomerate plates fast to allow reasonable space for our plate, bowl and glass.

Entree~

San choy bao (4 per serve $13.80). The duck san choy bao was very good coming out promptly in fresh lettuce cups and the filling wasn’t oily either. I love the crunch in these!20140215-095303.jpgPan fried dumplings pork and beef (12 pieces $10.80). In my opinion, dumplings are always better pan-fried (unless it’s a xiao long bao). There wasn’t too much taste difference between the pork and the beef, they were pan-fried crispy although some where borderline burnt. Make sure you grab the right sauce as one is Chinese vinegar and the other soy sauce (very different!). They are bite size pieces which was always my only ever gripe about these dumplings.

Pan fried pork dumplings.20140215-095356.jpgPan fried beef dumplings.20140215-095332.jpgMains~

Yu Xiang eggplant with pork mince hot pot ($13.80). Eggplant was oily which was expected and it was retained its heat long after the bubbles subsided. There wasn’t much flavour in the way of pork mince and chilli and I thought it was a bit sub par in comparison to the recent eggplant hot pots I’ve had at the Emperor Court Chinese Restaurant in Yarralumla and Tak Kee in Dickson .20140215-095341.jpgChilli basil prawns ($19.80). The prawns had poor timing as it was the first dishes to come out. By the time we did the food table shuffle each and every time a new dish arrived then eat the san choy bao, this dish was cold.  It was a little chilli but nothing overwhelming and even though it didn’t lack flavour, overall it wasn’t a great dish and definitely not worth the money.20140215-095321.jpgChar kwai teow ($13.80). They weren’t too stingy with the Chinese sausage and all ingredients were cooked perfectly.20140215-095311.jpgBeef fried rice noodle ($13.80). I didn’t expect it to have any chilli in this dish it but it apparently did and I unknowing gave it to my friend who was only slowly introducing chilli into his diet. His lips tingled and became a bit numb but he said it wasn’t too bad. This was a bit oilier than the char kway teow but I thought both were very good.20140215-095349.jpgGeorge Costanza review. Knowing that the restaurant isn’t really inside the mall, I was curious to see the state of their bathrooms. The restaurant has their own bathrooms which were renovated rather nicely with beautiful basins. The only confronting thing was they didn’t have a sanitary bin but rather a bin with no flap cover. :/

The CBD dumpling house is nice quick place to get noodles and dumplings especially when you’re in a rush/very hungry and depending on what you order, the meal can be quite affordable. I didn’t have any trouble with getting attention from the wait staff to get more water/more bowls/placing my order but that may be because I’m loud and persistent, I know my friends went the previous night and they said the service was terrible.

I’m still working on expanding my ‘must have’ list but neither if the two new dishes (eggplant and prawns) I tried will be making a reappearance.

Venue: CBD Dumpling House

Address: Shop FG 13C Canberra Centre, just up from PappaRich on the outside away from Koko Black

Phone: (02) 6262 8855 or (02) 6262 8866

CBD Dumpling House on Urbanspoon

 

** 29th March 2014**

I came here on last night and tried their ‘salt and pepper pork ribs’ which is a common dish but it was awfully salty and had a weird coating. I won’t be ordering that again.

:/

Koochi

I meet up with other food enthusiasts every two months, last time was ordering from the ‘48hrs advanced notice’ menu at Malaysian Chapter, this month was Afghan food at KoochiI had never eaten Afghan food before and I didn’t know what to expect but with a quick browse of the menu I could tell that they like eating lamb.

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The whole place was colourfully decorated with tradition clothing, lanterns, beautiful material and rugs.

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I am in love with this wall. The colours, the dried clay, the lanterns. It made me forget that I was in the G.

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Kabul style fresh homemade lemonade ($5.00). I don’t usually get beverages but since I was trying out a whole new cuisine, there had to be something I had never had before on their drinks menu.

The perfect amount of lemon sourness and sweetness and it was great that it wasn’t fizzy. I thought it was odd though that we ordered two lemonades and when my friend who had arrived late ordered one, they said that they had ran out so she ordered a fresh mint tea instead.

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Fresh mint tea ($4.50).

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Our famous Koochi tasting plate for 2’: Mantu, Chablee kabab, Tikah, Shamee, Chicken served with chutney and Afghani bread ($32).

Chutney and Afghani bread – the bread was served hot and delicious; the ‘chutney’ was very runny but had lots of spice, chili and coriander goodness.

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Chickenchargrilled chicken cubes, marinated in a heirloom secret recipe, lightly powdered with sumac. Could this be the most delicious tender chicken in Canberra? *drool*

Tikahchargrilled lamb cubes, marinated in a heirloom secret recipe, lightly powdered with sumac. A bit tougher than the chicken but still very good.

Shameechargrilled lamb mince, marinated in a heirloom secret recipe, lightly powdered with sumac. Although these were all marinated the same, the flavours and textures were very unique to each dish.

Mantulamb mince, herbs and spices and onion dumplings, topped with home-made yoghurt and dried mint. It had a nice thin layer of pastry which meant that there was a good pastry to filling ratio. The filling itself was little bit dry but luckily it was topped with yoghurt.

Chablee kabablightly fried lamb mince, tomato, capsicum patties mixed in herbs and spices. A great use of spices. Very different texture to the rest of the plate, felt almost like a Thai crab cake.

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A look inside the mantu.

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Kabulee Pallowlamb cubes, marinated in traditional Afghani korma, covered with Afghani rice, topped with sliced carrots, barberries and almonds ($26.00). I was amazed by all the vibrant colour that I almost forgot that there was very tender, very flavoursome lamb hiding in the rice. The lamb was very sporadic in the dish but I didn’t mind because the rice and extras could have held on its own.

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Sides~

Potato Korma ($6.50). It was ok, nothing special, the potato was very tender but because everything else surpassed all expectations, this in comparison was very mediocre.

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Borrani bonjonpan-fried eggplant, topped with tomato puree, onions, drizzled with yoghurt and dried mint ($8.00). I’m a sucker for eggplant so when my friends asked to have something different from all the meat, I was very keen to order this. Not much in the way of texture but the salty flavours from the eggplant, tomato puree and onions was soooo good especially when it was balanced by the yoghurt on top.

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Dessert~

I had my eye on a few desserts that I haven’t seen before but coincidentally the person who makes the desserts (every Monday and Friday) hadn’t come in to make them the previous day, so we had to go with ‘plan B’. image

Chef’s selectionselection of Beklawa mix, served with Afghani tea. Serving for two ($17.90). I wasn’t going to have the Afghani tea (you can choose either black or green) but they were nice enough to give us another cup so I could try. It had a lovely taste of cardamom and it was very refreshing from the syrups and sweetness of the dessert platter.

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A lot of nuts, syrups and textures but there wasn’t much difference between them all, my favourite was the baklava.

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Friendly attentive staff that wasn’t afraid to tell me that I wouldn’t be full after the ‘platter for 2’ and that’s why I ordered everything else (and then some). Although it seemed like I had eaten lamb in 5 ways, it was all so different, tasty and interesting. It just really proves that they know how to cook lamb! Oh and that chicken… You must try the chicken.

It is sad to see that this place isn’t very busy (I had walked past it again after visiting) considering it is a lot better than most of the surrounding restaurants. Don’t be afraid to try something different, it may surprise you and you’ll be left wondering why you didn’t try it sooner.

Venue: Koochi Cafe

AddressShop 33/46 Hibberson St Gungahlin place, Gungahlin, ACT 2612

Phone: (02) 6262 2341

Opening hours:

Monday 5pm – 9pm

Tues/Wed 11am – 9pm

Thurs/Fri 11am – 9:30pm

Saturday 10am – 9:30pm

Sunday 10am – 9pm

Closed between 2 – 5pm Monday-Friday

Koochi Afghan Cafe on Urbanspoon