Saturday, February 19, 2011

Red Lantern

Luke Nguyen

Of late, I dined at Red Lantern - 2nd experience after (4) years? I want to believe that my taste has changed over the years, however I actually think Luke Nguyen is not as good as he used to be and that his tv shows and books are just a publicity maneuver to rack in more $$$$

Check out one of his video shown on SBS and lifestyle channel:

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying it's terribly bad, however his claim to authenticate his food and to accentuate the Vietnamese flavours is rather ambitious. Although his menu offers some beloved popular Vietnamese "home-cook" dish; as a Vietnamese growing up in a masterchef dome, I'd rather save the money and eat at home.

And my favourite chef in the whole wide world, my sister, claims to be better than Luke Nguyen- after that night, I confirm her claim :)

Nonetheless, I do recommend Red Lantern as a restaurant of choice for something different, it's affordable and the tasting menu has enough food to feed 10+ people, perfect venue for your next birthday dinner! The duck shredded cabbage salad is a MUST try!

Organic Gundooee Wagyu beef brisket braised in tomato with cinnamon, cassia bark and star anise

Line caught Blue Eye Trevalla poached in an aromatic prawn, tomato and coconut broth

Lightly battered chilli salted squid

Master stock chicken and jelly fish salad with fresh shredded cabbage and Vietnamese mint > THIS was delish! Best dish oft he night!

Soft rice paper rolled with roast duck, enoki mushrooms and fresh Vietnamese herbs

Large Black Berkshire Cross pork shoulder caramelized with lemongrass, chilli and shrimp paste. Served in a clay pot with Asian vegetables

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Lunar New Year

Also known as Chinese New Year

Okay I know I know, I'm starting to run out of lament excuses for not blogging. Sincere apologies, I've probably just been too busy eating and not bothering blogging about it afterward...

Kidding! We've been attacked by a heat wave (yes, it's so dramatic, I'd rather be attack by aliens), the heat was extremely unbearable that I just cannot sit in front of my computer and type away...

ALSO, as most of you Asians, or have Asians affiliations or living in a multicultural country such as Australia amongst thousands of Asians, you are probably aware that this weekend was Lunar New Year, or more popularly known as "Chinese" New Year as China is the mother country of most Asian countries and some Asian countries are prehistorically of Chinese ancestral background!
Whatever, point is, not only Chinese celebrates this special new year, any country going by the Lunar calendar celebrates this tradition, such as Vietnamese culture.

When I (and probably 99% of young kids) used to look forward to LNY, it was all about the red pockets we'd receive from our parents, uncles and aunties, family friends etc
Of course, it wouldn't be an Asian fiesta without FOOD!!!

In Vietnamese culture, we'd eat a massive feast from NYE and this would continue until sometimes about the 10th day into the new year. Typically, NYE would be dinner with family on one side, say, your Mother's side. Then on the 1st (NY day) we would go to the other side of the family, say your father's side etc
There are special dishes that we'd only get on NY, so it's very special and worth the wait!

I had so much food this weekend that I can't even begin to share all the food on this blog, so enjoy a few snapshots taken below because as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words, no need spam this page with the 1000000+ dishes I had during this wonderful festive season!

Happy New year :)

x -C

Friday, January 28, 2011

ARIA - Matt Moran

Apologies for extremely lack of posting. My excuse? THE TENNIS!!! I'm not even going to get started on the devastating results boo hoo hoo

Anyway last Friday, my boyfriend took me to Aria for his birthday. Yes, you heard right.

Tasting menu this time is a lot better- so this will just be quick review/overview of that particular experience:

7 course seasonal tasting menu $160 per person:

1. Salmon - cured New Zealand salmon with kombu and Earl Grey tea, yuzu tapioca and avocado purée

2. Ballotine - of smoked ham, foie gras, mushroom and chicken with a mustard salad and a pickled cucumber, caper and tarragon dressing

3. Scallops - spiced and roasted with a salad of heirloom carrots, young coconut and a coriander and yoghurt dressing

4. Peking Duck Consomme - with dumplings, shaved abalone and mushrooms

5. Pork Belly - Kurobuta sweet pork belly with pickled watermelon and crackling

6. Lamb - roasted lamb fillet with confit belly, eggplant purée, tomato and basil fondue and a black olive sauce

7. Pavlova - with black cherries, tonka bean cream and a pistachio sorbet

Food- 6.5/10
Ambience- 6/10
Service- 7/10

Conclusion, it's okay to dine here once every couple years, only when there's a new tasting menu. It's an affordable place with a semi romance-esque feel to it (anywhere with dim lighting and a view can give you this feeling).

x -C

Friday, January 14, 2011

The Pork Roll

More commonly identified with Vietnamese culture than its own flag!

It never cease to amaze me what we take for granted - it's true, we always want what we don't have and when we own it and it's easily obtainable, we take it for granted and don't appreciate the the value.

Yes- my undervalued subject in this case is the famous Vietnamese Pork Roll!!!

When my friends from Perth was in Sydney (Cabramatta) last time, they both bought 2 x pork rolls each because in Perth, with such a small Asian community (or lacking people altogether) they don't make these rolls fresh and are preserved in bags!
I was astonished to see such delight and happiness bestowed upon such a simple feed...
My non-Vietnamese friends always rave on about how much they crave and love this thing we refer to as the "pork roll".
I used to wonder what the big deal is - a pork roll to me is something I'd eat as a last resort when there is no food at home and is dead broke!

Until yesterday, when i actually "craved" for it that I realised what the fuss IS all about!

The common name for this is pork roll, however, through times, people have substituted the pork for other meat (meat balls - siu mai, Vietnamese ham - gio etc). Due to the high demand and popularity of the rolls, there have been an increase in bread shops and even patisseries which now stocks them (including the popular Taste cafe). Of course, these are just "spin offs" and if you want the best and the original, then head to a where a local Vietnamese would buy it from :)

I personally like mine with a lot of carrots and extra chilli!!! I miss how Bankstown used to offer a free grass jelly drink with every pork roll :(

x - C

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Healthy Option

Coles' Salad Bar
A creative innovation by Wendy Lin

I'm usually not one whom you should seek "healthy" advice from as I have been questioned once before: "oh my god how can you eat pizza for breakfast"?!!

Nonetheless, as I age and my body metabolism slows down and my body begins to deteriorate with age, I've came to a point where eating healthily (once in a while because taste always prevails) isn't so bad and have (of late) taken a liking to eating salads. My personal preference would be anything with baby spinach and rocket :)

I visited my friend at Broadway and upon my visit I came across an awesome discovery (unveiled by my good friend Wendy)- the Broadway Coles Salad Bar! Now I am specifically saying "Broadway" as I have checked out other Coles and there are no salad bars, well at least not the same as the one you'd find at Broadway Coles.

It is an amazing and clever concept which offers numerous choice of salads such as pasta salad, potato salad, cous cous, tabouli etc etc
How it works is that you choose a plastic container - go for the biggest one and choose from the variety of salads available - on top of my head I think there are more than 20?!
Then you weigh your container and the price depends on how much it weighs! They have it for $15 per kilo and between 3 girls we managed to walk away with 1.5k worth of salads! That, quote my friend Juri could potentially last someone a whole entire week! ;)

I highly recommend this and if you're ever around Broadway go check it out! It tastes great and is undeniably great value for money!!!

1.5kg worth of salad = we ate a s***load of salad!!!!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010


Lack of postings due Christmas...and the aftermath (rolling around on the floor because too fat to get up).

Seriously, Christmas is not the best time of the year because of the presents we receive nor the festivities. Christmas is the best of the year because it gives us a legitimate excuse to gain 5 pounds, or 10.

Christmas, prior to mainstreaming was a holiday associated with the birth of Jesus Christ, a celebration for Christianity.
Now, Christmas is more commonly associated with; Presents, Carols, Santa, Tree, decorations, lights, Turkey, BBQ, beach (Australia) so on and so forth.

Every year, families all over the world gather around to enjoy not only each others company, but also to indulge in a wonderful feast.

This year, unfortunately members of our family couldn't make it back for Christmas and thus only had a small gathering. Nonetheless we still had a wonderful meal (make that 10 + meals) on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
Below are some pictures taken of the food, I couldn't be bothered watermarking and making the rest of the food pics pretty so only uploading photos of food from Christmas Eve dinner @ Richards on the Park based in Canley Vale.

Richards on the Park:

Don't be fool by it's reputation of being a "pub", apart from your typical pub food, there's an Asian Kitchen whereby you can order all the dishes you typically would order in any other Vietnamese/Chinese Kitchen! The food is actually of good quality and food comes out pretty fast! A great place to go if you're hungry but also want good quality food!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Sir Stamford Circular Quay

Sir Stamford Circular Quay

Hotels, conventionally known for as a place which provides accommodation for tourists/travelers, lovers getaway, hot affairs one-night rendezvous and so on.
In recent times, hotels, especially 5-star properties are now also famous for their dining (food).

Take Radisson Plaza Hotel for example, the 5-star hotel which house the famous restaurant, Bilson's. Without fail, Bilson's make the Good Food Guide Australia's top 10 every year. Why? What makes Bilson's better than any other restaurant? Is it because of its famous chef (Tony Bilson)?

Here are a few other examples to joggle your mind; The Observatory Hotel's Galileo French Restaurant, Hilton's Glass Brasserie (fanous head chef Luke Mangan), Shangri La's Altitude, so on and so on.

So the question remains - WHAT MAKE THEM SO SPECIAL? HOW ARE THEIR PRICES JUSTIFIABLE? I've personally been to all of the above and one thing I am certain, I've tasted better modern Australian than Bilson's, I've had better French than Galileo, Glass is overrated and Altitude you're only paying for the view!

Which brings me to my point - the only reason these restaurants are "ranked" is due to their established household name made famous by their celebrity chef! Don't be fool by the name - you have to judge the food for what it's worth!

Sir Stamford Circular Quay:

A 5-star boutique hotel in the heart of Circular Quay, next to Intercontinental and down the road from Four Seasons, Park Hyatt, Sofitel Wentworth, Radisson Plaza and Shangri La - major competition right there! Without any biases, I will say that the only reason this hotel remains standing today amongst its more modern competitors is the fact that they maintain their "signature" Victorian Classic look (okay, so the only real main competition is the Observatory who's also going for the same vintage look).

Thus Sir Stamford is ranked highly for the best venue to have High tea due to it's romantic Victorian setting, it'll make you feel like rewinding 30 odd years back to the days where English women wore pretty dresses and hats on Sundays sipping tea and eating strawberry scones ;)

Anyway so I finally had the chance to dine here on Saturday night and ordered only an entree, a main and a dessert for myself (had to refrain from ordering the usual multiple entrees and mains). Please refer to pictures below for specific review of each dish.

All in all, a place highly recommended for staying; eating; high tea-ing :)

x- C

Dozen Pacific Oysters - half with roe and caviar

rating: 8/10 = fresh succulent juicy oysters, nothing beats yummy fresh juicy oysters!

Fish of the day (Barramundi) brushed with lemon butter served with golden kipfler potatoes with tomatoes and olives

rating: 6/10 = beautiful fish melts in your mouth, the only reason for the low rating is because I'm naturally not a fish person so consider this score good!

Souffle of the day - Passion fruit souffle with raspberry ice cream and pineapple

rating: 7/10 - this was delish! 2nd best souffle after Pier!!! YUMMMMMM hot from the oven, this masterpiece will melt on your tongue and have a party in your mouth!!!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Excellent Seafood Chinese Restaurant

Located in the heart of Carlingford Court is a reputable Chinese restaurant by the name of "Hou Hou"; in fobby English translation - Excellent.

Why does this place stand out amongst the zillions of Chinese restaurants in Sydney you ask?

Two words:

(actually it's glass noodles but vermicelli sounds a lot fancier) :)

So when you go to a Chinese restaurant, you can choose a crab and have it cooked any way - the three main ways to cook a crab would be: crab with shallots and XO, crab with tamarind (more Vietnamese than Chinese), salt and pepper crab and of course, Vermicelli crab (basically marinated crab with vermicelli noodles).

CRAB is my all time, ultimate, favourite food in the whole entire world - there is no way I would miss the opportunity of eating crabs for ANYTHING! I dream, i literally salivate by the thought of sucking the crab claws (yes, sad!). Therefore, I would allow myself to have the knowledge and authority to recommend this place and it's famous vermicelli crab! GO TRY IT NOW IF YOU HAVEN'T ALREADY! Allergies? Pffft for this? I'd rather suffer and have a lumpy face for a week! :)

Of course there are other great dishes the restaurant has to offer - I personally LOVE the chicken feet soup, the braised chinese mushrooms with bok choy and also the pork spare ribs!

Here are some photos from my recent visit:

Pork spare ribs


THE famous vermicelli crab as mentioned above

Peking Duck - the dough was too thick

the chicken feet soup - simply divine!


Monday, December 13, 2010

Healthy Option

Recipe by Christian Garcia:

"Tuna Salad"

- 1 Can of Sirena Chilli tuna
- Baby spinach - hand full
- Boiled sweet corn from the cob sliced off (up to you how much)
- Cherry or Grape tomatoes x5
- 1 Free Range Boiled Egg (i put 2 coz i just love eggs)
- 1 Baybel Cheese (i ran out of fresh fetta)
- Balsamic Vinegar

The taste is even better than it looks! An incredibly tasty meal that's good for you! What a nice change :)

X - C

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Masterchef Live!

The three judges came out in style - one in a Jaguar, one on a scooter and one on a bicycle (guess who's the clown?)

Marion and Adam - Marion, still as annoying as ever :)

Adriano Zumbo - don't like the man and his macaroons are overrated - there, i said it ;)

BEST-CHEESE-EVER!!! I died and went to cheese heaven!!! Stocking up some of these babies for Christmas!

The show overall was like any other food show (nowhere near as good as Good Food and Wine Show). You have your local produces, your organics, your chocolates, your seafood, your cupcakes, your wine, your cheese, your dips etc
Honestly, if I didn't score the tickets for free, I would say it's definitely not worth $77!!!

X- C