Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Red Cup Cafe


Those who stay in Eastern suburb especially Doncaster, Doncaster East, Box Hill, Nunawading, Donvale will know it's pretty hard to find a decent cafe for breakky without venturing too far. I'm quite familiar with the area partly because my work office used to be along whitehorse road and presently staying that area.

When I 1st spotted Red Cup Cafe, I was pretty happy as it looked promising. A bright red vespa parked out at the front of the shop daily. I take that as a indication that's it's open for the day business.
I had never managed to step into the cafe and give it a try as I always ended up with Asian breakky as Box Hill had so much to offer. Finally last week, Mr. and me decided to have a go. Never try, never know attitude.

The cafe was pretty packed considering it was on a Friday morning. Mr. had his usual cappuccino and me soy cappuccino which I didn't remember to take any picture. Nothing special just a ordinary cup of coffee.

While deciding what to have, we both did notice the price of each dish was rather high. At least $16+ for a plate of breakfast from memory.
Mr had Mushroon, Feta with Onion Jam on Toast - Onion Jam made the dish very sweet which was nice. Mushroom was pretty well cooked, still juicy. Main star of this dish was definitely the jam.
I had Smoked Salmon with Spinach and Poached Egg on Crumpet - not sure what I was expecting but when I saw the dish, was kinda of disappointed. Charging $18+ for such a small serve. Lucky it had more than a slice of smoked salmon.

We were even more shocked when we paid the bill. Coffee cost us $4.20! $0.50 more for soy. $4.70 for a cup of coffee!!!! That's the most expensive coffee I had in Melbourne!!!! OMG. Spend almost $50 to give this cafe a chance but definitely not going back. Guess I'm to naive to think that it will be nice and reasonable by looking at the crowd. People who eat there must be pretty rich/desperate! I will either continue to stick to Asian breakky or do a bit of drive to nearby surburbs.

Where is the most expensive coffee you had? And how much was it?
Red Cup Cafe on Urbanspoon

Friday, 17 June 2011

Two Asian Kitchens by Adam Liaw

I wasn't into Masterchef from the 1st season and never got suck into the 2nd either. Did watch a bit on the 3rd while having dinner for the past few weeks but can't say I enjoying it or not. Too much drama, too much crying. Let's just says it's a ok dinner table program for the moment.
I got very curious after all the fuss on twitter when Adam Liaw's 1st cookbook was out available on the shelves. I hadn't add any new addition cookbook onto my collection for quite a while and was keen to go thru the recipes in this cookbook. When I finally managed to find 1 in Big W, I bought it. It was the cheapest I can find at Doncaster Westfield. Plus we do love Singapore/Malaysia/Japan style food. Majority of our meals are Asian cuisine so do see myself using the recipes more than the rest of the cookbooks I owned. Maybe? Or just another excuses???

The 1st dish I tried was Fire Chicken (bul dak).
Fire ChickenAdam Liaw

I did change the recipe slightly as my pantry didn't have some of the ingredients and I could find any nashi pear and was too late to try pop into a Oriental supermarket to get some nashi pear. I also tone down the spiciness just in case. The amount stated in the recipe seem to be too much for both of us to handle.

Differences in my version of Fire Chicken
  1. I had some chicken drumstick in the freezer so decided to use them instead of whole chicken. Too lazy to chop the whole chicken up into pieces.
  2. Ran out of sake (no idea how did that happen as I'm always well stocked). Never bought korean rice wine before so I substitute with japanese rice wine which I found in the pantry. What's the different? Honestly totally clueless.
  3. I used korean corn syrup instead of honey/rice malt syrup/mul yut (korean malt syrup). Assuming this is a korean style dish can't go wrong substituting ingredients with korean stuff right?
  4. To ensure the dish is not going to be too spicy, instead of using 3 tbsp of chilli powder, I used 2. Skipped the red birds eye chillies.
  5. I do know korean like to use nashi pear for sweetness when marinating meat. I'm guessing nashi pear acts the same in this recipe. Since I can't find any, I replaced it with onion. Adam told me on twitter that apple should do the job as well. Why didn't that occur to me?? hmmmm.
This recipe is a keeper for me. Both of us enjoyed the dish. Reducing the amount of chilli into this dish was a smart call because this dish was still a bit too spicy to have it on it's own. But great having it with white rice.

2nd dish I tried was Seafood Char Kway Teow.
Seafood Char Kway TeowAdam Liaw

This time round, I sticked to the recipe especially on the sauce. Did use my own version of chicken stock. Stir-frying this dish using a cast iron wok brings so much wok-hei flavour to the dish. With my homemade chilli paste, it taste even better than some of the others sold in restaurant. 

3rd dish I tried was Beef Rendang.

This dish was my contribution for the Adam Liaw Cookbook Feast which was orgainsed together with a few friends. Each of us was to pick a dish from the cookbook, prepared it and eat it together. Great idea especially able to test out a few recipes in 1 sitting.

Additional dishes we had for the night:
  1. Black Hokkien Noodles
  2. Nasi Lemak
  3. Green Tea and Pea Corquettes.
  4. Mango Pudding
  5. Pearl Pudding
  6. Nine Layer Cake (Kuih Lapis)
I'm not going to include the above mention dishes as I'm not the one who prepared it. Not sure did they stick to the recipe or not.

I did try to stick to the recipe on this dish as well. Might had added a bit too much turmeric for the base paste. As there's a few friends who can't take spicy food at all, I decreased the number of red birds-eye chillies from 6 to 4.

The beef was so soft and melts in the mouth after the long duration of cooking. It smells fantastic guessing because of coconut but it wasn't as flavoursome. Something was missing but I can't pinpoint what it was.

The 4th dish I tried till present was Black Belly.

I was suprised how simple and easy this dish was. Very nice caramelisation on the pork which I like.Mr. loved it too.

The 5th dish I tried was Gong Bao Chicken which I can't find a picture off!!! ARGH!!!
As usual, I decreased the amount of dried chillies but I will increase the amount of sichuan peppercorn next time I cook this dish. I prefered to have cashew nuts in my Gong Bao Chicken so I replace peanuts with cashew nuts. But as for the sauce, it was much taster than off the shelves bottles ones.

Just remembered, I also did the Chilli and Garlic Oil which I didn't take any picture. It was spicy and serving it together with my egg noddles.

I did make full use of this cookbook right?

Monday, 13 June 2011

En Izakaya

It's a long weekend in Melbourne but Mr being working night shift since Friday.
"Let's head out for dinner tonight" was what he said when he got home this morning. He was planning to try out Melbourne new hot spot Chin Chin and in order to make sure we get a seat, he planned to arrive at 4pm even though it open at 5pm! But we didn't manage to leave home till 5pm due to some car issue. Got to change the plan last minute as it's pretty slim in getting a table straight without waiting.

As we aren't keen on steak as we had Culter & Co. lined up next weekend, decided to go for Japanese and started web surfing for a new spot to try. Came upon an article on Agenda "Top 5 for Japanese" and we picked En Izakaya partly it's not located in the city. Felt we had higher chance of getting a table and guess we were right.

When we arrived at 7pm, the place was less than half filled. But gradually it was fully packed as the night goes on. Did notice the crowd was made up of majority matured locals.

We started the dinner with Miso Soup with Tuna and Tofu. Didn't managed to take a reasonable picture of this dish. The tuna pieces were fresh and firm. Soup wasn't too saltish too.

Next was A selection of salmon sushi. The sushi was very well cooked and seasoned. It was sweet and not over sour. The seaweed was still crispy which also indicate it was freshly made  and rice wasn't wet which prevent the seaweed from turning soggy.

We also ordered a bowl of rice each and were disappointed it wasn't short gain Japanese rice. Considering the price they charged, we felt it was pricy.

Japanese Izakaya-Balaclava
Braised free range Otway pork belly flavoured with soy, mirin & honey - then flamed
The gravy was really sweet, full of honey. But the meat was so soft and it just melts in the mouth. I did enjoy this dish considering I'm not really a pork person.

South Australian Coffin Bay oysters served natural and tempura battered

South Australian Coffin Bay oysters served natural and tempura batteredJapanese Izakaya-Balaclava
Very nicely executed, I can still taste the sea even though it was seasoned.

South Australian Coffin Bay oysters served natural and tempura batteredJapanese Izakaya-Balaclava
Nothing amazing but it didn't feel oily even though it was deep fried. Majority of the dish almost all came at the same time. Table even ran out of space to fit in all the last dish. We both were busy taking photos and tasting. By the time we had this dish, batter had gone a bit soggy.

Soba noodles marinated in a cold soy & mirin broth- with wasabi coated cucumber, zucchini & tomatoJapanese Izakaya-Balaclava
Soba noodles marinated in a cold soy & mirin broth - with wasabi coated cucumber, zucchini & tomato. This is a dish perfect for summer as it's served cold and taste very refreshing. Wasabi wasn't strong, was totally opposite. I would loved stronger and more wasabi. Come summer, I will definitely try to re-create this dish in my own kitchen.

Queensland spanner crab omelette with shiitake and shimeji mushrooms
Omelette was nicely done, still slightly soggy on the inside with chunks of spanner crab meat and mushrooms hidden inside.

Thinly sliced grade 9+ wagyu beef blade flamed and served on wasabi coated silk tofu
This was the dish of the night. Wasabi was very lightly coated on the tofu. Wagyu beef was very thinly sliced, lightly seasoned and cooked. Beef was still soft and not chewy. The combination just works.

Our tummy could fit in more after all the above dishes and got the waitress recommended  Seared momen tofu and miso infused eggplant oven baked as the final dish for the night.
The tofu was deep fried, crispy on the outside but silky soft on the inside. Did felt there was too much miso coated on the tofu. Egg plant was soft, creamy with the skin still intact.

They had two desserts for selection and we decided to order one each. There's always space for dessert + dessert is another compartment in the tummy.

Red bean dessert Japanese Izakaya-Balaclava
Soy Panna Cotta with Red Bean
This was the preferred dessert out of the two. We were trying to figure out what was actually the white strip looking ingredient but was totally clueless! Did an enquiry and found out it was actually a kind of japanese vegetable like white radish. Not very sure it was the original taste or it was pickled. Panna Cotta was soft, Red Bean was sweet and Vegetable was slightly crunchy and sour. I actually enjoy it and finished more than half by myself.

Green Tea and Banana Ice Cream
Can't really taste the Green Tea as the Banana as overpowering. Still trying to figure is it banana essence or real whole banana was used in this dessert. But did taste slight sourness in between the banana so maybe lime as well?

Felt this was a more modern style of Japanese food. Not something which we usually go for as both of us preferred more traditional Japanese etc sashimi and sushi. But we still enjoy tonight dinner a lot.

En Izakaya on Urbanspoon

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Rockpool Revisit

Our virgin dining experience at Rockpool happened 2 years ago and was lovely which I never get around to write about it. My folks were in town a month before my Big 3 and I decided to celebrate it early by bringing them to Rockpool. Daddy who don't usually eat steak enjoy it so much and Mr. just fell in love with David Blackmore full blood wagyu.

3 weeks ago, we celebrated Mr. birthday at Rockpool and he finally got his hand on his favourite steak. This dinner was planned and reservation made months ago. All 3 of us being looking forward to it for the whole week. We even started studying the menu online.




We started the dinner with Sourdough Bread which I love. Love it even more when it's serve warm. I could easily eat a few more slices but got to leave more space for all the good food coming up.

Since there were 3 of us, we ordered 3 Entrees. 1 Pasta, 1 Cold Bar and 1 Hot Starter.

Pasta : Hand Cut Linguini with Spanner Crab and Spicy Prawn Oil
Slightly sour, strong aromatic from kaffir lime leaves, fresh spanner crab, al dente linguini. How do you not able to fall in love with this pasta dish?

Cold Bar : Crudo of Hiramasa Kingfish, Ocean Trout, Blue Fin Tune and Coorong Yellow Eyed Mullet with Horseradish, Coriander, Lime and Lemon Flavoured Oil
Fresh, Fresh, Fresh.

Hot Starter : Wood Fire Grilled Quail with Smoked Tomatoes and Black Olives
The quail was very nicely cooked. I was surprised how juicy it was when I cut into it.

For the main, we had 3 different steaks. Mishima, Ranger Valley Dry Aged and David Blackmore Full Blood Wagyu.


They were very attentive. The kitchen had all the 3 steaks pre-cut before serving to us as they knew we will be  The steak was also served in a very hot plate. All 3 different cuts, 3 different breeds, same cooking method and 3 different taste. Having all side by side helps identifying which 1 we prefer. All melts in the mouth!


We also ordered an additional main after our entree as we felt we could take in more. We chosen Spicy Mussels and Saffron Stew with Wood Fire Grilled Seafood and Aioli.

Seafood were fresh, not overpowering saffron. Serving with toast enable us to soak up the stew and enjoy it without missing a single drop.

Couldn't resist ordering Onion Rings for side. OMG it's the best onion ring I have so far! Even though it was deep fried, it wasn't oily. It was very fluffy, crunchy and crispy on the outside. Rockpool onion rings win Maze onion rings hand down!!

After dinner, it's dessert time!!! Mr. had coffee while the two gals had tea.

Love the tea set especially the tea cup. It's double layered.

DSC05396 We were also served caramel popcorn.

We had 2 desserts to share. Creme Caramel and Passionfruit Pavlova. Surprisingly all 3 of us enjoyed the Passionfruit Pavlova more than Creme Caramel. Pavlova was light and fluffy. Both desserts were massive and we couldn't finish it at all.



It was a lovely night catching up with fantastic food. But service was a bit let down. It was my 1st time being served by an asian in a fine dining restaurant. I'm not being racist as I'm an asian myself. But throughout the whole dining, can't helped being felt she was rushing us to finish the meal and leave. She spoke so fast that all of us can't even get what's the special for the day. When we asked for a glass of hot water after dessert, can't helped but felt she's irritated by the way she answered us. Previously dining service was definitely a lot more professional.

Would I return, oh yes! Maybe next year on Mr. birthday?

Rockpool Bar and Grill on Urbanspoon