Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Mother Chu's Taiwanese Gourmet, Haymarket (27th December 2011)

Ken and I caught up for another foodie adventure, this time heading to Mother Chu's Taiwanese Gourmet on Dixon St in Haymarket for lunch, a place I've been eyeing on for a while but have never been in. Always filled with Asian diners, we were quite lucky to be seated indoors within 5 minutes of arrival. The smell of oil from the heated wok permeated the entrance of the restaurant, cooks busy preparing "you tiao" (literal translation from Chinese for 'oil strip', the "you tiao" is a deep-fried strip of dough). Ah, reminds me of the smell from the stalls at the morning or night markets in Batu Pahat that sells them (we called it "you char kuay" in the local Hokkien dialect). Waitresses donned in black t-shirts, pants and bright orange aprons flitted from table to table - one showed us to our table, another came to wipe the table followed by yet another Chinese waitress who handed us the menu - too many of them! 

"So, what are we having today?" I asked Ken as we both flipped through the pages of the restaurant's extensive dog-eared menu. I had barely finished looking at the first page and a waitress turned up next to me asking if we were ready to order, in Mandarin. Ok, I know that I'm in a Taiwanese restaurant but this is Australia - one should not assume a Chinese-looking person to speak Mandarin (in fact, most Australians of Chinese descent actually do not speak any Mandarin and this is pretty obvious by the number of them in my Mandarin class). Interestingly, the waitress spoke only to me, not Ken. Am I really that more Chinese than him?? Ken's part Chinese too! Besides, the amount of Mandarin I know is not enough for me to order in the language anyway so I still had to speak to the waitress in English. We sent her away since Ken and I haven't decided what we wanted. "Ready to order?" said another waitress who popped over in the next minute. Now this is getting rather annoying - we haven't even had the chance to browse the menu yet felt pressured to put in our order quickly as we got interrupted by a waitress every 2-3 minutes. We eventually settled for a Combination Pig Intestines and Bean Curd for the entree and got mains of Fish Congee and Stir Fry Pork Noodles to share. "The waitresses should stop hassling us now that we've ordered," I thought to myself only to be given a small plastic box with the bill by the waitress who was expecting immediate payment. Sheesh...

Our food arrived shortly and I watched Ken in slight disgust as he helped himself to the thinly sliced braised pig intestines - Ken really wanted to order the dish and though I love to try new things, I'm not very big on offal but went along anyway. "Try a small piece," suggested Ken. Eee...I'm eating pig intestines...Surprisingly it was nicer than I expected. The sliced intestines had a soft and chewy texture, and tasted slightly peppery. The braised tofu makes a nice compliment to the dish though I found myself eating most of the tofu than the intestines (sorry Ken!). The fish congee, which was what I was really looking forward to turned out to be rather disappointing - it tasted as bland as it looked and we had to add in soy sauce and ground white pepper to give it flavour. The noodles were ok but nothing much to rave about. Looking around, I noticed most tables ordering noodle soups - perhaps we didn't order quite the right stuff. Overall, our food was alright and reasonably cheap (cost us around $20 all up) but the place lacks good service, ambience and food presentation. Hmm, might come back to try the "you tiao" another day...

Combination pig intestines and bean curd

Inside Mother Chu's Taiwanese Gourmet restaurant - always this busy!

Stir fry pork noodles and fish congee

Mother Chu's Taiwanese Gourmet Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Monday, 19 December 2011

Hair makeover at SP Cotis Hair & Beauty (19th December 2011)

Another rainy day here in Sydney - sigh, I moved from wet Wellington to what is supposed to be a sunnier city yet it seems to persistently rain here. I've not bought a new umbrella since the last one got binned and have been relying on the rain jacket I purchased in Sri Lanka to keep dry. Not working too well when it rains heavily :/ Like it or not, I needed to get (and get wet) to SP Cotis Hair & Beauty this evening as I've got a hair makeover appointment at 7pm. Just hope the rain would have stopped by the time I'm done at the salon!

Around 6.30pm, I arrived at the hair salon located on Clarence St. Shaking off most of the rain from my jacket and plastic bag covered backpack, I headed down the stairs to this basement shop. 
As I was early, I sat at the sofa and waited my turn, taking in the atmosphere of the place. Two hairdressers were busily tending to the four customers that were there - one getting a cut, another getting foils done and two others waiting for the hair highlight to 'process'. The salon was nothing like what I had expected. It was very basic, with no fancy design or furniture (the sofa I was sitting on probably came from the Salvation Army), making the place look more like a makeshift backstage area set up for movie sets. That said, I did only pay a mere $49 for a hair makeover which included a cut, half a head of foils, treatment, and a blow dry valued at $195 which I bought from GroupOn - for the price, this setting seemed about right though if the salon was trying to promote themselves via Groupon, they may wish to zush up the place. It doesn't look very warm or inviting...Photo taken from the sofa of the salon:

Around 7pm, the female hairdresser called me and I made my way to one of the rattan chairs where she has set up her mobile workstation. The hair makeover started with half a head of foils and I was shown a colour book of highlights choices to choose from. This was the first time I'm having foils done and frankly have no idea what to expect. I opted for a natural brown chestnut tone as I didn't want the highlights to be too obvious (in case it didn't suit my jet black hair). "Yes, I think a natural brown would be good for your dark hair," agreed the hairdresser and she started working on my hair. The foils were to be inserted between my hair along the top half of my head - my hair was separated in parts and a piece of foil was used to separate strands of hair which would be lightened. A lightener (a mix of hydrogen peroxide and dye pigment) was then applied to the strands using an applicator brush and the hair woven so that the whole strand fits into the foil which is then folded to protect the hair and surrounding area during the 'processing' time. The 'processing time' is what determines how light the strands would be (longer time, lighter colour). The size of the strands also affects the end result - the thicker they are, the more streaky the look. Watching the hairdresser working on my foils, the size of the strands looked small so it should be okay. Six foils on my head (generally the number of foils for a half head treatment) and I was left to wait for the dye to set in.

Some 40 minutes later, the other hairdresser (I think he's the senior hairdresser and owner) came to get me for my hair wash. Hmm, I like the head massage...pity it was brief and I was back in my seat, hair still dripping wet for my hair cut. The hairdresser took off quite a lot of the weight (yup, I've got lots of hair) by using the slicing technique on my hair. Ah, my head's so much lighter now! It felt however like a slightly haphazardly and hurried cut, snip-snip here and there, and the cut was done in less than 10 minutes. I was the last customer of the day and it was pretty obvious they wanted me to be on my way soon. I had both the hairdressers blow drying my hair, one tugging on each side of my head, the full service of the makeover completed within an hour. Definitely lack the personal touch and oh, they don't make you coffee or tea either. As I got ready to leave the salon, the senior hairdresser was explaining to me in great length that person who last cut my hair did a crappy job, getting rid of the weight using the thinning scissors which reduces weight at the ends thus making the ends look dry when in actual fact, my hair is strong and healthy. Right, I see...duly noted...

So, verdict of my hair makeover? It wasn't much of a makeover in the sense the length and cut were almost similar to previous, only I have a few highlights this time. On closer inspection in the mirror at home, the highlights weren't the chestnut brown I had asked for but a golden hue. I wonder if 40 minutes was too long to leave my hair in the dye mix which was how I ended up with such a colour (FYI: hydrogen peroxide is pretty potent and if you leave the dye for too long, you can lose that whole foil of hair). I guess I'll have to live with it for now :/ SP Cotis Hair & Beauty is the second hair salon I've tried in Sydney (the first was Soul Art Hair in Newtown) and neither of them provided the services I desire. I'm partly to blame because I went to them due to their cheap deals - cheap doesn't always guarantee quality style and service. I sure miss my hairdresser Kim from Cathy Davys in Wellington. Kim may be expensive and often lectures me for not styling my hair, she does a brilliant job and I always walk out happy. I'll just have to continue on my search for the right hairdresser. Oh hairdresser, hairdresser, where art thou? Photo of my new highlights:

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Harry Potter: The Exhibition (17th December 2011)

Today was Jono and my last Beginner's Level 1 Mandarin class - we have completed the course of 20-hour class time in the past 10 weeks and I have to say, we have done well. Though we vary in knowledge and skill level in the language (me more than Jono since I can understand and speak some of it), both of us learnt a lot in the class at our respective levels and pace. I was very pleased that by week 10, I was able to read the simple Chinese letter we were given in class today (though writing it would be a whole different story). Jono's progressing very well, often forming his own sentences by stringing together the words we learnt in class and saying it to me, occasionally not making any sense - in such instances, I would help correct it and he would try again. It's great that he's always willing to try - that's the first step in learning a new language. You need to attempt speaking it, however weird the accent may be or flow of words. It can only get better with time :)

Each week, we would walk to class in Ultimo from Central Station, passing by Powerhouse Museum that is currently home to the first Harry Potter: The Exhibition held in the southern hemisphere with Sydney being the only city in Australia to showcase the exhibition. Y
oung kids and teenagers would be seen exiting the museum with memorabilia such as wands, scarfs and posters, some even dressing up as characters from the movie. We have been putting off checking out the exhibition for weeks but decided to go after class this week since we won't be coming to Ultimo until class starts up again in the new year (yes, we are continuing our Mandarin lessons!). I had booked us two adult tickets earlier in the week to secure our entry to the exhibition today. Cost us $32 per person and I had to pick a time of entry - we had the 3.30pm slot which meant we must enter the exhibition between 3.30 - 3.55pm. Having an allocated time slot is a great way of staggering the number of visitors to the exhibition so that it doesn't get too crowded and visitors get more enjoyment of their visit.

We headed to the museum after our class and went straight to the queue for our entry session. There were already a few people lining up ahead us from different age groups, all very excited to see what lies behind the dark curtains. Once the staff gathered enough people for our session, we were ushered into the waiting area where we were met by another staff dressed like a Hogwarts professor, welcoming us to the famous School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in her British accent (she was totally in character). "Who wants to try out the Sorting Hat?" asked the professor and several eager hands shot up in the air. If you recalled from the movie, the Sorting Hat is an old and battered talking hat that magically determines which one of the four School houses the new student goes to - here, the selected visitor would first be asked which School is their favourite as they take their seat on the stool, then the Sorting Hat takes a bit of time to consider its choice before announcing aloud its final decision. "Gryffindor!" exclaimed the Sorting Hat, and the audience applauded at the little boy who looked so pleased with the outcome. Of course, this was all orchestrated - whatever the favourite house the visitor said at the start would most definitely be the house selected by the Sorting Hat. Not so much magic for the average adult but still, it was rather entertaining watching the kids enjoying themselves.

We were then told to walk through the huge doors that led us into a small dark room with several screens - with the doors closed behind us, the lights were dimmed and the screens lit up with a short movie of clips from the various Harry Potter films, a good refresher for those who may have forgotten what happened all those years Harry and his friends spent at Hogwarts and fighting Voldemort and his Death Eaters. When the movie ended, the lights came back on and we were ushered by the friendly museum staff to enter the Gryffindor common room at our leisure. Iconic items including Harry Potter's wand and glasses, the Gryffindor school uniforms, Buckbeak the Hippogriff, the fierce head of the Hungarian Horntail Dragon, Quidditch accessories including the Golden Snitch and even the Nimbus 2000 flying broom can be found on display in the exhibition. Jono and I took our time checking out the exhibits, stopping to take a close look at some that were so intricately designed. "Come look at this!" I called out to Jono and we both laughed looking at the Fat Lady portrait - she was trying to break a crystal glass by singing but after several failed attempts, she speedily broke the glass by smashing it and went back to her singing position, smiling at her pretend success. It was hilarious! Several of the paintings found in the exhibition were 'alive', the figures in the painting were moving, just like the ones seen in the movies :)

There were a few interactive displays found in the exhibition. We got to pull a baby Mandrake (a plant with roots that look like a human) out from the pot as seen in Harry's Herbology class - these Mandrakes scream when unearthed (whiny little things). We also had a go at tossing the Quaffle ball through the goal hoops, as well as go inside Hagrid's Hut and took a seat on his giant chair. Remember that Hagrid is a half-giant so all the furniture and many other items in his home were over-sized - his chair comfortably fitted both of us! I was a bit startled by the rumbling sounds coming from the dinner table. The large dragon egg looks like it is about to hatch...
The exhibition also featured costumes and wands of the Death Eaters, the Horcruxes and a Dementor that hung from the ceiling - a fan was blowing underneath the Dementor, making it look quite real and rather eerie. I think I'm going to move on...We continued on into the Great Hall at Hogwarts lit by thousands of candles floating above the room and a ceiling that looked like the sky, yummy goodies from the feast laid out on the dining table. I really enjoyed the exhibition and thought it was very cleverly put together, how the different scenes were set out with matching background and walls, allowing visitors to experience being in the scenes as seen in the Harry Potter films. Pity no photography was allowed - it would have been awesome! With hundreds of authentic props, costumes and artifacts from all of the films featured, this is an exhibition you don't want to miss, especially for you Harry Potter fans. The travelling exhibition runs from 19th November 2011 - 8th March 2012 in Sydney so be in quick before it's over!

As we exited the exhibition, the figures in the paintings on the wall applauded and congratulated us on completing our tour. Into Diagon Alley (wizards' shopping destination) we went where Muggles (those of us without magical powers) can pick up memorabilia including wands, souvenir T-shirts, house scarfs and Bertie Bott's Every Flavour Beans (we bought 2 boxes). At $5 per box, it was pretty steep but the flavours looked highly interesting - Earwax, Dirt, Grass, Bogey were some of them. Sounds pretty weird to me...We decided to try a few on our way home, randomly picking a reddish-coloured bean and having half the bean each. We chewed into the candy and looked at each other's face and expression, bursting into peals of laughter (the security guard probably thought we were crazy, laughing so much about candy). "THAT tasted a lot like dirt," I said, and Jono agreed that it was probably Dirt or Earthworm. Bleah. We tried another bean, this time a bright orange one that was supposed to be Vomit. Oh my god! We laughed so hard we had tears coming out of our eyes - it was ABSOLUTELY disgusting and brought back all those times we ever puked! How on earth do they make beans that taste so much like the real thing??? We were both very impressed with the accuracy in flavour though urgh, really need something nice to rid this vomit taste so we had the Watermelon to sweeten things up. Only half a Vomit bean and it was vile - I can't imagine having the whole bean! Yuck!! Photo of our 
Bertie Bott's Every Flavour Beans in its box:

We headed home around 5pm, had some afternoon tea and tried more beans. Couldn't help it - we were curious! We had Sausage, Dirt and Lemon this time, and no doubt they got the taste right. It seems we always needed a nice one to wash off those beans with weird flavours. Several others I'm keen to try include Earwax, Bogey, Soap and Pepper. Oh, and maybe Rotten Egg though if Vomit was that accurate, I'm not sure if I really want to try the Rotten Egg...We're going to save the other box for when the rest of Jono's family turns up (they are also Harry Potter fans) - it'll be interesting to see their reaction when they sample the beans :P

Friday, 16 December 2011

Jono's 30th birthday BBQ (16th December 2011)

We're celebrating Jono's 30th birthday today!

As Jono's birthday falls on Boxing Day, we agreed that it was best to bring forward the birthday celebrations so that friends would be able to attend (hopefully not already taken off for the holidays). Jono decided that he would have a BBQ party at home for his birthday this year and we've been busy planning for the day with a long shopping list of things to buy. The most important item on the list was the BBQ which we only purchase a little over a week ago and tested it out last night to make sure it would work this evening. Yes, it works!

The early afternoon was spent shopping for ingredients and food needed for the BBQ (guests were told to bring their own meat and drinks while we provided bread, salad and other snacks). After some 3.5 hours out and about, we finally got home around 3pm for a quick lunch and then back to work, cleaning up the house and me making my well-loved orange sweet potato salad and butter cake. 

It wasn't until around 5ish that we were done and managed to squeeze in a break from all the cooking and preparations to put up our Christmas tree. We bought it today from Big W (a large discount department chain store similar to Kmart and Target) in the suburb of Campsie while we were in the area doing our shopping. With Christmas just around the corner, we scored a pretty good deal for our tree - cost $19.50 for the 195cm artificial tree and about another $35 for baubles, tinsel and Christmas lights. Jono had put together the tree, fluffed the leaves and wired up the Christmas lights as I busied in the kitchen. "Wait for me so we can do the decorations together," I kept reminding him from the kitchen, hands oily from olive oil as I mixed up the cut sweet potatoes to bake in the oven. Putting up the decorations is the best part and I don't want to miss out! Plus it was our first Christmas tree so I definitely want us to decorate it together :)

"Ok, ok, I'm ready!" and we got a handful of the silver and gold baubles each and started hanging them on the tree. This is so much fun! Once the baubles were done, we draped on the red tinsel and silver bead garland - tree is looking good! Last but not least is the silver star that goes up the top of the tree. "Here you go, you can put it up," said Jono, giving me the star. "But I'm not tall enough to reach! " I exclaimed, one hand with star reaching for the top. Even on my tippie toes, I still cannot reach :( So Jono hoisted me up on to his shoulders and that gave me enough height to secure the star - success! Great teamwork! Yay, our Christmas tree is all done and looks very pretty with the multicoloured lights :) 

Ken was the first to arrive around 6pm, pulling out his chef's knife, pastel and mortar, and other ingredients from his backpack. "I thought you said you were making sushi?" I asked warily. He literally took over most of my kitchen, making sushi and roasting herbs and pounding them to make a dry cumin rub for his Jira Chicken which was to go on the BBQ. I don't mind him overtaking my kitchen (ain't the first time), just not very keen on cleaning up after him. And he knows well that it gets to me when he messes up the kitchen - 6 weeks of living in our apartment was enough to establish that he was better at the cooking and me at the cleaning. I would just have to turn a blind eye and let him do his thing. Hopefully it won't be too much effort cleaning up later.

The Heskeths arrived soon after bringing with them a huge salad, followed by Natasha and Pavel, and Ken's friend Rini. Some of Jono's other colleagues were still at work and wouldn't turn up until after 8pm so we kicked off the BBQ around 7ish. With drinks in hand and a plate of food, we chatted and laughed over all sorts, moving between the balcony (where Jono was cooking the food) and indoors to talk to various people. Ken put on his chef's top that he brought when he took turn to man the BBQ, making him look as if he was the private chef we hired for the party! Dragos, Jon and Adrian made a brief appearance around 8.30pm for a few drinks but perhaps it's our location, everyone headed off by 10.30pm (which was quite early, I reckon). Still, it was really nice having friends come over and hoped they enjoyed their time at our place (FYI: this is the first time we hosted a party). This is the first of many BBQs to come this summer so we'll definitely be having friends over a lot more :)

Guests enjoying their wine and the food

The Masterchef and his kitchen hand?

Jono standing next to his early Christmas gift (the BBQ)

(l-r): Beryl, Jono, Natasha, Pavel and Tim

With the last guest gone, Jono and I poured a glass of red wine each and sunk ourselves onto the sofa, sipping wine and admiring our Christmas tree. What a day it has been and I hope our birthday boy had fun this evening!

Our Christmas tree!

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Malacca Straits Thai, North Sydney & Bacino Bar, North Sydney (15th December 2011)

My blog is seriously turning into a foodie blog the longer I live in Sydney - all my activities seem to involve food! So here's another post of my foodie adventures, this time at Malacca Straits Thai located in the food court at the corner of Mount and Walker Streets in North Sydney. A small Malaysian and Thai food stall, they are by far the most popular stall in the food court with a continuous stream of customers during lunchtime. I arrived around 12ish and there was already a huge crowd standing around the stall, some ordering food at the counter and others lingering to collect their meals. Well, good food always attracts a crowd and I reckon their popularity actually makes the other stalls look bad, in turn attracting themselves even more customers!

With a range of cooked dishes to choose from their menu board as well as food from the smorgasbord, I decided to go for their weekly Thursday special, the Wah Tan Hor (broad rice noodles with fish cake, prawns, pieces of chicken and choy sum served in a thick egg gravy). I paid the $10 for my meal and was given a number, then shuffled my way to the pick-up area and patiently waited for my number to be called. I've had their Wah Tan Hor before and it was quite authentic plus they serve it with pickled green chillies which is a must for this dish. I have tried several other dishes at Malacca Straits such as the laksa and mee goreng, both very good and in generous servings. I brought Marcus (my team lead) who was visiting from NZ here for lunch one day and he too agreed the laksa was good (and we've both spent many years living in Malaysia and Singapore respectively). A highly recommended place to have a eat-in or takeaway Malaysian meal for lunch (I've not tried their Thai food but if their Malaysian food is this good, I'm sure the Thai food is excellent too) if you in the North Sydney area.

As I waited for my meal, I watched the staff busy at work serving the customers that keeps piling in. The stall had their kitchen located right behind the counter and in view, something you don't see often of small Asian food stalls as they tend to 'hide' the kitchen in the back. There were 4-5 chefs cooking non-stop at their individual stations and 4 other staff taking orders and serving customers - they were sharing a small space yet somehow managed to not bump into one another. Watching their team dynamics, they work very efficiently and still manage to have fun on the job, smiling and laughing together. That's exactly how teamwork should be, even during crunch time :)

"Can I have pickled green chillies please?" I asked the Thai lady who called out my number when my dish was ready and she gave me a huge spoonful of the chillies. Score! The Wah Tan Hor was good as usual, my only gripe was that the chillies were so chunky and huge though I suspect it wasn't home made and just came as is from a jar. Oh well, better than no pickled green chillies like most places in Wellington where I've had this dish.

In the queue to order my meal at Malacca Straits Thai

Wah Tan Hor ($10) for lunch - yum!

Malacca Straits Thai Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

I headed back to my office around 12.45pm and made a pit stop at Bacino Bar on Mount St for a mocha (cost $3) as a wee treat to myself (I hardly ever buy coffee at work). The cafe resembles a typical Italian espresso bar, small yet cosy, a few bar stools for people to sit about and wait for or enjoy their coffee and Italian snacks on site (or perhaps enjoy eyeing the cute guy working behind the barista machine...ahem...). The coffee is always good and often there would be a crowd blocking up the footpath in the morning though somehow there was no one waiting ahead of me this afternoon. 

One of the regulars whom I have seen hanging around the shop almost daily was telling the barista how he should be more watchful of customers for he (the regular) saw a customer taking more change than supposed to during the morning coffee rush. "Look, I've got a photo of the man on my phone," exclaimed Mr Regular excitedly and showing it to the barista. Now to give you a bit more context, Bacino Bar has a trust policy where customers drop their money onto the tray on top of the barista machine and take back their change from the coins found on that same tray. Obviously this one customer has decided to abuse the system by taking advantage of the barista when he was working busily behind the machine. Tsk, tsk! The poor barista - when he heard the story, his smiled faded away, a look of frustration and disappointment on his face and went, "Really? The customer really did that?!" in disbelief. "We should have a Wall of Shame and put up photos of these petty thieves," said Mr Regular, and I laughed, piping in that perhaps what the barista should do is have a 'No Change' policy - if you put a $5 note on the tray, that coffee is going to cost you that much. "I like your idea," said Mr Regular, giving me a broad smile and thumbs up as I walked away with my coffee. Quite an interesting wee coffee talk to finish off my lunch break :)

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Doodles Noodles, North Sydney (13th December 2011)

Less than 2 weeks till Christmas! :)

Work seems to have slowed down though I find myself spending my days writing up documentation to no end. I don't mind the writing (obviously, if I already spend my non-working hours blogging which itself is a form of writing) but with days getting closer the Christmas, it just seems that my system (and everyone else's in the office) is slowing down for the holiday season. One by one, people on our floor have 'disappeared' to go on their well-deserved year end holidays. I however, have to hold out till mid-January and work through the holiday period in order to be able to take time off when the rest of the Woolleys are here. Jono and I won't be heading back to NZ to celebrate Christmas in Palmy this year so we'll have to do the family celebrations when the rest turn up - looking forward to their arrival and our trip to Melbourne!

Taking a break from work, I headed over to Doodles Noodles, a small Chinese eatery located on the lower ground floor of 90 Mount Street. I discovered this place one day when I was heading back to the office from the gym - crowds tend to get my attention and I couldn't help but noticed a fully-seated restaurant with a small crowd standing at the entrance. Not well visible from street level, you would need to walk down the stairs to find this brightly lit (yellow-hued and 'glowing') restaurant. 
I was probably the first eat-in customer for lunch arriving around 11.45am and ordered myself their highly popular wonton noodle soup (cost $8.50 and paid on order) with my choice of egg noodles (they have 4 noodle types to choose from). With only one chef and one waitress-cashier (I suspect they are a husband-and-wife team originally from Hong Kong), they serve mostly cooked dishes on order but also have a smorgasbord of food to chose from. I have tried some of their other dishes such as the laksa which was passable but oh, don't bother ordering their Char Keow Teow (that was how they spelt Char Kway Teow aka stir-fried broad rice noodles) - I had it once and it was nothing like what I have ever had before, too oily and tinted yellow from curry powder. Since when did Char Kway Teow have curry powder in it??! Though my Char Kway Teow experience was not great, I do have to give the chef credit for attempting it. With over 25 cooked dishes on the menu, you can't expect the chef to be an expert in every dish.

"Wonton noodle soup ready!" yelled the lady behind the counter in an obvious Chinese accent and high-pitched voice that hurts the ears. Ah yes, that's something you'll have to deal with eating here. Friendly as she may be, the lady boss has this habit of yelling out the dishes so customer would promptly pick them up from the counter (and to stop her persistent yelling). I went to collect my meal and found a seat indoors at one of the bar tables. 
Perhaps a business strategy for not keeping customers lingering around long after they have finished their meals so they can seat more incoming customers, these high chairs and bar tables are highly uncomfortable, especially for short-legged me :/

With a side serving of cut chillies in soy sauce and a few sprinkles of ground white pepper on my soup, lunch was ready! I can't say this is the best wonton noodle soup I've had but it's good enough for me -
 this is where I would go when I crave this dish. And they are pretty generous with the wontons too with a whole prawn in each of them (most places just mix bits of prawn into the mince pork filling).

Doodles Noodles restaurant on Mount St
(somehow all the Ds have been ripped off...)

View of the counter and smorgasbord from my seat
(and the huge Fortune Cat beckoning 'give me your money')

Wonton noodle soup ($8.50)

Doodles Noodles Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Little Tokyo Sushi Bar, North Sydney (8th December 2011)

After several failed attempts to catch up for our regular Thursday girls' lunch with Julie-Ann due to our crazy workloads, we finally caught up today for lunch and headed to Little Tokyo Sushi Bar located at the food court in Greenwood Plaza. Neither of us girls have been to this sushi place in North Sydney before - it looked pretty authentic so the food should be good.

It was still empty when we arrived at 12pm but the seats around the sushi train very quickly filled up within the next ten minutes. We were promptly seated and ordered ourselves a mug of green tea each to sip on as we decided on what sushi to have. The sushi were prepared right in front of us by the Japanese staff who wore plastic mouth guards similar to the ones seen worn by the kitchen staff at Chefs Gallery (for hygiene reasons). With a 2-tier sushi train, Little Tokyo has a decent selection, with a mix of sushi, sashimi and deep fried snacks to choose from. Hot meals are not served in-house but you can purchase takeaway hot meals from the smorgasbord.

As we shared our sushi, we caught up with the events in our lives, chatting about our holiday plans and upcoming travels. Wow, only another 2 weeks till Christmas and I'm glad Jono and I have got all our Christmas gifts for the family sorted. Julie-Ann still hasn't got around Christmas shopping yet - eek!

We sampled around 6 plates of food (plates range between $2.60 - $5.60 each and generally 2 pieces per plate) including a salmon sashimi and an assortment of other sushi. They have a monster-sized sushi we nicknamed 'The Bomb' because it was too big to even put a plastic casing over the plate to cover the sushi - it had a mix of tuna, salmon and possible teriyaki chicken with cream cheese, cucumber and lettuce. One piece of this is equivalent to two normal sized sushi! We also tried their seaweed sushi, a first for me as I've always avoided picking this whenever I'm at a sushi train. I had always thought it would be slimy and fishy but it tasted really nice, a bit of crunch and somewhat sweet. I think I may have found a new favourite sushi now - yum! Overall, I would say that the sushi served here is pretty good and reasonably priced, costing us around $28 all up. Boy is it good to have finally found a decent sushi place nearby the office. Andy's Sushi permanently struck off my list (except for their chicken noodle soup)!

Little Tokyo Sushi Bar at the food court in Greenwood Plaza

The 2-tier sushi train

Little Tokyo Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

May's Laksa House, North Sydney (7th December 2011)

I've been craving a good Hainanese chicken rice and with the help of the internet found that one of the eateries that serves this dish is located in North Sydney, right behind my office - score! So around 11.45am, I headed to Berry Square to May's Laksa House to sample their highly reviewed Hainanese chicken rice. Will they trump the folks at Singapore Shiok! in Haymarket? Time to find out!

It was pretty quiet when I arrived - usually it gets quite busy during the lunch hour rush, customers shuffling along in the long queue to place their orders then gathering around the area to collect their meals. There was a tray of complimentary self-service prawn crackers at the counter, obviously a means to keep the customers happy while they waited. I wasn't exactly waiting but helped myself to a few too - yum :) The staff were friendly and young (in age). Loud funky music blared in the background making these young folk look energetic and having fun on the job.

My Hainanese chicken rice (cost $8.50) was ready in less than 10 minutes - my number was called and I went up to the counter to collect my meal. Mmm, looks and smells pretty good! The chicken was deboned and moist, topped with a variety of sauces, fried shallots and lots of spring onions with tomato and cucumber slices on the side. This has got to be the best Hainanese chicken rice I've had since living abroad - oh, you have no idea how happy I am to have finally found a decent Hainanese chicken rice! The soup was somewhat lukewarm but still delicious. I'm was most impressed with their chilli sauce, a right mixture of chillies, garlic, ginger and level of spice which made it an amazing complement to the dish (and made me miss the food back in Malaysia so much!). You can tell it was good - I polished off my plate pretty quickly, wishing the serving was a lot larger as I haven't had my fill :P Must come back again for the chicken rice soon!

Hainanese chicken rice ($8.50)

May's Laksa House Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Janus - Darling Quarter, Darling Harbour (26th November 2011)

After our weekly Saturday Chinese class, Jono and I walked towards Darling Harbour to his office in Pyrmont to pick up a parcel, stopping to check out Darling Quarter, a newly built area in Darling Harbour. This area that once was a construction site is now home to an international range of fine dining restaurants and Sydney CBD's largest and newest free children's playground. 

"How about a coffee at one of the cafes here?" suggested Jono and we ended up in Janus for two flat whites and a cake to share. Janus (named after the god of beginnings and transitions) is a classic Italian cafe and wine bar, modern and stylish in design and serves such beautiful cakes that it was so hard to decide which one to have. We finally settled for their green tea cake and placed our coffee order, then found ourselves a shaded table where we had a good view towards Tumbalong Park and the surrounds. It was a sunny day and Darling Quarter was filled with people both young and old - to the left were teenagers playing table tennis, and the far right, sounds of squeals and screams from children having fun at the playground at the watchful eye of their parents, and of course, the buzzing cafe and restaurants next to us. I couldn't help myself eyeing the waiters from Braza next door slicing meat from the skewers onto their customers' plates. Mmm, Brazilian churrasco...(salivates)...must come here one day...(more salivating)...

Both the cake and coffees were excellent - I love the light and refreshing taste of the green tea cake complemented with a small chocolate macaroon, chocolate mousse and caramelised candy. We were playfully feeding each other teaspoonfuls of the lovely dessert while chatting and sipping our coffees :)

View from our table at Janus in Darling Quarter

Waitresses busy at work at the counter

Me and our green tea cake :)

Flat white and green tea cake both beautifully presented

Close up shot of the cake

Cost us $17 for the coffees and tea which was a lot! Well, I suppose it was to be expected, given the location and the quality of the food and service. Still, it was a bit painful to know we paid that much for just coffees and cake :/

Janus Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

A quick stop at the playground where Jono and I competed who could hand pump the most amount of water at the playground - such hard work to get the pump going! One little kid sitting nearby was enjoying splashing himself with the water. Cute :)

We picked up Jono's parcel from the Google office then headed to Town Hall train station to catch the train home. It was total havoc today as the City Circle train line was closed for refurbishment over the weekend. With less available trains and too many people trying to use the public transport, getting on the train was a mission. And you think peak hour commuter traffic was bad - this was horrendous, with most carriages fully packed and commuters filling up the aisles. I think I'll be staying in tomorrow to avoid the crowd...

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Menya Noodle Bar Chinatown, Haymarket (20th November 2011)

I caught up with Ken for lunch today - he was keen to have ramen (even though I felt that the weather was too warm for hot noodle soup) so we met up at Chinatown around 1pm in search of this ramen place Ken suggested we check out: Menya Noodle Bar Chinatown. The name rings a bell, doesn't it? Menya Mappen, Menya Oiden and now Menya Noodle Bar - I've pretty much been to all the Menya restaurants in town in the same month! The ones I've been to so far are good so I'm expecting Menya Noodle Bar to serve affordable and delicious ramen too :)

Where IS this Menya place??? According to their website, the restaurant is located on Quay St but after walking along the block and inside Prince Centre looking for the place, we still didn't find our ramen shop. We ended up on the Thomas St side of Prince Centre and found the busy restaurant tucked away under the stairway of the building next to several other small Asian noodle shops. "Oh, so THIS is place - Jono and I have wondered if it was any good," I said to Ken as we headed in. Jono and I have been around this area for food during our first few weeks in Sydney but haven't yet ventured into the ramen shop, often wondering whether it was any good because it always had queues and today was no exception. Looking at the giant menu board by the entrance, 
I was feeling pretty overwhelmed with the selection of ramen dishes available (Ken already decided what he was going to have!). Hmm...now that looks good...oh and that too...I eventually went for the Tori Katsu Ramen in Tori-gara shoyu (Japanese style fried chicken ramen in a soy based chicken broth) while Ken got himself the summer special cold ramen, and we shared a side of gyoza (must-have accompaniment with ramen!). Unlike the other Menya restaurants where you pick up your food before paying and finding a seat, this one requires patrons to first order and pay for their meals (they accept cash only) then given a number for the table.

The place was a bit noisy as it had an open plan kitchen (you can watch your meal being prepared) and the cooks calls out the dishes when they are ready for serving - they even call out greetings as and when people come in and leave the restaurant which was distracting but nice at the same time as it adds a personal touch and sense of attentiveness and appreciation for their customers. 
Ken and I found ourselves seats on one of the communal bar tables sharing it with other diners. Hmm, my legs are a bit too short to reach the ground sitting on the bar stool...that's going to hurt my legs come the end of our lunch session :/ 

Our food arrived shortly and boy was the serving huge! And this was the regular size!! My ramen cost $10.90 but you can upsize most of the dishes for just $2.50. I can't imagine what the upsized version would look like...I'm not even sure if I can finish my regular size ramen right now! Hmm, I wonder if they have a downsized version...My ramen was cooked al dente, still bouncy and chewy, and nicely complimented with its shoyu based soup and the deliciously crunchy Japanese fried chicken. Yum, so happy with my meal :) 
Cutlery, condiments and a big bowl of tempura crumbs were available at each table, all for the customer's own self-serving needs. Generously sprinkling shicimi (seven flavour chilli pepper that comes in a bottle, often used with soups) and adding a spoonful of tempura crumbs into my ramen - delicious! Ken too was enjoying his large bowl of summer cold ramen, grinning ear to ear. Funny how we can get so excited and happy over good food hehe :P The gyoza too was lovely though I felt it was too much food for me by the time I had them AND my ramen. Too full!

One of their famous soups is the Menya's Rich Tonkotsu Soup (which to Ken's disappointment was not available for lunch today) - their
paitan soup is said to be potently flavoursome and collagen-rich, made by simmering pork bones for over 10 hours then added with fresh vegetables. Sounds very impressive to me and definitely worth another visit to try it out!

At the communal bar table in Menya Noodle Bar Chinatown

My delicious Tori-katsu ramen ($10.90) in Tori-gara soup :)

Menya Noodle Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Thursday, 17 November 2011

The Duck Inn Pub and Kitchen, Chippendale & God's Ear (17th November 2011)

Jono and I have not yet been to the theatre together in Sydney and decided to check out God's Ear by American playwright Jenny Schwartz that is on at the Reginald Theatre (Seymour Centre) from 10th November - 3rd December this evening in the suburb of Chippendale. Normally $27 per person, I got a 2-for-1 deal from livingsocial (another one of those discount voucher websites) - score! The tickets had to be redeemed beforehand so I had booked our seats over the phone and the tickets were sent to us in the same week.

We caught up at Redfern train station around 6.40pm then walked to The Duck Inn Pub And Kitchen on Rose Street in Chippendale, located just half a block away from the theatre for dinner. A discount voucher for dinner before the show was included in the mail with our tickets - for $26 per person, you got an entree and main each plus a guarantee from the restaurant that you would make it to the show, provided you turn up for dinner between 5 - 7pm. We were there on the dot at 7pm and they were still happy to serve us and guarantee we will make it in time. Phew! We had a corner table sitting on the long couches that runs along the four walls in the dining area with a beach house theme, lots of throw pillows littered on the couches, giving it a very homely and relaxed atmosphere. The place was busy with other theatre goers though service was prompt and friendly. I had the Salt N Pepper Squid for my entree and Pan Fried Atlantic Salmon with Warm Salad of Zucchini, Daikon, Soy & Honey Dressing for my main while Jono had the Chicken Liver Parfait with Onion Marmalade, Cornichons & Toasted Brioch for his entree and Seared Duck Breast with Steamed Bok Choi & Radish Salad with a Star Anise & Honey Jus for his main. We also shared a side of green beans and had a bottle of beer each. The food was good in general though we both thought the duck dish was way too salty. The beans were really yummy lightly buttered and sprinkled with toasted almonds. I reckon it'll be nice to come here in summer for brunch - they have a backyard for outdoor seating which looks very inviting :)

The Duck Inn Pub & Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

We left for the theatre just 10 minutes before the show started. This was our first time to the Seymour Centre located in the heart of the University of Sydney The place reminded me somewhat of Circa Theatre in Wellington and had 4 performance venues, one of them being the Reginald Theatre, a small, informal studio-style theatre that holds up to 200 people. We had seats near the aisle just 3 rows from the stage and the theatre was quite empty when the show started at 8pm (probably about 20 in the audience).

The play was 1.5 hours long and had no interval. It started off with conversations between Mel and Ted, a married couple whose son recently died. Their relationship was highly strained due to their recent loss, routine conversations were tedious and painfully (yet cleverly) filled with linguistic wordplay and repartee that pieces together into poetry. Both Jono and I were very impressed with the use of words, how so many different ones can be used to describe the same thing though I have to admit, after about the fifth round of such repetitious wordplay, it was rather tiresome and I couldn't wait for it to end so we could all move on. The couple has a young girl, Lanie (no kids in this production - it was an adult playing this character), who was caught up in her parent's grief, trying to get their attention and love which was not reciprocated - both parents were lost in their own world, the mother deeply spiraling down in depression while the father escapes by travelling for work lots. Everyday interactions turn surreal with interesting characters appearing in their lives - a transvestite stewardess, a woman in an airport bar who's allergic to anything organic, GI Joe and the Tooth Fairy (the last two characters were from Lanie's imagination). These characters brought some light and humour into the grimness from the grief. I liked the transvestite and GI Joe best, both characters uniquely different yet well-played by the same actor. In fact, the cast performed very well in their various roles. It's definitely a dark story and there was no clear happy ending. I left the theatre with a strange lingering feeling of emptiness and loss - I guess the play did provoke me somewhat thus causing me to feel this way. An interesting start to theatre shows in Sydney. More to come I'm sure!

The Chai Shop, North Sydney (17th November 2011)

Despite Violet having left our team in FNZ (making the female headcount even smaller than it already was), Julie-Ann and I still continued our regular Thursday girls' lunch and today went to check out The Chai Shop located on the Plaza Level food court in Greenwood Plaza. I've walked past this Indian shop several times and often see many people who work in this area of North Sydney of Indian ethnicity having lunch here - must be pretty good to attract so many of them! So us girls headed over to the diner around 11.45am and it was still quite quiet when we arrived (we were probably the first two to get there as there were no queues). 

There were plenty of curries available
, ranging from mild to spicy, served with your choice of rice and naan. I was greedy and went for the non-vegetarian thali (cost $12.90) which comes with rice, naan and poppadom with my choice of a vegetarian and two meat curries - I chose the Mixed Vegetable Curry, Chicken Madras and Goa Fish Curry. As I paid and collected my thali at the cashier, I added a teaspoonful of yoghurt and cucumber raita onto it (there were other condiments as well for self-serving sitting by the counter) and was off to find us a table while Julie-Ann was waiting for her vegetable dosa (fermented crepe with curried vegetable filling that was prepared on order).

Non-vegetarian Thali ($12.90) - basmati rice, naan, poppadum with 
Mixed Vegetable curry, Chicken Madras and Goa fish curry

The Chai Shop in Greenwood Plaza food court

Mmm, the thali was very nice and I love the curries I got with my meal - they were similar to Malaysian curries that have a more watery consistency than the thick, creamy Indian curry which often makes me feel quite greased out by the end of the meal. The dish was a bit too much for me but it was delicious and I couldn't help myself so ended up polishing off most of the curries, leaving behind only part of the naan and some of the basmati rice. Julie-Ann's dosa looked pretty impressive and was also rather huge (she only managed to eat half of it). As we chatted over our meals, I found out that the Indians who were seen having their lunch in this area of the food court weren't actually eating food from The Chai Shop but mostly brought their own packed lunch. And I thought it was because the food here was so good (fortunately it was)! 
Will have to come back again to try out their other curries and perhaps some of the Indian sweets too.

The Chai Shop Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Andy's Sushi, North Sydney (15th November 2011)

I realised that I often blog about my foodie experiences but have never mentioned the places I go to for lunch around my office in North Sydney. Personally, I don't think I've fully explored all the lunch hot spots in the vicinity - I seem to always return to the same places for certain types of food/cuisine and when I've exhausted most of my lunch break at the gym, lunch tends to be something quick. Occasionally on my non-workout days, I would take time out to have a sit-down meal and today was one of those days. Hmm, I haven't had chicken noodle soup for a while...

Around 12pm, I headed to Andy's Sushi located less than 2 minutes walk from the MLC Building on Miller St where I work. A sushi chain found in most food courts, this shop was the place I frequented during the winter months for their chicken noodle soup (they have the beef option too). Cost $7 for a large bowl of rice noodles served over a bed of bean sprouts and basil drenched in a clear broth with a wedge of lemon on the side, and cut chillies and bean/hoisin sauce in small disposable plastic containers. It tastes almost similar to the Vietnamese pho ga though I think Pasteur on George St in Haymarket still serves the best pho in town. I'm not sure what it is, maybe it's the broth or the fact that the shredded chicken in my noodle soup is always overcooked. Still, this is the best I've had in North Sydney - I have tried a few pho places here but none of them were any good. You know what's ironic? I'm having Vietnamese chicken noodle soup in a Japanese sushi place that is served by Koreans (oh, trust me, I know they are Koreans - whenever the phone rings, they say 'An nyeong ha se yo' which means 'hello' in Korean).

Andy's Sushi primarily sells sushi rolls and for a cheap price of $5, you get 3 sushi rolls of your choice - if cut up, it probably makes about 12 sushi pieces which is enough to fill you up. Interestingly, the shop no longer cuts your sushi rolls on request due to hygiene reasons as per their bright yellow sign stuck by the counter (what hygiene reasons???). Highly popular with the folks in my building, the queues for sushi here can be up to five person deep though it moves along rather quickly. Personally, I wouldn't recommend the sushi rolls - in the many occasions that I've purchased the rolls, it often turns out sloppy and just doesn't taste or look very appealing. In fact, I always regret buying them for lunch as the more bites I take, the more I feel like throwing it up. True, it's a cheap lunch for $5 but I rather pay a bit more and get quality sushi from the other sushi places around the area. I'll just stick to my usual chicken noodle soup thanks...

Sushi counter at Andy's Sushi

Chicken noodle soup ($7)

Andy's Sushi Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Girls' night out with Amanda and Anna (9th November 2011)

With the boys still away in USA for their annual company offsite, the "Google widows" (as Jono calls it) decided to catch up for drinks and dinner this evening. Amanda, Anna and I (Natasha had other plans) met up outside the Castlereagh St entrance into Westfield Shopping Centre in the city after work around 5.30pm and headed up to Level 6 where Spiedo Restaurant & Bar was located. All 3 of us were subscribers of Time Out Sydney, an events magazine and website that sends weekly updates on what's happening in Sydney - occasionally on Wednesdays, they would send out a Time Out Shout where subscribers to the mailing list are entitled to free drinks and nibbles at the 'secret location' disclosed only on the day of the event. Yep, you guessed right - tonight's 'secret location' was Spiedo Restaurant & Bar!

I never knew there was a food court on Level 5 and fine dining restaurants on Level 6 in the shopping centre. Arriving at the top of the escalators on Level 6, we could see quite a crowd around this informal restaurant and bar. We beelined to the sign-in desk to hand in our email printouts (to proof you're a subscriber though they didn't really check and Amanda just gave them 3 copies of the same email she printed earlier) and was given 2 drink vouchers each which we could redeem for either a Prosecco (Italian sparkling wine) or beers (choice of Little Creatures or White Rabbit). Amanda and I both went for the Prosecco while Anna had the White Rabbit beer. "Amanda! That's SO naughty!" I exclaimed when she flashed her drink vouchers at me - she still had two vouchers AND a wine in hand! The bartender was busy tending to the many people that have crowded the bar to redeem their drinks and forgotten to collect Amanda's drink voucher so she played dumb and walked away. "What? He didn't ask me to hand it over," said Amanda with a sly smile and I rolled my eyes and laughed.

We found ourselves seats at one of the high tables, sitting alongside other Time Out subscribers, mostly work folk who managed to get off work early for the event. Canapés were served while we sipped our drinks though we never seemed to get to sample any as they disappeared before the waitstaff even got to our table. The restaurant is owned by chef Alessandro Pavoni and specialises in northern Italian cuisine. I thought it was quite clever to use Time Out as a means to promote themselves and though they had to provide free drinks and canapés between 5 - 7pm (first-come-first-serve until the tab finishes), I'm sure some of the subscribers continued on into the evening, possibly even dining in-house. Will have to come back here to try out the food - they serve a Lombardian long lunch every Sunday that includes a pasta, 5-hour spit roast of the day and a dessert for $49 which I'm keen to sample. 5-hour spit roast? Sold!

Us girls returned to the bar to claim our second drink, this time beers all round and headed back to our table, continuing our chit-chat. There was an older couple sitting in front of us and were in the spirit of sharing the olives they had ordered with us. We ended up chatting with them for the rest of our time at the restaurant - Ron is an English businessman and his partner Mae is from Hong Kong. They split their time living both in Sydney and Hong Kong making it quite hard to get to know new people and Mae was very eager to befriend us girls, asking for our contact details 10 minutes into the conversation. A bit abrupt but I can understand where that's coming from - it really isn't easy to make friends in Sydney, even for me. It takes time to build new relationships and after living here for 8 months, I'm still working on building my social network (and I'm glad I know a few more people now!). We swapped contacts details - who knows where that might take us? Ron and I had a good yarn about life back in Malaysia and Singapore (he lived there for a few years) - food, culture, quirks - we reminisced about our experiences there and had several good laughs too.

Amanda, Anna and I left the restaurant around 7pm in search of a sushi place for dinner and ended up at 
Sushi Hotaru located on Level 1 of The Galeries. Similar to Ichi-ban Boshi, this restaurant has a number system where you would right down your name and number of guests on the sheet on the clipboard at the reception desk, tear the number chit next to your name and wait for your number to be called. The place was quite packed when we arrived with several others waiting outside the eatery for their turn. Some 15 minutes later, we finally got a table though I thought it was rather crammed (and we aren't even big girls). All plates were $3.30 this evening and there was a good selection of sushi from the long conveyor-belt. It was interesting to watch freshly made sushi go through this UV light as it exits the kitchen, apparently to kill germs (really??) before it continues on the conveyor-belt  to hungry patrons. What was really cool was that each table had an iPad mounted to the wall and you can select whatever you want from the menu and it'll be served to your table shortly. You can even call the waiter and ask for the bill using the touch screen! That's just awesome :) Cost us $56.50 all up for 16 plates of assorted sushi and tea which we thought was quite cheap.

Sushi Hotaru Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

We bid our goodbyes and headed home around 8.30pm. It was a nice evening spent with the girls and I look forward to more upcoming catch ups! I arrived home in time to catch Jono for a brief chat - I've not heard from over the last 2 days and it makes me so happy to talk to him, even if it's short. The poor guy had been working many late shifts and with the time difference, it makes it much harder for us to talk. Can't wait to see him on Sunday when he comes home - yay!