Sunday, 21 August 2011

Emperor’s Garden BBQ & Noodles Restaurant, Haymarket (21st August 2011)

Sundays are usually for sleep-ins and you will hardly find me getting up early for the sake of going to the market but since living with Ken and watching his passion for cooking, I think some of it has rubbed off on me and I've promised myself to be a better cook (more fresh ingredients, less instant stuff) so I can make yummy dinners for Jono and I at home. So up I was at 7.30am to get ready for a morning of food shopping and accompanied Jono to work, leaving him at the end of Pyrmont Bridge where he headed to his office while I went to my first stop of the day, Sydney Fish Market.

Fortunately I had my backpack with me - by the time I finished all my shops (fish market, Coles supermarket, Asian grocery store, Sydney's Paddy's Markets fresh vegetable and fruit section), I had a full backpack and two bags of groceries to carry. Hmm, I either need a bigger backpack or one of those shopping trolleys I see the older Chinese ladies drag around in the markets. There are so many things to buy but I don't have the ability to carry them all on my own! At least I got all the ingredients I need to make laksa for dinner tonight. Mmm, looking forward to it :)

Ken texted me partway through my shopping expedition and we caught up in Chinatown for lunch. We ended up in Emperor’s Garden BBQ & Noodles Restaurant on Thomas St, a restaurant owned by the same folks who own Emperor's Garden Cake & Bakery on Hay St (in fact, they own all the Emperor's Garden businesses in Chinatown). Ken and I have passed by the restaurant a couple of times, often stopping to stare at the window strung with glistening strips of BBQ pork, whole roast ducks and quails, soy chicken, chunks of roast pork and an assortment of cooked offal to choose from. So much to see and no way would you miss it if you were in the area. Entering the restaurant, we were immediately greeted by the friendly staff and showed to a table. It was still early for lunch (it was just 12pm) so only few tables were taken. The decor was as I expected, the typical look and feel of a mid-range Chinese restaurant like the ones in Malaysia with staff in uniform, white walls and neon red lights on the white ceiling.

We ordered Chinese tea and flipped through their much dog-eared menu to decide on what to have for lunch. "Look, pigeon on the specials board," I said to Ken and he immediately went, "Shall we?" with a gleeful smile. Camel last night, pigeon today - my crazy food adventures never end! We settled for the baked pigeon in BBQ sauce special, and minced chicken and salted fish fried rice to share. The idea of eating pigeon has never crossed my mind - eek, I can't believe I'm having it today! "I do not even want to discuss where the chef sourced them," I warned Ken as he began telling me we could possibly be eating one of the many 'rat with wings' from Central Station. Zip it, zip it, I don't want to hear any of it!

As we waited for our food, we caught up with the what has been happening over the past few weeks and I'm really happy to hear that Ken's move to Sydney has been very positive to date. He has made more friends than I have in his short 2 months in the new city - no fair! But I'm glad he has got a great bunch of friends who sounded like really cool people. I've heard so much about them and look forward to meet them in person soon :)

Ugh, they serve the head as well!!! Our dishes arrived promptly and the whole pigeon was quartered and served with its decapitated baked head in full view which was highly unappealing to me. Why do they need to include the head anyway? I don't think anyone eats it...Well, there was no mistake this was the bird we ordered:

Ken very kindly hid the head under a serviette so that I would actually have some of the pigeon - thank you! Hmm, tasted rather similar to quail actually...The pigeon was baked through with crispy skin and like the quail, it doesn't have a lot of meat so eating with hands was easiest to remove the meat and sparingly coat with the spiced salt. One pigeon was enough of a sampler for two and with the large fried rice we ordered, it was just right. Oh, and you can't go wrong with chicken and salted fish fried rice - it always taste good, regardless the restaurant! Cost us $37 all up for lunch ($22 just for the pigeon) which was pricey though I'm not sure if other Chinese restaurants in town serve pigeon on their menu. It's not everyday that I get to have pigeon for lunch!

Emperor's Garden BBQ & Noodles Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Delhi 'O' Delhi, Newtown (20th August 2011)

After a day of chilling out at home, Jono and I decided to skip the cooking and headed out for dinner on King Street in Newtown around 6pm. We had planned to have Vietnamese but ended up in Delhi 'O' Delhi on Erskineville Road instead. Worked for me since I've not had Indian food for awhile and we haven't found a good Indian restaurant in Sydney yet. This might just be the one!

Delhi 'O' Delhi is a fine dining Indian restaurant and you can tell immediately from its sleek decor and smartly dressed waiters that this place is not "cheap eat". We didn't have a booking so was just trying our luck to see if they have a table - it was only 6.30pm and the place was pretty packed. "Is it ok if you sit outside?" asked the Indian waiter. Sure, why not? The weather in Sydney seems a lot milder these days (only need a light sweater when outdoors) and with the gas heaters outside, we should be warm enough.

We were ushered to our outdoor table for two and given the menu with complimentary poppadoms to nibble on as we decided on our meals. "Oh, they serve camel here!" I exclaimed as I looked through the list of mains to make my choice. Hmm, camel...I'm not sure about that...I think I had better stick to something more familiar...I wasn't game enough to try camel, afraid that it would taste gamey (and much like kangaroo which I do not like much). "What should I get? Duck, goat or camel?" Jono asked me. "Well, camel is something we haven't tried...but only if you really want to...," I replied. Jono was obviously game enough and ordered the Rajasthani Maas, the restaurant's unique camel dish slow-cooked in traditional haandi (deep, narrowed-mouth vessel used for cooking) with whole spices, Bengal gram flour and Kashmiri chillies. Eek, we are having camel!

Despite a full house and still catering for takeaway customers, our meals arrived promptly. Mmm, my Teyal Prawn (green prawns sauteed with fresh garlic, mustard seeds and tamarind coconut cream) was delicious! And Jono's camel dish was nice too and not at all what I expected the meat to taste like. Camel tasted very similar to goat, rather tough and it wasn't at all gamey. Frankly, we couldn't tell if it really was camel by looking at the diced meat and its taste (it could have been beef, for all we know) - we just had to trust the restaurant. Now we can add another wild food on our "have eaten" list and say we've had camel! We shared our curries as well as a bowl of basmati rice and yummy peshawari naan (naan filled with mixture of nuts and raisins), washing it down with the bottle of white wine we picked up on our way to the restaurant - yum!

Rajasthani Maas (the camel dish)

Teyal Prawn

You know, this was the first time we've eaten out since we came back from USA and the serving size seemed to have shrunk dramatically. I thought "Huh, is that it?" when the meals were served but it was actually the normal serving size in Australia - I've just gotten used to having way too much on my plate in USA! And I'm quite happy to have the 'reduced' serving size - enough to keep my tummy happy and no need for a doggy bag! Cost us $47 including a corkage charge of $3 per person and 15% off the total bill with the use of the Entertainment Card. I would highly recommend that you secure a booking should you wish to come to this restaurant especially on Fridays and Saturdays. Though we managed to get a table on walk-in, it was obvious that the restaurant would like us to leave as soon as we finished (the waiters were highly efficient at clearing our table) so they could take on more business. Definitely worth a visit for good food and service!

Delhi 'O' Delhi Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

We left for home around 9.30pm, stopping by at Gelato Blue on King St for a double scoop cone of pistachio and Toblerone ice cream for dessert as we walked home. Did you know that this place serves over 40 assorted gelato, sorbets and desserts and has upstairs seating as well for customers to chill out as they enjoy their sweet treats? I had thought it was just a shop that sells ice cream and nothing more since most times we've walked past, the place only had customers buying their ice creams to go. Hmm, reminds me of Kaffee Eis that Jono and I use to frequent in Wellington, just more funky and colourful in interior. Speaking of Kaffee Eis, I miss their pistachio ice cream!

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Salsa Open Advanced Level 6 with Latin Motion (17th August 2011)

After attending a class each from Levels 2 - 4 with Latin Motion, I decided perhaps it might be wise to aim higher and work my way down the levels since in my last 3 attempts, I have yet found a class that suited me. Instead of trying out Level 5 tonight, I skipped the level and went to the Open Advanced Level 6 class held at 6.30pm this evening at Space Bar on Liverpool St. Cost $20 for me as I'm still paying as a casual student. Might consider getting a term pass once I find the right class...

Advanced Level 6 was taught by Oliver Pineda (director and head instructor of Latin Motion AND 5 times world salsa champion) and Becky Lee whom I've met teaching the Level 4 class with Clement last term. It was a huge class of about 20 students, and surprisingly, more boys than girls - in Wellington, the higher level class you go, the less boys but it's the other way around in Sydney. Definitely a bonus for us followers because it means more advanced and experienced leads and less having to 'fight' with other female dancers or chase after leads just to get a dance.

I think I have found my class! The moves that Oliver and Becky taught tonight were more suited to my level - fresh new moves that challenged my dance skills yet still able to follow and carry them out. As this was an 'open' class, there is no progression or refresher of moves from week to week; each lesson starts with a brand new set of moves to learn for the evening. Becky was very good at ladies' styling and was showing the followers how to add in arm or hip movements into the moves, making the moves look cool and sexy. I've got lots more to learn in this area! Similar to the other Latin Motion classes, we swap dance partners often (with more guys around, it also meant no rest for me!) and stopped every now and then for the instructors to give us a pop quiz about the moves or carry out a leader-follower test (this is where the leads lead quite similar moves that start the same but end differently; it's a good way to test the followers if they are really following or predicting the lead which if the latter, would be obvious as it stops the dance flow). Phew, I'm hardly catching my breath with the continuous dancing and the music keeps getting faster!

So happy that I finally found my class and looking forward to class next week :)