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