Thursday, 26 July 2012

Malacca Straits Thai, North Sydney (26th July 2012)

We've had several new starters in the North Sydney team recently and surprisingly, almost all of them were female - yay to increasing the female headcount in the team! Since Violet left, it has been just me and Julie-Ann having girls' lunch on Thursdays but now we'll have a few more girls joining in :) 

Unfortunately most of the girls weren't around today so it was just me and new starter Nicky who caught up for lunch. Nicky had joined us a couple of weeks ago and was still getting her bearings on where to go to for lunch in the area so I introduced her to one of my favourite lunch spots, Malacca Straits Thai. As usual, there was a crowd gathered by the counter to order or collect their food but service was always quick and we didn't have to wait long to place our orders. We both ended up having the Thursday special, the Ayam Goreng (cost $9). "You know, I've only started eating meat," said Nicky while we waited to collect our meals. Oh-o, not sure how the Ayam Goreng would go down with her given that the dish was all meat and rice with little to no vegetables. Hmm, perhaps I should have taken her elsewhere if I had known...

We collected our meals and found ourselves a table in the busy food court. A dish on the specials board available only on Tuesdays and Thursdays, the Ayam Goreng (which means 'fried chicken' in Malay) was crispy on the outside yet tender and moist on the inside, infused with herbs and spices, and served with Hainanese chicken rice and chilli, a few slices of cucumber and a hot bowl of bean sprout broth. Ah, the fried chicken brought back fond memories of breakfast with Mum and Dad at Jai's in Batu Pahat where Dad often orders a side of fried chicken to go with our rice, cuttlefish sambal, fried omelette and sayur lodeh (vegetables cooked in a coconut-based soup). FYI, it is NORMAL to have a heavy breakfast in Malaysia. Another winning dish from Malacca Straits Thai which I would highly recommend trying! 

I was rather amazed to see Nicky enjoying her meal - I've always had the impression when a vegetarian starts eating meat, their system tends to reject it and made them feel sick. Not for Nicki, that's for sure! Our only gripe about the meal was the cutlery - plastic forks and spoons just didn't cut it and made it a pain to remove meat from bone so we resorted to eating the chicken pieces with our hands. Not the most ladylike but too delicious to leave any meat (and crispy skin) behind.

Ayam Goreng ($9)

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

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Songs of Faith and Devotion (15th July 2012)

Since moving to Australia to further her studies and develop her singing career several years ago, Rosel and I have lost touch over time so it was a nice surprise to hear from her out of the blue - she dropped me an email a few weeks ago to say she would be in town for a recital and invited me to come along. Of course I'll be there! It would be a great opportunity to catch up AND hear her sing again :)

The recital was held at St Mark's, an Anglican church located at Darling Point (harbour side eastern suburb of Sydney and one of the most exclusive and prestigious suburbs in Australia) - some of you might recognise the church from the wedding scene of well-known Australian romantic-drama film Muriel's Wedding. The event was free and guests were given a programme of the recital on entry. There were already several people seated in the pews when I entered the church and immediately spotted the star of the day mingling with the crowd. Happy squeals and warm hugs soon followed - it was good to see Rosel and she looked amazing with her now brown-auburn hair (she is a natural blonde), making her look more serious and mature despite her young age (probably a good thing as I would think in her industry, she needed to set a certain image for casting agents to take her seriously given her age). Her mum and brother too were in the audience (they flew in from Wellington) so I went to say my hellos and sat in the pew in front of them. 

St Mark's Church at Darling Point

While Rosel went backstage to get herself ready, I caught up with her mum - you could tell that she was very proud of her daughter, beaming with pride as she spoke of Rosel's achievements and performances to date. Aww, that's sweet :)  

Rosel's recital was titled 'Songs of Faith and Devotion' and it was a collaboration project with pianist Bradley Gilchrist - Rosel had chosen songs that have particular meaning to her to share aspects of her own personal faith and the significance it has in her life with the audience, dedicating the recital to her mum and brother for their unfailing support and love. Though it wasn't a full house crowd this afternoon, there were enough people to make it an event in itself. The audience went silent when Rosel entered the church, this time wearing an elegant emerald-green dress - wow, I would not have recognised her in a crowd if I ever see her like this. The dress, hair colour and make-up made her look very grown up and definitely sets the tone for what we were to receive next. Works and songs from classical and romantic opera including Bellini, Mozart and Mahler were performed this afternoon. Rosel started off with Part One: Faith with Mahler's second movement "Ging heut Morgen ├╝bers Feld" ("I Went This Morning over the Field") from Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen ('Songs of a Wayfarer'). I knew Rosel is an amazing mezzo-soprano having seen and heard her sing in a Wellington production of Iolanthe many years back but hearing her sing again today reminded me how good she was. I do believe she has gotten even better in her vocal repertoire with several more years under her belt and singing with some of the top opera performers in the country. SO happy for her achievements!

Thankfully the programme had translations of the songs sung - the songs vary from German, French, Italian and Spanish and the translations helped those of us who aren't so fluent in languages to make sense of what was sung. Come the second half of the recital (Part Two: Devotion), the order of the songs didn't go according to the programme and after spending 5 minutes trying to figure out where we were at, I gave up and just sat there enjoying the songs and watching Rosel perform. I was highly impressed at Rosel's ability to memorise all the songs presented today and sung them without reference. She made me break into a smile when she sang Amor by William Bolcom from Cabaret Songs Vol. 1 - the funny lyrics and her cheeky expression made it a delightful sight. A few videos taken of Rosel singing at the recital today:

Compliments to Rosel were heard in conversations among the audience after the recital. Some even stayed on to personally meet and compliment our shining star! Unfortunately Rosel's schedule and time in Sydney was pretty tight so we couldn't have a proper catch up this time. But I'm sure she'll be back soon to wow us again with her singing and hopefully spend a longer time in town on her return.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Bibaps, North Sydney (5th July 2012)

It has been awhile since I last been to Bibaps in Berry Square food court for lunch so headed over today to grab myself a Bibaps Lunch Box (Dosirak) for $6.90. A dosirak (the Korean equivalent of a Japanese bento) is a single-portion takeaway box that contains of rice, meat or fish, and one or more pickled or cooked vegetables. Here at Bibaps, their dosirak comes standard with a tempura prawn on a bed of short-grained rice, a small side of japchae (literally meaning 'a mixture of vegetable' in Korean, this side dish can be served hot or cold), pickled radish and your choice of either teriyaki fish, chicken or beef.

Back at my desk with my teriyaki fish dosirak, it was time to dig in. The pieces of white fish was lightly battered and fried then drenched in teriyaki sauce, too salty to have on its own but great when had with rice. The food was tasty and definitely good value for $6.90 though my slight gripe was with its garnish of leafy greens - most looked a ghastly wilted yellow so I just picked them out and continued on with my meal. My favourite food in the dosirak has got to be the cold japchae - sweet potato glass noodles stir-fried with shredded mushrooms and carrots in sesame oil topped with a sprinkle of sesame seeds. I could happily have japchae as a main! Personally, I reckon the japchae would have tasted a lot better with sliced shiitake mushroom than button mushroom. Bibaps recent swap to use button mushrooms in their dishes is the key reason why I have stopped having their bibaps - button mushrooms have a distinctly different taste and is not a fungi normally used in Asian cooking. Granted, it is cheaper in cost than shiitake mushrooms but deflects the dish from its authenticity.

Bibaps Lunch Box with Teriyaki Fish ($6.90)

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