Indulgence at Monty’s Chocolates

Michael and I FINALLY had the opportunity to visit Monty’s Chocolates on Friday. We had purchased an Ultimate Chocolate Indulgence for 2 ($15) voucher a while back and were extremely excited check it out.

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The shop is quaint and quiet, slightly tucked away from the bustling sidewalk. Superior chocolates from all around the world line both walls, a guarantee you can find a little something for anyone. There’s a coffee cart at the door for those in a hurry, as well as a stocked counter at the back for more options.

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Seating area is adorable with basic decor but cute character.

The chocolate indulgence included a coffee each or a pot of tea to share. Mike and I decided on sharing a cleansing pot of green tea.

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We had the opportunity to savour a small hot chocolate each and share 6 salted caramels as well as 4 handmade European chocolates.

The 4 chocolates we received were (from left to right) Macadamia Brittle, Lavender & Wildberry, Strawberry & Marscapone, and Vanilla Delight.

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The hot chocolate was dark, thick and decadent. The best part was that it was not overly sweet – yum!

The salted caramels by Artison du Chocolat were so delicious! Like nothing I’ve ever tried. A crisp dark chocolate shell, covered in cocoa with an explosive burst of liquid salted caramel inside – amazing!

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The Macadamia Brittle was creamy, light, and subtle.

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Although I’ve never been a fan of floral flavours, the lavender flavour in the next chocolate was not overpowering and I loved the tartness of the wildberry. The Vanilla Delight tasted exactly like its name.

Michael’s face of happiness 😛

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Strawberry & Marscapone was our favourite!

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We enjoyed everything we tried, and would’ve tried more if we didn’t already have dinner plans 😉

Steve, the owner, was present and introduced all his customers to little samples of chocolate. We got to try a little bit of dark chocolate from Madagascar (should’ve asked what percentage!). Although Mike and I were happy to be left to ourselves (not often we get to ‘go on dates’ in surgery), I’m sure Steve would’ve been more than happy to share his knowledge and answer any questions we might have.

This really cute elderly gentleman came in shortly before we left. I had to grab a picture!

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Monty’s Chocolates is a wonderful little shop with amazing chocolate from all over the world. Service is welcoming and It’s a great place to catch up with friends over some tasty chocolate, or even grab something on the go. We’ll definitely be back and I know exactly where to go when I’m looking for a gift of truly special chocolates!

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Thanks Monty’s Chocolates for a lovely beginning to the weekend after a long a week 🙂

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Night out with friends @ Moda Restaurant

Xuan and Amanda joined us for a 50% Dimmi special at Moda Restaurant this past Wednesday. We had looked at the menu before arriving and were certainly excited to try many of the delicious sounding dishes.

We were immediately greeted and shown to our table. I was a little skeptical to be sitting outside on a cold breezy evening but it was surprisingly nice and warm! Francois, the front of house host, also came by to check up on us multiple times through out the evening.

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Our server (I’m sorry I didn’t get his name!) was extremely friendly and pleasant, recommending dishes and answering our questions.

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We started with bread ($3/pp, homemade Ciabatta) and house olives ($5). Good conversation starter and I liked having the small bottle of olive oil at our table.

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We soon decided on a share plate (5 items) for 4 – $78. The dishes all came out to be enjoyed at once. (I’ve taken the menu items straight from the website, but I think some of the menu may have changed the night we were there)

Black pudding (blood sausage) with white onion puree. Tasty but did not stand out by the end of the night.

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White anchovies with heirloom tomatoes. Personally, I’m not a fan of anchovies and found the pickled taste overpowering but everyone else really enjoyed them!

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Reef fish ceviche with rose water and berries. Lovely combination of flavours with the sweetness of the pineapple and tartness of the blueberries. The roe added a pop of flavour but the texture of the fish was quite stringy/chewy which I thought was odd when it was supposed to be raw and fresh.

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WA Octopus with persimmon and passion fruit. Easily the favourite at our table. Tender grilled octopus on slices of fresh persimmon – one of my favourite fruits. So yummy!

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Half shell scallops with cauliflower & saffron and jamon. These were delicious and the second favourite dish between us. The cauliflower added a nice creaminess and the jamon was thin, crisp and flavourful – such a treat!

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It was only afterwards that I realized the prices: $78 for a tasting plate of 5 dishes ($15.60 each) or $16 to order them individually – not really sure why there’s this option when you end up saving only $2. The portions were also quite small, especially the scallops – there were only 2…

We then moved on to mains:

Mike got the Beef cheek with horseradish mash and King Brown mushrooms ($35). He found no fault with this dish, the cheek was so tender it fell apart in your mouth. I think he wanted more 😉

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Xuan got the Angel hair pasta with scallops, clams, prawn and aioli ($37). He was pretty disappointed with this dish, which he found similar to fried noodles and the aioli sauce an odd combination.

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Amanda decided on the John Dory with pancetta, potatoes, rosemary and garlic ($39). I remember she said this dish was okay, a 7/10

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And after changing my mind a few times, I settled for Venison Pie with persimmon and Goat’s curd ($36). The best thing I put in my mouth that night. The flavour combination was so unique and delicious to me, I just wish it hadn’t been SO TINY. Really… the pie should’ve been at least double the size!

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Because almost all the portions were tiny, we had plenty of room for dessert. There were 4 options on the menu which made the decision easy – one of each.

Spanish creme caramel with mini meringues and lemon sauce ($17). None of us were expecting such a… texture. It was very thick with a strong flavour of egg yolk and sweet like condensed milk. Interesting but I wouldn’t order it myself again.

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Creme catalana with white raspberries and honey comb ($18). I’ve never had creme catalana before, and when I looked it up, Google tells me it’s also known as creme brulee. That was certainly not what we were served but it was my favourite dessert of the night. A glass of foamy, delicious, spicy creaminess with a nice crunch and sweetness from the honey comb. There was also some sherry (made into a jelly) at the bottom of the glass which added nicely to the dessert.

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Valhrona Chocolate Fondant with orange marmalade ice cream ($19). Like molten lava cake… it’s hard to go wrong with this decision! 😉

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And lastly, Rice pudding with poached pear and vanilla bean ice cream ($18). I am not a fan of anything porridge like, whether sweet or savoury. I found the texture of rice a little too hard for a pudding, made me think of a sweet risotto, haha! The others enjoyed it though! I forgot to take a picture of this dish – haha, sorry!

Service was easily the best out of all the places we visited so far this year. We were lucky to have been able to dine here for 50% off our food. Despite the good experience, we all found it too expensive to return here (at least anytime soon as poor international students) at regular prices. Additionally, the portions were quite small when compared to the prices and our expectations. With that being said, the ambiance is fantastic (although I wish the lighting had been better for pictures) and I would definitely recommend this restaurant to others looking for a special night out.

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Sono Japanese Restaurant for Amanda’s 22nd Birthday!

Thanks to Kee Ping for organising the surprise birthday party for Amanda on Saturday, June 16th! We had the private function room at Sono Japanese Restaurant with 17 people altogether.

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The privacy of the room was pretty nice, although I wish the 2 tables weren’t so segregated. Unfortunately, it was impossible to facilitate conversation between both tables at the same time. Service was very friendly, the servers wore lovely Kimino outfits and were very accommodating. Even though we were in a closed room, we weren’t forgotten and constantly checked upon.

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The food, however, was quite expensive and dishes were hit-or-miss. Some people were quite happy with their dishes but others found theirs lackluster.

Here were a handful of dishes at my table:

Ebi (prawn) Tempura. Delicious, but expensive at $15 for 3 prawns.

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Unagi (eel) Kabayaki ($28) – thick cuts and very flavourful!

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Soft Shell Crab with Shiso Salsa ($15) – Great dish with nice flavour and acidity. A little too much salsa than needed for the burst of flavour so the crab quickly got soft.

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Tenzaru Soba ($19) – This was my dish, which I chose because I had never had cold noodles before and wanted to try something new. The dish was quite bland if not for the tempura and unfortunately, I got really bad food poisoning later that night (the only one in our group who got sick and who had this dish). I’m almost sure it was from the cold noodles itself, probably Bacillus cereus, which is often associated with improperly stored starchy foods (ie. rice, noodles, pasta). Seriously the worst pain of my life, thank god it was over quickly.

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The most interesting, but unfortunately, the most disappointing dish of the night: Seafood Houbayaki ($26). Individually served and cooked at the table, rice is extra.

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Extremely bland! You can even see there seems to be no seasoning involved.

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Moving on to dessert and festivities with the birthday girl! 🙂

Amanda was puzzled, trying to guess who was the person who ordered the chocolate cake decorated with macarons. Turns out it was from her sister back home in Malaysia!

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Taking pictures!

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Many sweets! Chocolate cake from her sister, cheesecake from her friends and I made some pear cupcakes!

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All smiles! Happy birthday girl!

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Great night and got to meet some lovely people! 🙂

Would we come back to Sono? Probably not. Don’t get me wrong. We had a fantastic evening – service was great, with lovely traditional decor and great ambiance. However, most of the group agreed that it was too expensive for less than impressive food. It seemed like half the group really enjoyed their food and the other half (which included the 4 people who ordered the Seafood Houbayaki) simply thought, “Meh.” Also, the food poisoning was unfortunate and extremely unpleasant!

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High Tea at Coffee & Chocolate

Christine Q invited me out for a high tea and study date at Coffee & Chocolate, how could I say no? 😉

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We met last Sunday at Queens Plaza with reservations for 12pm and were told we could each select any of the hot or cold beverages.

Christine chose a Callebaut Strawberry Hot Chocolate, which was served on a stylish dish with some marshmallows.

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I got a refreshing Mango, Guava & Lychee Frappe.

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We chose seats by the window and didn’t have to wait long for our high tea, which came out on 2 tiers – savoury on the bottom, sweets on the top.

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Pretty Christine with the goodies!

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Started off with the savoury goodies – chicken salad finger sandwiches, puff pastry triangles with a meat filling, mini quiche tarts, and bread rusks with cream cheese and smoked salmon. Quality of food was good, everything was tasty but presentation could use a bit of work!

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On to the sweets! Warm soft scones with jam, butter and whipped cream, chocolate cake, strawberry bar, macarons and mini muffins (blueberry and chocolate). The desserts were all average, nothing that wowed us but they were all enjoyed. The macarons were unfortunately undercooked and the turquoise one, despite the lovely colour, had no flavour.

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For $12 a person, we had a good time and left with happy bellies to get some studying done 😉

I have to say, I was a little concerned after seeing so many bad reviews on Urbanspoon, but I was glad to have been overall proven wrong. Decent food with prompt service, hurray! Would I come back? Well, I would like to give their chocolates a try, so maybe if I’m ever in the area?

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Lunch Date at The Villager

Mike and I decided we would need to wind down a little after our written GP exam last Wednesday. We booked a 50% off lunch deal for Gastrobar at The Villager Hotel ahead of time and were seriously looking forward to checking out a new place and having some good food.

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We showed up nearly 40 minutes before our reservation time but were happily shown to our seats and given menus.

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For drinks, Mike tried a 4 Pines Pale Ale for the first time that he was quite happy with.

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I got a Lychee Lime Mint Frappe. Refreshing, although lychee flavour was completely overpowered by the lime and mint. I ordered this drink specifically for the lychee so it was a little sad not to taste it at all!

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We shared a plate of Crisp Pork Belly cooked in a sticky caramel, orange & chili sauce. Although the pork belly had a nice crisp and the sauce was sticky and delicious – I dont think the meat was actually cooked in the sauce (rather tossed in it once cooked) because the flavours were not infused into the meat.

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BIG Bad Boy Chips were piping hot, crispy and delicious with the jalapeno aioli

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For mains, Mike ordered the Lamb Cutlets with chunky potato gems, smoked aubergine, yoghurt & spinach leaves. Lamb was nicely cooked although way too much sprinkled salt. His mouth was burning a little by the time he finished his meal. He also wasn’t a fan of the potato gems, they were chewy/starchy and had such an odd texture!

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I got the Morcilla & Manchego Kiev – stuffed chicken breast served on king brown mushrooms with chunky pumpkin & mushroom puree. Chicken was perfectly cooked and I loved the perfect crisp. I wish there was more of the black pudding and cheese stuffing though, I could barely taste them. The pumpkin was delicious and the mushroom puree was thick and full of flavour. Would’ve liked more mushrooms than 3 little slivers though, especially when the menu says, “served on king brown mushrooms.” 🙂

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Gastrobar invites you in with a relaxing atmosphere and a great selection at the bar. Definitely the kind of place we would revisit with friends for drinks to unwind after a long day. Food was overall delicious with great presentation but a little pricey at regular price (ie. $9 for side of chips).

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The only negative aspect of our visit: We were overcharged around $15 and lucky had a receipt to prove it. When we returned a few minutes later to ask for the difference, an employee who just started her shift wouldn’t listen to our explanation and kept interrupting, insisting the bill was correct until the 3rd or 4th attempt at pointing out the mistake. Everything was completely fine in the end, but it just left us with a slight sour taste in our mouth.

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