Melbourne: Chinatown, Alleys, & Federation Square

Saturday, March 1, 2014

After a filling and delicious lunch at Shanghai Street, we took a leisurely stroll through Chinatown.

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A few weeks ago, a friend told us about a neat bar he stumbled upon in one of the random alleyways off Chinatown. He couldn’t tell us what is was called or where it was, but he said it was a cool ‘nerdy’ bar that’s set up similar to a science lab with drinks being served out of flasks and test tubes. He also said it’s at the end of the sketchiest alleyway you might find and that we should definitely try to find it.

So this was the first random alley we decided to check out…

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Love the art, although there was not another soul in sight

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Turned the corner to what looked to be a dead end

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And what do you know? We found it, called The Croft Institute! Haha, what a coincidence. Unfortunately, it was still too early and wasn’t opened yet.

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Really liked this

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Leaving Chinatown to head into Federation Square!

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Liked this view of the tram and old architecture

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In the atrium at Federation Square. Little sales going on and cafes to take a break at.

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We headed into the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI)

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Fun going through the history of moving image!

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Outside, Federation Square. Many people passing through, hanging out, visiting nearby attractions

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Now middle afternoon, we took a quick break in the atrium at In a Rush EspressoΒ to recharge before continuing on πŸ˜‰

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Portugese tart, iced tea and fresh fruit juice

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The adventure will continue in the next blog, thanks for reading! πŸ™‚

Yummy delights at Macarons et Madeleines

December 18, 2013

I finally had the opportunity to visit my sister and brother’s favourite bakery in Ottawa – Macarons et Madeleines – a beautiful, warm and cozy home bakery tucked away in Chinatown that specializes in French pastries.

A semi-detached house, the first things that greet you as you enter: delicious aromas of freshly baked goods and Stephan Ethier’s friendly welcome.

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As it is a business run out of their home, Macarons et Madeleines does not have space for customers to sit down and eat, however, that doesn’t mean that their atmosphere is lacking in any way.

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A price list and guest book are set up in the foyer, Christmas decor lines the small yet spacious room, even a lovely wood fireplace.

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Looks like there should be a cat around, but we didn’t get to meet him/her!

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Macarons et Madeleines offers a small selection of approximately 10 pastries on a regular basis. For macarons, only a few flavours are chosen and made each week, many of them creative adventures suggested by customers. In addition, there are others (like the chocolate almond croissant) available only on the weekends. They are also very happy to work with you to create any custom orders you might have, which is great!

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Stephan is a very friendly and extremely passionate patissier (read his biography here). He was more than happy to thoroughly explain the story and work behind the pastries, provide any tips and answer any questions. I did not have a chance to chat with his wife that day, but my sister tells me she is lovely and also just as friendly.

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After a bit of a chat and being given some information on everything available, it was difficult not to get everything to try!

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Christmas macaron flavours available were: pistachio-cinnamon (red), hot chocolate with marshmallow (white), and eggnog with rum (yellow) – we bought 2 of each to share ($2/each). Our favourite was the pistachio-cinnamon, having the most vibrant flavours of the 3, as well as great colour for the holiday season!

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Since we’ve never had a Cannele Bordelais ($3) before, we had to try. A small striated cylinder with a crispy carmelised crust and a soft custard inside – rich, creamy and delicious!

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Croissant ($1.75) – flaky and tender, easily one of the best ones we’ve ever had!

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Pain au chocolate/Chocolate croissant ($2.50) – even better than the regular croissant because of its smooth, creamy, chocolate centre, mmm!

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Apple turnover/Chausson aux pommes ($2.50) – most unique one we’ve tried as it is made with a velvety home made apple puree filling. I love apple+cinnamon, this one definitely did not last long.

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We also got a Brioche Parisienne ($1.25) which was very nice as well!

Macarons et Madeleines offers delicious French pastries Wednesday to Sunday starting at 7am until quantities last. Definitely worth a special visit, I promise you will not be disappointed! Not only will you be warmly received into the home of one of the most passionate pastry chefs, you will surely leave with amazing treats that will leave you pining for more!

Macarons et Madeleines on Urbanspoon

Day 04: Bangkok – Chinatown and Snacks

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

This was the view as we headed back over to Tha Tien Pier from Wat Arun.

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The driver of our little ferry boat!

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Since we had plans to meet Laura and 2 of her work friends in Chinatown for dinner later, we decided to head down there early and check it out during the day time.

We took the Express Boat back towards the city and got off at Ratchawong Pier (N5). From there it’s just a short walk up to Sampeng Lane and Yaowarat Rd.

Some tuk tuks just beside the pier.

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As we were walking, it started to rain! Luckily there was a closed shop where we use it’s front steps as refuge πŸ˜‰ As we waited out the rain, an elderly lady walked by pushing her cart full of tasty looking dumplings. I had to run after her to get her to stop in order to purchase a few! I don’t know why I didn’t take any pictures, but the dumpling cakes were delicious. A doughy exterior with fillings of bamboo, turnip, or cabbage. Yummy! We also bought some fried coconut banana from another stand – amazing! Balls of banana coated with a layer of coconut sticky rice and deep fried to a crisp – such a delicious treat. Thinking back now, I’m a little disappointed we only ate that once!

Soon the rain died down and we continued to stroll through Chinatown, taking in the sights, smells and sounds.

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This lady’s stand soon caught our eye. A variety of deep fried, vegetarian snacks. You take a bowl and pick out the items that you want. She then chops them up into bite sized pieces, throws them in a bag and pours sauce and chili on top for you to snack on-the-go using skewers. It was also kind of her to throw in a few extra treats we didn’t pick out for us to try – yay! The food was tasty but not something you can have every day! πŸ˜‰

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Dinner plans with Laura and her friends eventually became too complicated due to weather and location and was cancelled. Disappointed, but it was still suggested that we meet up with Laura later in the evening for drinks instead.

Due to the change in plans, we decided to head back to the hotel instead of staying in Chinatown.

We chose to take the Metro followed by the BTS back to the hotel rather than take the boat back into the city. It’s a pain in the ass using public transportation to Chinatown and back!

We passed through Odeon Circle where the ceremonial Chinese gate marked the entrance to Chinatown.

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Did I mention Mike found what he had been craving for since forever? Rambutans! And for only $1-something a kilo!

Back at the hotel… only to continue eating!

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Mike’s one kilo of rambutans! Look how fresh they are πŸ™‚

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I bought some fresh lotus seed pods! The whole lot was around 30 cents? Couldn’t finish them all but it was definitely worth it! Something I’ve never seen available in Australia and that Mike’s never tried before. You may have seen dried lotus seeds sold in packs before but these are fresh – you pop out the seeds and remove the green peel for a crisp, crunchy, fresh, slightly sweet, and nutty snack!

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One of the treats we bought from a vendor outside our train station – BBQ’d meat sausage with some cabbage and green mango.

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Another snack we bought from a nearby vendor – Banana Roti – crispy sweet crepe with fresh banana filling and drizzled with condensed milk. So delicious! Best eaten right away πŸ˜‰

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Fresh taro bread we picked up at a bakery in Chinatown. It was sweet, flavourful and delicious, with a cute cake cube within!

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We also bought fresh quail eggs to boil and have with salt and pepper! It has always been one of my favourite snacks and when Mike was back in Ottawa, my mum introduced it to him and now he loves it too!

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Unfortunately, again, our plans with Laura were canceled because she was too exhausted to go out.

That was too bad. So Mike and I decided to head back down to Chinatown again, just to see the liveliness at night. By the time we got back down there though, it was pretty late and most places were already closing up. We were able to grab a light (boring, not too tasty) dinner because heading back and calling it a night.

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End of Day 04… finally! πŸ˜€

Yum Cha at King of Kings

Yoni was in town last weekend, and since Mike and I had been craving some yum cha (or dim sum), we convinced Yoni to come with us to King of Kings.

We arrived before the restaurant even opened for dinner, so an empty restaurant and plenty of seating to choose from. The staff were extremely friendly and service was great! I I also enjoyed the music – relaxing instrumental tracks (Muzak) of popular songs, both really old and really new. Nice when you have a headache! πŸ˜‰

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The reason why we enjoy having Yum Cha at King of Kings is because it is available all day and is made to order. The menu was small with 16 items to choose from that cost around $7-8 each. It didn’t take us long to make up our minds, we went ahead and ordered 7 dishes. Although I just found out on their website that there’s a much more extensive menu available, we’ll have to find out when we can get those options.

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Our guest for the weekend, Yoni, with long hair.

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Deep fried squid tentacles. This dish was generous but not as good as we’ve had before, I wish the batter was lighter and crispier.

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Panfried pork bun. Tasty dumplings with large amounts of nicely seasoned pork filling.

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Steamed BBQ pork bun. These buns were just okay, the filling was very gelatinous – too much flour added as filler.

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Deep fried prawn dumplings. Nice and huge crispy dumplings with lots of flavoured shrimp filling. Would definitely get again. Really weird sauce… I don’t even know how to describe it.

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Pan fried pork buns. Good sized buns with a tasty pork filling.

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Deep fried glutinous buns. My favourite of the night, I always love these glutinous buns and these ones had a lovely savoury meat filling.

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Steamed custard bun. Although the flavour was nice, the texture of the custard was too clumpy and dry, not the delicious creamy filling I was expecting.

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We were given fortune cookies to end our meal. So whose fortune was better?

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Total cost: $52 between 3 people – not bad! The quality of King of Kings yum cha is decent, although everything tastes much better when you are starving. Some of the dishes were really good and others were sub par. Would we come back again? Probably, because it’s so convenient from our house (less than 10 min bus ride). Although we’ve heard from many that Sunnybank is the place to go for dim sum so we’ll have to make our way down there one day!

King of Kings on Urbanspoon

Happy Lunar New Year!

Or as they say in Viet, “ChΓΊc mα»«ng nΔƒm mα»›i!”

I know, this post is a week late… but better late than never!

New year (Tet) was on February 10th this year but we didn’t do much to celebrate. Tet for me is mostly a celebration with the family, which means slight loneliness here in Australia. However, Mike and I did go out for a Chinese banquet dinner on Friday the 8th, which was quite yummy and also nice to just be out and relaxing πŸ™‚

On Sunday the 10th, we were back in Chinatown for Christine’s birthday lunch, which it also gave us the opportunity to check out the new year festivities. It was pretty crowded with performances on stage, restaurants full of patrons and many kiosks selling goods. Here are a few pictures!

FADU: Family Adventures Down Under

I’m starting up a new category of blog posts! This one’s called Family Adventures Down Under or FADU for short.

These entries will be written to share the fun times Mike and I have with my mommy (Khanh), my sister (Jenni) and my brother (Andy) as they visit Australia from July 6 to August 21, 2012.

I’m already 2 weeks behind so let’s get started!

July 6, 2012

No pictures! 😦

My mom and siblings arrived in Brisbane around 1:30pm. Customs was a breeze for them – lucky! We took the taxi home (only $40!) and chilled out the rest of the day catching up and dealing with jet lag. For dinner, I made rice with vegetarian bulgogi (made with firm tofu) and stir fried veggies.

July 7, 2012

Eggs and bruschetta for breakfast – yum! Then off to Davies Park Market in West End to check out the local produce. On the way back, we visited Chinatown where mommy stalked up on Asian necessities to make Bun Rieu – my first food request, haha. Of course, knowing my mom – she also stocked up on enough things to make 3 other dishes. Had sushi, crepes and bubbletea while out and Domino’s Pizza for dinner!

Stole these pictures from my mom’s camera:

Waiting for the bus to the market!

For whatever reason… my mom was super fascinated by this building

Fam pic in front of Chinatown gate

Andy sashaying in public… πŸ˜›

Now to find room for all the groceries!

Singapore Day 4: Chinese and Japanese Gardens

June 21, 2012

From the MRT station, we started off towards the Chinese Garden…

First visit, the 7 Storey Pagoda

The beautiful Bonsai Garden

Our Zodiac statues in the Garden of Abundance

Over the White Rainbow (13-Arch) Bridge to the Japanese Garden

Ran into my favourite flower! πŸ˜€

FULL ALBUM HERE!

Headed back into the city and met Bing and Lihuan at Hong Lim Food Complex in Chinatown for yummy lunch! Tried a number of dishes including

Bak Chor Mee (Mince Meat Noodles)

and Ice Kachang (colourful on left) for dessert!

Some shots of Chinatown

Neat idea – we need this

Back to Little India for some drinks (happy hour!) at our hotel before meeting my aunt, Tam, for dinner

Tekka Centre – where we had hawker Indian food a few times!