Bachelorette

May 07, 2016

To be honest, I didn’t think I would have a bachelorette (hen’s day/night). After all, we didn’t have an engagement party or a bridal shower. Not to mention I wasn’t even in the country until 2 weeks prior to the wedding! However, my amazing sister (maid of honour) and bridesmaids made sure to give me an incredibly special day.

I was told in advance that Saturday, May 7th would be my bachelorette and that it would take place over the whole day – how exciting! I had been previously asked what I would want for a bachelorette. My reply was high tea and a good meal. Definitely no need for clubbing/strippers please!

With that, my sister planned everything and presented me with this list of instructions:

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She even found a gorgeous white dress for me as I couldn’t find one in time!

Started the day with a gift from my sister – thank you so much!

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A bridal Pandora bead with bride on one side and groom on the other.

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Janet, my cousin and bridesmaid, picked us up and the adventure commenced!

First off, a beautiful high tea with my gorgeous bridesmaids at Nectar Fine Teas.

A menu consisting of fruit, soup, sandwiches, scones, desserts and chocolate. And pots of tea of course!

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In love with the china!

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As usual, lots of silliness and laughs with these girls!

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Fruit cup with jasmine tea syrup – so refreshing and not too sweet!

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Hearty legume soup sipper

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My beautiful bridesmaids!

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Check out the food – mmm! We had wasabi egg salad, smoked salmon & chevre, lemon chicken & mango chutney, and red pepper cream cheese & cucumber mini sandwiches. Also vanilla bean and cranberry-orange scones with preserves and clotted cream. Up top were dessert slices and an assortment of truffles. All the food was fantastic!

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Took a look around their shop after high tea. Nectar Fine Teas lives up to its name – such an amazing selection of teas and all the accessories you might need!

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After high tea, we got back into the car and started driving… Eventually we reached Quebec and at one point I was sure they were taking me to Omega Park (which I love!) which was when they made me shut my eyes and keep it a surprise.

The first place they stopped at advised that there would be a wait of a few hours… so we bailed (I still had no idea what was going on). We then we pulled over to a candle making shop – I was so excited! Only to be told it was actually a joke and we got back on the road. I was a bit disappointed to be honest. We finally arrived at a backup location. Still keeping my eyes shut, the girls guided me to the entrance.

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We were at Amerispa! For the rest of the afternoon we enjoyed pools, spas, saunas, silence, relaxation, laughs, and good conversation. Sorry, no photos!

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Afterwards, we all freshened up and changed into our outfits for the evening. Colour coordination was involved – me in white and everyone else in black!

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Julia always comes prepared… even with theme appropriate snacks!

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What a surprise! So many lovely ladies joined us for dinner! My friends as well as all my female cousins – thank you so much guys!

Atong, Julia, Tina (who I later found out was pregnant, yay!) and Jenn

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My now very grown up cousins – Lilian, Flora, Christine and Kim

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My cousin Janet and sister Jenni

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Had such a fantastic time catching up with everyone and I think we all enjoyed the delicious (and pretty reasonable priced) food at Fauna Food + Bar

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Have a look at some of the tasty dishes we enjoyed!

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Duck with kimchi fried rice

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Rabbit with squid ink pasta

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My sister, who is amazing, even went as far as getting us a beautiful congratulatory cake!

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Many of those sitting around us offered cheers of congratulations and lots of smiles – this girl really felt the love!

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The restaurant were happy to plate out our cake for an additional $3.50 a person. For the beautiful plating with icecream, cookie, and fruit caviar garnish, we all agreed it was definitely worth it!

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I even got presents! Thank you so much cousins for the lovely candle and selection of teas!

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A heartfelt thank you to all you gorgeous ladies for making me feel so special and loved to soon before my big day! Love you all!

Exactly one week until the wedding!

Lightbox

February 7, 2016

3 months before our wedding, I finally found and ordered my wedding dress! And actually, Jess did too (unexpectantly)! Thank you to Gladstone Bridal for everything… which I will share more about in another blog post 😉

After our dress adventure, we met up with Michael (who was killing time waiting around for us and Mike R to catch up over dinner. Both Mike R and Kon were in Gladstone doing an Emergency rotation, but unfortunately, Kon was working the evening shift.

Michael has been to lightbox for tapas dinner in the past and loved it. We have also all enjoyed an awesome breakfast there previously… check out this lightbox breakfast with eggs your way, bacon, sausage, roasted roma tomato, mushroom, baked beans and sourdough ($24).

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Given our previous good experiences, it was a no brainer to meet up at lightbox for dinner!

Service was impeccable as always. We arrived a little early for dinner but the place was packed later in the evening.

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We enjoyed a number of tapas dishes including the following:

Leek & manchego croquette with spicy mayonnaise ($9)

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Crispy Moroccan wings with lime aioli and lemon ($14)

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Lemon pepper calamari with tartare and lemon ($12)

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Sweet potato wedges with sweet chili mayonnaise ($8)

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Bruschetta with mushrooms and savoury schurros with cheese (sorry, I can’t remember exact name and price, and they are no longer listed on the menu)

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All the dishes were nice and as stated in the menu. Good serving size for price and I always appreciate generous servings of sauce! Great food, day and night, always friendly service and a changing menu. Would love to go back for dinner and try their main dishes! Definitely worth a visit if you’re in Gladstone!

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

Malaysia House

December 29, 2015

More recently opened in Rockhampton, we highly recommend visiting Malaysia House for some tasty food!

It’s just a little more expensive than other Asian restaurants, but definitely good value and the food is always delicious. With a drinks menu, lots of seating room, and friendly service,  we have never left Malaysia House dissatisfied.

We have frequented the restaurant a number of times, including for takeaway – here are a few dishes from our visit with friends shortly after Christmas!

Laksa – Malaysian style curry, coconut mil, vegetables and rice noodles ($13.80-18.80)
Has been one of favourite noodle dishes since first trying it in Singapore – and this dish does it justice!

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Golden Sands – deep fired in batter made from duck egg yolks ($20.80-24.80). This is my favourite dish at Malaysia House and I always recommend it to anyone who asks for suggestions. Salty, crunchy, and decadent, try both chicken and king prawn!

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Along with Amanda, Farrah, and Pei Yee, we had these two with us at dinner!

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Assam Dish – fish or king prawn cooked in tangy tamarind sauce with fresh tomatoes, okra and onions ($20.80-22.80). I didn’t have this dish, but was told it wasn’t bad!

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Angel hair king prawns – crispy king prawns in buttery egg floss and fresh curry leaves ($23.80) Tasty, but I still like Golden Sands more!

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Roti Canai – traditional flat bread that is crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. Served with curry dip and sambal paste ($3.00)

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Char Kway Teow – wok fried flat rice noodles in spicy sambal and bean sprouts ($14.80) Love the wok flavour and never overdone!

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Some of our other favourite regular dishes:

  • Curry puffs (3 for $7.80)
  • Rendang beef ($17.80)
  • Homemade BBQ duck ($25.80)
  • Salt and pepper silken tofu ($15.80)
  • Pad Thai ($14.80)
  • Nasi Lemak ($14.80)

They also have a Lunch Special menu, each dish less than $15! If you’re craving Asian food, looking for new place to try, stop by Malaysia House!

Malaysia House  Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Christmas Festivities

December 24, 2015

A quiet Christmas Eve together at home. And of course, Michael can’t do Christmas without some eggnog, rum and cinnamon!

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Also spent the night baking some of my favourite white chocolate & cranberry cookies to share on Christmas.

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December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas!

We slept in, which was glorious. And then we opened presents together… our 5th Christmas together, how I love this man!

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We agreed not to spend too much on each other for Christmas presents this year (around $150)… gotta save up for the wedding!

Some stocking stuffers from Mike – I think he got me the Toblerone because it’s his favourite and he knew I would share 😉

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A card from Michael’s parents

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Some of Michael’s stocking stuffers

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The Paediatric Ward did a Secret Santa gift exchange… I got some beautiful earrings and a notebook – thank you Santa!

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Gifts from my sister… all the way from Canada, thank you so much!

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Michael was so incredibly proud of his Christmas presents to me, and to be honest, I was amazed! He got me so many great things at such incredible deals, he stayed within the budget!

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I’ve always wanted a wicker picnic basket, and this one had 4 complete sets of stainless steel dinnerware and cutlery! And now that we have a beautiful island to visit, he’s bought me some fins to complete my snorkel gear. And a ground pad and inflatable pillow for camping (after getting me a sleeping bag earlier in the year!) And a girl can never have too many underwear – thank you so much my love!

Some of my gifts for Michael. Friends made fun of me for getting him a textbook but I thought as this is his current, most serious, decision in life – it would never hurt to have a good (recommended) reference book

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This was our first year away from family at Christmas, a little sad! But so kind of Nerissa to invite us to join for lunch with her parents (Aunt Neetha and Uncle Danny) visiting from Brisbane. We had a great time and it felt like having a family away from home 🙂

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Old man Jin helping with lunch

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Started with a fresh watermelon and prawn salad with feta, mint and proscuitto

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We were treated to a full home cooked dinner complete with a turkey! And even got to try a different styled stuffing with a base from chicken liver, something tasty we’ve never had before!

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We had no idea, but there was even a gift exchange, which was so lovely! Thank you so much to everyone for including us two Christmas Orphans!

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How cute are these two?

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Garrett mugs for everyone!

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A Corelle set from Jess & Jin, mug from Garrett, Spa kit + men’s set from Aunt & Uncle… thank you so much guys!

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Love you guys!

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Dessert

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With these avid fishers, once the topic of fishing came up… it didn’t stop 😉 Not only did they go down to fish in the evening, they also made plans to go fishing bright and early the following day 😛

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Thank you so much to our friends for a warm and beautiful Aussie Christmas celebration!

December 26, 2015

Family Christmas get together in Ottawa! Got to skype the g-parents the join the fam jam 😉

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Even from afar they think of us too ❤

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These two!

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A beautiful Christmas gift from Amanda – diffuser with mood lighting

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A few days later, a package came in the mail for us – from Michael’s parents!

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So many delicious goodies!

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And some beautiful Christmas cards from our friends ❤

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Thai Taste

November 24, 2015

Starving after a long day of work, Pei Yee, Amanda, and I dug in and caught up with each other over a delicious meal at Thai Taste.

One of the most popular Thai restaurants in Rockhampton, this was only my first time visiting.

The restaurant is pretty spacious, maybe even seating approximately 100 people and was decently busy for weekday night.

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For starters, we had Todmun Pla – Thai spicy fish cakes served with sweet chili sauce ($8.50). Good chewy texture!

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We also had some Tom Kha Gai – Chicken coconut milk soup with lemongrass, galangal, lime leaves and mushroom ($10.90). This is my favourite Thai soup, with has so much depth of flavour is always belly warming!

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We shared a few main dishes, including Chicken Pad Thai – stir fried noodles with egg, carrot and topped with peanuts ($16.90). The flavour of this dish was really good, however, the noodles were too saucy for our liking.

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Tamarind Prawns – slowly cooked with special curry sauce, cashew nuts, and vegetables ($20.90). As you can see, this dish is the furthest thing from being aesthetically pleasing, which could explain why the other girls didn’t quite like it. I’m unsure, but think the odd texture is due to scrambled eggs? Although not terrible, we would not order this dish again.

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And lastly, Crispy Chicken ($16.90) which is self explanatory and very hard to go wrong 😉

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Overall, we had a lovely time and would definitely be back to try more dishes, especially the curries as we didn’t have any this visit. Service was great and the prices are reasonable for the quality and quantity of food served!

There was an article recently published – the owners of Thai Taste will be opening a second restaurant on the South side of Rockhampton – yay, closer to my house!

Thai Taste Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Catch up dinner at Park Avenue Hotel

October 25, 2015

A restaurant initially chosen for its convenient location close to Jess & Jin’s house – we left Park Avenue Hotel pleased!

The ambiance is bright with ample seating room. We didn’t have reservations but were seated promptly in a booth that allowed more privacy.

For starters, we shared a trio of dips with grilled ciabatta bread ($10) – the dips of the day included balsamic & olive oil, olive tapenade, and pesto. Very generous servings of dips, we wish they served it with more bread so they wouldn’t go to waste!

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Our dinner dates!

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2 of us had the fish of the day. If I remember correctly, it was salmon on roasted asparagus and kipler potatoes with chardonnay cream and topped with crumbed scallops ($28)

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Crumbed fish, prawns & scallops served with coleslaw, beer battered chips & tartare sauce ($29). With a craving for fish and chips, – these hit the spot! The prawns and scallops were small though!

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Lastly, I got the Chicken schnitzel topped with bacon, bbq sauce & grilled swiss cheese topped with tomato & onion salsa, served with beer battered chips & salad ($23). The schnitzel was well cooked but I think a few tweaks to the dish would make it better. There should’ve been more quantity of BBQ sauce and salsa for flavour, and the bacon should be served as a diced and crispy topping, rather than a whole piece of soggy bacon.

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We enjoyed our time at the PA Hotel and have been meaning to go back for their ‘Put Pork on your Fork’ Thursday special – slow roasted pork belly on crushed honey and black pepper roasted sweet potato with wilted spinach & roasted garlic jus. Includes a glass of house wine or pot of beer or soft drink for $20! You know me, I love roasted pork and crackling more! Keep seeing rave reviews so hope to go sometime soon!

Dinner is a tad on the expensive side, but they also have a great looking lunch menu with $15 specials. Would definitely recommend checking them out if looking for a nice place to eat with good customer service and food!

Park Avenue Hotel Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Adelaide: Day 3 – Dinner at The Moseley

September 28, 2015

After a wander down Jetty Rd, we decided to have dinner at The Moseley Bar & Kitchen. They have a sit down restaurant on the first floor and a bar restaurant upstairs.

As we have never been to The Moseley, based on the menu alone, we decided to eat in their downstairs restaurant.

Lovely lighting and what a welcoming view! Bright, uniquely furnished, warm, spacious, and casual – just what we were looking for.

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We had not made reservations but did not have any issues. We were shown to some couches and coffee table as our dining area. Interesting wall beside us filled with old window panels.

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Eye drawing and installed at the front of the restaurant are comfy hanging white wicker chairs. We couldn’t resist a swing after dinner 😉

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Our lovely company for the night!

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Started off the evening with some fresh bread!

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Isabelle and I still working on our selfie game 😉

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Matt and Laura decided on the same dish – Ricotta Gnocchi with kale, broccolini & almonds ($25) which they both enjoyed!

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Michael and I were interested in trying a few of the entrees!

Pork Belly Japanese ramen broth with shaved bug tails and wheat noodles ($15). We both thought this dish could’ve been much better, it just needed actual hot broth! When we first tasted the dish, the pork belly was unfortunately dry, but the egg was nicely cooked, flavour of the broth and texture of the noodles were good. The broth, however, was lukewarm and as a result, the bug tails weren’t fully cooked, not to mention it’s odd eating a ramen dish that was neither hot nor cold. We asked the staff if this dish was meant to be room temperature and she happily offered to ask the kitchen to make us a fresh bowl. Sadly, the second bowl came out at the same temperature! If you are not serving noodles in a cold broth, it should come out steaming hot!

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Aside from the above mentioned fluke, the rest of the food was good!

We had Chicken, leek & truffle pithivier with frisée, bacon & croutons ($16). We learned a new word that night. Normally a sweet dish, a Pithivier is a round, enclosed pie usually made by baking two disks of puff pastry, with filling stuffed in between.

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Twice baked gruyere souffle with apple & walnut salad, Waldorf sorbet, & quince paste ($15). As you can imagine, all the components worked really well together. The sorbet was refreshing but we still don’t know what flavours Waldorf sorbet entails – totally forgot to ask!

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Last, but definitely our favourite of the night, Duck liver pate with goji berry jelly & charred house made bread ($15). Indulgent, and a really nice balance of savoury and sweet. We weren’t expecting the jelly to be a layer overtop the pate but it was great! We couldn’t get enough of the charred bread as well – it should come with more to prolong the enjoyment of the pate 😉

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Enjoyable evening with great service and a welcoming atmosphere. We would love to come back if we lived in Adelaide and definitely recommend a visit!

The Moseley Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Birthday dinner at Tsuruya

September 22, 2015

Celebrating Michael’s 36th birthday with a special night out! After much anticipation, we drove down to Capricorn Resort Yeppoon for our 6:30pm dinner reservation at Tsuruya Japanese Restaurant.

From their website:

Indulge yourself in the authentic, personalised interactive table cooking and tradition of the exquisite and delicate flavours of Japanese cuisine. Tsuruya also features a Sushi Bar for made to order sushi rolls and the freshest local seafood sashimi prepared right in front of your eyes.

We were greeted at the entrance on arrival and shown to our table. Happy to find that they had given us a table in a corner by the window, a little quieter and more private. The female servers were dressed in nice kimonos which added to the ambiance of the restaurant.

How cute are the place settings? The kimono napkins were a nice touch!

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The birthday boy!

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Didn’t expect the restaurant to be very busy on a Tuesday night during down season, but surprisingly it was! Lots of families with young children throughout the evening.

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Chef at the sushi bar, keeping an eye out on his guests 😛

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After perusing the menu, we finally decided on some sets.

Michael chose Sushi (C) Course ($69.50) which included the following:

  • Appetiser
  • Dobin Mushi
  • Steak ‘Japanese style’
  • Assorted Sushi

I decided on Sushi (B) Course ($59.50) which included the following:

  • Appetiser
  • Ebi Shinjoh Age
  • Dobin Mushi
  • Chawan Mushi
  • Yakitori
  • Assorted Sushi

Our appetiser Gyu Sashimi – Raw beef thinly sliced and served cold with a vinegar flavoured soy. We had never had anything like this before, very refreshing taste!

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With the above appetiser, I also received my Ebi Shinjoh Age – Deep fried prawn & fish cake. Nice that there were 2 pieces so I could could share one with Mike! A little on the dark side from frying but good flavours and a nice chewy texture.

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Sitting by the window, we saw a kangaroo come by for a graze on the lawn!

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Our next course – soups!

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Both Michael and I received Dobin Mushi – Seafood, chicken and mushrooms in a clear soup served in a traditional Japanese pot. Absolutely loved the presentation. Served in a teapot, we were instructed to add a bit of lemon juice and pour the broth into the teacup to slowly enjoy. The broth was clear and so incredibly intense in flavour! Also lovely to eat all the morsels of seafood at the bottom of your pot as well.

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My set came with a second soup – Chawan Mushi – seafood, chicken and vegetables cooked in a hot savory egg custard. Extremely delicate, silky and delicious, never had anything like it!

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Onto our meat dishes!

For me, Yakitori – pieces of chicken and onion on bamboo skewers with homemade BBQ sauce. Chicken was super tender and well flavoured. Loved this! Again, the portion was large enough to share with Michael, which was nice!

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Michael’s steak came with a hot stone that allowed him to further cook the steak at his seat, it also came with a light dipping sauce. The steak was tender but served a little overcooked (to his liking) since you’re supposed to cook it more, and a little under seasoned, even with the dipping sauce.

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And finally, our assorted sushi box! Beautifully presented with a mix of scallop, prawn, eel, and fish – with a side of ginger and wasabi. We have heard raves of how fresh the fish is at Tsuruya, but unfortunately for us, we didn’t find the same that night. Some pieces were better than others, but certainly not the buttery textures we were expecting!

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Overall a lovely night out for the birthday boy with some incredibly tasty food! (Except for the sushi unfortunately…) Also great value for money and we look forward to coming back to try the lunch menu 🙂

Michael’s 36th Birthday!

September 21, 2015

Happiest of birthdays to you my love!

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Due to the fact that I was working and also preparing for my job interview on Michael’s birthday, we decided to hold off on celebrating until the following day.

Instead, we had a low key night at home. I made him one of his favourites – bacon and mushroom risotto – for dinner.

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September 22, 2015

The following morning, I had my job interview, which was over quite quickly (more about that in a separate post) and I soon found myself back home with Mike!

Luckily, he had the day off as well and we had planned a dinner date/celebration at Tsuruya – a well known Japanese restaurant at the Capricorn Resort in Yeppoon.

We still had the whole day to ourselves though! Always nice to relax at home together on the our days off, catching up with TV shows and just enjoying each other’s company.

Made another special for Michael – shrimp toast for lunch.

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I spent the majority of the morning making the components of Mike’s birthday cake. He requested a ‘German Chocolate Cake‘ because he’d had it before and it was so richly chocolate and decadent. I had never made a German Chocolate Cake before, and after reading its description, insisted that he was mistaken. But the birthday boy was insistent that’s what he wanted! 😉

We headed out to Yeppoon in the early evening for a stroll on the beach and to enjoy the sunset before dinner. Beautiful as always!

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Sculpture on Yeppoon beach front against the sunset

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Framed

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Gorgeous sunset colours

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One last photo together before heading to dinner!

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I will talk about our awesome dinner at Tsuruya in the next post!

We saved room for dessert, birthday cake! It doesn’t look the prettiest, but I tell you, it was tasty! Turns out German Chocolate Cake is not German at all! Invented in the US by a man with the last name German. Chocolate cake topped with a coconut-pecan frosting. Despite the discovery of a new delicious cake, Michael eventually conceded that what he had in mind was, in fact, Belgian chocolate cake, the silly man!

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I also finally gave Michael his birthday present… a scavenger hunt with 20 clues, each one with money inside. It didn’t take him too long to solve all the clues but he loved it, yay!

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Got himself a nice golf club (60deg wedge) with extra birthday money leftover for other enjoyments! Happy birthday my dearest! Here’s to many more to come!

Triple birthday dinner at The Ranch

September 12, 2015

Thank you to all of you who came out to celebrate our September babies – Garrett, Jess and Michael! I was amazed at the number of attendees on such late notice – you guys rock!

We decided on dinner at The Ranch Bar and Grill for a few reasons:

  • Very recently opened, so none of us had visited yet
  • Numerous good reviews
  • Convenient location for everyone!

The Ranch had just recently opened, so some hiccups were expected, but we luckily didn’t encounter too many! We initially made a reservation for 12 people at 8pm. However, because our friends are awesome and more people responded than anticipated, we had to change our reservation last minute to 16. The staff were lovely and more than accommodating with our request, however it did take quite a bit of time to set up. By the time we were seated, it was almost 9pm and we had to rush to get our orders in before the kitchen closed.

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I called in advance to make sure it would be okay with me bringing a cake. Yes, and they were more happy to keep our cake in the fridge – thank you! Made a banana chocolate raspberry cake with Nutella icing 🙂

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They have a bar area (room to sit and stand), which was great while we waited to be seated, perfect to mingle and talk. A variety of beers on tap and a couple of special cocktails. For some reason, we weren’t able to order other bar drinks (ie. gin & tonic) – wasn’t sure why, but we didn’t push it!

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Did we mention there was live music? Yep! I have to admit, our group was more busy catching up with one another than tuning into the music, but the other patrons were certainly enjoying it!

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The menu looked great and everyone was happy with their meals! The portions were also generous and the food freshly cooked!

Both tables ordered the Wagon Train – Entree Combination Platter ($32 for 2 and $48 for 4) – Let’s just say… if you’re ordering the platter, you don’t need a main meal! A mix of potato skins, chicken tenders, stuffed jalapenos, and spicy chicken wings – a great value!

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2 of our birthday boys

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Everyone was quite happy with their steaks, which were cooked medium-rare. Unfortunately, due to the rush, they weren’t allowed to rest for the appropriate amount of time so all the juices ran out on the plate as soon as the steak was cut. Hand cut chips in the mini pails were a cute touch!

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Birthday girl, pretty in red!

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A terrible photo but my San Antonio Chicken Burger ($17.90) was yum! The succulent, crispy chicken really makes the burger!

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It was getting late by the time we were finished dinner and ready to move on to cake cutting. The staff were wonderful! They insisted it wouldn’t be too much trouble and even insisted on finding us enough matching tableware for the cake cutting/eating.

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Thank you so much! It worked out much better than taking the cake away and having to all head over to someone else’s house to eat it.

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Happy birthday you three!! Thank you to the staff at The Ranch! And of course, to all our friends for coming out to celebrate!

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We will definitely be coming back for more meals in the future!

Great Chinese food from Dragon Gallery

We definitely have a weak spot for Chinese food and were glad to find an establishment in Rockhampton to satisfy our cravings.

Dragon Gallery is located at 1/295 Richardson Rd – next to the Asian grocery store Food Sing Trading.

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A small, simply decorated restaurant with limited seating so don’t forget to call and make reservations to ensure a spot! While dining in, we also noticed a very steady stream of customers coming in to pick up their takeaway orders. And speaking from experience, perfect for a night in!

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There may be a wait for food if it’s a busy night, but service is always good with frequent checking in to make sure you’re enjoying your meal.

(Menus provided by Dragon Gallery)

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At our first visit with a few friends, we decided on one of the banquet options for value and variety.

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We decided on the $32/head option and were not disappointed!

Mixed entrees – mini spring rolls, fried dim sims, and fried mashed prawn with sesame on toast.

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The spring rolls were large and delicious with the perfect hint of five-spice seasoning, something I’ve never seen before. Dim sims were also great. The prawn toast, however, had so little prawn they seemed more like fried sesame bread. I’m a huge fan of prawn toast and make it quite often at home slathered to the brim with prawn paste so it made me a little sad.

Pork with vegetables in oyster sauce. The pork was tender, vegetables still crisp and the sauce not too overpowering or salty!

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Boneless crispy chicken in lemon sauce. Piping hot and crisp with a delicious sweet and sour lemon sauce – always a favourite.

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All the dishes were served with generous portions of Fried Rice. Unfortunately, I forgot to grab a photo but it was simple and delicious.

Mongolian Beef – Sizzling hot, incredibly tender and not overpowered with onions.

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Honey prawns. This dish is always a treat. Perfect when they’re fresh out of the fryer with a delicate crisp batter coating and tossed in a sweet honey concoction… delicious!

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Included in the banquet is the option of dessert – banana fritter with ice cream or deep fried ice cream. We chose deep fried ice cream that came on a bed of canned fruit. The batter was interesting… coconut based and crumbly. I think we would choose to try the banana fritters next time.

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We prefer dining in as the food is piping hot and fresh but takeaway is a great option as well – we love the family options! Your food is often ready in the time frame given when you place your order. The only disappointment involved with takeaway is having to get the food home before you can eat it. And in that time, crispy dishes can get soggy from the steam!

Head in to Dragon Gallery for some delicious Chinese food! You won’t leave dissatisfied! 🙂

Anytime at the Giddy Goat

Giddy Goat Cafe & Bar is a favourite for many in Rocky and the perfect place to head with your family or friends at any time. Breakfast, lunch, midday coffee and snack, dinner, and late night drinks.

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With an expansion upstairs open Wednesday – Sunday, lots of room for everyone!

Not to mention they also have attractive specials including:

  • $5 steaks on Thursdays with $1 sides (coleslaw, corn, caesar salad, mashed potatoes, onion rings)
  • $2 tacos on Wednesdays (chicken, beef, fish, falafel)
  • Well priced drinks and daily special menus

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We have visited a number of times now, including on Thursday for the $5 steak special. Incredibly good deal, although you cannot expect an amazing quality steak 😉

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We have also stopped by during the day for coffee and cakes to catch up with friends.

Decent quality cakes available in the cabinet with numerous options and fair prices!

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The coffees ($3.50-4.80) aren’t bad and the slushies ($3-4.50) are tasty, although a tad on the sweet side.

There are also some pretty tasty lunch items including gourmet burgers and healthier options!

I was fooled. Ordered the Salmon, lettuce, avocado, red onion, feta and aioli ($14) thinking it was a fish burger – but it was smoked salmon! Still pretty tasty!

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My favourite type of roasted pork is the old school Asian styled. But this Crispy Pork Belly Salad with mixed lettuce, green beans, coriander, crispy noodles and honey soy dressing ($16) puts a nice spin on my traditional favourite!

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After numerous visits to the Giddy Goat, we have yet to be disappointed by the wait times for food and drinks. The service has also been impeccable – friendly and prompt. Now that we are settled in Rocky, will continue being a regular for sure!

Giddy Goat Cafe & Bar on Urbanspoon

Malaya Corner and meeting for the first time

December 19, 2014

Dinner out with my family from Perth, and they were meeting Michael and his family for the first time!

Michael and I suggested Malaya Corner for dinner as it has a lots of seating, and tasty, generous dishes for a very reasonable price.

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Unfortunately, some of my family members really didn’t like their dishes and jokingly vowed never to return 😛

Some of our dishes

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Even though the food may not have been the best, the company sure was!

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I don’t remember the last time I had a meal out together with both my Ong Ba Ba and Ong Ba Ut, making memories for a lifetime!

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Glad Michael and his parents had the chance to meet some of my family as well!

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We walked over to King George Square after dinner to enjoy the Christmas Lights Spectacular show

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Then walked my family back to their apartment. It was getting late and everyone was ready to call it a night.

We did, however, take a few more family photos!

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Thank you to Ong Ba Ba for treating us to our first family meal out together! ❤

SIN/KL 2014: Dinner at Gardens by Bay

December 01, 2014

After our visit to the domes at Gardens by the Bay, we walked around and enjoyed the nearby sights, including the Supertrees in daytime.

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Here are a few facts regarding the Supertrees, taken from the Gardens by the Bay website:

  • These unique trees of up to 16 storeys in height can be found all around the Gardens – twelve at the Supertree Grove, while the remaining six are placed in clusters of threes at the Golden and Silver Gardens.
  • 11 Supertrees are embedded with environmentally sustainable functions like photovoltaic cells to harvest solar energy.
  • Supertrees are made of four parts: reinforcement concrete core, trunk, planting panels of the living skin, and canopy.
  • Over 162,900 plants comprising more than 200 species and varieties of bromeliads, orchids, ferns and tropical flowering climbers are planted on the Supertrees.
  • Garden Rhapsody – When night falls, watch as the Supertrees come alive with a dazzling myriad of light displays bursting across the sky.

At 6pm, we met with my Aunt Tam at Supertree Dining for a casual dinner and catching up! Aunt Tam grew up in Australia and is currently working in Singapore. Michael and I have been lucky, this is now the second time we’ve been able to meet up with her in Singapore!

We decided on dinner at Hill Street Coffee Shop, one of the numerous options within Supertree Dining. Other options include: American diner food, Italian and even Texas Chicken.

A simple but tasty dinner of satay, laksa and nasi lemak. Even better was the company 🙂

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With Aunt Tam!

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After dinner, we enjoyed the lit up Supertrees and there was even fake snow (in the form of little soap foam bubbles) within the large lit up castle-like structure! Everyone was loving and it was be the closest thing to snow we would enjoy this year 😛

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Our timing was great and we got to sit and enjoy the Garden Rhapsody light show!

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Unfortunately, we couldn’t hang out too late. Aunt Tam had work the next morning, and we had an overnight train to catch to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia!

SIN/KL 2014: Vietnamese dinner at From Bac to Nam

November 28, 2014

Across the street from Outrigger Resort, as part of Burleigh Gold Coast Motel, was Bac to Nam Vietnamese Dining.

It had been a very long time since the three of us visited a Viet restaurant (nothing beats home cooked food right?), but we were all intrigued and decided to give it a try.

The first thing we liked about the restaurant was its unique name. Bac to Nam means ‘North to South’, alluding to a menu that includes items from North, Central and South Vietnam.

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Upon entering, the restaurant was dimly lit with nice ambiance and lovely, traditional décor. Resembling a hut with wooden tables and benches, with simplistic containers for utensils and napkins.

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Around the walls were canvases of scenes from Vietnam, some of which we have even personally visited.

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Mom got Vietnamese Prawn Fried Rice ($16) – generous amount of prawns and well seasoned. Good Vietnamese iced coffee too!

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Michael chose Chili pork with rice ($17) that he really enjoyed.

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And I got Pork belly with homemade sauce and rice ($18). The pork belly tasted homemade, succulent with crispy crackling and accompanied by a subtle sauce.

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Portions smaller than expected, but good home-style food, not to expect anything fancy or extravagant. We had an enjoyable night but did find the menu to be quite a bit more expensive compared to Vietnamese restaurants in Brisbane. They are licensed now as well so you can enjoy a beer with your food!

Bac To Nam Vietnamese Dining on Urbanspoon

Having friends over for dinner!

October 24, 2014

After so many months of talking about getting together for a catch up, we finally did it! Bing came over for dinner and we agreed on preparing a 3 course meal between the three of us. Unfortunately, I, of all people, forgot to take a group photo! 😦 Instead, I only have photos of our meal.

Bing prepared the entree – Perfectly cooked mussels in beer with Asian flavours. We prepared the main dish (Banh Tam Xiu Mai) as well as the dessert – Vietnamese Flan. My first time making flan with over-the-phone-directions from my mum, turned out way better than expected!

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Felt like we could’ve kept talking through the night. Had a great time and can’t wait to do it again!


October 27, 2014

Being able to get to know Sam over this year was definitely a treat, especially during our Obstetrics & Gynaecology rotation. Lots of laughs and assistance with keeping sanity were provided on his end. I was lucky, I even got to hear stories of his relationship, including his plan to propose! If you know me, you know I get super duper excited for other people when it comes to things like this. Both Mike and I were very happy to learn of their engagement while we were back in Canada! Unfortunately, we didn’t attend Sam & Kim’s engagement party. But… we finally got the chance to catch up and more importantly, meet Kim!

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We invited them over for dinner and without thinking, decided to make Thai green curry with rice for dinner on a super hot day. The heat and spice may have been a little overwhelming, our bad! Sam & Kim brought equipment over to make hotcakes for dessert. Unfortunately, what they didn’t know ahead of time is our microwave is broken and can only run for a total of 4.5 minutes before it dies. These hotcakes that were meant to be a simple dessert because they were prepared in advance and only needed cooking in the microwave ended up having to be steamed over the stove. Sorry guys!

Delicious though! Full of citrus flavours with a dollop of cream balancing out the sweetness.

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Thanks for coming guys!

Dinner with friends at Capri Bar Cafe

October 19, 2014

With a very pleasant previous experience at Capri Bar Cafe in Emporium in the past, we invited a few friends to join us for a revisit. A 50% off special was being offered through Dimmi at our time of booking, which made the experience more worthwhile.

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We were a group of 5 and similar to our previous visit, service was excellent. Staff were attentive, friendly, and happy to accommodate any requests – thank you!

For wine, we ordered a bottle of 2009 Solar Viejo Tempranillo from Rioja Spain ($49). It was the first time any of us had tried a Tempranillo, a black grape variety, and quite enjoyed it.

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Our friend Xuan decided to try out two main dishes while the remaining 4 of us decided to order a variety of entrees to share. This worked out really nicely as the share plates were perfectly sized and portioned.

Our share plates!

Mediterranean Bruschetta – House made olive tapanade with roasted pumpkin and grilled haloumi ($13). Really tasty and definitely an easy inspirational dish to try out at home!

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Mediterranean Koftas – Mediterranean lamb koftas served with a chick pea and rocket salad, tzatziki and Turkish bread ($17). These were moist, flavourful and delicious! Loved the freshness of the tzatziki sauce as well.

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Chicken & Haloumi – Grilled chicken served with roasted beetroot and rocket salad finished with grilled haloumi ($16.50). Salad was nicely dressed but as you can guess from this photo, the chicken was a little dry and unfortunately not very seasoned.

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Arancini – Baked beetroot and walnut arancini, served with a rocket salad and a side of marinated fetta ($16). One of our favourites. In addition to the taste, the colour from the beetroot really makes this dish stand out!

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Chicken Fritters – Oven baked sweet potato and zucchini fritters, with grilled chicken strips and house made tahini yoghurt ($18). The fritters (and the sauce) were great, another dish I’d love to try and recreate at home, especially when they’re baked and not fried. Unfortunately, this dish also contained the same unexciting chicken strips!

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Capri Pizza – Air dried beef rib fillet, semi dried tomatoes, olives and roasted eggplant with mozzarella and fetta cheese ($24). With all our food coming out at once, the pizza was a little cooled by the time we got to it but still good! Thin crispy crust and a good mixture of ingredients, would’ve never thought to add roasted eggplant to any pizza but it works well!

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Xuan’s first main was Prawn & Calamari Spaghetti – Local prawns and baby calamari, marinated in chilli and garlic with Italian parsley and extra virgin olive oil ($28.50). Nicely balanced dish with a flavourful sauce and good quality seafood, although perhaps frozen as opposed to fresh prawns.

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His second dish was NT Barramundi – Grilled Barramundi fillet served on sweet potato Roman gnocchi with parmesan roasted cauliflower and avocado salsa ($33). The fish was fresh and nicely cooked but he didn’t find the ingredients worked well together which made the dish overall not memorable.

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Sharing small dishes is great because it leaves room for dessert 😉

Xuan and Yung Howe had a slice of Flourless Chocolate Cake – Warm flourless chocolate cake with white chocolate ganache, berry coulis and vanilla gelato ($13) – mmm yummy!

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Yoni really enjoyed a Macadamia Brownie – Dark chocolate, roasted macadamia brownie served with white chocolate ganache and vanilla gelato ($13).

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We all agreed that plating of the previous 2 desserts, in particular the sauces, a little… tacky 🙂

Mike and I had an exceptional Sticky Date Pudding – Banana sticky date with butterscotch sauce and vanilla gelato ($13) – the perfect hot and cold, salty and sweet dessert combination!

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We had a great dinner, with many more hits with our food than misses. Lots of fun catching up and sharing stories and the night ended on a high note with a surprise – some port on the house! Thanks to the staff at Capri Bar Cafe for their awesome service and good food! Total bill came to $150 which was definitely a steal! Looking forward to visiting again 🙂

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Capri Cafe Bar on Urbanspoon

Mike & Meaghan’s birthday!

September 15, 2014

After a fiasco with booking our bus tickets to Kingston, we had to resort to asking Mike’s dad to drive up to Ottawa and get us. Thank goodness for him!

Today was a special family day, an early joint birthday celebration for Michael and and his sister Meaghan! Mike was turning 35 on Sept 21st and the first time he’s been home to celebrate with his family in over a decade. And Meaghan was turning the big 30 on Sept 26th.

Got to spend some quality time with the family, including Mike’s parents (Greg & Caroline), his brother Matt with his wife Jessice and 2 children, Jasper and RInoa, Aunt Patsy & Uncle Dan, as well as Uncle Jim & Aunt Brenda 🙂

Started off the day with a delicious lunch, thanks Matt – you make awesome grilled cheese! My mom sent a coconut lemon poppy seed cake that was fantastic and a hit with the family as well.

For dinner, Mike’s mum made meatballs, beans, caesar salad, and biscuits from Aunt Patsy – yum!

After dinner came the cake and singing! Caroline made 2 cakes, chocolate for Mike and vanilla for Meaghan.

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The vanilla cake provided lots of good laughs! It was supposed to be a lady bug 😉 … a pretty cute one!

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Look at that smile!

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Happy early birthday guys! 🙂

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Great to catch up!

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Aunt Brenda & Uncle Jim

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The birthday siblings

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With Uncle Jim

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The cute nephew, Jasper!

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Uncle Dan & Aunt Patsy – see you soon in Australia!

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Mike’s dad and his youngest grandchild 🙂

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Jasper excited for cake!

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Matt and his son Jasper. Cake and ice cream, what better way to end the night?

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And finally, some family photos!

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My last opportunity to spend time with Mike’s family 😦 Thank you for having me and can’t wait until we see you again in Australia!

Post exam dinner at Agricola Street Brasserie

September 11, 2014

Ecstatic to have completed our Medical Specialties exam, we were looking forward to a nice dinner with friends. A highly anticipated visit to Agricola Street Brasserie – finally! We were joined for dinner by Laura, Matt and their daughter Isabelle, as well as Ian & Sarah. 🙂

I have to apologize that we didn’t take many photos, too busy enjoying the food and everyone’s company!

You are immediately invited into the restaurant by the great atmosphere and friendly waitstaff. High ceilings, very rustic (yet classy) looking with mood lighting.

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We all enjoyed a cocktail to start, great choices available, although I can’t remember what we ordered now! Once our dinner orders in, some nice house bread and whipped butter were brought to the table. The butter was presented in cute mini jam jars, a cute touch!

We ordered a few appetizers to share, including a cheese plate with local and imported cheeses ($14). The cheese variety (can’t remember, sorry!) was interesting and tasty, served with bread, crisps and mango chutney. I think most of us enjoyed the blue cheese most, which was unexpected! With the amount of cheese on the plate, it could’ve definitely used more crisps or bread, although I’m sure it wouldn’t have been a problem if we had asked for more.

Mike and I picked out 2 dishes to try and share with everyone. The first was Classic Beef Tartare ($15). I quite liked the presentation of this dish, mainly because of the egg yolk in a half shell you pour over the beef yourself. Simple, but nice touch! The tartare was nicely seasoned accompanied perfectly with the dijon mustard and served with grilled bread – yum!

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The other appetizer we chose was Snails & Mushrooms, Garlic & Parsley Butter, Almond & Thyme Tartine ($13). This dish was fantastic! Heaping amounts of really tasty large snails and mushrooms atop 3 slices of bread. The bread soaked up all the juices, making sure we didn’t lose any of the delicious flavours! Unfortunately, only one other person at the table, aside from Mike and I, tried this dish with us. The others missed out!

The appetizer portions were a great value for the price. Unlike numerous other restaurants we’ve visited, these appetizers could easily be enjoyed between a group of 6 people!

For mains, Michael chose the Thai Sausage, Stir Fried Brussel Sprouts, Thai Chilies, Cilantro ($19). Really tasty dish with a lovely fragrant and texture to the sausage. However, we both felt that it could’ve used a small portion of seasoned rice or other form of carb to balance out the taste and look of this dish.

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Ian and myself chose the Basmati Rice & Chick Pea Salad, Vegetables & Herbs, Ginger, Lime, Olive Oil ($14). Flavours, delicious. I loved the crispness of the fried chick peas, they added really good texture to the dish. I’m generally not a fan of basmati rice compared to other types but this salad was done well with fresh vegetables and a nice, crisp dressing. The only thing about this dish that I didn’t enjoy? Too many hot chilies for my palate, I had to pick out quite a few!

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Other mains ordered at our table include the Roasted Halibut, Sweet Pea Puréeé, Mussel Butter, Pea & Brocoli ($27) which was thoroughly enjoyed with no complaints.

Another was the Seared Scallops, Cauliflower three ways, Bacon, Apple & Thyme ($25), which was unfortunately a disappointment. The scallops did not have a beautiful golden sear on them and the vegetables, especially cauliflower three ways, was too lacking. Compared to the serving size of other dishes, including appetizers, this one was tiny. Visually and conceptually, I think this dish needs to be rethought.

At one point during our dinner, the restaurant manager, Peter Goneau, stopped by our table to say hello and see how the evening was going. Mike and I always appreciate when staff go the extra mile to check in on their customers!

Everybody enjoyed desserts, some of which are not listed on the current menu. Matt had ordered a creme brulee while Laura enjoyed a sundae. Ian and Sarah enjoyed a chocolate pot de creme.

Mike and I shared what we thought would be a strawberry cheesecake. But it turned out to be almost a mix between cheesecake and strawberry shortcake. Mike was so disappointed but I quite liked it!

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At one point during dinner, I took a bathroom break, where I discovered 2 things:

  1. Really cool toilets! Individual private bathrooms with great personality. Love some of the unique touches like the faucets, and the door handles which were crafted from pipes.
  2. The open kitchen, that you can sit and dine at. As this area is tucked away from the main dining room, I had no idea but this would definitely be where I’d want to sit at for my next meal. Enjoying good food while seeing the magic happen in the kitchen, yes please!

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Great ambiance, attentive service, reasonable prices and overall very tasty food – one of my most enjoyable restaurant experiences during my time in Halifax. I’m keen to see what seasonal dishes will be on their menu the next time I visit!

Agricola Street Brasserie on Urbanspoon

One last meal with Bill at Dharma Sushi

Sept 10, 2014

Bill drove Michael up into the city from New Germany as we had our final exam the following day.

Of course, we couldn’t say farewell without a final meal together. We ended up at Dharma Sushi, one of Bill’s favourite Japanese restaurants. Walked into a narrow restaurant with 2 rows of small tables lining the walls, a few occupied by obvious regular patrons – always a good sign!

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Started with some warm sake around the table! Couldn’t celebrate too much, had an exam to study for! 😉

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We shared a couple of appetizers, including a dish of Gyoza (6pcs for $7.95). Thin, crispy, delicate skins enveloping a nicely seasoned meat filling.

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I also chose a 10pc Dharma Diamond specialty roll with crispy avocado, Eel, Salmon, & spicy sauce with golden roe and chives on top ($12.95). Lovely blend of textures and flavours, highly recommend this roll if you’re dining at Dharma Sushi!

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For mains, we all couldn’t pass up the new menu item: Dharma Ramen with shio-kouji (salted rice malt) based broth ($10.95). The ramen was good, but not the best we’ve ever tasted. Bill loved the ramen, however, both Mike and I found the broth needed more flavour. The noodles were excellent, but some fattier slices of pork and a medium boiled egg would’ve certainly added more richness to the dish.

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It was nice to see you Bill, thanks again for everything!

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A great little restaurant offering delicious Japanese cuisine with exceptional quality service, highly recommend! Would love to visit again when I’m back in Halifax to try some of their other dishes!

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Dharma Sushi on Urbanspoon

Dinner at Brooklyn Warehouse

August 22, 2014

We didn’t think we would be able to get a place at Brooklyn Warehouse on a Friday evening without reservations but luckily, a table for 2 was available outside!

Sheltered, which I always appreciate, especially in the evening! Sorry, didn’t take photos of what the restaurant looked like on the inside.

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Service was great, friendly and attentive without being too pushy. We were quickly offered a drinks menu, which we ordered to start.

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I got the Wasabi Caesars with vodka, shochu, clamato and pickled snow peas. I’d never had anything like that before, it was delicious! However, because it was very spicy and explosive in flavours, don’t do what I did and have it with your meal, it doesn’t pair as nicely as a wine! 😉 Mike got a Boxing Rock Red which he enjoyed.

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The food menu was in the form of chalkboards strategically located around the restaurant, offering a view from wherever you were sitting.

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I chose the NS rabbit carbonara house fettuccine with bacon and herb crumb ($26). The pasta was nicely cooked and rabbit was tender and moist. However, although it might be difficult to gauge from this photo, but the portion was tiny. We found it hard to believe that this was supposed to a main dish, it looked more like an appetizer.

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Mike had the Maple glazed halibut with polenta, thyme, and pickled blueberries ($26). The flavours were great, unfortunately, the halibut was overcooked and as a result quite dry. Similar to mine, this dish was also quite small.

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Brooklyn Warehouse offers a pleasant dining atmosphere with great service and well thought out dishes and drinks. However, although the food is delicious, the servings are too small while being on the pricier side! We hope to leave with bellies more satisfied on our next visit!

The Brooklyn Warehouse on Urbanspoon

Tasty dinner at Sukkho Thai

July 26, 2014

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After walking around Commercial St and taking in the sights of the Bathtub Days street fair, Sukkho Thai caught our eye for dinner.

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The restaurant was pretty busy but we were seated within minutes and had open air dining 🙂

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After a bit of menu perusing, we decided to get Fish Cakes to start – Red snapper blended with red curry paste and green beans served with cucumber vinaigrette $8.00. The vinaigrette was sweet but complemented the fish well. A different texture than the Vietnamese fish cakes (which are quite chewy) but fragrant and nice.

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My pretty sister!

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My sister had never heard of Thai Iced Tea or Thai Iced Coffee before so decided to give the coffee a try. I’ve loved Thai iced tea since Mike and I visited Bangkok. This one wasn’t as nice as what I’ve had in Thailand, but still tasty!

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For our mains, I already knew what I wanted before walking in because they had signs outside advertising a special of sticky rice, BBQ’d chicken and papaya salad for $10. I love sticky rice and have been craving papaya salad for a while, the choice was too easy! My sticky rice was a little too dry and I thought the chicken might be dry but it was perfect – succulent and seared with the taste of charcoal. Papaya salad was generous and dressed nicely – I really liked it!

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My sister ordered a Chicken Pad Thai $12.50 – Sautéed thin rice noodles and egg with tamarind sauce with peanuts. We had never seen pad thai with so much liquid before, but it tasted great. The serving was enormous so we got to take home leftovers and enjoyed it some more.

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Nice ambiance and decor. Delicious food and great service from the staff who checked in on us throughout the entire meal to make sure everything was okay. Extremely reasonable prices as well, definitely recommend a visit if you’re in the area!

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Chocolate mints for dessert with the bill 😉

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When we went to go pay, we saw that they sold sweets at the counter, including a bag of 5 ‘Crispy Lotus Bottoms’ for $5. They looked awfully similar to a Vietnamese cookie that my mum used to make and sell called, ‘Banh Nhun.” Out of curiosity, we bought a pack to see if there was any resemblance.

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There was! Very similar in texture and taste, although these ones were much oilier than the ones our mum makes. The sesame seeds in the batter really added a nice flavour to the cookies as well. Try them out if you get the chance!

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SukkhoThai Gourmet Restaurant on Urbanspoon

DHAL: July 13-19, 2014 – Ottawa for a week!

One week home in Ottawa, been looking forward to this for weeks! 🙂

Michael and I aren’t planning on going home for over summer/Christmas holidays, since our graduation date isn’t until December 20th and we expect to be moving and preparing for a job rural at the end of the year, hopefully! This rotation is our opportunity to spend some time in Canada… so who knows when we will be back next!

Spent some quality time with the family!

Got to eat one of my favourite Vietnamese meals – Bo Bia! Fresh rolls with Chinese sausage, sauteed turnip, egg and veggies including Thai basil dipped in a hoison peanut sauce – thanks mum!

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A meal selfie!

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My mom’s famous deboned, stuffed, and breaded chicken wings! Delicious! And some homemade samosas

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And with my grandparents!

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Trying out my grandpa’s first batch of banana lime liqueur – coming along well!

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We enjoyed quite a few different taste testings, haha!

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I finally got to meet Benny! The dog my brother adopted earlier this year who is now considered the baby of the house and my mum’s favourite. He’s a cutie and (mostly) really well behaved but always gets a little too excited when new people come over that he pees on them.

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He’s a sweetheart and a whiner, always crying and looking out the window if you leave him behind.

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And he loves his balls and squeaky toys…

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Had the opportunity to go down to Perth Road Village to spend some quality time with Mike’s family on July 14th. Their property is by a lake and very cottage-like, so it was very nice and relaxing! Mike’s brother Matt and sister in law Jessica recently had their 2nd child – Rinoa, who’s super cute! Their oldest, Jasper has grown so much since I last saw him!

Some of my favourite photos, you can view all of them HERE.

Matt, Jessica and Jasper out on a canoe ride

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Matt & Jess’ dog Bubba – not feeling well today.

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Father son laughs

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Auntie and niece bonding time.

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Little Rinoa

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Tummy tickles!

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Like father like son

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Hanging out with Uncle Mike

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Indeed!

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A pair of loons and a baby! We tried to get as close as we could without being intrusive and they certainly kept an eye on us the whole time just in case!

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This dinosaur

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Got to satisfy a few of my cravings! Including McDonald’s McGriddle breakfast (mmm sweet and salty, maple syrup and sausage) and of course, Shawarma Palace with their awesome garlic sauce! Not shown: Stops at Tim Horton’s!

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Even had time to catch up with some of my best girls! Thanks for coming over on July 17th Atong, Julia and Hue!

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Julia loved Benny!

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Julia requested Cuttlefish snacks by Nong Shim, which apparently can’t be found in Ottawa anymore. They are delicious though, even Mike’s hooked on them.

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A lovely engagement gift from Julia & Atong 🙂 A family cookbook that even has room for photos!

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And perhaps most importantly, my mum held an unofficial engagement dinner with Michael’s parents so they could formally meet all of my family. This was on Friday, July 18th, the night before both Michael and I flew out to our respective electives. We decided to have dinner at Chu Shing and luckily, only a handful of family were missing. It was the usual family deal, chaotic but I think it went well! Thank you also very much to my grandparents and to Ong Tia Ba Y for their generous gifts!

Some of the photos!

Selfie at the dinner table

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With Mike’s parents, my mum, my grandparents, and my dad’s aunt and uncle.

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The elders!

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All my aunts and uncles (except for my 4th aunt who was in LA with her daughter Lilian) and a few of the cousins

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Some more cousins as well as Aunt Diane, Uncle Andrew (my great aunt and uncle’s daughter) and their 3 children.

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Group photo!

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With my dad’s side of the family

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Aren’t I lovely?

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With Michael’s family. Unfortunately, his sister Meaghan was not able to join us due to work. His brother has 2 small children on an early schedule and it’s a drive up from Kingston!

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Before heading home, we dropped by Phuket Royal, a restaurant where my cousin Kevin was working (couldn’t make it to our dinner) to say hi. He was just getting off work so we decided to go to My Sweet Tea to catch up over bubble tea. We didn’t get back until past midnight, and Mike and I still needed to pack! Needless to say, it was a late night.

Woke up at 4:30am the next morning to have breakfast together at Perkins with Di Nam before heading to the airport for my 7am flight to Vancouver. Good bye family and see you again soon!

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They’ve changed the format of the security line at the Ottawa Airport to be extremely inefficient, causing myself and a number of other passengers to almost miss our flight. At other airports, once passengers go through security, they may be pulled aside to a different station for an explosives scan, which is when they swab the outside and also open your bags to swab the inside and test for explosives. For whatever reason, Ottawa has decided to incorporate the explosives scan as part of their security line, before your bags go through the scanner. The ENTIRE security line gets held up when someone’s having their bag tested. Meaning nobody’s bags are being scanned and nobody is walking through the metal detectors. Completely inefficient, I don’t know what they were thinking, but they better change that.

My sister met me once I landed in Vancouver and we had time to grab a quick bite to eat before I had to start heading to Horseshoe Bay to catch my ferry to Nanaimo. It took a good 2 hours to get there from the airport via the SkyTrain into the city and then bus to the ferry terminal. More about Nanaimo in my next post!

Great Korean food at Maru with friends!

Sarah (who’s Korean!) had suggested I try Maru, one of her favourite Korean restaurants, so I made it the last stop of our Food Adventure Day with Yoni on June 29, 2014.

We had just finished watching Edge of Tomorrow in the city, and even though we weren’t really hungry because all we had done that day was eat, we just couldn’t skip dinner. Maru is located on Elizabeth St just beside Malaya Corner, on the 2nd floor.

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Full house on a Sunday evening, luckily, we were able to get a table without reservations and waiting!

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My adventure partner for the day! We also picked up some bubble tea at Hazel Tea Shop just down the street before heading in 🙂

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The menu is extensive, with lots of options including rice dishes, soups, noodle dishes, and BBQ – something to suit everyone! Prices were slightly higher compared to Madtongsan II down the road, but definitely worth the quantity and quality of food!

Loved the side dishes: kimchi, seaweed salad with mayo dressing and fish cakes

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I decided on Omurice with chicken curry – delicious! Loved the crispy chicken and the subtle (not salty!) curry. Extremely generous serving size, I could only finish half and saved the rest for dinner the next day – heated up nicely!

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Yoni got a rice in a stone bowl and meat, possibly pork or bulgogi. Unfortunately, it’s been so long now that we can’t remember and they don’t have an online menu to refer to!

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With a great first impression, both Sarah and I recommended Maru on July 11th when we had dinner with Amanda, Xuan and Mabel!

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Xuan ordered Beef Rib Soup that came with rice on the side, he found it a little bland unfortunately.

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I can’t remember the name of this dish that Mabel ordered, but it was spicy and tasty!

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Both Sarah and Amanda ordered one of the ‘ziggle’ plates – the Korean word for sizzle! They got the Ziggle Spicy Pork which was delicious.

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I got the Ziggle Dadak Beef, which was marinated minced beef sizzling in a pan, also served with rice. Very tasty but I was glad I had friends to share it with because it’s a lot of meat!

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Portions again, were very generous, we were definitely stuffed afterwards!

Also enjoyed some Black Raspberry wine. I’ve only had raspberry wine once before but I really enjoy the berry sweetness! $20 for a bottle shared between 4 people.

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Fast and friendly service with generous servings of delicious food and tasty side dishes (not always the case at Korean restaurants) at extremely reasonable prices – I think I’ve found a new favourite Korean restaurant. Will definitely be back!

Maru Korean BBQ on Urbanspoon

Vegetarian dinner at Kuan Yin Tea House

Mike and I have been wanting to try out Kuan Yin Tea House for a while now as we often seen how highly rated it is in Brisbane for its vegetarian cuisine.

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Had the opportunity to try it out with the lovely Amanda over dinner one night. We were famished and the menu looked well priced and quite appealing!

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We immediately noticed the fantastic service provided by all the staff which was friendly and accommodating. We arrived for dinner around 7pm on a Friday and were surprised to be told the restaurant was out of rice, although the staff were apologetic and happy to offer a substitution.

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The meals at Kuan Yin are very affordable. We ended up ordering 2 appetizers and 2 main dishes to share, as well as a bubble tea each. Note to self and others, that is a lot of food for only 2 people, as warned by the staff! 😛 However, we were hungry and wanted to try as many dishes as possible, taking away leftovers is always an option too! 😉

My lovely date!

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Peking Duck Rolls. Interesting concept but shouldn’t be called a peking duck roll when it’s nothing like the original dish which normally only has additional spring onions and a sweet bean sauce. Very sour and overpowering pickles and the vegetarian duck skin didn’t seem to have seasoning.

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Sweet Potato Wedges. These were delicious! Not sure what the secret to the seasoning is, but we definitely tasted salt and cinnamon. Yum!

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Because Mike couldn’t join us… we made him feel included! How convenient to have such beautiful photos 😉

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I chose the sweet and sour pork bento box. Since they didn’t have any rice left, they offered a tofu substitute instead. Also came with a few side dishes including veggies and a fruit salad. Overall, this dish was satisfactory. Filling but I wouldn’t get it again.

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Last dish, Sour Spicy Dumpling Soup. Huge serving, lots of dumplings but we didn’t find the broth spicy or sour enough!

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Overall, had a great time, however, more due to the company than the food. I’ve been quite privileged to have extremely good Asian styled vegetarian food in my life, which may have set my expectations a little too high 😛 With that being said, I would definitely come back for another visit and try different dishes, even if it’s just for those sweet potato wedges alone!

Kuan-Yin Tea House on Urbanspoon

DHAL: July 04-12, 2014

A huge gap of DHALs, how shameful! This is going to be a long one!

Friday, July 4th… meant one more week of Anaesthesia before the completion of my Critical Care rotation! It was getting harder to see the end now because although it was so close, it felt so far! Since there was no final exam (aside from an online multiple choice exam I had already completed in week 2 of 8), I did not have to spend my weekends immersed in studying, I was able to enjoy going out and seeing my friends.

So on Friday after my shift, I met up with Amanda for dinner. There is a vegetarian restaurant in Fortitude Valley called Kuan Yin Tea House that Michael and I have been meaning to visit because we have heard good things and it is highly rated on Urbanspoon (96%). I was a fun night out with Amanda but the food was subpar, I’ll be writing a separate blog post for this later on!

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Next day on July 5, I finally had the opportunity to see and catch up with Josiah and Danya! They are living in Bundaberg this year, so we have not had a chance to hang out since coming back from Canada, but it finally happened! Weekends in Brisbane for them are always hectic but they had some time to pop over for a visit! And I was finally able to pass on a small wedding gift that Mike and I brought back for them from Canada, which only had to wait 7 months 😉 They even gifted us a nice bottle of wine as a belated engagement present, unexpected but thanks so much guys! It was so good to catch up and hear that they are enjoying living in a new city and being well looked after by the small Bundaberg community. They are liking it so much that they have decided to stay for Josiah to pursue his internship training… that’s saying heaps!

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Lowlight: My cousin, Hoang, from Vietnam who now lives in Brisbane with his wife, was supposed to come over for dinner on July 5th. Unfortunately, something came up and they had to cancel!

The following day on July 6, I had a photo shoot session with the Gibson family!

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This was the first ‘photo shoot’ of any kind I’ve ever done. Pretty much had no idea what I was doing, didn’t have any special equipment, and worked with kit lenses. Had a good time with Kristen, Matt & Abigail but too bad Abigail wasn’t her usual smiling bubbly self! I imagine having a big black camera covering my face might be a little intimidating for a 6 month old! Was able to get a few photos, even some smiling ones. I’ll have to make a separate post but here’s a teaser photo!

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Because my cousins never made it on Saturday for dinner, I invited Sarah and Amanda over for some studying and dinner on Monday, July 7! Had bought a bunch of ingredients to make dinner and didn’t want them to go to waste, what better way to use them up than to have friends help you? Made some Thai green curry chicken to have with rice, yum!

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Had also made lots of peanut butter chocolate chip cookies so sent the girls home with a bunch as well. What made the night fun was meeting Sarah’s boyfriend, Jay. After years of poking fun at her for having an imaginary partner (he has always been too busy to attend any of our events or get togethers), we met him when he came to pick her up. Mind you, it was completely dark outside so I have yet to see what he looks like in person 😛

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The weekend passed too quickly and soon I was completing my last week of the critical core rotation. I feel quite lucky to have had most, if not all, preceptors be very kind and willing to teach. It made for a very good learning environment and I never felt intimidated with any procedural skills, even when I failed them. There was always room to improve and my supervisors were always willing to make things work better for me.

It is also nice when your effort and hard work doesn’t go unnoticed. I was rostered for 2 days (July 09-10) on the APMS (Acute Pain Management Services) team, who are responsible for hospital wide consults for patients who require more specialised care for the managment of their pain. These patients can include those who have epidurals, regional blocks, or patient controlled analgesia (PCA). With only 2 days on the service, I made the most of it including being proactive in taking notes, chatting with patients, and handing over plans to nurses in charge. I’m not sure what the other medical students did during their time on APMS, but when I received the note (not required and squeezed beside the signature box) “Above and beyond the call of duty” on my last day and a number of verbal thank yous and compliments, I knew I had done well 🙂

Lowlight: I was told this last week of the rotation by the course administrator that she wanted me to make up time for 2 sick days I took earlier in the rotation. My last week, where I’m fully rostered, and she wanted me to make up 2 extra shifts last minute. I was not happy as we were never made aware of having to make up for sick time, isn’t that why you have sick days to begin with? After having a chat with her and explaining to her that the request was unreasonable in the amount of time I had left, she told me to have a chat with the respective professors of the Emergency and Anaesthesia departments. Bring them my work books and evaluation forms so they can assess if I have done work to their satisfaction and maybe they will let me pass the rotation without making up the time. Lucky for me, both professors were more than happy to let me off after having a chat and leafing through my documents. It was annoying and stressful before I was given approval because of the potential to fail the rotation, but I’m glad things worked out!

Soon, Friday (July 11) rolled around and I was super eager to finish my last day of work! I had been packing up and cleaning the house bit by bit throughout the last 2 weeks so I didn’t have much left to do before flying out Saturday morning. And to end the rotation on a good note, the anaesthetist of my last shift was awesome. He spent the first few hours of my shift grilling me and asking me questions non stop, explaining things along the way as required. When that was exhausted, we just chatted about life in general where he also shared some good advice for my internship year. By 2:30pm, he was showing me his wedding videos and because the same surgery had been going on since 8:30am, he asked me if I just wanted to head home. Early day on my last day? Heck yes! I could definitely use some extra time.

I went home, where I met up with Yoni. He’ll be renting out one of our bedrooms (Christine’s in the other one) so I just wanted to give him the keys and a verbal handover, including what food he should help us finish, which he’s always happy about.

I then headed back into the city to meet up with Mabel, Amanda, Sarah, and Xuan for a post-rotation hang out! We had a coffee catch up at Bonsai Botanika before heading to Maru for a yummy Korean dinner and finished the night with some delicious bubble tea at Gong Cha. I will be writing blogs for the respective restaurants soon! Lovely evening with good company to end my time in Brisbane!

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It was around 9pm by the time I got home, plenty of time to finish up my packing and cleaning. I tried to stay up as late as I could in order to sleep easier on the plane but by 3am, I had to lay down for a 3 hour nap.

Thanks to Christine for giving me a ride to the airport at 7 in the morning! and soon I was boarding Qantas flight 15 to Los Angeles. Boy oh boy was it not the best journey home, will tell you more in the next DHAL!

Consistently delicious food at Mon’s Thai Rarnaharn

We have eaten at Mon’s Thai Rarnaharn a number of times now, I can’t believe it has taken me this long to blog about it!

Dining in at Mon’s Thai is always a pleasure with good ambiance, friendly staff and great service. There is the option of dining indoors or outdoors (sheltered and of course, with heat), which is nice! Also fully licensed with BYO bottled wine.

The prices here are slightly more expensive than what you might expect compared to other Thai restaurants, but the quality of food is consistently great and the portions generous. We have also ordered take out a number of times – quick preparation times and piping hot – they even offer home delivery. Sometimes we find takeaway portions can be smaller than what is offered dining in, but certainly not at this restaurant!

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My last visit was on June 14th with Tan and Christine. The restaurant was packed for a Saturday night, with both small and large groups. After browsing through the menu, we decided on one of the banquet options as the dishes were appealing and it seemed like a good deal.

We chose the Phuket Banquet option (minimum 2 people) at $29.90 per person. This included:

  • An appetizer for each person. Either Mixed Entree (1 springroll, 1 chicken satay skewer, 1 curry puff) or Tom Kha Gai
  • 1 main dish per person. Choices were Mussamun Beef, Green Curry Chicken, Beef or Chicken Stir Fried with Oyster Sauce.
  • Jasmine Rice
  • Ice cream with chocolate/caramel/strawberry topping
  • Tea or Coffee 

We were unorthodox, had our tea and coffee before the meal because Tan and Christine were falling asleep despite being hungry. Jasmine green tea for me and decent cappuccinos for them!

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I now apologise, we were so excited to eat that I forgot to take photos of our appetizers until we were halfway through, here’s a curry puff for your viewing pleasure.

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And half of my bowl of Tom Kha Gai. For those who don’t know, it is a delicious coconut milk based soup with strong aromas of kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass and galangal – yum! I was first introduced to this dish in Bangkok and this definitely brought back memories!

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We were then served the jasmine rice and our mains.

Green curry chicken. We opted for the mild-medium level of spiciness with extra chillies on the side, I’m glad! Tender chicken, flavoursome broth and crisp vegetables.

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Beef Massumun (beef curry) was delicious and melted in your mouth. I am also a fan of the cashews! This dish reminded me of the Vietnamese dish ‘Bo Kho’ due to the texture of the meat and spices in the sauce.

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For the third main, we decided on Stir Fried Beef in Oyster Sauce. Whenever I order dishes in restaurants with stir fried beef, I always wonder if it will come out dry or awfully chewy. This was definitely not the case! Beef was easy to bite into and vegetables still had a crunch, simple dish but yum!

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For dessert, we were expecting one scoop of ice cream each. Boy were we wrong. 3 scoops of nice vanilla ice cream! Luckily, there is a second stomach for dessert but we seriously struggled to finish this meal. Banquet option was definitely a bargain!

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Other dishes I’ve had in the past and love include their Pad Thai and Pad See Eiw, definitely give those a try as well!

Definitely recommend Mon’s Thai for some of the most delicious Thai food in Brisbane!

Mon's Thai Rarnaharn on Urbanspoon

DHAL: May 28, 2014

Highlights:

  • Having Christine over for dinner of fish cakes, roasted sweet potato and green apple & fennel salad. Peanut butter cheesecake for dessert! It was lovely to catch up with her and have her company for a few hours!

Lowlights:

  • Feeling generally unwell and a little down. And could be related or unrelated but a severe lack of motivation today. Didn’t get much done overall. 😦

Ethio-African cuisine at Yeshi Buna

May 09, 2014

To celebrate finishing exams, Christine suggested we have dinner at Yeshi Buna. She had been very recently and thoroughly enjoyed it. And I, having never tasted Ethiopian food before, didn’t hesitate before saying yes.

Brightly decorated, the restaurant’s atmosphere was immediately inviting and the owner (?) warmly welcomed us.

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After sitting down, he asked if we had ever been to the restaurant before, to which Michael and I replied that it was our first visit. He handed us not only the menu, but also a page to explain terms that may be unfamiliar to those new to Ethio-African cuisine.

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Words like ‘injera’ the tiniest cereal in the world that is ground and fermented for days to make the flat, slightly sour, bubbly ‘bread’ that is a staple of many dishes.

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It didn’t take us long to decide that we wanted the Meat & Vegetarian Combination Dish ($48 for 3 people).

We were pretty hungry, and pretty excited. When the dish came, we were even shown how to eat with our hands and use pieces of the injera to scoop

The combo dish contained the following: Ye Beg Alicha, Doro Wott, Tibs Wott, Minchet Abish, Gomen Be Siga, Atikilt Wott, Kik Alicha, Fassolia, Missir Wott, and mixed salad. (Wott = hot stew, Alicha = mild stew, Tibs = sautéed meat)

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Looks are deceiving but there was quite a bit of food and we were all struggling to polish off the plate towards the end. But we did it!

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My first time experiencing Ethiopian food was great! Something I’d certainly have again. Well-priced, delicious food with great service and wonderful ambiance – I would highly recommend Yeshi Buna!

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Yeshi Buna Ethio African on Urbanspoon

Delectable dinner @ Moda Restaurant

April 9, 2014

Thank you to Aunt Patsy and Uncle Dan for treating us to this special night out in celebration of our engagement, from across the world in Canada!

We had a fantastic dining experience at Moda! Even today, Michael and I still talk about the amazing food we experienced that night with Javier’s Table Experience ($85.00/person), at the strong suggestion of Trent, our server for the evening. Thank you again, we are so glad to have listened to you!

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I know, you’re probably wondering what is this Javier’s Table Experience? It is a rustic degustation consisting of 3 courses with signature dishes from the menu and dishes created from fresh seasonal produces selected by the chef for the entire table.

(Some of the dishes we received are not listed on the menu, so I apologise in advance if our recall of descriptions are not accurate!)

Our first course consisted of 5 different appetizers. I know, how amazing is that.

Top left: Fresh ceviche that was light with lovely aromas
Top right: Amazingly tender WA octopus with tropical flavours
Bottom left: Crispy chicken croquettes with Romesco sauce
Bottom right: Manolete chorizo sausage with Spanish peppers

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And also sardines! They have never been our favourite but went well with tomato salsa underneath.

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I sipped a lychee martini throughout the meal while Michael thoroughly enjoyed a couple glasses of Spanish red (Viña Tobia and Manso).

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Next were 3 amazing main courses.

Even though I asked for the name of this dish twice, I can now only remember that it was red snapper, I’m sorry! Delicious with little clams and a rich sauce containing hearty peas.

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To the left was the daily special of suckling pig with goat cheese gnocchi and ginger essence. It was hard to say which dish was our favourite of the night but probably this one. So tasty with the crackling of the pig and the soft fluffy gnocchi – yum!

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And to the right: Fowl on a bed of purple potato mash and a side of chanterelle mushrooms (I think). Meat was moist, potato mash the perfect consistency and very nicely done mushrooms. This dish was easily our second favourite!

And lastly, dessert! From left to right: spiced ice cream (similar to gingerbread), chocolate mousse and Spanish creme caramel. All 3 desserts were lovely treats to end such a filling and wonderful meal!

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Could not fault the amazing and delicious food with Javier’s Table Experience. Thank you again to Trent and the staff at Moda for such an enjoyable dinner experience!

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(Note: Our dinner reservations were made with a 50% off Dimmi special, we couldn’t pass up such a great deal to revisit Moda for a second time. You can read about our previous visit here

Moda Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Melbourne: Dinner at Bar Santo

Saturday, March 1, 2014

So many restaurants to choose from along Fitzroy St by St Kilda beach, we probably should’ve done a little research before arriving, but not a problem! It was lovely to walk along the street and check out the menus and vibes of each restaurant.

With terrace dining (and not many empty seats), welcoming staff, $5 sangrias, and $20 mains, our decision was easy – Bar Santo for dinner!

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Christine happy to have her MCCEE over with!

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Sangria… cheers!

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As an appetizer we got a plate of calamari with garlic mayo ($12) to share but were too excited to take any photos. Calamari was good but mayo could’ve used a lot more flavour.

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Awaiting mains, which took what seemed like forever to arrive but when they did, they were piping hot. The menu on their website is not current, so unfortunately I don’t have the full names and descriptions of each dish.

For our main courses, Christine got the beef lasagna that came with a salad and chips. She thought it was quite tasty and it was certainly a generous portion.

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Michael decided on a smaller plate of mussels that came with a side of bread. Although the dish was nice, some mussels were quite chewy and he felt the sauce was plain and could’ve used more flavour and some kick.

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And for myself, the eggplant parmegiana, which was piping hot and delicious. However, the dish was a tad too oily for my liking and the salad would’ve been nicer with a little bit of dressing.

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It was overall an enjoyable experience with attentive service and tasty, reasonably priced food.  I would suggest Bar Santo to my friends; however, there are too many other fantastic looking restaurants in the area that I would like to check out before returning.

Bar Santo on Urbanspoon

First batch of Year 4 Food

As you may know, I have gotten into the habit of keeping a photo diary of food I’ve been making since coming to Australia from Canada 3 years ago.

Going across the world was my first time moving away from home, and I hardly ever cooked before that because my mom’s food was too fabulous to bother trying. Curse of living at home? 😛

I am proud of myself for continuously trying and improving my skills in the kitchen. I am most certainly not the best at anything, but I am enjoying trying my hand at new things, and most importantly, it brings me happiness that people (especially Michael) enjoy the things I make. Being in the kitchen is my ‘relaxing activity’ believe it or not. And I especially love to cook and bake when I can share.

Annoyingly, I still have family members that ask, “So… how do you feed yourself when you’re living in Australia?” and are so surprised when I reply, “I cook for myself.”

“Really? You can cook?!” Why yes, yes I can. Did you really think I have been eating just take-out and salads for 3 years? Come on!

And the way I see it. Anybody can, they just have to want to try!

You’ll notice there’s no meat in anything below. Mike and I wanted to go meat-free for a few weeks, especially after indulging so much over the holidays.

First ‘hot meal’ after we finally got groceries on arriving back to Brisbane. Breakfast for dinner, a favourite.

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Creamy cauliflower soup, with onions, potato and sweet potato. Definitely a new favourite!

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Trying my hand at gnocchi from scratch for the first time. Sweet potato gnocchi (can you tell I was really lazy with the shaping of it) with a butter garlic rosemary sauce, fennel and apple salad and some grilled haloumi. Quite an odd combination, I know. But hey, it works! We shop the sales and then decide on the menu, not vice versa. Life of a student, you know? 😉

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Ricotta lime cookies with a lime glaze. Made these for “Friday Bake Day” at the hospital, which were enjoyed by many. Will definitely be making these again.

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Pasta salad with green beans and carmelised onions with a greek yoghurt dressing. Side of cucumber and tomato salad.

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Coconut basil shrimp!

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Peanut butter cookies with caramel chips. Made these for another Friday Bake Day

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Had some basa fillets that I cooked up…

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To make delicious fish cakes for the first time! What an easy method to serve fish in a totally different and flavourful way!

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And 2 dishes that I made when back in Canada

Quiche with mushrooms, onions and bacon. Cheated with store bought crust though! 😉

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Cream of (wild) mushroom soup

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Life has been dull

Not too many exciting things happening, but here are a few moments!

January 13, 2014

Photo right before leaving for our first day of school! Both of us need hair cuts real bad… good thing we finally got them last week!

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January 24, 2014

Tan was in town from Mackay, where he is now an intern, visiting Christine so we got to hang out! We went to Sunnybank for Korean BBQ dinner at Midam, which I’ve blogged about before. Dinner was definitely delicious and filling!

We, of course, saved room for dessert! At Christine’s suggestion, we went to Meet Fresh – a Taiwanese dessert shop. And boy it was yum!

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Both couples shared a Duo-Deluxe Pudding. Ice cream, egg pudding, tapioca pearls, milk pudding and crushed ice. Not too sweet, lovely creamy pudding consistency, and the tapioca pearls were cooked just right!

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January 25, 2014

Saturday morning tennis! It was great fun, to the point that we continued playing in the rain, got completely soaked and then went for breakfast at the adjacent Saint Lucy Caffe.

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Although we were all sore the next day, looking forward to doing it again!

January 31, 2014

Check out this interesting Christmas present Michael received from my sister, Jenni!

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Bacon marmalade! Looks mighty interesting doesn’t it?

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And look, just because it says bacon, doesn’t mean it’s going to kill you.

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Unfortunately, although it smelled really nice, the marmalade (which I am normally not a fan of) overpowered any flavour or taste of bacon. It was also way too sweet 😦 I wish it was a little more savoury!

IMG_6585See? I wasn’t joking when I said life has been dull. In the 3 weeks we’ve been back, these are all the “fun things” we’ve done 😛

Actually, I lied. On Friday, January 10th, we caught up with Amanda, Xuan, Sarah and Kee Ping over a lovely dinner at Wagaya!

And the following weekend, January 18th, we also went to visit Kristen, Matt and their adorable 1 month old (at the time) baby girl Abigail! She is too precious and we are looking forward to visiting them again soon. Unfortunately, I forgot to take photos 😦 Next time!

There, now that’s all the fun things we’ve done… I think! ^_^

Merry Christmas Everyone!

December 25, 2013

For as long as I can remember, the entire family has gathered at my grandparents for Christmas day. We always have lunch, complete with 2 turkeys and a plethora of side dishes and dessert. Food is followed by a large break filled with napping or catching up or board games with many laughs. Then evening rolls around and we have our second turkey meal of the day – leftovers from lunch!

This year was slightly different from previous ones. We had THREE turkeys. And a non-family member, Michael, joined the family festivities for the first time.

3 turkeys!

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Plating up the side dishes

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Uncles carving the turkeys

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Almost there

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Yay, eating time!

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In the past few years, as we get older, the cousins have been trying to do something a little different for special family occasions. You might remember at my grandpa’s birthday a few weeks ago, all the kids had lanyards stating their name and birth order. Other occasions have included colour coordinating outfits.

This year, my sister designed t-shirts for all the kids, including Mike. I think they turned out well, what about you? And surprisingly, all the cousins wore their t-shirts the entire day, as opposed to changing out of them once photos were taken. Thanks guys!

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Trying to replicate our faces

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Silly faces

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Isn’t Mike such a lucky man? 😛

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Playing games as soon as we finished eating!

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So much laughter and craziness playing ‘Heads Up’, Ellen Degeneres’ game that we played similar to charades.

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My grandparents! Probably watching our shenanigans!

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When it comes time for presents, the grandparents always receive theirs presents and cards from the grandchildren first.

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Then my grandparents will give children either a lucky red pocket with money inside, or a small gift each. This year, however, my grandpa decided to do something different – 2 raffle prizes for the kids. Each prize box contained tons of edible goodies with specific instructions to share with the other kids. Win win for all!

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And of course, my grandpa always arranges prize draws for the adults. Sadly, our family (the 6s) has never won one of my grandpa’s raffles! The 2 family were, again, the lucky winners!

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All the cousins participated in a gift exchange this year! Since we are all poor, we agreed to the challenge of buying one item from Dollarama for this gift exchange, with the option to steal presents. Worked out nicely and provided a bunch of fun!

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And some of the cousins participated in our first cookie exchange! Such a great idea and so many cookies to munch on for days. Can’t wait to do this again!

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There were 9 cousins who participated in total and we decided to do batches of 5 cookies as opposed to the traditional dozen. Good idea, because we would’ve had A LOT of cookies to eat.

Kim with her cookies. She attempted to make cookies which included fresh pomegranate syrup but they didn’t quite turn out, mainly because she didn’t use a recipe! She decided to make up for it with cute little bags, thanks Kim!

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Christine with her colourful and tasty pinwheel short bread cookies!

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Janet with fortune cookies!

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Jenni with her shortbread and sugar cookies, with super fancy packaging

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Andy going with the traditional chocolate chip cookies

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Flora and her decadent peanut butter cookies!

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I made some orange cinnamon cookies with cranberries and white chocolate chips!

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Mike and his triple chocolate candy cane cookies – so chocolatey

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Lilian with her impressive and massive red velvet cookies with cream cheese frosting

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So many cookies!

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The haul!

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When our tummies finally made some room, we had dessert! Blueberry and cherry no-bake cheesecake made by my mom and Vietnamese Creme Caramel (flan) made by my Aunt 2! Yum yum!

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And of course, finally as always, some family photos.

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More Christmas photos HERE

This is quite late, but I hope everyone had a very merry Christmas with their loved ones as well! ❤

No excuse for not blogging!

Hi friends!

Yes, I have no excuse for not blogging, I am on vacation after all!

How is everyone doing? Getting excited for the holidays yet?

For once, I am (mostly) on top of Christmas preparations! That even includes putting up the Christmas tree by myself at the beginning of December, yay! Not to mention all my presents have been wrapped… which normally never happens until the night of the 23rd or 24th.

Here are a few scattered moments since my last blog post:

Remember when I said I was digitizing all our old photos? Well, I finished! But I have not yet organised them T_T

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Mum made delicious guacamole!

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Got the tree up and this was my first present wrapped!

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Grilled cheese on a panini grill

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Snacking

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Made some macarons with the bro. They were successful in that they had feet, but failed in smoothness and texture – overbaked and way too crispy! We’ll try again soon…

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One of my favourite fruit snacks – pineapple with salt and pepper, yummy!

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Don’t know what made my mom think this would be good – smoked oysters (from China) in a can by Clover. Needless to say, she tasted one and didn’t get further.

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A little bit of a lot going on in this photo

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It snowed so hard on Dec 15! 😦

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Which was also the day my sister came home for the holidays from Vancouver. Thank god my uncle (Cau Hai) drove us to pick her up… or we would’ve died on the road.

The flight was, of course, delayed. Our poor grandparents had to chill at the airport until close to 3am when Jenni finally arrived!

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December 16 – day after my sister came home. And Michael came up, finally! ❤ We went to see the Ottawa Senators vs St Louis Blues hockey game at the Canadian Tire Centre!

My sister, the biggest Toronto Maple Leafs fan… forced to wear a Sens jersey

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One of the most exciting games I’ve been to with the winning goal scored by Ceci in the last minute of overtime, yay! Note: I dislike hockey and have not watched many games in person.

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My brother “studying” before we left for the game.

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December 17 – breakfast with mum at Cora’s before driving her to work! Cora’s food was a disappointment, this is my 4th or 5th time going and it just… never wins me over.

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And homemade jajangmyun (Korean noodles with black bean sauce) that night! Mmm!

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Of course, Michael couldn’t visit Ottawa without having lunch at Play! Love the current menu options, although they have since increased the pricefrom 2 plates for $20 last year to $22. Still a great deal though!

Started off with house bread and frites with aioli sauce.

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Our first plates. beef laab / hoisin / jalapeño / daikon / romaine / ginger for Michael. So fragrant and delicious! Great contrast of flavours and textures, definitely a favourite.

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I enjoyed the pappardelle / chorizo / duck / celeriac / winter squash / shallot. Also very tasty! The pappardelle (broad pasta noodles) was cooked just with with really nice flavours but way too oily for me.

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Onto our second plates! rabbit meatballs / pork / cornbread / eggplant agrodolce for Mike. Tender and moist meatballs against fluffly cornbread made for a very hearty meal.

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I chose the pork belly/edamame/Thai sauce/apricot/red bell pepper/onion. The flavours danced across my tongue… easily our favourite dish of the day! Crispy pork belly on a bed of wonderful delights with a good amount of heat. Unfortunately, the sauce in this dish was too oily, which was worse than my pappardelle because the pork belly is already so fatty. Still a delight though!

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And finally, guess who!

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Vancouver: Day 02

November 18, 2013

What a good night’s sleep, most definitely needed it! Unfortunately, we woke up to a very gloomy sky. 😦 But that was okay right? Hopefully!

Started off with a delicious breakfast at home with BAGELS: something they really need to start selling in Brisbane because we miss them dearly when not in Canada.

Soon we were heading out and starting the day.

First stop, Stanley Park (huge, 1001 acres) with the hope of riding bikes if it didn’t start to rain. It was looking good! But unfortunately, it started to rain as soon as we got off the bus. So no biking but a little bit of walking around to see what the park had to offer.

Look how pretty it is!

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Lots of seagulls and ducks

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Some fam shots!

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We missed all the wild blackberries! 😦

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We barely made it into the park but it was wet and cold…

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Since it was raining, we thought of going to Science World as it was indoors and would be fun. But alas, they were closed on Monday.

So sad, so my sister decided to show us Granville Island next. A peninsula and hotspot for Vancouver tourism and entertainment, this shopping district includes a large public market, a marina, performance arts theatres, fine art galleries, craft studios (glassblowing, printmaking, jewellers, etc), and much more!

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Oh my gosh, berries so cheap! Australia, why you no have good price like this?

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The public market was bustling with amazing delights like baked goods and fresh fruit. Every stall was appealing in its own way, but particularly because most, if not all, were offering local products including artisan cottage-industry foods and hand-made crafts.

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We also had lunch at the market: perogies, sausages and dessert of cheesecake and macarons – all yum!

Also got some flavoured honey sticks, 4 for $1 – haven’t tried mine (honey lime) yet though!

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The Umbrella Shop. It was hilarious to hear the employee say something along the lines of, “Now, the important thing is that you need to open the umbrella all the way out to dry.” Never heard umbrellas being taken so seriously before!

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The Crystal Ark – had a great time in here just looking at everything. Yes, I like collecting rocks/minerals! And even bought a few items as Christmas presents! 😉

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So many polished stones to choose from!

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My sister greeting some ducks on our way out!

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We decided to head to the University of British Columbia with 2 intentions: To see the Walter’s Harvard Lab (from the show Fringe!) and to get a tour of my sister’s study area on campus at UBC Hospital. We also wanted to go to their Museum of Anthropology, but that was closed on Monday too, so many fails!

And yes, the rain has not let up at all. By now, we (but especially me) were all feeling chilled to the bone and miserable.

So it turns out that what Michael believed to be was Walter’s Lab was a FAIL! Because we had a completely wrong building! I’m pretty sure this is the Iona Building, School of Theology

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The one we really wanted to see was this Chemistry Building. Aieya, I guess next time! Photo credit: As linked

We got a quick tour of the OT area at UBC Hospital and chilled out in their student lounge for a bit. So miserable with the rain and cold! If you know me, I can take anything but rain, I detest rain!

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Soon we headed home in order to meet my sister’s friend for sushi dinner! The sushi restaurant was decent, the company definitely made it better. It was an uneventful evening as we just headed home and hung out after dinner – sorry no pictures!

And that’s the end of Day 02!

Post-Medicine rotation gathering!

November 15, 2013

(I know, I’m now writing out of order too, sorry! :P)

In celebration of our time together throughout our Medicine rotation AND the fact that we finished our last exams of third year – we had to celebrate… with food, of course!

Very happy that most of us were able to meet for dinner Friday evening, hurray!

After some discussion, we decided on New Shanghai as they have many yummy and generous sized dishes to share. In particular, dumplings. Need I say more?

Credit to Sarah for the photos!

The ones who couldn’t make it: Clarence, Yung Howe, Tomas, Joseph, Mustak, Manisha, and Sunny

Adi, Kee Ping, Sarah & Daniel

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Me, Mike, Xuan & Christine

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Sarah & Daniel

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Mike & Xuan

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Daniel & I

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Love this picture 🙂

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For dessert, it didn’t take much convincing for everyone to join for some frozen yoghurt, yum!

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Thanks for the good times guys, have a great holiday!

Last night in Brisbane: Eat Street Markets!

November 16, 2013

Continuing on with my previous post!

I know, I’m so behind.

After Kristen’s baby shower earlier in the day, we decided to meet up at Eat Street Markets later for dinner – also a last chance for me to hang out with everyone before going home to Canada!

Unfortunately, Michael wasn’t a part of this gathering because he had to stay home to sell his iPad, and the girl never showed up! How annoying! At least Yoni was over so he didn’t have to spend his night in Brisbane alone, haha.

Christine picked me up at 6pm and we got there in time to meet Kristen, Matt, Fiona and her friend Amy for dinner – yum!

What is Eat Street Markets? I didn’t know either!

It’s a newly opened (and hopefully permanent) night market at the old decommissioned Hamilton Wharf. Around 80 shipping containers, although I suspect more will be added as time goes by, have been transformed to bright and alluring stalls selling food from all over the world, textiles, art, fresh produce, jewellery, and more!

You can read more about it at The Weekend Edition and at Must Do Brisbane.

One of the entrances to the market

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Two huge ‘starry night’ tents lined entirely with amazing food stalls. Very reasonable prices too!

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Yum, food and friends 🙂

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And plenty other stalls!

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Chitty Banh Banh stall by Jake and Elle from My Kitchen Rules

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Sending our love to a friend who wasn’t able to make it.

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Lovely atmosphere and as with any market, plenty of unique things to see!

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There were even fireworks at the end of the night, although I’m pretty sure they were unrelated to Eat Street Markets.

Had a great night, especially hanging out with everyone! Hopefully Mike will have a chance to go when we are back in Brisbane!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy thanksgiving friends!!

I miss Thanksgiving feasting back home with the family but Mike and I have settled for a mini dinner ourselves! Roasted chicken though… Not turkey 😉

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Evening catch up with friends @ The Burrow

Finally had a catch up this past Friday with Kee Ping, Amanda and Xuan at The Burrow.

With a great drinks menu and nice atmosphere, The Burrow was an easy choice and luckily we could make reservations so didn’t have to wait in line for a table.

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Beers for everyone! And of course, food. We got a few dishes to share:

Unfortunately, some of these dishes are part of their Oktoberfest menu which isn’t online so I can’t give you the full dish name and all its components.

Pretzels with Pepe Saya butter. I love Pepe Saya butter but the pretzels were unfortunately quite tough and definitely not worth $7/each.

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Main component of this dish was the crispy pork belly, which was lovely! Also had roasted peaches and something-I-can’t remember wrapped in filo pastry. Tasty dish!

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Dip-ah-dee-do-dah – A selection of fresh house dips, crisp bread, ciabatta, zattar and flavoured oils. The selection was different than what Mike and I have had before but still very tasty! Very generous portions of dips, and so would do with a bit more breads!

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This dish’s main component was slow cooked venison with spätzle, apple and berries. When we asked what spätzle was, our server said her best description would be “similar to gnocchi”. Unfortunately, although the venison was tender and nice, the spätzle (that we were all trying for the first time) tasted more like stale deep fried batter. We’re still unsure if it was meant to taste that way, or if we just got a bad batch… And why make the pieces so tiny? So difficult to eat when they just roll around on your fork and then onto the table.

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We also got some Gnarly fries (curly fries) and Chips Ahoy! (beer battered fries) with aioli sauce. On a good note, the fries never disappoint.

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We’ve been to The Burrow many times and love the service, drinks selection and quality of food. Unfortunately, we found our food hit and miss tonight but will still be back again in the future 🙂

The Burrow on Urbanspoon

Mike’s 34th Birthday!

Another long overdue post!

Mike turned 34 on September 21, 2013 – woo hoo! We had a quiet day at home with just the 2 of us… focused on food, haha!

Started the day by making us some mini blueberry and white chocolate pancakes for breakfast! 🙂

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For lunch we went to our favourite local sushi restaurant, Sakura Sushi – they have new menu items! They keep improving every time we visit – highly recommended!

And a lovely homemade meal to celebrate for dinner 🙂

At Mike’s request, Banh Tam Xiu Mai – one of his favourite Viet dishes!

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Also made some coconut basil shrimp, mmm so tasty!

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Happy birthday my love!

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And also at his request, Caramel infused chocolate cupcakes with chocolate icing. My best homemade cupcakes yet, huge stamp of approval from the birthday boy!

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And of course, presents!

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Wishing you many more happy birthdays to come my dear! ❤

Post-hike AYCE dinner @ Midam Korean Charcoal BBQ

Famished once we got back into Brisbane post-hike at Noosa National Park, we were grateful that Xuan had suggested all-you-can-eat Korean BBQ at Midam!

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At a very reasonable price of $28/person (remember, no tax no tip here), you got an unlimited amount (self-service) of a variety of meats that included: pork belly, marinated pork, marinated beef, marinated chicken, etc!

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Also included in the dinner was rice and a variety of sides that included kimchi, fishcake, sweet mashed potatoes and salad.

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Dinner was extremely good! The meats were tender and well marinated, and the side dishes were tasty. I also loved the dipping sauces! I assume some people are turned off by a time limit, but I think the maximum of 2 hours is definitely more than enough to walk away really satisfied!

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Cooking at the grill at our table was extremely easy and the overhead fan had good suction. Certainly didn’t walk away reeking of food!

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Good food with good company, what else could you ask for?

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The restaurant was super busy with quick service, separated seating areas and a common buffet section. And loved the overhead lights!

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Would definitely recommend a visit! If it wasn’t so hard for us to get to Sunnybank via public transportation, we’d be back sooner!

Midam Korean Charcoal BBQ on Urbanspoon

From our kitchen!

Tried to recreate our new found love in Bangkok – Mango Sticky Rice, success! We didn’t pour as much sugar/coconut syrup in our sticky rice, still delicious! Worth the $4 mango… yea, mangoes are expensive.

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Vegetarian dinner with grilled eggplant, pan fried tofu and sauteed shrimp – mmm! But worst plating ever, haha… I’m sorry! 😛

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Non-homemade-chicken-Cordon-Blue with a huge but delicious salad

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Banana fritters!

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Peanut butter with caramel chips and sea salt cookies – so decadent! Approved by our consultant who thought the combination sounded weird 🙂

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Made cream of mushroom soup for the first time… oh my god. Never buying canned soup EVER AGAIN. This was amazing!

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Life randoms :)

A few pictures here and there over the past month or so!

First time meeting Mike’s friend from Halifax – Chelsea and her boyfriend, Dave! Also an opportunity to catch up with Nicole and to meet her friend visiting from Canada – Winston. Meeting new friends and enjoying good food in the rain – fish and chips at Swampdog! Lovely time guys!

Left to right: Dave, Chelsea, Nicole, Mike, me, Winston

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Can you see why I stock up on cue cards from Dollarama when I’m back in Canada during the holidays? Look at the cost, the cost!!

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Passed by this and loved the cracks in the pillars!

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After a fun morning of badminton with Xuan, Yung and Chloe, we enjoyed yummy dim sum at Yum Cha Cuisine – newly opened in Indooroopilly Shopping Centre. Definitely worth a return visit 😉

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Are those fuzzy things… alive?

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Walked by a bush with lovely small pink flowers.

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Free Despicable Me 2 memory games from McDonald’s! Mike and I used to compete with each other on the iPad with a similar game. Now we can play together like little kids! 😀

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Guys, remember when mint M&Ms were just regular looking M&Ms that had mint chocolate? Not anymore! Now with a minty candy coat with a green crisp interior!

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I have FINALLY invested in a real pair of sunglasses. No longer will I be purchasing $5-10 cheap sunnies and be developing cataracts!

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I saw a tunnel spider web today at the train station 🙂

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And lastly, an old one from our last trip to Vietnam with my mum. Iced milk coffee… love the swirls!

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50% off Korean BBQ dinner @ Hong Depot

An opportunity through Dimmi for 50% off food (not including drinks or desserts) at Hong Depot, a Korean BBQ restaurant in West End. With an 82% rating on Urbanspoon and being somewhere we’ve never tried before – how could we resist?

Xuan, Mike and I had reservations for 5:30pm but showed up a bit early due to the timing of buses. No problems though! We were invited to our table and ordered drinks to start while waiting for the kitchen to open. The boys enjoyed Heineken beer while I got a glass of Black Raspberry Wine – sweet but so tasty!

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The restaurant is quirky but homey, does that make sense?

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Check out the plastic gloves filled with water, hanging all over the restaurant. Nope… still haven’t been able to figure it out 😛

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We were soon ready to place our order and eagerly awaiting our food.

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As with many Korean restaurants, there are always free unlimited refills of side dishes. The ones offered at Hong Depot were sliced fish cake, kim chi, and seaweed salad. All were very good! Never had seaweed salad as a slaw before but the crunchy texture really makes it!

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The dishes soon started flowing out at a very good pace. First dish, Rice Balls ($7 for 4 pcs – mixed with rice, yellow radish, seaweed, sesame and mayo) – very good! I especially liked the added texture of the red rice.

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Mandu ($9 for 8 pcs)! Korean dumplings with vegetable filling.

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Large Kimchi Pancake ($16). Crispy, filled with nice and spicy kimchi.

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When we finished our tapas, the staff set up fiery coals to barbecue our meats…

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Rice with dipping sauces

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We got 4 servings of meat, each 200g: Beef Galbi ($21 – marinated short beef rib), Spicy Beef Bulgogi ($18.80 – marinated thin slices of prime beef), Spicy Pork Bulgogi ($19.50 – marinated thin slices of prime pork) and Jumuluck ($21 – marinated boneless short beef rib). All of the meats were tender and well marinated.

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Loved being able to BBQ the meat to our liking and thank goodness for the table suction fan. Otherwise, we’d be reeking of BBQ on the way home!

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And even though we were getting full, ice cream was just too tempting. Xuan and Mike each got a scoop of Green Tea and I got Black Sesame ($6 each) – creamy and delicious! A very generous portion as well, no complaints!

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With the 50% discount, our bill for 3 people came to approximately $105 – great value! The dinner was great and everything was delicious 🙂 The staff were also extremely friendly and accommodating, despite the restaurant being very busy later in the evening. We left extremely satisfied but would be hesitant to return soon because at regular price, the food is quite pricey for the portion size. Would definitely recommend trying at least once though!

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Hong Depot on Urbanspoon

Just a bit of food

I haven’t done a food update since… May probably?

Not much to share since then, but here are a few dishes!

Vietnamese ground pork, ready to go into the oven! Nom nom nom. Final product was served at our post-surgery potluck.

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Chewy nutella peanut butter cookies

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We first had laksa last month in Singapore and it was quickly one of our favourite dishes. Trying my hand at homemade laksa and it was quite tasty!

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Chicken panfried dumplings. I love dumplings and these tasted great but they just take so long to make and get eaten so quickly! Haha!

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Made some perfect carrot cupcakes with cream cheese icing to raise money for the RSPCA!

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I made cheesecake for the first time! The lazy way… with a chocolate oreo cookie as a base rather than a crumbed one. Baked cheesecake with a hint of peanut butter and nutella 🙂 Got the stamp of approval from Yoni and Mike!

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Post-surgery dinner

(Long overdue post!)

Thursday, July 11th was day of our surgery exam – what a stressful morning!

But the day ended on a high note because Mike and I had invited all of our surgery-rotation-group over for a potluck dinner, yum yum yum!

Most people were able to come (some even with their partners) and everyone brought so much delicious food! Completely stuffed by the end of the night.

Thank you to Sarah K for taking pictures! All photo credits belong to her!

Sorry, we don’t have photos of everyone’s food!

Bacon wrapped chicken by Amanda

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Seafood paella topped with feta cheese by Tom

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Stuffed roasted chicken bought by Xuan

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Daniel bought this, I think it was sweet and sour chicken but I could be wrong!

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Thanks to Sarah for spending so much time making this fried rice and kimchi pancake, very tasty!

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Argh, I forgot the name of this dish, but it is a Malaysian beef curry-like dish made by Yung and his gf Chloe.

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Fresh salad from Kristine and Jeff!

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We provided Vietnamese BBQ ground pork balls with garlic mayo and fresh bread

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Let’s take a group picture guys

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Guys…?

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Woo, finally! 🙂

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Thank you to everyone for coming over that night and bringing such wonderful food! Hope you enjoyed yourselves just as much as we did 🙂

The next day, we were off to the Gold Coast!

Day 06: Singapore – Late Night Dim Sum @ Swee Choon

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Despite the fact that it was already so late, actually technically early because it was 1am, Xuan still agreed to meet us for some yummy dim sum at one of his favourite places: Swee Choon (183-191 Jalan Besar, Little India).

Business hours are from 6pm to 6am. Due to its immense popularity, I was actually quite happy to be eating here so late at night because it meant we missed the usual crazy line up!

The restaurant was only around a 15 minute walk from Vintage Inn and soon we were seated inside with the A/C blasting and Xuan pointing out the dishes he recommended.

There were so many options, we were happy to try whatever he wanted to order for the first round.

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Despite the late hour, there were many other patrons in the restaurant… such a nice change from Brisbane! Being able to go out after 9pm on a weekday and enjoy delicious food in a bustling restaurant!

Munching on preserved daikon while waiting for our order 😛

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First up, Shanghai Xiao Long Bao – delicious steamed dumplings that gushed hot tasty soup when bitten into. To the left are Char Siew Pau – steamed BBQ pork buns.

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The top dish were Yam Fritters. These were just alright, I’ve definitely had much tastier and delicate ones back in Ottawa. Reminded me of my mum though, as it’s one of her favourite treats.

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Next was Swee Choon’s specialty, Mee Sua Kueh, a deep fried vermicelli cake. Tasty with very interesting texture, crispy noodles on the outside and perfectly cooked noodles on the inside.

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This was a Red Bean Paste Pancake. Crispy sweetened pancake enveloping a rich but not too sweet red bean paste. One of our favourite dishes of the night, we had to get seconds!

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I can’t remember the name of this dish but it wasn’t memorable. I would much rather be filling my belly with other dishes! 🙂

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Beancurd Prawn Roll – yummy! Two of my favourite ingredients combined. Sometimes simplicity is the best! 🙂

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And our favourite of the night: Steamed Salted Egg Yolk Custard Bun. I’ve always loved custard buns but I’d never heard of it mixed with salted egg yolk… where has this been my whole life? A hot, golden, sweet and salty lava that oozes out with every bite. Mmm… just thinking about it is making me salivate now!

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What a great meal! We left sooo stuffed, that it would be impossible to sleep if we went back to the hostel.

Only solution? Shopping at Mustafa Centre, opened 24/7! A huge mall with everything you could possibly need from groceries to sports equipment to herbal medicine. After strolling around for a while and realizing that it was already past 3am, we decided to call it a night.

Thanks Xuan for hanging with us even though it was so incredibly late!

After such a busy day (remember we had a full day in Bangkok!)… it was such a great sleep

Day 06 to continue after this nap 😉

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 😉 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! 😉

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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 🙂

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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 😉

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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! 😀

Day 03: Bangkok – Dinner at Gaggan!

Monday, July 15, 2013

After our little shopping adventure, we met up with Laura in the evening close to Lumpini Park for some drinks – buy one cocktail get one free! 😀

It was nice to spend more time together but it wasn’t long before we said our good-byes and parted ways because Mike and I had reservations for a very special dinner… at Gaggan, known for its progressive Indian cuisine. I know what many of you, including Laura, are thinking, “Who goes to Thailand to eat Indian food?”

Well, when it’s listed as #10 on Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2013, (#3 in 2014!) you know it’s worth it. We made our reservation back while studying for exams and were looking forward to this meal the entire trip. We had even already decided that we would be going for one of the tasting menus.

Unfortunately, it was raining and we had left our umbrella back at the hotel… and because our cab driver (which we needed for only a couple hundred of metres) was inefficient, we still showed up to the restaurant wet. It is also why we don’t have any pictures of what the restaurant looks like from the outside. But to give you an idea, it was a large white colonial-styled house with many large windows, each with warm light shining through. 🙂

We were greeted by friendly staff and shown upstairs to our table for 2. There was a sense of intimacy as we were seated in the corner but could still look out to the dining room and see the other diners. I only wished the lighting was a little bit brighter for better quality of photos 😉

The ambiance was really nice and felt like we were dining in someone’s house rather than a restaurant. Unfortunately, I didn’t take any pictures to show you… sorry!

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Along with our menus, we received a ‘welcome drink,’ a passionfruit and strawberry sorbet, frozen with liquid nitrogen. We didn’t get the “flair” presentation with the liquid nitrogen being poured at the table like other diners have shared, but it was still tart and tasty.

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We soon decided on our drinks: An Asahi beer for Mike and a frozen lychee and rosewater mocktail for me.

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And it also didn’t take much effort to confirm that we would be going for the 10 course tasting menu. Most courses are listed on the menu, but the unlisted ones were a nice surprise!

The meal was exceptional… and I have photos to share with you!

The first item was something we had read online from previous diners and were quite looking forward to – the Yoghurt Explosion. Rich yoghurt with black pepper submersed in an alginate bath to give the form of an egg yolk and served on a ceramic spoon. We were instructed to slide the whole thing into our mouth and just experience the explosion. Explosion indeed! An awesome burst of flavour that left us with silly smiles on our faces and looking forward to what the rest of the evening had to offer.

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Next was a trio served on an interestingly shaped metal plate. We were instructed to eat from left to right. The first was a white chocolate shell filled with a spiced liquid concoction that included chili. Sweet and spicy, a nice kick to start off the plate.

The next item was an edible bag made of rice paper and filled with wasabi flavoured beans and dried fruit. Interesting textures from the melting rice paper, crunchiness of the beans and chewiness of the fruit – the combination of flavours was nice as well.

Lastly was a deconstructed samosa with potato mousse on the top. Nicely flavoured, but I wish it was served fresh and hot rather than cold/room temperature.

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My date! ❤

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Our third dish was called Viagra – French Oysters freshly shucked served with kokam nectar and Indian mustard ice cream. On top of the oyster was an oyster leaf with foam. We were told to eat the leaf first on its own and that it tastes like an oyster… wow, true! Did some reading afterward to find out that oyster leaves have a slightly salty/ocean taste that highly resembles oysters – even referred to as vegetarian oysters. The oysters were fresh (actually the first one I’ve tried and enjoyed) with the coldness of the mustard ice cream immediately melting in your mouth. Yum! With slight brain freeze 😉

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The next dish, Egyptian Secret was spiced foiegras with spiced red onion chutney and cold raspberry foie powder. My first time having foiegras, and it didn’t disappoint. It was smooth and creamy with a slight bitterness that was balanced by the sweetness of the other components.

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The fifth dish, In Season was an airlight soup of summer truffles and organic waynaud peppers. With slivers of truffle on top of this delicious foamy creaminess, In Season has ruined one of my favourite comfort foods – Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup from a can. The soup was literally airy but packed full of flavour. So rich and tasty! I only wish I could eat it again…

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Next on our tasting adventure was Smoke It Up – river king prawns tandoor grilled and finished with fennel Kachumber, coriander foam and charcoal oil. The green garnish on the prawn was called salty finger, and we were told to eat it first. It was a surprising taste of watery saltiness, and interesting addition to seafood dishes! Mike’s prawn came out with a head and mine didn’t, one of the only inconsistencies we noticed that night. The dish tasted nice, although the salad was a little too salty. At the end of the night, this was our least favourite dish.

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A happy girl!

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What Mike had been looking forward to, Game On – Wild French quail sous-vide 6 hours with chettinaud spices tandoor roasted with pineapple chutney. Without inquiry, we were assured, “Using fingers is fine!” which gave us a little laugh. The quail was super tender and flavourful and the pineapple chutney added a combination of spicy sweetness we’d never had before. We both agreed that the chutney was a little too thick, too dark and too sweet.

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The last savoury dish for the night, British National Dish – chicken Tikka masala deconstructed and reconstructed curry makhani foam with traditional chicken tikka. Yes, a pretty full on dish description but it can be simplified to fewer words: Best Tikka masala ever. Really. For us at least, we’ve only eaten Indian food in Brisbane. The naan was delicious as well, we completely devoured that dish!

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Our pre-dessert: Black sesame ice cream topped with a sponge cake. Being honest here, the ice cream was great but sponge cake was kind of weird… I think this dessert would’ve been much better as a take on fried ice cream. With crisp, fried cake on top instead 😉

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And the finale to our night: Cinanana – banana meringue with Ceylon sweet cinnamon burnt ice cream. So tasty! The banana meringue, in terms of texture, light sweetness and flavour, really made the dish for us. There was also passion fruit gelee tubes which had a nice flavour but we weren’t a fan of the texture and thought the flavours would’ve been just as great without. 🙂

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After such an enjoyable meal, our only wish was that we could’ve had 2 or 3 times the portions! But alas! It was still be a great adventure!

I was adamant with Mike that I wanted to meet Chef Gaggan and shake his hand. Mike was skeptical. Chefs, after all, are busy people where their kitchen is a secret where magical things happen and not the place for customers. So I tried to prove him wrong. When I asked if it was possible to meet the chef and give him our thanks, our waitress said she would ask. She came back and said, “Yes, and he would like to give you a tour of the kitchen! Would you like to go? But he’s a very busy man, so he’s waiting for you to come right now.”

Without a second of thought I blurted, “Of course, thank you! Let’s go!” And off we scurried downstairs. Chef Gaggan met us at the kitchen entrance and welcomed us into his kitchen, asking how we enjoyed our dinner. Then he gave us a tour of his little kitchen, which although small, was highly functional with around 30 staff members coming and going. We even got to see his lab, where some of the magical creations take place.

Unbelievable to Mike, I asked Chef Gaggan for a picture with him, to which he happily agreed!

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Knowing he was quite busy, I still jumped at the opportunity to ask if I could snap a few pictures of the kitchen… He responded with telling his staff to put on their faces for the camera!

[Chef Gaggan has an interesting history and extensive experience, read more about him here on their website!]

I’m sorry for disrupting for your work environment! I wish I had been able to get everyone’s names and titles but I wanted to get out of there as soon as possible. ^_^

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Excuse the pan, my fault for barging in and snapping away! But look at the colours! 🙂

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Mike and I had a great experience here and I wanted to share that with all of you! If you are ever in Bangkok, make a booking at Gaggan for a night of surprises. We were taken on a whirlwind of wonderful tastes, and the other great thing? That 10 course tasting menu cost a fraction of what it would in Brisbane – 1600 baht per person (+10% service charge and 7% VAT) ~$55 CAD + fees.