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

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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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.

Last day in Ottawa with the family

January 03, 2013

Today was my last full day in Ottawa and it turned out to very full and busy!

We invited my grandparents and my cousin Janet to lunch at Play (as you can tell by now, I really like that place). Most people had never been there before and I thought it would be a good experience.

We had reservations for 12pm and asked specifically to be seated upstairs because I find it nicer. 😉

Once everyone arrived, it took us a while but we eventually decided on our 2 dishes each. There were a number of repeats at our table, including the hanger steak, sweetbreads, Walleye, scallops and clam linguine

My brother, grandpa and I had sweetbreads (thymus of a calf/lamb) for the first time. Unfortunately, it’s not on the current menu so I can’t give the full dish description. I didn’t know what to expect and I’m glad I can say I’ve tried something new, although I didn’t love it. The taste and texture was a mix of really soft chicken plus mild liver (and I don’t like liver, unless it’s pate). The blend of flavours was good though!

My mom and grandpa ordered the scallops / cider / cauliflower / raisin / bacon / brussels, which were quite tasty, although I don’t have a picture of them. 😦

My grandma and sister ordered the Walleye / chorizo / beans / grapefruit / fennel / brown butter. Like myself the other day, they found the dish too bitter and the beans too crunchy for their taste.

My mom and Janet had the little neck clams / linguine / parmesan / chili / soffritto /garlic. The portion was enormous, but apparently the dish was just way too bland. Very disappointing!

My grandma and brother got the frog legs / polenta / truffle / eggplant / radicchio / caper. I think both were underwhelmed with the dish, especially my brother who wished he had chosen something else.

Janet and I also got the grilled hanger steak / mushroom / frites / aioli. Yum! Unlike Mike’s steak from the other day, this one was super tasty and I was really glad I chose this dish.

Lastly, my sister’s second dish was the beef slider / cabbage / bacon / cream cheese / matchsticks. I don’t think she fully enjoyed this dish, especially because there was a spread similar to tuna on her beef slider. The matchsticks were also not as good as having actual frites.

It was still a fun experience though!

For dessert, we went back into Byward Market for baked goods at Moulin de Provence – one of my favourite bakeries in Ottawa and also home of the famous Obama cookies.

Doesn’t this amazing selection make your mouth water? And all for such good prices too!

“I don’t know what I’m doing!”

Trying to smile with food in her mouth…

We walked through the market before saying good bye to our grandparents who were going home first.

The rest of us went shopping at Rideau Mall for a while until our stomachs had enough room for… Beavertails! For those who don’t know, they are delicious fried dough pastries, a Canadian treat! Waiting in line for our order…

Some shots in the market as we wait…

Mmm! I got the Kilaloe Sunrise – which is the classic cinnamon & sugar beavertail with a spritz of lemon juice – delicious!

We didn’t get home til after 5pm, which is when my cousin Flora, invited us to go skating with her siblings. There’s an outdoor rink outside City Hall called the Rink of Dreams, that is apparently gorgeous at night. How could I say no? Janet went home to grab her skates and belongings since she planned to stay over. We would meet her at the rink instead. My sister also decided that it would be a good idea to invite the rest of our other cousins to come over afterwards for my last night in town.

The cousins who went skating!

Some footage of the pretty Rink of Dreams and of my sister falling! 😀

Heading home!

The cousins came over shortly after we got back from skating. We had a few good solid hours of boardgames, food and laughs. Thank you so much for coming guys! I hope we do it again soon!

I stayed up late to finish packing, but finally called it a night and went to bed around 3am!

FYI: On the day I left Ottawa, 40cm/16″ of snow (should be more since some melted and compacted) had fallen!

Shawarma & Perth Road Village

Just continuing on with my catch up blogs!

December 26th…Boxing Day. No, I didn’t go shopping because I really dislike shopping in huge crowds – people are crazy! Instead, I had shawarma… again 😀 and I got to hang out with Amin! Not only that, but Max and Jason showed up too, so I got to see them as well 🙂

Everybody busy feasting on their delicious food

Unlike everyone else, Amin didn’t finish his food. When he’s back in Toronto, where they don’t have Shawarma Palace and he’s craving it, he’s going to think about this moment and wish he had finished his plate 😛

Michael came up on December 27th to take me down to his place for a few days. Before leaving Ottawa, we went for lunch at Play – one of our favourite places in Ottawa. They are still offering 2 plates for $20 and it’s always hard to make up your mind because so many things look good!

After some deliberation, we finally made up our minds and ordered. Enjoyed some bread and butter while we waited for the food…

My first dish: Walleye / chorizo / beans / grapefruit / fennel / brown butter.
Thoughts: Loved the fish, it was beautifully cooked. The dish was a little too bitter and the beans were a little too crunchy for my taste but overall, it was enjoyable.

Michael’s first dish: grilled quail / rutabaga / rosemary / mushroom hash / scallion
His thoughts: Quail component of the dish was super tasty but the scallions were tough to cut and didn’t add much to the dish.

My second dish: frog legs / polenta / truffle / eggplant / radicchio / caper
My thoughts: Delicious! The flavours worked well and the frog was super tender. I only wish frog legs had less bones. Also my first time having radicchio, never knew it was so bitter!

Mikes second dish: grilled hanger steak / mushroom / frites / aioli
His thoughts: Steak was just ‘meh’, which was a surprise because everyone I know loves this dish. I tasted it too, and unfortunately, it just wasn’t as good as the other times I’ve had it.

Overall, a yummy lunch and soon we were off for the 2+ hour ride back to Michael’s place in Perth Road Village.

Play Food & Wine on Urbanspoon

Made it there before suppertime where Mike’s mom had made Turkey Tetrazzini – yum! That night we played Settlers of Catan – our new favourite game 😉

December 28th: Heading into the Kingston!

After nearly dying the night before due to cat allergies, we started the day late with breakfast and a stroll around Mike’s place.

Walking in a winter wonderland!

The allergies were killing me, I do not look good, haha!

One of the culprits of my suffering – Napoleon, Michael’s cat of nearly 7 years. He may look a little evil in this photo, but he is such a darling. He always wants to be close and have your attention – it’s too bad I’m allergic 😦

We then headed into the city to watch to visit Fardella’s Bakery (more on this next post!) and to watch The Hobbit. The movie was good, but much longer than it needed to be. With that being said, I do look forward to watching the next 2 installments.

After the movie, Michael took me for an outdoor skate at Springer Market Square. So cold, but so much fun to be on the ice outdoors again – loved it!

Went back in time to help Mike’s parents take down their Christmas tree before having dinner. I didn’t last too long after that, went to bed early because the cat allergies were killing me. 😦

The next day, December 29th, we went to his Aunt Patsy and Uncle Dan’s home for lunch and stayed throughout the afternoon until dinnertime. It was really nice (and scary) to meet so many of his family members at once, but everyone was really easy going and lovely to talk to.

Due to my allergies, Mike and I went back to Ottawa tonight, a day earlier than intended – but we were concerned I might not actually be able to breathe this time if I stayed.

And that marks the end of my adventures at Michael’s!